Monday, November 29, 2010

To Trot With Lights Not

The Turkey Trot 200K is kind of our last blow-out of the year ... at least for many randonneurs in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and probably some other states. It's the last "official" brevet on many calendars, and it gives many riders a chance to work off some of their Thanksgiving excess. For some randonneurs, it's also a chance to take their significant others to Black Friday sales in Nashville, and then abandon them to follow-up shopping on Saturday.

Since I live less than five miles from the start, it's not that big of a deal to me. In fact, I haven't even done the ride for the past couple of years, due to one commitment or other ... or maybe just because the weather didn't look too good.

Either way, I was in town this year, and the weather was going to be chilly but dry, so I decided to ride. Also, I had a few Thanksgiving excesses to burn off my own self.

But as the day approached, I further decided that this was the year that I would finish the Turkey Trot in daylight.

The first year I did the Turkey Trot, I was new to randonneuring, and very slow. The second year, I wasn't as slow, but rode with someone else. The third year, I wasn't as slow and rode with a fast group -- which turned out to be too fast for me when I blew up after 75 miles.

But this year I've been pretty fast and pretty strong, so a Turkey Trot without lights seemed possible.

The ride begins at 7 am from the Brentwood YMCA on Concord Road. Since I live so close to the start, I got there about 20 minutes before, and leisurely got the bike ready, signed paperwork, and so forth. Since I hadn't hung around in the cold, I didn't know how all else was riding, but it looked like if I was going to be riding fast, I would be riding solo. So, when RBA Jeff Sammons told us to get moving, I took off and was soon alone.

The route went through Cool Springs, past the mall, and then over the big climb on Lynnwood Road. The climb took the edge off the cold, but the descent brought it right back. I was just settling in to a good rhythm, about 10 miles in, listening to my iPod, when I heard someone call my name. Up came Steve Phillips, George Hiscox, Jeremy Miller, Tom Gee, and Anthony Watts. They were moving at a good clip, so I joined up with them.

We made it through the first control on schedule, quickly topping up bottles and peeling off our last layer of clothing. The light wind had been in our teeth for much of the way, but as we turned south it freshened and moved us nicely along. I filmed the following right after we passed through White Bluff.

When we got to the next control, I was pretty sore. We started north again, fighting a little more wind as we passed through Theta and Thompson Station, and then had a better breeze for the leg to Bethesda. We paused there for a quick snack, but the cold was coming back as the afternoon waned. I was shivering as we mounted up again to do the last 20 miles.

About seven miles from the finish, I could feel my rear tire get spongy. My legs were pretty wiped out, too, and I fell off the back of the pack on Wilson Pike. The group eased up for me, however, and we were soon on the multi-use trail going through Concord Park, and finally returned to the parking lot of the YMCA.

There was plenty of sunlight, as you can see. It took 8:44, but it was a good 8:44.

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