We all have favorites, be it dinners that we like best, songs we put in playlists on our iPods, or children that we treat better than the others (you know who you are). If you're a cyclist, you've got a favorite route ... one that you may not necessarily want to ride over and over for eternity, but one that you go to more often than others.
Cyclists in middle Tennessee are pretty lucky. We've got some great spots in which we can ride. I've done most of them, but my favorite area is down around College Grove and Bethesda.
For one thing, it's only about a 20-mile ride from my house, on a nice fun route. (By car it's about 10 miles, but who wants to drive a car to a bike ride?)
Also, it's got perfect roads. There are hills if you want them, with shady climbs up and fun descents down. When you tire of that, there are flat roads meandering along pretty creeks, or beside fields of cattle, corn, and horses. There are a couple of bumpy roads, but they are definitely the exception rather than the rule. Most pavement is pristine ... almost scarily so. As if somebody with a lot of money or a lot of political pull is setting things up, and any day now a bunch of subdivisions will be built there and ruin it.
There are stores that are easy to get to, staffed with friendly folks serving good food ... maybe even great food. The College Grove Grocery has a bakery, and makes some of the tastiest stuff you ever want to put in your mouth. The Bethesda Market has a great bench out front, where you can sit and rest a spell before heading back out to climb Pulltight Hill ... again.
Add to this the fact that everybody down there is friendly. Cars pass nicely, and they wave at you (using all of their fingers). Folks out working in their yard and children playing all call out "Hey" and "Good morning." You feel ... welcome.
Sunday, I lead a ride out that way. We started out going east to Rockvale, then down through Versailles to skirt the edge of Murfreesboro. We stopped briefly at the market on the corner of Midland and Midland-Fosterville, where it had warmed up enough to peel off a few layers of clothing.
We took a few new roads from there, eventually passing south of Eagleville for another brief store stop. The roads had all been nice and flat so far -- perfect for the two tandems in the group. We then turned onto Floyd Road, which I had not been on in a few years. The pavement was smooth, the climbs easy, and the scenery gorgeous.
RandoGirl was riding strong, getting ready for Three-State Three-Mountain next month. I just wanted to get in about 100 miles to see how my hip was doing, and keep some tune in the legs for the upcoming 400K.
At this point, the route got back into some old favorites. Flat Creek. Choctaw. Giles Hill. Comstock. We stopped again at the market in Bethesda, running into a small group of racers that I know, and then came back via Pulltight Hill.
Again, the descent down the far side was a blast, followed by an easy climb on Arno, which led to a long, gentle descent almost all the way to Owen Hill Road. A left on Pinkston, a right on Arno-College Grove, and we were back at the cars. RandoGirl and I had earned the homemade brownie that we got from the Grocery.
It don't get much better than that.
You have one more day to sign up for the 200K of Nowhere, which will use many of these favorite roads of mine. To do this, you have to sign up for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, so that LiveStrong gets some money to fight cancer. That's the disease that killed our friend, Peter Lee, in whose honor we are doing this ride.
If you want the great Fat Cyclist swag, and if you want to fight cancer, sign up now. If you can't do this, you can still come out and ride the 200K of Nowhere ... but you won't get the neat t-shirt and race plate, and you won't be entered in the drawing I'm going to have for even more swag.