Friday, June 3, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy*

I consider it my duty to post at least one blog entry every week. Not that I think you, loyal reader, are breathlessly anticipating my meandering missives -- I don't have Max Watzz's ego. Rather, it's a purgative act for me ... kind of like pulling threads of thoughts out of my brain and stirring them into Dumbledore's pensieve.

Wow. Two literary references before you even reach the second paragraph. It's gettin' deep here.

Anyway, I typically use this blog to describe an interesting ride that I've recently finished. The reason that I haven't written much so far this week, however, is not because I haven't been riding. I've been out most days this week enjoying the sultry mid-90-degree supersaturated atmosphere sitting atop the southeastern United States. But most of these rides have been the usual stuff: Commuting and group rides on standard routes. Also, I've been doing these rides at a different pace, too -- more Max Watzz than RandoBoy -- and there's not much to say about that.

This blog is no place for threshold heart rate and normalized power.

I didn't ride this past Sunday as I had to go mark the Harpeth River Ride with RandoGirl, the RandoDaughter, and my friends Johnny Crow and Karla McVey. It was a messy, hot, arduous, messy chore (yeah, I know that I said "messy" twice -- it was really messy), but we were able to get almost all of four different routes marked in a single day, with only the last 20 miles of the century route left for me to finish Thursday morning.

What made us so fast was also what made it so messy. As I've mentioned here before, I have marked many routes, most lately using a standard that I got from a fellow Harpeth Bike Club member, Keith Walker. Basically, the standard is to always put down three sets of arrows -- the first set being 50 yards from the turn if it is at a stop sign or traffic light, or 100 yards if there is no stop (and thus no other reason that the riders would need to slow down). For the 100-yard kind of turn, you put down double arrows, to make sure that you catch the riders attention. The next of the three sets of arrows is halfway to the turn -- thus either 25 yards or 50 yards from the turn -- and the last set you put down at the turn itself. Then, five to 10 yards past the turn, on the road onto which the rider should now be travelling if he or she is on the route, you put down another arrow.

Here's how it works for the rider. I'm zipping along on the route. I see the first set of arrows and slow down a bit. Then I see the second set, and from there I should be able to see the turn. I signal my turn, and shift right or left in the lane if I can to make it cleanly. At the turn, I see the the third set, and then I roll over one more arrow and therefore know that I am going the right way.

(Of course, this scenario gets blown out of the water when you get some fast guys up at the front and they aren't paying attention. They ignore the markings and miss the turn, and the idiots that have been hanging on for dear life behind them go along. Lemmings to the cliff.)

Anyway. I used this standard last year when I marked the Hope on Wheels routes, and I did not hear about anybody getting lost. Of course, it took me two days -- one of them with help from RandoGirl -- to mark these routes.

So, this year, I made up big arrow-shaped stamps with carpet on them. I also bought big, rubber paint buckets (with rubber lids so we could close them up), and put a gallon of good, oil-based Rustoleum paint in each. The arrow stamps fit right down into the bucket, so you could get load up the carpet "head" with paint. You then pull the stamp out of the bucket and just plop it onto the pavement. Voila -- arrow shaped marking. Move on to the next spot and repeat.

It was quicker than using a stencil, plus cheaper and more ecologically sound than using spray paint. But it was messy. It took an hour to clean the paint off of RandoGirl's car, and another hour to clean it off of me. The clothes went straight into the trash.

The payoff for this, of course, will be next Saturday, June 11, when 1,500 riders come to do the Harpeth River Ride. If all of those riders follows the road markings, and thus stays on their respective routes, I will be ecstatic. Giddy. I may even do the dance of painting joy ... half polka, half clogging, one-third Russian saber dance. Post-dance physical therapy usually requires 4-6 weeks.

Which brings me to the other thing that's been keeping me busy: Lance Armstrong. Yeah, of course I mean that Lance Armstrong.

You see, Lance is coming to the River Ride. I've known that it was a strong possibility for about a month now, but he finally announced it this week. I guess it's kind of a blinding glimpse of the obvious here, but that is HUGE for us.

And this is the other reason that I wanted perfect road markings. Last year, some of Lance's fellow team members from Team Radio Shack did the Harpeth River Ride, and they missed a turn. My friend, Cindy Wall, had to chase them down in a car, and then motor-pace them back onto the route. It was, to say the least, embarrassing.

If Lance misses one of my road markings, it had better be because Jan Ullrich is sitting on top of it and Lance can't see it.

* Yes, I'm a Bokononist


  1. Note: 1. Randoboy did not mark the Harpeth ride last year when we lost folks. 2. I did the HOW century he did mark and it was incredibly easy to follow. 3. He got up at 4:30 am to finish the century markings - that is dedication! I say we give him a third name: "Marky Mark". Oh, wait, that one's taken. Anyway, thanks RB!

  2. I do kind of look like Marky Mark ... particularly from his Calvin Klein modeling days.