- We're kind of bored with the regular permanents around here. This was my sixth 200K for the year so far, and a change of scenery was in order.
- We needed to check out the route and make sure everything was okay. Regional Brevet Administrator Jeff Sammons submitted this route to become an official RUSA 200K in April, when he will be running it concurrent with the 400K in Cookeville.
- It's a pretty route, with enough climbing to test your legs. And Jeff and I felt that we needed a test to see how well we were preparing for the Cascade 1200K, which we are both doing this summer.
It was still pretty cold at the start -- it's been a tough winter all over -- but that was also a good test of our equipment. You need to use the winter rides to make sure that you can carry the clothes that you may need on the longer rides, and the Cascade 1200K is well-known for its wide variety of temperatures and weather.
Riding north on TN-135, we quickly left the early morning Cookeville traffic for gently rolling farmland. It was good to see that the state had finally paved the descent down towards the Cumberland River about 15 miles in, since the winter had pretty much left that road unscathed. We rolled along the chilly Roaring River, quietly belying its name, then touched a corner of Gainesboro at the Cumberland.
It's always pleasant riding with Jeff, since our strengths usually complement each other on the road and we are of similar philosophies in our riding styles. And, of course, we are friends who can usually find something interesting to discuss and pass the time. Thus, the 50 miles to the first control went by easily, and we soon found ourselves eating a sandwich at Cherry's Grocery in Moss, TN, about one mile from Kentucky. It was nice to hang out at the store for a minute, with Mr. Moss telling us how Standing Stone State Park got its name, but we managed to drag ourselves away and headed on to Celina.
One of the things that I wanted to check was here, where they have widened Hwy 52 and brought it straight into town. The route follows the old road, and I was worried that they might have torn it up; fortunately, that wasn't the case. Although it is now possible to "short-cut" the route by staying on the busy four-lane Hwy 52, riders that follow the route will instead get a much more quiet road ... albeit a lot hillier.
You still stay on the shoulder of Hwy 52 for a few miles, but it's a wide shoulder with no rumble strips. Soon, you turn off and head into Standing Stone State Park.
There's a tough little climb just past the one-lane bridge, but the bridge helps keep traffic light as you then continue on through the park to Hilham. Here, the store is still closed, but we found another store two miles further down TN-85. Its hours will work out just fine for the control.
The wind had come up out of the west, so we had to do a bit of work to get back to Gainesboro. After a quick lunch, we climbed out of town towards the Avery Trace, then slogged our way into the wind to Granville.
We still had a crosswind going up Hwy 96, but the wind finally blew our way when we hit Hwy 70. We flew along this stretch, mostly about 20 mph, through Baxter and down Buffalo Valley Road and to the end.
One of the things that I was really happy about was how well the changes to my bike fit were helping my ride, particularly the new Specialized insoles in my bike shoes. Lynn Greer at Gran Fondo Cycles (a.k.a., the Greatest Bike Shop in the Galaxy) did a great job tweaking my Lynskey to better support a good pedal stroke, and the insoles with their arch support ensure that every watt of power from my legs goes into the drive train. Since the new fit, I haven't had any leg cramps -- either during or after a ride -- and my shoulders, neck, and arms are much less fatigued.
About 100 miles into the route Saturday, Jeff Bauer said that he thinks that we will be fine for the Cascade 1200K. We've put in the rides that we had to this winter, in spite of the weather, and both of us have been pretty good about losing weight in preparation for the long climbs out west. Oddly enough, we've even managed to have some fun.