Getting in gear and picking it up

It is a beautiful morning in Tupelo, Mississippi. Wow, I got seven hours of sleep and I’m not having to rush around to get my bags packed.  It’s going to be a good day!

To get things started on today’s blog, I’ll point you to the video for Day One.  You can read the report of the day here.  You can see a sampling of the day in the below video.

What about yesterday?  It was an eventful and fun ride.  It certainly exceeded my expectations.  Here is the report followed by some video from the day.

We started off waking up in Chattanooga, TN.  We had a really nice hotel that we got for $29 a room!  The breakfast was a nice warm buffet.  We got ourselves loaded up by 8:30 and we headed out to a cool coffee shop in the city.  Then it was time to climb into the KIA and go down the road.

Ahhhh, the KIA… it is an adventure in and of itself.  Those back seat benches are less comfortable than my bicycle seat!  Of course, we have seven people in this seven person mini-van along with food, gear, and all kinds of technological devices.  Oh, don’t forget Bo’s ukulele!

We made it to Spencer, TN where we were supposed to make our transition.  Once again we made the switch off without a hitch.  Then it was time to hit the road.

It was then we realized our first issue of the day.  Nikki was unable to start with us because her bike was on the mechanic’s bus.  She had to get into Betsy’s support vehicle and they drove ahead to find them.

It was a little discouraging because we kept having to move over to the side of the road to let traffic by.  Then we missed a turn.  However, we were able to find an alternate route that got us back in gear.

Thirty minutes into the ride we were averaging 11 mph!  I was starting to get worried that the whole day would go this way.  It made me a little antsy, and I finally had to move to the back of the group so I wouldn’t gap everyone.

Then we hit the sweet spot!  The road changed and there was less traffic.  We were heading into Tennessee Walking Horse country.  Not only was it beautiful, the terrain was slightly rolling.  We all got in gear an started making up time.

First we started a pace line that put one rider on front for 30 seconds.  For a bunch of riders who had ridden together as a group for the first time one day earlier, we did pretty well.  Then we upped the ante and we started rolling with a rotating pace line.  Again, I was surprised by how well we worked together.  We were rolling along for sometime averaging 23 mph.

By the time we met up with Nikki an hour into the ride, we had our average back up to 16 mph.  We held that average until we reached our next transition in Columbia, Tennessee.  It was a great moment to roll in there knowing we had more than pulled our own weight… and that we had done it was a true team effort.

We did make one more wrong turn, but it wasn’t surprising.  The roads we were taking were pretty small and in some cases not marked at all!  One road in particular we sat there wondering if it was the right road until a local showed up to confirm it for us.

Other than that it was smooth sailing through some truly beautiful, rolling countryside.  You can get a small idea of it all in the video, but the tiny helmet cam simply doesn’t do it justice.  The majority of the ride was this way until we neared our finish where we had some wonderful pizza before heading on a several hour drive to our next stop.

It’s great to have Nikki back.  She is a real trooper.  You can see in one scene of the video where she is riding holding her arm gingerly.  Her shoulder might be hurt, but her legs aren’t!  Having her there — along with Arthur and Bob — was a major help in keeping each persons’ work load to a minimum.

Well, off to find some breakfast.  I’ll just finish by reporting that the experience is certainly different that last year, but both times are turning out to be just as enjoyable in different ways.  It’s going to be a good week.