Tag Archives: Ride To Austin

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.

Medic!

What a first day.  I’ll have to make this one short because we have to be loaded soon to head to our next transition area.  Got to sleep at 1:30 AM and had to roll out of the bed at 7 AM.  Now, it is time to get day two underway.

We left shortly before 3 PM on Sunday.  The entire crew rode out together for about three miles.  I thought that the Green Team would then continue for another three hours.  However, I was going off an old rotation sheet (the one I used for yesterday’s blog).  Turns out we were going to drive ahead to Seneca and wait for the Polka Dot Team.  We would be doing our first leg from 6 PM to 9 PM.

However, before we could even get the first three miles done, Jerry Page had a front flat.  The mechanics got it switched out pretty fast and it was a good practice.  Before long we were all back together and then at the final launching area.

We had an awesome transition.  It all went perfectly.  Well, all except that Jerry unfortunately had his hand on the door jam of the van when Betsy, our support member, closed it.  Hmmmmmm, it is going to be black and blue!

The ride itself was hard!  They had us going from Seneca, SC to Hiawassee, GA.  Don’t know if you have ever been on that route before, but it is a load of climbing!  We were supposed to cover it all in three hours!

The first thirty minutes we were averaging 16 mph.  Then we hit the hard stuff.  Our average started to drop and we struggled up the climbs.  I’m sure there were some times of downhill, but I don’t remember many of them.  It just seemed like it was up, uP, UP!

At 10 miles in we had to pull over to clear the road for traffic that had backed up behind us.  I pulled into a parking lot that looked to be a cheap asphalt.  As I came in I realized it was gravel.  I instinctively adjusted the weight on the bike, but did not instinctively call out that I was transitioning to the new surface.

The next thing that I heard was a commotion behind me.  Nikki had come off the road and slipped on the gravel going down very hard on her left shoulder.  Megan turned quickly to avoid her and went down as well.  I felt awful.  I’m sure had I warned them she could have been better prepared.

It was bad enough that Nikki had to get in the bus and finish the ride there.  We pressed on with our average continually dropping.  To add insult to injury, the temperature was in the low to mid 30s.  It was only three hours, but it was worse than any ride I did during the Austin trip last year.

Ultimately, we had to let the bus go about three miles from our finish.  They had to go meet up with the next team.  Still, considering all that we dealt with, I was very pleased with the effort of the team.

Today, we’ll be meeting our transition at noon.  We’ve got to get things packed up, get some breakfast, and then get going.  Supposed to be 54 degrees and sunny when we start.  It should be a good six hours for us as the high is to reach 64 degrees.

Well, I have to stop.  I’m running up against the deadline to get my bags down to the van.  Hopefully, we’ll have some more down time after this next shift.  If I can remember anything more about the first segment, I’ll report it then.

Crank it up!

This is one of the reasons why I am getting on my bike and joining my Palmetto Peloton Project teammates on a 1400 mile trip from Greenville, SC to Austin, TX.  I’m riding in memory of my friend Mike McCaskill, but I’m also riding for his daughter Grace.  “Little Grace, This one is for you and your mommy.”

Grace McCaskill

Grace McCaskill

My first day will go somewhat like this… I’ll be getting up and heading to my church, Suber Road Baptist Church in Greer, where I’ll teach my Sunday School class and attend the morning service.  Then I’ll be heading home to grab something to eat.

I’ll arrive at the launch point at the cancer center at the Greenville Hospital System around 1 PM.  We’ll make sure everything is packed up and we’ll have some pictures taken. Thankfully, Ron Jerina and crew have done a lot to get things ready a head of time.  They have really made this easy for us riders.

At 2 PM some of our family and friends will start arriving.  We’d love to have you come by and send us off.  There could be a good number of folks.  I’ve heard from many people who plan to be there.  It really means a lot – not just to us, but to the warriors and their families that we are representing.

Finally, at 3 PM we’ll mount our bikes and head out on a ceremonial ride all as one group.    Then we’ll stop while rest of the teams will load in their support vehicles to move forward to their next transition areas.  My team, the Green team, will keep riding until 6 PM before we get in our vehicle to head to our first stop.

The Green Team doesn’t ride again until Monday at noon.  That will be our first full 6 hour pull – noon to 6 PM.  On Tuesday we will ride from 6 PM to midnight.  Our final leg (at least we hope) will be midnight until 6 AM on Thursday.  That will be kind of neat because that means we can head on to Austin when we are done and have time to get organized for the weekend activities.

You can keep up with my ride here at LowCadence.com.  I’ll also be contributing to the team’s blog, RideToAustin.com.  It can be a challenge getting things up-to-date, especially if you are wanting to upload video.  I’ll do my best.  I’m also hoping AT&T will have coverage that will allow me to Tweet.  You can find those posts in the column to the right here.

I keep forgetting that one of the objectives about this whole thing is to HAVE SOME FUN! It is true that we are riding for a very serious cause, but that doesn’t mean that we are supposed to pedal all the way to Austin in a somber mood.  Do I think that Mike would expect that? What do you think, Grace?  That’s what I thought!