Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Somewhere in the middle is the best place to be.

Organized rides are a great way to train for longer multi-day or multi-week tours. They are also a way to connect with other riders and explore a new area and I enjoy the festive atmosphere. Raquel and I usually travel to different states to do organized rides, but this year we decided to stay closer to home and do the rides here in the Mountains in preparation for our Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive tour.

Despite the race like beginning and after the Hammer-Heads pull ahead to warm up the pavement, you’ll find more casual riders beginning to group together. In Burnsville we shared a few miles of road with a very nice couple of brothers from Germany. On other rides we’ve struck up conversations with groups of grandmothers, teenagers on Wal-Mart mountain bikes, plump bearded guys on recumbents. Generally people from all walks of life on all types of bikes.

One good thing about riding slower is you can carry on a conversation with your neighbor cyclists instead of staring at their rear wheel praying you’re not the one to collapse the peloton into a yard sale of twisted bloody bicycle parts.

Another good thing about riding slower is the sights, sounds and smells you’ll pass. After a long day on the CNC last year, a group of us were standing around talking about what we had seen. One person chimed up, “well I didn’t see any of that! All I saw was the back of so-and so’s tire all day!” How sad. Personally, I would hate to pass by a cedar grove or a field of lilac so fast I didn’t notice the refreshing scent or race by an old couple sitting on their front porch without waving hello.

For me, a good pace on organized rides is somewhere in between Hammer-Head fast and dead-last. If you go too slowly, you may find the rest stops have pulled up stakes and called it quits and the SAG drivers are looking at their watches impatiently asking, “Hey dude, are you okay?” Too fast and you’ve missed the experience of exploring a little corner of the world or meeting a new friend.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Burnsville Metric 2009

Here are a few pictures of the Burnsville Metric. What a beautiful ride! This is definitely one we will do again. About 400 riders showed up. The first half follows a river through gently rolling hills. The second half is a bit steeper (not Tour de Tuck steep, but still, steep) as the course takes you into the mountains and back into Burnsville.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Virtues of Riding Slow

The reason I ride is to decompress from my stressful job and to spend quality time with my wife. But riding together can be difficult; my leisurely pace is Raquel’s moderate pace. Last year, as we rode across North Carolina together, I made an effort to slow myself down and stay behind her as much as possible. Whenever I had the urge to hammer ahead, I would remind myself I had nothing to gain from racing a mile up the road only to stop and wait. I reminded myself we were touring together and ‘touring together’ was the point of the trip. I had to tell myself to stop being selfish and enjoy being where I was; not focusing on some imagined, not yet reached, destination up the road.

Be where you are, Jack

New Sport: Extreme Picnicing

Over 2,3oo feet of climbing in less than 9 miles makes food taste so much better and a sweet downhill for dessert! Yumm.

Jack and Raquel