PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006
Day 22, Sunday, October 1
To: Greenville, AL; 145 miles official (I rode 149 miles)
Smooth roads over rolling terrain
Riding Time: 7:28:11; Avg Speed: 20.0 mph; Max Speed: 35.5 mph
After a mild start of 63°F it warmed to a hot and humid 94°F. It was partly cloudy except for a few isolated thunder storms in the late afternoon.
|Nice rolling hills.|
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday: horrible roads, today: smooth, fast and a joy to ride.
Its interesting to note that it took me just 1 minute longer today to ride 18 miles further than yesterday. That equates to 1080 mph for the last 18 miles! Seriously though, despite the fact that today had slightly more climbing and I rode both days equally hard (in fact, I felt more drained after yesterday's ride), I attribute the faster pace largely to the smoother road surfaces.
|Very smooth Rt. 19 led us out of Mississippi through a misty hardwood forest (at 15 miles, near the Alabama border)|
For some riders, today's uncomfortably hot and humid conditions rivaled the discomfort and suffering of the intense desert heat. However, I trained for three months in conditions just like this at my home in east-central Florida. In my opinion, the desert heat has a much greater potential for debilitating a rider (at least this rider).
|In Alabama! (at 17 miles)|
Originally, I planned to ride hard today since, as the second longest day of the tour, it would be a good test of strength. However, yesterday beat me up so badly that I had to rethink that idea and instead play-it-by-ear.
Eamonn and I got out front early and by the time we reached Alabama we were both feeling better. After stopping for border photos and a restroom break, we then re-passed several groups that didn't stop. Along the way we picked up Karl.
Then things seriously unraveled when we missed a turn at mile 45. The turn was immediately after a previous turn and RR tracks. The route sheet could not have been more clear, but all three of us looked down to negotiate the RR tracks and when we looked up we had passed the turn. After 2 miles we realized that we had gone to far. By the time we got back to that turn several other groups had passed us. The extra 4-miles is equivalent to 12 minutes lost.
We cranked up the pace to pass them before the second SAG stop so we could avoid the delays that can result from a crowded pit area. Although we arrived at lunch first, since the crew was not completely setup we had to wait. Meanwhile others small groups straggling in.
After lunch we had just got up to speed when Eamonn had a flat tire that set us back another 8 minutes and again several groups passed us by. We pushed near our limit on every hill, upshifting on the crest and powering down the backside get clear of the field once again. At 30 miles to go Randy got around us and went on to be the first in today with Eamonn and I second. Patick was the next rider in.
So for us it was a day of setbacks, but in retrospect it made the day more interesting. But mainly it was just a good day to be on the bike with smooth roads, challenging terrain and good weather.
|Eamonn riding over the Alabama River (at 93 miles). There is a dam downstream so this backed-up section is called the Dannelly reservoir.|
With this last challenging day behind us all of us breathed a collective sigh of relief this evening knowing that there are only four relatively routine days remaining to Savannah. We all feel that we have turned the corner and are entering the homestretch.
|Alabama pine forest typical of today's ride.|
At dinner at Ruby Tuesday's tonight Eamonn was a human vacuum cleaner quickly wolfing down two huge plates of salad bar fixings and a steak and potato dinner. When I ordered a mixed berry smoothie for desert Eamonn and Walter were curious what that was and each ordered one too. After a tentative taste, Eamonn decided it was good and proceeded to suck his straw in earnest. Between two large gulps he said, "Hmm...that's quite cold isn't it?".
After a brief delay, suddenly Eamonn held his hands on his forehead, and rocked back and forth in great fits of pain from a massive cold headache. As the pain built he even resorted to putting his hands over his mouth as if the heat from his palms would warm his mouth enough to bring relief. When that didn't work he tried the "head in the vice" technique with hands pressing on temples. Of course, Walter and I found all of this hilarious. As we know, there is only one thing that cures a cold headache - time. But that doesn't keep us from trying.