PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006

Day 25, Wednesday, October 4
To: Metter, GA; 114 miles
(138 miles with route sheet error)

Lost! Great roads over gently rolling terrain, controversial stage win #5.
Riding Time: 7:24:26; Avg Speed: 18.6 mph; Max Speed: 33.4 mph

Started at 58°F and warmed to a 87°F under clear skies. Winds were light and variable.

1 big hill at mile 21 then gently rolling.

 

Intended route shadowed I-16 eastbound on back roads. A route sheet error at I-16 and Rt. 46 caused front half of peloton to continue north to Swainsboro and tack on an extra 18 to 28 miles. Our 24-mile detour is shown in grey.

 

This morning I awoke with aching legs so I figured it would be a disappointingly slow day. To my surprise, as I rolled along in a large paceline to the first SAG stop, I started to feel stronger. The pain was still there, but the power that deserted me for the last two days seemed to be coming back.

We descended on the first SAG in masse, but all I needed was to top off my waterbottle and left with Denis. An attentive Walter left just after us, chased us down, then the three of us now clear of the field worked together to the second SAG stop.

Eamonn joined us at the second SAG stop and the four of us pressed hard to lunch at 20 to 26 mph. The lunch truck passed us about 8 miles before the lunch stop. Oppps, we thought we might arrive at lunch too early so we slowed a bit. We timed it perfectly as they had just finished setting up as we arrived. Susan said a flat tire on the lunch trailer caused the delay. As we were leaving a pack of about eight riders rolled in 20 minutes behind.

At this point, although unspoken, we were all going for the stage win. Today would be the last opportunity to flex some competitive muscle, since tomorrow we will end the tour in an escorted parade for the last 5 miles to the finish.

We hammered to the last SAG stop at 98 miles (just 16 miles from the finish). Leaving that SAG stop the route sheet said to continue going straight (north), so we did. Unfortunately, the way to our hotel was a right turn (east). In addition, it was 14 miles to the next turn on a road with a lot of road construction so when the intermediate waypoints on the route sheet didn't appear it was plausible that the construction was the cause. After about 8 miles, I started having suspicions. A few miles later in Swainsboro, I told the others that we must be off track. We asked several motorists for directions to Metter finally taking Lambs Bridge Rd to Rt 23 south back to Metter.

Since I had only planned to ride 16 miles from the last SAG stop, not the 40 miles it turned out to be, I ran out of water and started to dehydrate. We ended the day with 138 miles traveled.

Only after Lon came to the last SAG stop late in the day was the error discovered. By then the entire front half the field had been lead astray.

Since the route sheet fouled things up at the last SAG, that location can be declared the official end of today's stage. Albeit with some controversy therefore, the stage victory may be granted to Denis, Eamonn, Walter and I. However, Derek Edwards was the first rider to actually arrive at the hotel, so he has a legitimate claim as well.

Pace line at 25 miles on a lovely tree-lined roadway (just before the first SAG)

 

The fast group next after us at the lunch stop (that included Paul, Peter, Butch, Greg, Anne, and James) logged 142 miles today. Peter later said, "We had such a good group today. We worked together and they showed their best character ...They're lovely people".

Walter and Denis near Allentown GA (at 37 miles) Denis with farm sprinklers just before the second SAG stop near Dudley GA (at 45 miles)
 

Walter out on the road today: "Geogia is the most wonderful state."

Lunch in Blackville GA (at 74 miles). Denis getting a drink at the back of the trailer; Susan at the grill with Steve S and Lara helping; Bisti the dog well behaved as usual; and Eamonn first in the food line shouting "Service please!"

 

I had steak dinner at the Western Steer with Eamonn, Walter, Dan, Gene, Dana, Mike, Steve Dieball, Dan Messner and Jeff Godwin. We loved the southern accents of the waitresses.

Picture please...
After dinner Walter saw a nice looking police car in the restaurant parking lot. After the policeman finished helping one of the customers, Walter approached him and said with his heavy Swiss accent , "Excuse me, my English is not so special. I would like a picture inside this car with my hands on the steering wheel." The officer smiled and said that he was sorry but, he would get in trouble if he allowed that.

I suggested that perhaps I could get a picture of Walter in the back seat bound in handcuffs. Showing great patience with us he explained that anyone sitting in the back seat must also ride to the police station. But, as he explained that Walter interrupted and clarified further, "No, the back seat is not special. I would like a picture holding the wheel with a cowboy hat." With his professionalism choking back laughter he simply said he was sorry.

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