This morning I had planned on joining a large group ride leaving from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Cartersville, GA. About 50 or so riders were going to get together and ride the same 48-mile route as the Cartersville "Beautiful Backroads Century" with a stop at a convenience store at the halfway point. Rides like this are routinely scheduled on holidays, and someone decided that the day before Halloween was close enough to a holiday to use it as an excuse for a ride.
The ride was scheduled for a 9:30 departure to favor warmer temperatures. So I left the house at 9, a bit later than I intended, hoping that I would roll in to the parking lot at about 9:30. Well, it took longer than I remembered to get up there on I-75. And then I missed the exit. As soon as I went by it I knew I had made a mistake. It was right at 9:30 and if I had made the turnoff there was some hope I could get to the parking lot as folks were leaving. But missing the exit was the final nail in the coffin. There was no way I could get there in time. To rub salt in the wound, the next exit on I-75 after Cassville-White Road is another 10 miles. So 10 miles up, turn around, and 10 miles back.
Did I mention that I had just barely enough gas to get to the ride? I was going to fill up on the way home. But I wasn't planning on adding another 20 miles to the drive before pulling in for gas. As my gas gauge kept settling further below "E" I really started to worry. Could this day get any worse? By some miracle (God turning air in to gasoline) I made it back to the exit and all the way to a pump. It was 10 AM by the time I got to the brewery parking lot. But, I reasoned, I'm here and the roads are nice so I might as well go riding. I would have preferred to ride in a group, but riding alone is still better than not riding at all.
When I pulled in to the parking lot I saw a familiar looking car (see picture -- my car is the one on the left). I've met the driver of this Miata before and he is a very interesting guy. He is also a much better rider than I am. He had a trailer hitch put on his Miata so that he could attach a bike rack to it. It must be the only Miata in all of Georgia that has a trailer hitch.
The ride was good, but I didn't do the full 50 miles as I had planned. 31.4 miles in 2:07 for an average of 14.8. As the morning wore on the winds picked up and it became a bit harder to ride. At the halfway point (the decision point between the 30 mile route and the 50 mile route) I stopped for a brief rest. A group of three riders came along and let me join up with them for the ride back. I made it back to the parking lot at about the same time as the main group from 9:30 arrived.
So a rough morning gave way to a good ride. But as the weather gets colder I will probably have to return to "riding" in my basement.