Yesterday I rode 50 miles (well, more like 48) in Cartersville, as part of a charity ride for the Boys and Girls Club. I'm rather partial to this ride as it was the very first group ride I ever did, two years ago. I've learned a great deal about riding in those two years, but I really enjoyed going on this route again and finishing it with ease.
The morning was foggy, which was a welcome change from the normal June scorcher. The group started at 8 am with several hundred riders waiting at the entrance to Dellinger Park. Police blocked the road to allow all of us to roll out together. It wasn't until the first traffic light about a mile away that we began breaking up in to smaller groups. Once away from Cartersville we rolled by fields and farms, and along tree lined country roads.
The 50-mile route is mostly flat with some rolling hills and very few significant climbs. It's a wonderful ride through some very pretty country. At the first rest stop I met up with a nice couple: he was riding a Roubaix and she was on a Ruby, both made by Specialized. So we stuck together for the rest of the ride. The second stretch saw the most significant hills, with two good climbs and one short climb up to a stop sign and a right hand turn. It was on this last hill that the Ruby rider dropped her chain as she downshifted. I was just behind her and to the right getting ready to downshift myself. Unfortunately I let her troubles distract me, didn't get down in to the right gear and got stuck uphill going too slow next to a disabled rider. I tried to pedal through but gravity was against me. Too late, I started to clip out but I met the pavement first. So now I have some ugly road rash on knee and elbow. It will heal soon enough, but my bruised ego will take longer. Chalk it up to experience. Still, I should know better than to get myself stuck in a position like that.
The next rest stop was at the Barnsley United Methodist Church. With the help of the volunteers I patched myself up and loaded up on candy bars. and we replenished our supplies, then set off for the second half of the ride. The skies were still overcast and the temperature was still pleasant. The sun didn't peek out until around 10:30, and didn't really come out in force until after 11. At some point a guy on an S-Works (also made by Specialized) came cranking by and complimented each of us on our bikes: "nice bike!" I, of course, returned the compliment.
After a brief respite at the third rest stop we set out once again for the final 15-mile stretch, doing the outbound route in reverse. The cows were still grazing in their fields, and one looked at us with a curious expression. Coming back in to Cartersville the traffic began to pick up. Riders stopped bothering with the warning "car back" because there was always a car back. The drivers seemed mostly tolerant of us, but they're probably glad this ride only happens once a year.
Two years ago I struggled to finish the 48 miles. This time I felt good at the end, like I could have gone on for longer. At the end of the ride we were treated to hamburgers and pizza. And after a morning of riding, they tasted wonderful!