Luxury in a small cabin that gets you there and back in 2.5 hours rather than 10. Whew! Why did we wait so long to get a plane?
Gallery of Baton Rouge images taken while attending the LTPA Annual Tourism Conference. Click an image.
Some 40-ish miles from my house is the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. Yes, it’s a sweet ride. Mostly it’s up and down. The trip traverses the Foothills Parkway (my personal sanctuary) and a good chunk of the Dragon (Highway 129).
I’m uncertain as to the total climbing elevation, but it’s more than most riders are willing to endure on a Sunday training ride (ha). At 4:40 total time, I burned 2,900 calories and was ‘dun’ when I arrived home. Along the way I reminded myself that I completed a one-hour weight workout at 6:30AM earlier in the day (double ha). “Ah” … that meant I could eat a dozen cookies after dinner.
Road signs along the way included the 12% grade which meant that I was going just as fast as the motorcycles … down hill. In fact, I passed two motorcycles going downhill this trip. All I got was thumbs up when they passed me on the next uphill. Ok then, why do I ride? … because …
The weather was lovely – cool, with low humidity and the forecast called for 10% rain. The riders lined up … then we started. On time.
However, I went left rather than right. In hindsight that was a signal from the universe intending me to ride the 62 mile route rather than the 105 mile route. As I saw the larger group ride down a hill more than a mile away, I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle.
Rather than warm up in a sensible manner, I went directly into time trial mode. Immediately. As I stomped on the pedals, my heart rate soared to 93% of max … oh boy. I was pushing 26-27mph attempting to catch the group and slowly made ground. I felt slow. My body felt slow. However, as I passed more and more riders getting shelled out of the peloton I knew I was making ground. There was a point where I seriously considered turning back and calling it a day. Really. There is nothing more aggravating than trying to catch the peloton during a ride (not a race). It took me 8 miles to bridge to the group of 20-ish riders. The pace wasn’t fast mind you, but as any rider knows – the ‘group’ (peloton) moves faster than a single rider.
For the next 40 miles we held a moderate pace that kept our average around 22.6mph. Not fast – but fast enough considering we were covering roller after roller.
Prior to the Cherohala climb, I encouraged a ‘group break’ to fuel up. Most everyone did except for a few folks who needed a head start. Within 4 miles, 6 guys were away. As I saw them ride away from me, I felt as if I was rolling backwards. I wasn’t, but it felt that way. Somewhere around mile 56-ish, I stopped at one of the ‘rest stops’ to fuel again as I knew the top of the mountain wouldn’t be reached for more than 2 hours. As it turned out, that proved to be a smart decision. Having the extra fuel helped me make ground on the other riders who got a head start.
Mile after mile churned below me as I slowed to 7mph in many sections. I passed lots of riders. Finally I came upon one of the 6 guys that got away from me earlier. We rode together and found another one of the original 6 standing along the road side … why I don’t know. The three of us rode to the top and re-fueled … then departed together. On the return trip down the mountain it is mostly downhill, but there are several sections with short/steep climbs. Let’s just say there was enough climbing that we passed yet another guy from that original 6. At that point only 3 of the 6 guys (who got away from me) were in front of us … and that’s the way it remained. Funny, we passed a bunch of 62 mile riders on the way down the mountain. Imagine, our route was some 43 miles further and we were ahead of them!
When we neared the finish line, we agreed to cross the line together. Doing so was a polite way of saying – it’s a ride, not a race.
Summary: 105 miles, 5:52, average heart rate 143 or 81% of max, 4,953 calories burned. I then drank a Coke, a Coke One, ate a cheeseburger from McDonald’s with fries and another Coke. When I arrived home I crashed and woke up 2 hours later to eat again. And for dinner I consumed another big plate along with ice cream, cookies and strawberries for dessert. What a day.
At bedtime I stopped to think … what was the 62 mile ride about?
When we walk into a sand trap, step on the land mine or fall into the pit, the mind can whirl its configuration to keep us there for a while. Climbing out of the bunker, picking up the torched leg or climbing from the pit can be as easy as thinking positively. Easier said than done. Trust me, my Wednesday was a challenge on all three fronts. The power to convert those strong negative feelings requires great mental fortitude and the ability to focus on one thing. If the mind races around the mental house like a broken bottle rocket, it will likely explode in the wrong place.
What to do; thought from over ‘n here.
Some folks consume more adult beverage than needed and others take similar routes. I prefer the vigorous routine of working out – by riding my bike for an extended period. This might be a preference for many people. A vigorous walk, a hearty yard cleaning or a phone call to a friend might work as well. What does work – and I mean really work – is thinking and emitting positive energy. “Do” is the answer.
Remember: it’s a ride, not a race.
Somewhere around 8:30 we rolled out from Heritage High School on a 70 mile adventure around parts of Blount County. The guys that felt the strongest where pushing the tempo early – as if it were a race. Naturally several of us allowed them to pull, push and strain over the small hills early – knowing that it was an unnecessary waste of energy. Rather than ‘hurry’ to catch someone on a small hill, we’d roll a little faster on the downhill to catch them.
At the Montvale Road turn there were several people who elected to sit up front but those folks were left behind en masse. Approaching the switchbacks, there were four of us at the front and the stragglers dropped one by one. Only two guys crested the climb ahead of me. The first was a CAT2 racer (23 years of age) and a mountain bike racer (about 24 years of age) then me – at 47 years of age. We took the descent safely waiting a bit to regroup as there was 50 miles left in the “ride.”
The lone CAT2 racer took off – as if it were a race. Interestingly, the Tennessee State Road Race was being held at the exact same time – which is where this young Turk should have been. Had he been in that race it would have been very different outcome for him (it was a 110 mile race).
Ok. It took 5 of us about 30 miles to catch him and from there we grouped up and rode together. Nearing the 62 mile mark, CAT2 racer attacked (WTF?), and we reeled him back in the group. He did it again at the 65 mile mark and we just let him go. No one cared about this ‘move.’
It was most laughable. Especially knowing that had he raced at the State Road Race – he probably would have been in the back of the field at the end.
As we crossed the timed finish (3:30ish), we laughed at the youthfulness of our fellow rider and said aloud: it’s a ride, not a race.
PS: now there’s a guy who was ‘timed’ to be the #1 rider in this “race” as it was being called by the KnoxNews folks. NOTE TO KNOXNEWS: You’re information is in ERROR. Ok. Mike Barrett – was not in our group. He was not in the lead group – period. I was there and well, he wasn’t. John Crowson (CAT2 racer) was the fastest in the 70 mile ride.
Nearing 4Pm I realized the day had been the typical blur – and my mind raced ahead to the County Clerk’s office where a small, tiny decal awaited my check. The only ‘thing’ in my way was the distance between the office and the Clerk’s office just 18 miles away. The sun was shining – the birds chirping – the blue sky was clear – the clouds few and puffy white – the music a little sweeter – the inevitable Firerock Pale beckoning my tastebuds.
All was good.
Within five miles of the office the traffic slowed to a 5mph crawl. I knew something was up – but I had no idea how bad or what it was. The clock ticked away slowly at first and when the hand touched 4:15 I knew that the Clerk’s office would be closed if and when I arrived.
As I opened the sun roof of my car (I rarely do that) I felt the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and smelled the cigarette smoke from a man smoking in the car next to me. For an instance I thought, “how dare you ruin this moment” – but I continued to smile. Sure I was annoyed. But what could I do?
Stop for a moment.
Have you ever stepped up to the bathroom sink, reached for the toothpaste and squeezed the tube but nothing was left in it? At that moment you either threw it down in anger or shrugged your shoulders and brushed without the paste … or found another tube somewhere hidden under the sink.
No matter – it was what we decided that determined how we felt and in doing so it attracted more of what we felt.
Back to the drive home, I shrugged my shoulders and said aloud, “toothpaste.” I then laughed. I raced, mentally ahead in wonderment of what lay ahead at the dreaded intersection of Topside Road and Alcoa Highway. It’s notorious for accidents – and I’ve witnessed more than 10 at that location over the years.
Nearing the intersection I could see that we were being diverted onto Topside – and that seemed odd until I saw three fire trucks and countless police cruisers. THP had a video camera set up and was filming the extraction of ‘bodies’ from a car. A pickup truck was in the northbound lane – smashed and lifeless. Police were allowing northbound lane traffic to pass single file but nothing was going south.
As our single file lane neared the intersection I saw a black bag – then two. My heart sank deep and I realized the crash involved fatalities.
At that moment I was angry, annoyed, happy and a whole bunch of other things all at once. Angry that it happened (isn’t it time that we change the rules of road for that intersection!!!), annoyed that police were on the spot but are no where to be found (daily) when traffic is attempting to turn left onto Alcoa Highway, and happy … well sort of happy …. that I was alive.
The tiny decal for my car’s license plate isn’t that important after all.
What is important is that I appreciate each day as if it were my last.
In that moment I figured out why I’m so damn happy when I’m in Hawai’i. Why I’m so content when I visit – why I’m so eager to return again and again. Why? Because I noticed EVERYTHING and in doing so time slows down and I’m in the moment. I’m into life itself and I soak it up as if I have just a few days to live. I’m in the moment so vividly and clear that I soak up everything – including those things that typically annoy me. But when I’m there (in my paradise) I’m super-happy. Not because it’s Hawai’i, but because I’m living life.
As I turned the corner onto Topside I realized something very, very important: happiness is a state of mind. Either you’re in it. Or you’re not.
I’m in it.
If Paul Harvey were alive, he’d offer the rest of the story:
APRIL 9th, 2010
In a press release, Sgt. Bud Cooper said Jean Smith, 82, of Oak Ridge, and Clara Miller, 75, of Clinton, were killed in the two-vehicle crash.
At 2:50 p.m., Smith, who was driving a 2006 Toyota Camry, was attempting to turn left onto Alcoa Highway northbound from Topside Road when she failed to yield and pulled out in front of a Dodge Ram truck driven by Brandon L. Barnes, 23 of White Pine, Cooper said. Barnes hit the driver’s side door of the Camry.
According to the press release, Smith was killed instantly. Miller was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where she died as a result of injuries from the crash, Cooper said.
Cooper said Barnes was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital and is being treated for his injuries.
After a few days of gathering, eating, playing cards and visiting, the cameras seem to be obsolete. But, each year that I’m in Jonesboro for Thanksgiving, I try and capture a few images. Herein are some family pics when we visited Warren and Mila on Friday evening. More pics to follow.
The day after Thanksgiving, can it be so? Black FRIDAY. I wore the appropriate attire for the celebration. No shopping though.
The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit).
The news media frequently refer to Black Friday as the busiest retail shopping day of the year, but this is not always accurate. While it has been one of the busiest days in terms of customer traffic, in terms of actual sales volume, from 1993 through 2001 Black Friday was usually the fifth to tenth busiest day. In 2002 and 2004, however, Black Friday ranked second place, and in 2003 and 2005, Black Friday actually did reach first place. The busiest retail shopping day of the year in the United States (in terms of both sales and customer traffic) usually has been the Saturday before Christmas.
All were here (in Jonesboro, Arkansas) with the exception of a few folks. Very few.The food was wonderful and tasty – as was the dinner conversation and such. As soon as it began, it ended. Funny how that works – hours to prepare, minutes to consume. Aunt Martha worked tirelessly to have the house and food ready for everyone.
Either I’m getting older (a little too quickly) or I’m just old. But at 9PM I was ready for bed. Need less to say, the rest of the crew wasn’t. I believe the poker game extended itself well into the night and the gamers were gaming for much of the same.
My sinuses are continuing to drip in the back of my throat and as soon as I lay down, I feel as if I want to cough. At 9:30 or so, I took two Benadryl and went to bed. (Wish I had the red syrup with me!) I didn’t drink very much (I had a single beer) and felt better for doing so. Oh well, I slept for 9 hours – which made up for the (approximately) 6 hours the night before.
Good day, thankful for Thanksgiving. Gobble on.
I took these photos on I-40 West on east side of Jackson, Tennessee, November 26th, 2008. I’m unclear as to what happened other than it looked like a one-car (small SUV) wreck. This wreck occurred shortly before passing it because traffic was moving along, but the THP, accompanying firetrucks nor an ambulance were present.
I believe they (THP) were out trying to catch speeders. “Ok then.”
Drive safely. Please.
Yes, I was tired, but I also felt it was an opportunity to gauge my fitness. No surprise, it’s dropped some because the racing season is now two months behind me. However, I cranked the bike up to 22+ for most of the trip to and from Treemont, my personal Mecca, and the numbers on the heart rate monitor were surprising. Most of the ride the numbers remained lower than 78% of max – which is great news. Cool weather conditions aren’t my favorite, but we’ll deal with them while counting down the days until spring.
Recently I purchased a Crumpler camera bag — so I can fit all my gear in one pack with proper protection for the valuable lenses (especially the Canon EF 70-200 IS/USM 2.8). It was a fun purchase too – I made it while in Hawai’i. The size of the bag looks as if a six-pack should be easily fitted … possibly ice too?