Elk River Valley 36 (or 37.3)

A longish flat stretch of Elk River Valley 36-mile route.  I liked the fog over the distant hill.  I think this was in Bedford, as opposed to Moore, County.

A longish flat stretch of Elk River Valley 36-mile route. I liked the fog over the distant hill. I think this was in Bedford, as opposed to Moore, County.

Yesterday morning I rode the 36 mile route of the Elk River Valley 100 – the Highland Rim Bicycle Club’s annual big event. Since I’m riding 33 year-old equipment and have been having trouble with the drive train (again) the past couple of weeks, I reckoned the 36 mile route was the most appropriate. I would have preferred a 50-mile route, but none was offered this year, also, as I am now in my 50’s, that would have been cool. 

WordPress, or any blog posting service, really, should have in addition to a feature that allows the writer to add tags, a feature that allows the writer/”athlete” to add excuses:  Here are mine, besides the drive-train thing, above:  Bad cold the preceding week; A cough which likely heralds some kind of upper respiratory illness; A gut that didn’t feel quite right.

Friday night, I cleaned and lubed the Miyata’s drive-train. Did have some trouble getting the rear wheel back on the bike – had never had that trouble previously – all quick-release and easy, usually.

When the ride started, Saturday morning, I positioned myself at almost the back end of the pack, because I lost track of time, and had to use the toilet one last time (yes, this happens, anagrams happen). The air was cool, the sky clear except for some remaining patches of fog, and the pavement was mostly dry even after Friday’s multiple heavy downpours.

A couple of miles into the course, ascending Hilltop (usually a piece of cake, even for an old man on an old bike), while shifting into an easier ring in front, the chain in back banged down into the hardest gear in back, and then came off the freewheel, altogether. So I stopped riding and addressed the problem, walked a few yards to a flatter spot on the hill, remounted and rode.  From that point on, I made all my shifts with caution and usually in advance of the point they were really needed.

At the food stop, about, I don’t know, 10 or 12 miles further on, the guys from Woody’s Bicycle Shop of Sewanee had set up a mechanical aide station.  I asked Woody to have a look at the problem, and he opined that something – derailleur-hanger or part of the derailleur, was bent.  He made some adjustments and pronounced the bike fit to pedal.  I rode on.

I stood up to pedal a couple of hills on the way in to Lynchburg, home (as most readers probably already know) of the Jack Daniels distillery (those guys want to verify your age before they let you look at their site – seems strange to me).  For those of you who need to know, the public toilets are behind the square, more or less, behind the BBQ Caboose Cafe.  The cafe was closed Saturday morning, by the time I got there, although I think most Saturday mornings, they broadcast a live radio program showcasing Bluegrass music, performed live.

I walked up most of Tanyard Hill Road with another cyclist, and that turned out to be the pleasantest part of my ride – getting to meet and converse for awhile with an intelligent, articulate person.  We swapped dog-bite and gun stories; talked about cycling.  I wound up riding on ahead and finished the course, as I rode most of it, solo.

Back at Motlow College, the ERV’s start and finish, by an exercise of self-control, I ate only three bratwurst.  Then I drove home with good intention to mow the yard, but wound up taking a shower and then a nap.  Maybe I’ll mow later today.

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