Having not ridden since the previous water-logged episode (a full TWO MONTHS), I was back in the saddle for another organized ride with (occasional) ride partner cheapcyclist alongside. This time it was for the Tree City Rolling Tour.
A cool comfortable morning with a light breeze raised hopes for a pleasant journey. Arriving just after check-in began, we got ourselves and our rides equipped and ready to roll. No group start for this ride, roll when ready and see you at the end. The start & finish point for the more-than-aptly-named ride was Courthouse Square (Greensburg, IN) which looked like this:
Confident we would achieve and maintain a reasonable pace, off we went for the 33-mile course. Woe to those who do not adequately stretch prior to such tasks!
One of the highlights of doing such organized rides is getting to spin through parts of the state that would otherwise be overlooked for cycling purposes. The scenery was quite nice, with a variety of gentle rolls, false flats, long, low rises and the like. I sincerely don’t think I’ve ridden a better course in recent memory. There were even some ear-to-ear-grin moments when we achieved peak-speed-on-big-chain-ring downhills, pedaling furiously, heads tucked down, for all of tens-of-seconds in the big picture of things. These moments would surface later in the ride as perhaps not the wisest use of energy.
Much of the ride looked like this:
While it is necessary to take hydration and hunger abatement provisions out on the course, one of the (often) great things about organized rides is the SAG (Support And Gear) stop. Typically, these consist of a card table along the roadside populated by friendly volunteers. A chance to refill bottles, have a small snack that will be converted to fuel and sometimes even chat (albeit briefly) with other riders. Most longer-routes also have a larger SAG planned approximately at (or just beyond) the halfway point of the course.
This ride was no different, and upped the ante in many ways. One of the best parts of the 33-mile course led us around Lake Santee. Quite honestly, if I could manage it, I would satisfy my riding days simply doing loops around the lake. After completing the circuit around the water, marveling at lake homes, etc., our main SAG was located at (but not in) The Sea Shak, and was populated by some very well-prepared Scouts and leaders with a trove of edible delights, including chicken salad sandwiches (an organized-ride first, for me)!
The views were quite lovely, too!
In all honesty, we lingered here perhaps a little longer than we should have, and we paid for it in the final leg of the course (or so I think). The temperature and humidity had gone up, the headwind kicked in and with 8 or so miles to go, we found ourselves boarding what cheapcyclist terms “the struggle bus.” The Struggle Bus is that point in your effort that hovers at the edge of muscle cramping/pulling/tightening and outright exhaustion when you promise yourself you’ll train better and ride smarter from here on out. When on the Struggle Bus, one tends to grunt and sweat (and curse under your breath) in disproportionate amounts to the actual physical task at hand, and your biggest goal is to not end up in the weeds. (Note: this is purely a commentary on the rider, NOT the ride itself)
Suffice to say, we finished as T S Eliot might opine, “Not with a bang, but a whimper,” proud enough to have gotten back on the bike and lived to ride another day (although presumably sooner than two more months).
All in all, it really was a well-organized, well-executed ride, and kudos to the planners, course markers and volunteers who made it all happen.
If you are interested in cycling/route data (speed, elevation, etc.), I believe you’ll be able to see that data here: Tree City Ride