This past weekend was an event I had been planning for months. Several of us who lurk about the "50+" forum on Bike Forums.net, have been getting together in different areas for group rides once a year.
The first was in Denver, then Finger Lakes, last year was my first in Ann Arbor and this year I helped initiate the trip to Nashville. We all signed up for the The Harpeth River Ride which is held in Franklin, Tn south of Nashville. It was a 10 hour drive and, as I mentioned before I left, I had thrown my new Hillborne together for the trip. I spent the first afternoon, anxiously running cable and making adjustments while it hung on the back of my car.
Most of the group stayed in hotels and we got together for dinner after picking up our packets at the Nissan corporate offices where the ride would start.
After a great dinner at O'Charleys, where most of us got to know each other for the first time, we went on home to rest our aging bones for the7am start time.
There were a total of 12 of us who came from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Nebraska. Since we all had signed up for different distances and routes, we didn't expect to see much of each other on the road.
Nissan had sponsored the ride and arranged for Chris Horner, Ben King and Matthew Busche from the Radio Shack team to be there for the ride. That created some excitement, a chance to rub elbows with the stars on the road.
The crowd was large, a total of 1500 and there was a little concern for riding in a group that size.
The only scary moment for me came as Andy and I waited in the 100k group for the start. As the start was announced, three separate riders fell flat on their butts while trying to clip in to their motionless bikes.
It was not a good thing to see, but once we started rolling there were no incidents or problems.
Andy said he likes to ride the metric century rather than the regular because more women sign up for the metric. He has a good point, there is something alluring about a svelte young woman in lycra--
hawlking a luggee out of her nose as she rides by.
The weather was perfect, the route conservative, the countryside beautiful the wind was negligible and the rest stops frequent with plenty of snacks and good conversation.
Being on a new hybrid I expected to see most people leave me in the dust when the hills came into play,
but after the first rest stop, it was all over for me. In my haste to build the bike, I had put on a chain which was a bit short. I broke it twice negotiated a few mild hills. I ended up with the slowest of slow 100K runs after nursing it all the way in on my 30T chain ring. Oh well, the day was perfect for a stroll through the country side, and I took full advantage of it (that's Dale Carnegie talking).
There was one challenging climb on the route which I did not find particularly difficult, but the view at the top was spectacular.
I was slow enough to miss out on the gathering for lunch but finished with every sag vehicle and cop in the event following up to make sure I was ok. It was kind of comical since I probably expended less energy than anybody else that day.
Overall it was a great success for a gathering and several of us got together for dinner that evening and parted hoping to see each other again next year.