Sunday, April 15, 2012

Best Dam Ride Ever....

Today I did a ride I have done one other time, back in 2006. I don't know what made me do it that year, and I'm not sure why I haven't done it between then and now.

At most bicycle rides, we get t-shirts. It's a big deal, some sort of trophy to prove we have actually done the ride. (Or at least we showed up and got the t-shirt.) I knew this one would be cool just because of its name: The Best Dam Ride Ever. (There's that middle school thing again.) I should have learned my lesson. When I wore my first shirt in 2006, my friend Clyde, whom I had just met, saw me wearing it and asked, "Are you advertising?" I didn't figure out what he meant at first, and when I realized it was offensive, he was gone. Anyway, because I don't know where THAT shirt is, I was excited about today's ride. Then when I got there and was standing in the looooooooooong line to pick up my goodie bag and wristband, someone pulled his shirt out of the bag. And it was orange.

Orange. I don't DO orange. Drat. I'll probably give the shirt away.

The ride is so named because it begins at the bottom of the dam at Strom Thurmond Lake, which straddles the Georgia-South Carolina border. The climb up from the bottom of the dam to begin the ride is a chore, but it serves as a nice warm-up, and the reward going DOWN it at the end of the ride is awesome.

It was a good ride, with fully stocked rest stops (M&M's!!!) that had real bathrooms instead of porta-potties. Very little traffic, nice terrain, several crossings of different parts of the lake. (I hope the map shows up for you.)

I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to. I particularly wanted one of the dam itself, but they are doing some work on it, and there was a single lane of traffic. Cars had to wait for a signal to change to indicate they could cross, and then we threw about 700 bicyclists into the equation. I was pretty sure they didn't want the added aggravation of one of the cyclists stopping (or not stopping) to take photographs.

All in all it was a good day and an excellent ride, the ugly t-shirt notwithstanding. I rode 62.93 miles, and while I wanted to get back on the bike and ride those other .07 miles, I just couldn't make myself do it.  There was one thing that was confusing to me, though. The 60-mile route was supposed to follow one color arrow on the pavement, and the 100-mile route followed a different color. I was freaking out the whole ride because I didn't know which color I was supposed to be following. I figured when the course split I would check out my (not very good, at least to BRAG standards) map and see if I could figure out then which way I wanted to go. I'm not completely averse to riding a century, but I didn't want to do it by accident. However, I never saw the arrows split. For the entire ride, there were two arrows, one orange and one white. I have no idea what the century riders were supposed to do.

The view behind me. Not a very good picture, but the best I could do raising the camera over my head and guessing what I might be taking a picture of.
The view ahead, not long after the ride started. There were times today when I couldn't see anyone ahead of me or behind me. That's when I got a little nervous, not knowing about the arrow colors and all.

How many times have Katydid and I asked, "Where's the d**m rest stop?" Now we know.

I took this picture because Hickory Knob State Park is where we had our family reunion a couple of years ago. When we got to the store where this rest stop was, I thought, "Hey, this looks familiar." And then I saw the sign.

A not-very-good view of the lake. The drought makes the properties at the edge of the lake look pitiful. I guess because they're not supposed to BE at the edge of the lake, they're supposed to be IN it.

This sign was actually about halfway through the ride. It's not often I can say I've ridden my bike in two different states on the same day.
I don't know if this ride will become a standard or not. It's about a 2-hour drive, although I went through the country and managed to avoid interstates and major highways, so it was a pleasant drive. I may HAVE to go back next year. Surely the t-shirts can't be orange again.

Can they?


DJan said...

Nice pictures! I don't do orange, either. Why would anybody wear it on purpose? It looks awful on most people. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bragger. Nice pictures. My husband and I did the metric ride too. I wish we had the foresight to have used our helmet camera to get some good shots too. As far as I could tell, the arrows split at the first rest stop. The metric riders (white arrow) kept straight in front of the rest stop, while the century riders (orange arrow) turned right, right before the rest stop. Hope to see you at next years' ride.