Friday, May 19, 2006

Chapter 5 of The Life Cycle of the Feral Shopping Cart

Sometimes the Feral Shopping Cart just can't make it in the wild, but
it can't go back to being a humble conveyor of commodities. Like the
earliest domesticated beasts, they began to associate with man again,
first lurking at the edge of the darkness around the fires at night
hoping for a thrown bone or tidbit. As time passes, they form a
symbiotic relationship with human nomads, eventually becoming
semi-domesticated, but in a whole new way. While they are most
frequently seen working as beasts of burden carrying goods foraged by
hunter-gatherers, the halt and the lame among them take up an honored
place at the hearth.

Russ Fitzgerald
Greenwood, SC

Next time we may discuss the complex mating behavior of the feral shopping cart.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Issaqueena's Last Ride and nearly mine as well

Well, where do I start? I missed the Best Dam Ride in McCormick County this year and I will miss the Tour De Abbeville, so I wanted to do a ride early in the season. A fellow bloger was doing his first ever Century on May 6, and I sent him some words of encouragement(I hope your ride went well). Around that time I got a flyer for Issaqueena's Last Ride. 8500 feet of climbing sounded interesting. My cousin Matt called and was telling me he wanted to try the metric century and that clinched it for me, I sent in my registration and check. I thought I would try it on my fixed gear, but as the time grew close that voice in my head that keeps me from doing really stupid stuff was yelling at me not to. I decided to listen. I staid in Central with Matt the night before to cut down on drive time the morning of the event. We got to Walhalla early and got our gear ready and checked in. This was Matt's first organized ride in several years and the first after his gastric bypass. His girlfriend Andrea was worried and told me to take care of him before we left. As we stepped out of the church where the event was based, Russ comes walking in we exchange hellos and Matt introduced himself. We decided to ride together, the three of us. We all meet up at the starting line and Russ has to go back to get his cell phone.
Russ made it back in time for the start and we were off. Matt took out ahead of us as Russ and I opted to start slow. The day was prefect, not too warm and clear. I was worried that we would be getting rained on today, but the weather decided to cooperate at the last minute. We were being passed here and there and every once in a while we would overtake someone. I wanted to finish this ride and there was mentioned a nine mile climb at some point during this ride. After a few miles we caught up to Matt and stuck together, chatting about the usual stuff and some things that stay on the ride. Matt had gastric bypass surgery done at the first of the year and at that time topped the scales at 370, he had already lost 40% of his goal in 4 or 5 months, much faster than usual. His doctor thought he was nuts for doing this ride, but gave him the go ahead. " The doctor was surprised that I can ride like I have been." Matt said as we rolled along. "Yeah, but you have always been very active even when you were at your heaviest, most people who have this surgery probably never were." I replied. "You know I'm the only one of the three of us who has not had major surgery." It was an observation that occurred to me, Russ had a quadruple bypass two years ago. The countryside was beathtaking, flowers in bloom the sun was shining, birds singing, a great day for a bike ride.
We turn on a small road that winds around this picturesque little lake and it looks very familiar. It was a lake I used to sample years ago. "On a day like this I really loved my job." I said as we crossed a creek feeding into the lake that for the life of me I could not remember it's name. The narrow but smooth road begins to tilt upward and I gear down and spin at an easy pace. Suddenly it gets steep and I change to an easier gear, stand and crank up the hill. I'm pleased with myself that I was able to climb this hill will several gears to go(I laugh now knowing what was to come). A few more short climbs and we made the first rest stop. I grab some trail mix and a cookie and make a quick bathroom break. We made comments about the buzzards circling and the gnats hovering around us. "My first century when I was fourteen, I had the buzzards follow me in" Russ reminisced. "I'm working on a gnat beard" Matt commented. We waited a few minutes for Matt's stomach to settle as after the surgery his digestive track can be unpredictable. We left this rest stop thinking that we can do this, it's not that bad. Little did we know.....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Saturday With the Club

Russ and I met at 9:00 to get some extra miles in before meeting the Greenwood Cycling Club for the usual Saturday ride. An e-mail earlier in the week held two options, leave real early and hit some dirt roads and head to Troy, or the second option to meet early and get a few extra miles in. The flip of my gold dollar and the discussion was made. As I got my bike ready and all my gear settled I waited for Russ to show up. I took a spin around the block to see how my back would feel. After last nights ride I was feeling good, ready to do some more miles. As I pulled back in the parking lot Russ pedals up on his blue Rivendell. We discuss what the route will be and decide to try for Hitching Post Rd. As neither of us have been down that particular dirt road. We head out on the normal club route, down the rail trail, then left on Florida Ave. Then into Wisewood S/D and on 225. The wind is in our face on 225 and blowing fairly hard. I take the lead for a while and settle in to a nice pace. I was feeling pretty good and let the bike do it's thing. I tried to take some photos over my shoulder with my pen cam and only one came out.
It was about this time Russ said something about how I was riding strong for someone with back trouble. My back was feeling much better. We stopped at the light where 225 crosses HWY 25. This light will not change for bikes, so we weighed our options. Time was short so we decided to cruise down 25 and back to the parkinglot to meet everyone else. We have to turn right and make a u-turn in the median to legally make the light. Once back to the parking lot we meet up with John Lake, David Strawhorne, Fred, Landon (The Silent Killer)Davis, Jim Cox, and David Craig. We were all surprised to see Andrew Douglas pull up as he is scarce when the thermometer drops below 70C. Fred has an idea about the route and we all pull out of the parking lot. The lights in town break up the group, but once out of town we all meet up where the first group made a pitt stop. A few miles down the road I have to pull over for a nature break myself. I try to catch up and storm down the hills to make up time. At the four way stop on HWY 246 I wait for the traffic in front of me to clear and wave at the little girl at the nearby flea market. I cross 246 and see Russ and David Strawhorne in the distance. As I close on them I notice a dog up ahead chasing cars. He sees the cyclist and gives chase barely being hit by a truck. At this point I am only 20-30 yards away and the dog has locked in on David, it doesn't see me. I get close, but far enough away to maneuver if the dog runs infront of my wheel. I yell as loud as I could and the dog actually jumped about a foot off of the pavement. I may have startled David in the process. The dog moved to the right out of the road and I yelled again just as loud. The poor thing sat down and did not move. A mile down the road were more dogs and as they ran to meet us I yelled, "Stay!", and they did. That was it for my luck, the next dog was going to have me for lunch. Moments later the three of us passed the rest of the group as they waited at Stoney Point rd. they motioned us to go straight. At this point we started a gradual decent that slowly became steeper as we approached the Lake. At the bottom of the hill before we crossed the bridge I could smell the aroma of Calabash Chicken from Harris Landing restaurant. As I crossed the bridge Fred passed my and told me to take the next left, this was good as it saved us from a monster climb, or so I thought. The road was narrow and suddenly turned up. It was all I could do to keep the cranks turning, I was out of the saddle rocking the bike back and forth to get more leverage. I made it to the top huffing and puffing like a certain wolf in front of a brick house. By the time I recovered we were near the end of this road. I tried to get a shot with my pen Cam, but the batteries were dead. We made a right on Riverfork Rd. then right on Old Laurens Rd by the River Rat Cafe. I made a comment about not wanting to eat at a place that has a rat as a mascot. We all bomb down the hill we missed climbing due to the left turn and John Lake took the County sign from Andrew Douglas. Then the work began. The hill on the other side of the bridge was a beast. At this point traffic started to pick up. "Asses right!", I yelled as a group of donkeys bolted away from us in a nearby field. The a white pick-up passed barely missing an on coming car,"and an ass up." The dog that I yelled at earlier was sitting on the side of the road in his yard and did not look like he wanted to chase anything, I must have made an impression, if they were all that easy. We all come back to the four way on 246 and the faster group waits. We hit the rumble strips before the stop sign and Russ says,"It's like a thousand massaging fingers", and I reply,"all up my butt." We turn left on 246 and wave at the little girl again. "I always like to look for old racing steel", Russ says as we pass a line of cheap mountain bikes and BMX bikes. "I don't think there is any in this county".
"yeah I think I've picked Greenwood County clean." We ride down 246 to Coronaca, which all the locals pronounce Corn-acre(Don't ask I don't know). We turn on Bucklevel just before the town sign, climb a hill and turn left on Wingert Rd. We cross a set of rail road tracks and John Lake hurries everyone across to avoid a nonexistent train. We are dumped out back on Durst and Fred pulls into his drive and we say our farewells. Fred will turn 65 in September and wants to do a ride, one mile for every year. He wants to make this a club ride. I told him that it's his ride and he can pick the route, it will be interesting to see what he throws at us. We head down Durst back into town and stop at the longest light in the county. We talk to Mr. Dill a local locksmith and a former bike shop owner. My first fixed gear was a bike I got second had from my neighbor, it cam from Mr. Dill's old shop. After our conversation the light finally changed and we headed back into town. Russ peeled off shortly after to head home and the rest made it back to the parkinglot. All in all a very good ride, everything fell into pace and I ended up with 35.5 miles for the day.