Monday, June 29, 2015

#401 Spring Tune Up

In April I participated in a weekend bike ride in Madison, Georgia.  It’s the BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) Spring Tune Up.  You don’t really ride across Georgia; it’s just loops of varying lengths around the town of Madison.  My bike friends from Florida (Steve and Tracy) had signed up, along with another friend (Ken) from North Carolina.  Yes, it is even earlier than my June century ride last year, but the mileage was way lower.  I can do this! 

The week of the ride I checked out the weather.  Thunderstorms.  All weekend.  Sigh.  I kept tracking each day, and Steve kept doing his anti-rain dance.  It worked, as the forecast shifted to partly cloudy Saturday and “just” rain Sunday. 

I flew to Atlanta Friday after work.  I almost didn’t make it – when they scanned my boarding pass it made a weird noise and I had to go the customer-service desk at the gate.  “You don’t have a seat.”  What??  I had checked in!  Luckily, there was one guy on board who had offered to give up his seat so I got the last seat and a $50 voucher for my trouble. 

I landed in Atlanta around 9 p.m.  Got my rental car and drove off into the dark, rainy night.  Madison is an hour east of Atlanta.  I arrived at the park around 10:30 p.m. and let my friends know I was in the parking lot.  They had arrived Thursday and were snug and dry in their tents, along with all the other bikers.  They came out in the rain with flashlights trying to find my car.  “Flash your headlights!”  Ken finally found me.  He grabbed my bag from the trunk and carried it to my tent that Steve had ready for me.  The day before Steve had texted that it was waiting for me, all warm and dry.  When Ken unzipped the door Friday night the tent was filled with water.  “Houston, we have a problem!”  Steve actually said that out loud.  I‘m sure the other campers loved our late-night hijinks!     
I ended up sleeping in Ken’s suburban.  They threw two yoga mats and a blanket in the back and I put my sleeping bag on top of it.  I slept in my clothes.  Didn’t wash my face or brush my teeth.  It was past 11 p.m. and I was tired. 

Before I turned in Ken said he’d lock me in the car so no one would grab me.  I did have the key fob.  I slept fairly well considering.  At 6:30 a.m. I had to go to the bathroom.  When I opened the door – the alarm went off.  OMG!  I fumbled for the key fob but the buttons didn’t work!  I don’t know why I thought of this, but I dove headfirst into the front seat and started the car.  It worked!  The alarm only sounded for about 10 seconds but it felt like an eternity.  And I’m sure the other campers thought the same thing.  Later Steve said he laughed when he heard it go off and wondered if it was me.  Ken knew it was his car but hoped I’d shut if off because he wasn’t getting out of his tent.  Thanks a lot! 

With all quiet (and an empty bladder – it’s a wonder I didn’t pee my pants!), I slept a bit longer.  Then we hung out by the tents on the soggy soccer field and Steve cooked up quite a breakfast on his little camp stove.  

Making the best of a soggy morning
Eggs, turkey bacon and pancakes.  Yum!  It rained steadily all morning.  We decided not to ride so we drove into downtown Madison to check things out.  It’s a very cute town with lots of shops.  We saw a sign outside one of the shops which summed up our weekend.  

After lunch and walking around more, we went back to the park.  I took a shower (finally – it was around 4:30 p.m.) and Steve took down my soggy tent.  We went back into town and had a great dinner. 

Night two in the suburban.  This time I had a comfy sleeping pad.  And I had brushed my teeth!  Sunday morning we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then Steve and Tracy headed back to Orlando.  

Tracy, Ken, Linda, Steve
Ken and I drove to Athens, Georgia.  Then he went home and I drove to Auburn in the pouring rain.  It’s alarming to hear there is a tornado watch when you have no idea what county you’re in!  Made it to Auburn and hit the bookstores, also walking by a newly revamped Toomer’s Corner. 

I drove to a friend’s house but they weren’t home yet so sat in my parked car and relaxed for about an hour.  I thought the neighborhood watch patrol would come out and ask me what I was doing there.  Kirk and son Jake got home from basketball practice and I visited with them for a while.  I heard all about the Toomer’s Corner celebration from the day before.  Joe Jonas, Nelly and Kesha performed.  Jake was right up front!  Lisa and other son Hayes got home from a basketball tournament in Birmingham and I had about 15 minutes before I had to leave for the airport.  Although a short visit, it’s always great to go back to Auburn. 

At the airport I boarded one of the trams to go to my concourse.  A tall man wearing a sweatsuit got on.  He looked really familiar so I told him so, then asked, “Do I know you?”  He stepped closer and asked my name.  I told him, and asked his name.  “Jerry Stackhouse.”  Well, that would be why he looks familiar!  Haha  He played at North Carolina in the late 90’s.  I laughed and said I had been around basketball most of my life and was trying to figure out where I knew him.  Turns out I knew who he was, but didn’t know him at all.  We chatted in the tram and then up the escalator to the concourse.  He was really nice and laid back.  He was headed to an Adidas camp and asked if I had any kids (always recruiting!).  No, sorry.  I should have asked if he had any tall, single friends.  Oh well! 

After a whirlwind weekend I finally got to bed at 2 a.m.  All didn’t go as I’d hoped, but I had a blast with my friends and made a new one.  

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