I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ride this brevet in Nashville, courtesy of the Harpeth Bicycle Club. When I considered the timing (February), weather (cloudy, but 50F, light wind, and no rain), and my conditioning (pretty good for this early in the season), everything worked out well.
Here's the blue beast ready to roll. I got the VO Randonneur Bag Wednesday for my birthday.
I'm learning quickly that randonneuring is nothing more than riding for a long time on the bike, and fixing problems on the bike for the next ride. On this ride, I had mounted my new Topeak Morph pump on the right seat stay. Bad idea, for 6 miles into the ride, the air tube came loose and rattled between the seat stay and the spokes. Fortunately the pump was OK, and the spokes weren't damaged, and I didn't wipe out and cause anyone else to crash. I quickly picked the pump up and stashed in my handlebar bag.
I've never been to this part of Tennessee before, and wasn't sure what type of terrain to expect. I was thinking that since we were quite a ways from the Appalachians, this would be a moderately flat course. Well, that was wrong. This was a very hilly course (at least it was to a flatlander like me). One of the riders said there was 8,000 feet of climbing over the 200K. Some of the hills were fairly short, but steep. And others were long, and steep, like this hill on Dyer Road, below.
This is beautiful country in which to ride a bike. Mile after mile of forested hills and ravines riding on the smooth, paved, and twisting roads makes for a cyclist's heaven.
I rode the first 30 miles or so with David. He has a sweet Rivendell Ramboulliet, which he's had for several years. This was the first control, but I didn't realize until later that David was turning back at this point.
This is the group I ended up riding the second half of the ride with, but I lost them after this first control. These guys headed down the road while I waited for David. When he said he was turning back, I quickly said my goodbye and chased after these guys. They had maybe a 7 or 8 minute head start.
From miles 30 through 65, I rode by myself. It gave me a chance to admire the scenery, and my new handlbar bag. The thing I like best about this bag is the handy cue sheet holder. I didn't miss a turn on this brevet - that is the best way to save time.
This is the new bridge over the Duck River, and the old bridge is on the left. This stretch of road is Minnie Pearl Memorial Highway. Seeing the sign reminded me of how we used to watch Minnie Pearl on Hee Haw when I was a kid. Shortly after this, I caught up to the four guys I had been chasing at the next control - Cissy Lynn's General Store. The store was right across the road from her mother's (Loretta Lynn) Ranch and RV Park.
Up until the last 7 miles, I rode with four local guys. They talked and joked up these big hills while I stared at my front wheel and gasped for oxygen. The only thing that helped me was my larger mass which was my only equalizer on the downhills. This photo was taken on one of the longer hills. In my tiny chainring and largest rear cog, I can climb just about any hill. I may only be going 4.5 miles here, but it's still faster than walking. But I dropped off the back of this group with 7 miles left, because I just couldn't keep up on these big hills anymore.
The blue Trek worked very well on its first official Brevet. The Nitto Technomic quill is long enough to allow me to raise the handlebars almost level with my new Brooks saddle. While the frame may be just a bit too small, I like top tube length which permits me to sit a bit more upright than on my grey Trek, which is a bit larger.