Three more days of riding hills and headwinds, then a flat dash across the coastal plain brought us to the Atlantic Ocean. I stopped writing posts a few days ago because they were becoming repetitive. All we did was get up, eat breakfast, ride, eat, sleep, repeat. That’s the magic of Pactour.
Martha and I spent yesterday relaxing on Tybee Island. Most riders have departed by now, probably most are home with their families. I miss them.
Lon and Susan have been running Pactours for 35 years. At three rides each year, that makes this the 105th Pactour. I’ve done eight of them. Now I’m John Darling. Martha is Wendy. Lon and Susan are Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Pactour is Never Never Land.
Headwinds and hills for 128 miles, just get it done. No stops for pictures, just ride the bike. Tiger Tom and Doc Don escorted me out of Livingston. Then I traded a few pulls with Eastside Ernie and Jukebox Jerry, until we caught another group ahead of us. Ernie and Jerry dropped back, and I rode up to the first sag in an ad hoc pace line – three of the Tacoma-Steilacoom boys, Big John, Winchester John and Seattle Gary. They stopped at the sag, I kept going; I also blew past the second sag, and finally they caught me right before lunch. Rather than stopping to eat, I poured some tomato soup in my water bottle, grabbed half a grilled cheese to eat while riding and headed down the road, not fast, but at a steady pace. About 20 miles outside of Greenville, the same pace line caught me again and I let them go. Eventually QB Ken caught me, and we rolled into Greenville together, both happy to have some company.
For a final test of my platform pedal hypothesis, I switched back to Speedplay pedals with Specialized shoes for the ride to Greenville. After happily riding platforms for over two weeks, I wanted to see if the Speedplay pedals offered any advantages. Much as I would like to say there was no significant difference, I cannot do that. I liked having my foot locked in to the pedal, especially at two points on the stroke – about 1 o’clock and about 7 o’clock. Also, I was able to sustain standing on a climb longer and more easily with the Speedplays. Overall, my perception was they provide a small increase in power – maybe 5 – 10 percent. That’s not much, but for a long day it is significant.
Final analysis – platform pedals have all the advantages I mentioned in my earlier post. Riding with sandals is incredibly comfortable. For a self-contained ride, you don’t have to carry extra shoes. For tour rides shorter than 100 miles, unless you have your mind set on beating your friends to a motel or campsite, I suggest giving platforms a try.
Outskirts of Livingston, not much here. McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Taste of India. Martha and I didn’t want to risk Indian Food in ‘bama, so we went for the King. My whopper had too much ketchup. Big John and Debbie went for McD’s. They were out of ketchup. Doc Jon went for Taste of India, said it was good. I forgot to ask if they had ketchup. Karen Ann and Brent chose subway, which they ate in the motel lobby. I told Karen Ann, “look like you’re happy, even if you’re not.” She laughed.
Brent and Karen Ann inspire me. They ride this tour together most of of the time, with smiles on their faces, seeming to savor every moment.
Brent’s rear derailleur broke today. He’s riding the rest of the way to Savannah with only his front triple. Tomorrow will be a good test – 128 miles, and hills.
Just for grins, riding out of Indianola, I decided to stalk the Nutter gang and maybe discover some of their secrets for having so much fun together on this trip. Riding south on 49E, Seattle Gary came flying by me about five miles out of town. Ten minutes later, along comes the rest of the gang, Waukegan John, motoring them up to Sea Gary’s wheel. He got down on his aero bars and pulled the whole gang for maybe ten miles, while Ma Karen sat on Stigman’s wheel at the back. The winds kicked up a notch and the gang started trading pulls, eventually forming a perfect double echelon when the wind was blasting from the left. I hung back a couple hundred feet, smiling and admiring until they reached the first sag stop and I rolled slowly by.
Leaving the Flood Plain
After riding fifty odd miles, we began climbing a sequence of stair steps, leaving the cotton and rice fields behind us. The landscape changed dramatically to rolling hills, forests, pastures, picturesque houses and occasional dogs. At supper tonight, Charlie admitted to priming the dog pump, being the first to ride by them all. By the time I reached dog alley, they had me dialed in. My Strava power graph spikes for each of my dog intervals. On one particular occasion, two dogs teamed up: first a yellow lab came at me from the right. Just as I had managed to outrace him, his black lab buddy comes charging from the left.
Dogs were my only motivation to ride fast today. Otherwise I enjoyed a slow meander over the rolling hills of eastern Mississippi.