Monday, March 24, 2008

Larry Schwartz - March - 93 miles

Who is Larry Schwartz? He was a retired engineer who decided to start riding long distances .

I have decided to try and earn the Larry Schwartz Award.

This is a chronicle of my first attempt.

Saturday night I went over the course possibilities with my son C. Since the wind was coming out of the north, and would be present all day, we determined to head out into the wind. Our plan was to start an hour before dawn and try for under 6 1/2 hours. Plans are made to be broken.

We got started at 7:15 and rode north on Ooltewah-Georgtown. It was a cold morning dropping down to a low of 33°F before the sun rose above the ridge line. I had made a batch of energy bars the night before and the plan was to stop every hour, take a break and eat a bar to keep the energy levels up.

Our first stop came at 17 miles, just after Smith road. We sat and chatted and tried to warm up. C had chosen not to wear any booties and was experiencing cold toes, I was feeling the cold in my hands. Continuing on, we started heading East at Brittsville on the Lower River Rd. We took our second rest stop on the corner of the Lower River Rd and Eureka, the sun was shining strong and the temp had risen to about 40°F. Easter Sunday Traffic started to pick up but was not bothersome.

Resuming our journey we crossed some ridges, got passed by a nice looking black Dodge Viper, and went through some bottom lands, smelled the foul odours coming from Bowater's paper mill, and headed for the hills that are between Calhoun and Benton.

After spending an inordinate amount of time on Rt 163 we decided to take a more rural approach to Benton and started down 959, which is Pine Knot Rd., with C saying something about gun toting red-necks. (Doing this over again I would come out of Calhoun on 950, then continue on 956 which runs into Athens-Benton Rd.) This was actually a beautiful road and probably our most enjoyable stretch of the ride though it was somewhat rough and had a non-paved section that was about a mile in length.

It was time to eat something other than the energy bars so I did a food search on my GPS for a Subway, sure enough there was none in Benton, and little else to draw from. After checking the menu on the Sonic Drive In, we went next door to the Kangaroo gas station and bought four Krispy Kreeme donuts, crossed the road, sat on the court house steps and ate "lunch". It was beginning to feel more comfortable out with the temperature approaching 52°F.

With over 50 miles under our wheels for the day, we were feeling up to the task of finishing. We struck out towards Cleveland, crossing ridge after ridge, enjoying the remote roads we were fortunate to find. One that comes to mind is Chestuee Rd, near Hickory road, which has some farm bottom land and a couple of places where the water was just inches from the side of the road, beautiful and peaceful.

At the end of Benton Pike is the intersection of Waterlevel Hwy. We stopped at a U-haul rental store and sat on one of their car haulers for 15 minutes, discussing the next leg of the trip. We wanted to do a full century (100 miles) but the remaining road between us and home didn't have enough length. We talked about adding some distance by going further south and returning towards home but we were approaching some other time commitments so I decided to head straight home. (The Larry Schwartz Award calls for rides between 90 and 150, and I knew we'd get at least 90, so I was satisfied, having previously done 100+ mile rides I wasn't driven just to tack miles on to achieve the golden century)

My Father, who is approaching 77 years of age, still rides his bike regularly. We were going to pass by his house so I called to see if he wanted to finish the last 20 with us. He was excited to go so we made plans to meet him, and he even pulled for us a bit of the way. We went to see Freddy the mule feeding him some of the left over energy bars which he was grateful for, crossed a few more significant ridges bringing us within the Collegedale city limits, and the last slogging stair step 300' climb up to home.

We were tired, but the ride was fun and free of insurmountable difficulties, in a word successful.

Reviewing the ride I would have done this route in reverse, saving the long flat sections of the Ooltewah-Georgetown road for the end and climbing the continuous ridges that we saw towards the middle and end of the ride first while we were fresh. I would not want to ride this route from home with a significant source of wind coming from the South.

Also according to Motionbased the wind was coming from the WSW, it actually ranged from the N to WNW.

Ride Data:

Ride Summary :
Moving Time: 6:17:59
Distance: 93.70
Average: 14.9
Elevation Gain(ft): 7,377


sBlogger said...

You've put me to shame! Maybe next year, unless I do it this w/e and it isn't looking good with family coming into town.

Paul said...

sblogger - I e-mailed you about a week ago that I had joined, I thought you didn't want to take this up.