Today was another easy day with the route listed as 53 miles and only 1748 feet of elevation gain from Swainsboro to Statesboro, GA.
Several of us tried to get an early start, but when I went to retrieve my bike, five mins before our planned start time, I found a flat front tire. I ran it to the Cycleworks guys figuring to pay them to change it much faster than I could only to learn that the rim tape had failed and one of the spoke holes had caused the flat. Had I simply changed the tube out, it would have likely failed again out on the ride. Ironically, this exact thing happened to someone else in our group today and she ended up with two flats and a very long day.
The day began with warnings about fog and it was indeed foggy. Before we left Swainsboro, we came upon a bike-car incident and we later had a chance to talk to the guy. He’s about twenty years old and told us that when he slowed to make a turn, a truck ran into him from the rear, carried him for about 40 feet on the hood, and ejected him down the road another 30-40 feet. His helmet was destroyed, but he came away with minor road rash and a sore rear end. He had a great sense of humor about the whole thing and said he would just be looking for the driver to cover his medical and replace his bike.
The fog stayed with us for about the first half of the ride. Some people really didn’t like it, but I didn’t mind so much except that I couldn’t use my visor since it misted up in just a few mins. After fog came the “shake and bake” section of the course, which is what they call the chipseal roads. I think I heard someone say we had about 10 miles of it. If you don’t ride bikes, you won’t know how we hate it. The bumpiness slows you down, siphoning off your momentum and it numbs your contact points.
I rode in a small group today to move a bit faster than previous days and we spent some time riding with a woman from Nashville who was very strong and could help pull us along quite a bit. After the fog at the start, shake and bake in the middle, the entry into Statesboro was smooth and easy.
We’re hosted tonight at Georgia Southern University, which has a very beautiful and very large campus. I doubt I really have the sense of it, but it feels like the size of UA with only one third the buildings. Oh, yeah. It’s sitting in a swamp. Now that doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but it does mean gnats. Stinging gnats. In fact, someone said there was a pond on campus nicknamed “Gnat Pond”. That’s nice.
The indoor camping is in the Recreation and Activity Center or RAC. This facility rivals any that I’ve seen. Absolutely gorgeous. I got in early and finally secured one of the coveted spots along the wall. Now, that’s a bit harder than you may think because you’re not just racing the other riders for those spots. Many have family members or team support people who drive to the next venue and reserve space. There is a group from Roswell, GA of whom I’m particularly jealous. They have at least one and maybe two support vehicles, which both reserves indoor camping space and sets up a hospitality tent complete with iced beer, snacks, chairs, and fans. I want to grow up just like them.
Dinner was nothing to blog about as we ate at the university dining hall. The setup was just like we’ve experienced at Lakewood Dining at UA where you pay an entrance fee at the door and then can visit the many different stations as much as you’d like. EXCEPT FOR ONE RULE! You cannot have more than one dessert at one time. You can sit in there for hours and stuff your face like Augustus Gloop, but if you want more than one dessert, you must order one, eat it, and then return to order the other. I know this because I had the audacity to order a cinnamon cupcake and a peanut butter cookie. Unh uh. For everything that I ate there, it looked a lot better than it tasted.
All in all, Georgia Southern and Statesboro was less welcoming than East Georgia State College and Swainsboro. In Swainsboro, they served huge lunch and breakfast for only $5 and provided free bus rides into downtown. In contrast, GSU closed the showers to BRGA riders, the only food near the overnight venue was a BBQ food truck, there was no transport into to the city (except taxis or Uber), and the dorm rooms they rented out to riders were so far away that many chose to walk away from their fee and camp in the gym rather than lug their bags all that distance. I guess that sounds like a bit of complaining and it is, but only a little. Not a big deal in the overall experience. I guess that’s one of the things about a ride that moves from city. You like some of the cities and venues more than others.
Tomorrow looks to be quite hectic. We’ve got a 65-mile ride and then a bunch of things to do before catching the shuttle back to Atlanta at 16:00. We’ve got to get cleaned up, get our bikes and bags across the river to the truck and buses, and remove our pedals and turn our handlebars. Any site seeing or nice meals (like crab stew with Sherry at the Crystal Beer Parlor) must be squeezed in between all that. There are quite a few geocaches hidden around old town Savannah and I’m hoping to find a few before I have to cross the river.
More tomorrow after our last ride.