Ann Arbor, Cycling, Hockey, Advertising & Media, and the occasional practical joke on my dad. I work at Quack!Media.
If you want to be fast, ride far. If you want to ride far, come up with a reason to. It doesn’t have to be a good reason. For me, I need an illogical, contrived purpose for my dumb-brain to tell my smart-brain when it asks, “why the hell are we riding into a 22mph headwind?”
"Because we’re going to get donuts, duh."
"Because there’s a town named Napoleon, and one called Waterloo, and if we ride through both we can call it a French Empire ride and that will be neat.”
This is why loops are better than out-&-back. Smart-brain ain’t buyin’ that shit, “we’re just going to be right back here in an hour.” Smart-brain doesn’t like futility.
Having exhausted cute-route-naming-mechanisms and Krispe Kreme kiosks in Southeast Michigan, a new long-route was in order. The concept: ride to Ohio. Eat Taco Bell. Ride home.
I know what you’re thinking, “there’s probably a closer Taco Bell.” Sure, I would even go so far as to say, “many” but smart-brain, while smart, is easily distracted by mushy beans. So, I invited some friends, chose the windiest day ever, and set out… alone, no one came with me.
The route spends a majority of the time on the surface of moon. Through Milan (Mai-lahn), Petersbourgh and Lambertville there’s one tree, a Fire Station (with an airbrushed mascot), and other than the Hummer-limo that sped by as if David Lynch was directing the ride, I didn’t see a car for hours at a time.
Lambertville has this church:
Now, I’m not a religious man, and certainly no bible scholar, but there is absolutely no way this ends well.
I took a picture of this Welcome to Toledo sign because my sense of self-preservation kept me from snapping a shot of the “Welcome to Ohio,” sign which was just a dude on his porch under a giant (really huge) Confederate flag (really).
With a burrito supreme (I panicked!) the Run for the Border was complete.
This is training. Creating a little story, as irrational as it may be, is a great way to turn up the motivation to levels of super-go-fast. Tacos, donuts and puns are especially effective.
Hogpen, Wolfpen, Woody, Neels, Jacks, Unicoi. The Pen du Wolf is definitely in the running for best climb in the US. It creeps up nice ‘n’ steady, well protected, wooded and scenic. As far as I can tell there is absolutely no reason for that road to be there, so traffic is rare. The descent on the short side isn’t bad either.
The locals are friendly as always, and with the sun out all the shops were open. I stopped at Turner’s Corners for fuel and bears.
Traffic was less courteous today as the city-folk were out in numbers, but the people of Northern Georgia were friendly as always.
Hogpen gap has brand new pavement, which is a joy to ride on except that it eliminates any mental justification for “heavy pavement” which I needed… badly.
— I met a nice retired couple who had me check their oil (literally check their oil, not like, “check their oil”) on top of Hogpen. They took my picture. Their oil was fine.—
When I was much stronger and much lighter I would have never attempted Brasstown on less than a 25 (and I think I usually had a 27). Good thing I can manage a track stand.
— They don’t let you all the way up to the tower anymore. Well, they never did, but back in the day no one was watching.—
You want to ride like the Pros? You need NuttFluffs. It’s a simple recipe, and it’s 100% go-fast. There are only four essential ingredients: Bread, Nutella, Marshmallow Fluff & Peanut Butter.
—okay, so you don’t really need the Peanut Butter—
Lay out your bread and spread Nutella on one slice and the PB on the other.
— PROTIP: don’t go all the way to the edge, lest you become goo-face—
Fluff goes in the middle.
—Fluff ALWAYS goes in the middle—
Sammy them up, slice in half (we’re not barbarians) and wrap individually in plastic. I like the non-zip sandwich baggies.
—spent baggies go in your jersey pocket, not on the roadside, because you know, don’t be an asshole—
There you have it: NuttFluffs. They tend to gooify in your pocket and turn into semi-solid lumps of deliciousness with about a billion calories, a little bit of protein and at least 15 grams of shame. Just what you need to push out the next 40k.
Those gaps are bigger than I remember. Apparently 10 years, 15 lbs and at least 1 million tequila can actually change the landscape of the earth. Who knew?
— Kwik Sak, where I purchased more toilet paper than is polite—
If you’re planning a cycling trip - I can’t say enough about this area of Georgia. The drivers (still after all these years) get an A+. Full-lane passing, almost universally - and get this, they slow down too. It’s almost like they have a baseline respect for other humans.
—Neel’s Gap, which I still call Bloody Gap ‘cuz it’s by Blood Mountain and it’s a WAY better name.—
— Woody Gap, I peed here (off camera). —
Day one was supposed to be an easy warm-up but ended up a 70-mile, 7,000 foot, leg-murder. There’s work to be done, but that’s why we’re here. Ending the day with Nick’s home-brew IPA (new school note: always bring a home-brewer to training camp).
What they don’t tell you about Michigan in the Spring is that it will do you can’t leave. It’s a big, spiteful mitten and it will do everything it can to keep you huddled up and off the roads. In this case, it was winter storm Vulcan, or Brenda, or whatever this one was called.
So despite it being a generally terrible idea, we got on the road. I sat shotgun and made a moderately accurate summary of Khaneman, while Nick white-knuckled the highway… it didn’t stop snowing until Tennessee. Which is insane. Also insane, this:
We made it without incident and the fastest way to Helen (as opposed to Dahlonega where we used to say) was straight over Hogpen Gap, so Nick got to see that, at midnight, after driving all day in a snowstorm. YOU’RE WELCOME.
The house is awesome, and huge, and has fooseball. It also has every heating device from the fifties that has been outlawed on the rest of planet Earth. All of them. It’s like a collection of some sort. I put on a sweater.