Because I'm a complete nutball, I have been sweating this for weeks.
Today was the 2012 Tour de Franklin. Some of you have checked the post on my Charity Rides blog, and some of those who did came along. We had ten Freewheelers along today, and picked up a stray from the Mid-State Riders who got his times wrong (and who appeared to enjoy our somewhat more spirited pace; more on that later).
It can't really be said that I LED this ride, since the route was set out for me, and since there were cue sheets for all and painted road markers... but I did CONVENE the ride, and I have been worrying about the weather, the route, outbreaks of cholera that might interfere, and all manner of similar jazz for a couple of weeks. And yet the day was great: cooler than I would have liked when we had to leave (7:30 am? We nearly had a mutiny about THAT; one rider referred to me as "Captain Bligh" after my crew had given me such a hard time), but warm, clear, and bright later. The route had enough hills to be interesting, but not so many that our riders were complaining (although a couple went up Servis Road, which paralleled part of the route, because they weren't getting enough hills), and I brought it in at 15.6 mph, which means that the slow riders were at about that pace. One of the faster guys said his GPS reported 16.5.
Well, I'm impressed.
Some of the guys were the group of Pennsylvanians, some of whom had been complaining on the Chocolate Bunny Ride. One of those was a guy who's had lung problems last year, ahd who was riding with four broken ribs today. His goals (which he apparently made handily) were to keep with the group for the first 20 miles, to keep the group in sight for the next 20 miles, and to finish the ride.
He got in before I did.
Another was a younger rider (WAY younger than I) who had finshed near the back of the pack on the Chocolate Bunny Ride, who came in with no problem today. I told him I want a urine sample and a blood test; I suspect a Central Jersey doping scandal in the making.
I had a great time. We got t-shirts and goodie bags (my wife has already hooked the fancy body wash), we got lunch. Ed got some pictures, which I'll post when he sends 'em to me. And I didn't get lost. I have a preliminary answer to the question, "How many Freewheelers does it take to keep Jim from turning off the course?" The temporary answer is, "No more than eleven."
(There's another important Freewheeler question: "How many Freewheelers does it take to change a tire?" The answer seems to be, "Well... how many do you got?" Unfortunately, as the number of available Freewheelers increases arithmetically, the number of false starts and random opinions, and the amounts of noise and wasted time, increase geometrically. We're really much more efficient letting one person who's really good at it change the tire, and the rest of us, ideally, should not even know that the process has begun.)
We saw a number of beautiful bikes, some cool things, and one working bike that looked like a truck: heavy frame with integrated rear-basket mount, internal seven-speed rear hub, dual disk brakes, and a modified Sting-Ray handlebar to bring the controls back to the rider. The guy on it could ride the pants off that thing, too. I hope Ed's picture of it comes out; I want to post it.
Edit: See Laura's post for today to see the pics. Go ahead. Do it now: the post will open in a new tab, and I'll wait.
Also: on that Chocolate Bunny Ride, I wrote about having problems with the front brake. I think I found the problem: I noticed that the right control had slipped down the handlebar (because of the extra in-line brake levers I have on the Road Bike, the slipping of the shifter control would make the brake tighter). I've fixed it, and it seems to be better now.
Only one complaint: little good food at the stops. Two riders complained about the lack of food (the committee member said they had not counted on the number of same-day registrations), and, while there were some bagels, cream cheese, butter, water, and Gatorade, the was not much fruit, and no peanut butter was in evidence (which is like not having adequate heroin in an inner-city neighborhood). Other than that (and knowing that, we might plan for it if we go again), I think we had a good time. My thanks to Dave C, Dave H, Ed, Joe, Laura OLPH, May, Mike, Rich, Ron, Shawn, and an unnamed hanger-on from the Mid-State club, for making my first pseudo-leading experience as good as it was.