Jim is writing a blog about the events of the 2016 BRAA ride. I decided to write my first person account a few days after each of his accounts.
This BRAA ride was originally designed for the lower few counties of the state and was to include a trip out of the state into Louisiana for one night. Well, that did not happen due to flooding. Kenny Gober and I drove the entire route after I spent many hours scouring the maps for a route. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but the BRAA would still go on. And it did go on quite well.
When I arrived at our starting area at Heifer International in downtown Little Rock on Sunday, March 20, 2016 I found we had a total of 7 riders. At first I was again disappointed but soon got over that when I started assessing the riders. We had 7 guys that had good equipment, good bikes and were ready for an adventure. We had four men from Arkansas and three men from Illinois. Note I said men as ALL the women cancelled for a variety of reasons. My guess is that the weather and the 70 plus mile first day playEed a major part of the cancellations.
Of note: The three Illinois men included Rob Grinder who has ridden with us several times for which I am grateful. Then there was Rich Scott. Rich rode a few years ago and returned this year. Ken Exum round out the Illinois group. Ken is a very experienced tour rider. He and Rich have led several Adventure Cycling tour rides the past few years. So, in this group we have two professional tour leaders being led by myself and Jim Britt. We are a couple of rank amateurs and we are leading pros. How was this going to work out?
You get the setting, so it is time to actually ride and ride we did for over 70 miles and this day we rode with the wind at our backs for most of the day. However, as I said, this is a first person account, and I need to say I was not sure I would make it all the way. At about half the distance we stopped in Humnoke for lunch where I quickly devoured some pizza and tried to rest a little. I knew I was not doing well but did not know how bad it would be later.
As we rolled to the junction with Hwy 79 in Stuttgart I was really tired. My total miles of riding before this trip was the lowest in several years due to many reasons. This lack of training was telling. I remember falling back with one other rider. We were well behind the rest of the group. I would work up the energy for a few pedal stroke and then coast. I was struggling.
Somehow, and I am not sure how, I managed to join the group just before entering Clarendon. We were at the junction where either we cross the White River on the old bridge or go under or around a barrier and take the new bridge. As the traffic continued to flow past us I voted strongly to take the new bridge because the old bridge is very narrow. We did take the new bridge and was thankful we did.
We rolled through Clarendon and then out to the city RV park where we would camp for the night. Kenny and I had spent a couple nights in this RV park with out RVs during the summer. There were a couple portable toilets which would work for us.
Robert Carrol, Jim Britt, Kenny Gober, the three Illinois guys and I then rode the short distance into town to eat at a dairy bar. It was cold and we had to eat outside, but everyone was tired, so we ate out burgers and headed back to the park to settle into our tents for the night...............