TNR 3 – The Fire and Gravel Stones Edition
This was our 3rd TNR of the new (2016) season and our 3rd run on the new course. Adaptation being the key to survival we collectively decided that the “traditional” TNR route was too dangerous to ride. In the spirit of maintaining carbon and tire several members wandered the streets of greater Lansing in search of solid ground. Our search took us North of Lansing/East Lansing out and around Bath/Dewitt/Lainsburg. What we had yet to find out before TNR #1 was that the route would shape up to be somewhat of a Cycling Bermuda Triangle!
TNR #1 took Musty and whipped him around like a rag doll. Nearing the end of a torturous first edition the last sprint was just about to ramp up. One minute we were cruising up and down Upton road, and the next Musty was on the pavement wondering why he suddenly had the urge to take a nap. Broken bones and hospital sirens ended Musty’s season before it began. Heal up soldier!
Fast forward 2 weeks and a solid group of 16 riders were enjoying a moderate warm up on Upton road. Suddenly, we had to move over to the shoulder for multiple fire engines and ambulances. After cresting a hill we found out why. A massive barn fire was filing the sky with a plumb of smoke high enough to see for miles around. With the road closed to fight the fire TNR was forced to take a gravel road detour. Although the roads were hard-packed the going was still rough and the group was stretched out. As predicted we were unable to emerge from the gravel without a flat. We were, in fact, lucky to escape with just the one.
Due to the detour and the flat we skipped the first sprint and ramped up for the second. One of the changes in this new TNR route is the long brutal nature of the sprints. Not only is the road undulating, the sprints are long and they start very early. The effect is a shattered peloton and a painful, blinding sprint! Sprint #2 is like a poisonous snake with a scorpion’s tail. After a long up and down, vomit inducing segment the sprint ends with an uphill that makes you want to dive headfirst into a ditch just so you can stop pedaling. This time was no different. As we approached the downhill an over eager beaver tried to jump the pared-down group charging over the penultimate hill. I decided to follow and take a little free ride until everyone else joined in the fun. Derelique did what he does best and pulled the rest of the group after him with “Swamp Legs” Craig (and everyone else) in tow. I quickly tagged on before the uphill began and bided my time. When Derelique ran out of steam I decided that it was now or never. What I have learned from this sprint so far is that the early jump (on the uphill) usually gets the prize, so I jumped. As I approached the sign I felt like my cadence was about 20 and I was breathing out of my ears, but I won! Of course there wouldn’t be this much detail if I didn’t win. Blogger’s rights and all.
At this point we decided that it would be in our best interest to turn around and cut the route short. We hit the next sprint with a little more cohesive effort and cooperation. “Swamp Legs” Craig tested the legs a couple times and got the group motivated. The sprint has changed locations which should have made it more predictable and safe. What we got instead was unpredictable and safe. Note to TNR riders: the Park sign is obstructed by a row of small trees. Given this information you have one of two options: 1) follow Steve H. when he goes, 2) sprint for the trees and cruise past the sign.
It was after this sprint (I think) that Derelique realized that he was not only grinding us down but also his crank arm. I have no idea what he did but it seemed to work. In no time we were back on the road headed for the uncertainty that is Upton road. I don’t know if there is some mystic cross roads or a ley line on Upton road but somethin’ there just ain’t right. Just about the time we arrived at Musty Valley (sight of the famous Mustapha explosion) we could see familiar smoke in the distance and flashing lights on the road. As we were slowing to decide if we would be able to pass on the road Banke decided to accelerate past many of us and his chain immediately snapped! Banke (no stranger to catastohpe) calmly shifted over to the side of the road, stopped and went about trying to fix his chain saying, “go on I’ll catch up.” As we passed the scene of the fire we found that the fire had been in a barn that was now a pile of ashes. There were still several fire trucks and a back hoe trying to calm the burning embers, but for the riders one last sprint was still in sight.
Ok, the route is still new and confusion is the rule so I can only claim ignorance. With Derelique again pushing the pace and Craig on his wheel I came up beside Craig and said, “The last sprint is coming up, you better go.” Go he did! What I failed to realize was that the NEXT hill was the last sprint spot. We both realized this as we crested the hill one after the other with the rest of the reduced pack in tow. So, what else was there to do but re-sprint at the next hill? Training makes the legs happy!
As the sun began to set we rolled into the parking lot happy to have survived a barn fire, gravel roads on skinny tires, and a Bank-tastrophe! Yes, Phreed arrived only about 5 minutes after the rest of us with a story about dry lube, a phone call to get picked up Monday with the same damn problem, moving concrete out of a basement and…oh the life of Eric! Later the board will come up with a comprehensive list of bike parts and divide said list between members so that we can (as a Voltron-like bike team) assemble and re-assemble a replacement.
We convened briefly and decided to stick with this new TNR route. Come on out and join us next week and experience Musty Valley and whatever else the Northern Bermuda Triangle Cycling Adventure has to offer.