Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tour de Mule - Day Five

Although my Tour de Mule Blogs are not totally up to date, Now we have finished the tour this will be remedied over the coming days. For now sit back and read this post which has been scripted by Adam Miller another writer/cyclist.

Thursday evening while the boys slept in, the sun feasted heavily in preparation for the coming day. Their morning began in the dark with a solid breakfast as it had each day prior; only this time it was a call for mutiny brewing instead of Colombian roast.
In moments like these a leader emerges. "Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most.
That has made it possible for evil to triumph." Once the words of Haile Selassie now the call to forge on from our Captain
And so Kenny formerly known as Chicken Little set the plan.
For each prior day Chicken Little programmed the elevation in reverse.
On Friday, Kenny had sound evidence of what was to come: 4,000 ft of positive elevation change. Nearly 40% of the entire trip's climbing compressed into the final segment.
33 miles into the morning, the Mules left Alabama and raised their flag in Tennessee

By mile 55, they rendezvoused with Major Ted who added the Southern delicacy of boiled peanuts to our menu.
The Mules charged into a blazing sun which rose the temp to 90 degrees for the rest of the ride. While the asphalt cooked, the boys were challenged to replace the water they were losing.
The climbs got harder, "16 hills ahead," said Kenny.
"These are 'mountains'," said Phil.
"Come back Chicken Little," said Adam.
In moments like these when everything around you is hell, no one talks, you hear your heart and you feel the support of friends.
Who knew on the other side of Devil's Backbone which starts at mile marker 391 is Fall Hollow After a brief respite, the Mules climbed on. With laughter, tempo, guts and Ted, they achieved Adam's trip goal at mile marker 400

Then they achieved Kenny's goal at mile 420 of a 4th consecutive century.
As the fierce sun set, the crew was ready to pack it in when the Captain cried out
"Hoist the main and full-speed.".
With Ted lighting the way and protecting them from traffic, the Mules rode the last 24 miles into the dusk.
They faced hills nay mountains, treacherous descents and cross winds. At this point, the elements ricocheted off the Mule's adrenaline. The final push was led by their Captain.
On the shield of the Natchez Trace is a Post rider who are as tenacious as the mule is stubborn. As the finale picture was shot , the Post riders of Natchez's past looked down with a salute to the Mules.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tour de Mule Day Four

In the days way before rock and roll, derailleur gears and peanut butter sandwiches legends were common place.
Even further back and 300 strong, King Leonidas held off Xerxes whose army from the East outnumbered his 1,000:1.
Entering Day-4, the odds on the Mules riding a 3rd consecutive 100 miles was also 1,000:1.

It was on this day where the hills became a factor and a few exotics, some poisonous posed challenges that this 300 (actually foursome) faced.
Behind each legend there is usually a key component to their success.
Bravery, tactical brilliance or something less significant like the round shield or longbow.
For the Mules it came in the form of Butt butter.

Their morning started early with a 50 mile march (car ride) from the hotel in Tupelo back to from whence they came, 50 miles south of Tupelo.

With his Creases properly Buttered Philip was ready to Dahhhhnce on his pedals. And Dance he did leading off the Mule train.
Gathering momentum they made short work of the morning session completing 50 miles at 19 mph where they met Ted for lunch at the Parkway Visitor Center .
This lived up to its billing with cold clear spring water and indoor bathrooms buttered by battered butts which were slowly becoming black and blue.
A nice recommendation for civilized travelers is to add a surprise to the lunch.
Ted added chips one day, cookies the next and then mixed up the sandwich shop without telling us.
Such small surprises are nice reward for the riders and appreciated thereafter.
The next 50 mph was a challenge because of the acute and constant undulations.
Philip tried to raise our spirits by declaring that each one in turn was 'a bit of a rib tickler' by the end the humour wore off and the undulations were demoted from 'rib ticklers' to 'butt busters'
At the top of one such incline the Mules were rewarded by the Pharr Mounds at mile marker 290, an incredible archaeological find.

8 mounds are still in tact and were used by Native American Indians to bury their dead. Although the demise of these Mules may have been scripted, bucking convention is their trade mark, they were ready to make their own history and rode like Mercury the winged messenger.
Move over Stone Henge, buenos dias Hadrian's Wall, adieu to the burial mounds, 300 here we come.
We got there but only after Paddy slayed a 50 ft poisonous viper which nested right at the 300 mark.

300 on the ride but another 20 miles to hit the team's goal of 110 miles for the tour which was "supposed" to be the longest day.

As we approached our goal the rivalry between Phil and Kenny could not contain itself. By mile 316 the hills could not contain themselves either.

Kenny aka Floyd Landis unleashed a powerful 23 mph surge for the remaining 4 miles up hill that no one will ever match ensuring that the polka dot Jersey was his for keeps.

The day ended at mile 320 with the team pondering Kenny's genetics.
This intensified after liquid hydration (Guinness) and an immediate urine test was requested.
This was sent to the same guys that busted Landis.

To his dismay Phil last hope was dashed when the result just illustrated that Kenny was merely half mule half mountain goat.

Through all of the days excitement we had entered Alabama...................No prizes for guessing what we had on the radio on our way to the Hotel

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tour de Mule - Day Three

Yet again I have downloaded pictures but associated stories will soon as I have had sleep or beer which ever comes first

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tour de Mule - Day Two

Today we cycled 92 was tough .....we started 18 miles North of Natchez where it was cold and wet. My legs wanted to be in some jeans preferably in a bar, or perhaps naked next to a warm pool, rather than be conscripted into slave labour and showered upon.

Out of what I can only describe as pure malice, they decided to 'Play up' and not function properly. Each time I instructed them to spin around at 90+ revolutions a minute they decided to half the figure.
During the morning things became very monotonous with the rain and cool weather. My fellow cyclist looked positively glum, it did not seem a good start.

Due to the time of the day being in the 'Non conversation zone' , we were all wearing I Pods to enable us to listen to cheery music.
I asked Kenny what music he listened to. He told me the name of a group that was difficult to pronounce and even more demanding to spell.
I must have looked at him quizzically as he then added 'There are only two uses for this sort of music, running/cycling or killing people'

Adam stated that he was listening to fish, because of my own hearing being muted, by I Poditis I quickly scouted the rain drenched road. I could neither see, nor hear any aquatic creatures.

Adam smiled 'its spelt Phish'

I did not have to ask Paddy what he was listening to. His playlist was made when I Pods first came out and the twenty or so songs are constantly recycled.
I can tell by the nod of his head or how he peddles whether he is listening to 'Dire Straits' or 'The Pretenders' .
At the time of these observations I was listening The Who- 'I can see for miles' unfortunately I could and although the main event was just being served, I had chronic indigestion.
The rest of this blog will be written up during the week as there are not enough hours in the day right now

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tour de Mule Day One

At 7 am we set off from Houston to Natchez to start our next ride 'The Natchez Trace' to Nashville, still stiff from our past two days riding. Our Mule team consisted of Myself, Paddy, Ted Hicks (our Team manager), Adam Miller and Kenny Rhame (see below).
Never a more motley group I have seen, Phil


Our hire van was suitably liveried to create an air of both importance and professionalism, something we would never achieve with our cycling prowess.
It took about 8 hours to get to Natchez passing through Louisiana swampland and over the great Mississippi into Natchez. I am lead to believe that the film deliverance was filmed close by and I certainly had no inclination to purchase a canoe.

When we got to Natchez we quickly got changed, got on our bikes and completed 18 miles to lossen off our legs.
My first impressions of this cycle route was very favourable. The road surface is as smooth as a pool table and the gradients were certainly cycle friendly. The road was generally quiet with beautiful and often breathtaking views.
After our cycle ride was completed we stopped at a local street side Crawfish eatery.
It was my first real experience in this local delight and this was a place used by locals which is a good sign.
After a crash course in the extraction of crawfish meat, I was surprised how something so big could produce something so little. Although I like the taste and the local preparation, the cloud of spice filled steam could compete against any Icelandic volcano in bringing airports to a standstill.
My lips felt like I had snogged an illuminated light bulb.
As the crawfish experience was just an aperitif, we left to find a local restaurant nestled on the banks of the Mississippi, and right next to an old paddle steamer
We were all tucked up in bed by 9.30 pm ready for some real cycling. Prior to lights out, I caught Kenny doing some secret training in the corridor.
Oh heady days