33 Miles in Raleigh

I turned 33 in February, and thought it would be nice to do a 33 mile bike ride to celebrate.  Low and behold, that very day I read about Trek Raleigh's St. Patty's Day Pot O' Gold Ride (TRSPDPOGR for short).  It's not exactly convenient to drive to Raleigh just for a bike ride, so the whole trip hinged on whether my buddy in Chapel Hill was free.  If I could work out a visit with him the day before, then it would be a done deal.

Well, he and his wife were both free, so with Laura and Harrison in tow we headed up I-95 with all of the crazies.  We enjoyed lunch at the newly opened Mellow Mushroom (I had a portobello & artichoke sandwich) and hit the road.  

I keep getting coupons for Country Inn & Suites ever since I stayed there for the Reformation Worship Conference last year.  They always have fresh cookies, an indoor pool, and a lending library.  I can't believe what a great value it is. We checked in Friday and had some family time before heading to Chapel Hill.  We had a good visit with our friends (they're expecting a baby boy in May) and got to bed late that night.

Saturday morning was the "big" ride.  It was 45 degrees,  but I had plenty of layers to keep me warm.  Rides like these are humbling for a guy like me.  For half of the participants it was their regular weekly training ride.  They rode in a peloton, took a 20 mile detour, and STILL finished faster than me and the other recreational riders. My longest ride was last year on the Silver Comet Trail (37 miles).  I'd like to get a 50 mile ride in later this year when I'm in better shape.

Laura and Harrison enjoyed the Marbles Kids' Museum in Raleigh, which is twice as nice and one third as costly as the one in Greenville, SC.  It was $5 a person and they both had a lot of fun.

I met some great folks on the ride.  There was a guy in yellow socks who road alone and ahead of me much of the time, and another guy who had completed the RAGBRAI and BRAG last year.  There were some ladies from Team Brick ("the brick is the toughest, most un-aerodynamic thing we could think of," she said) and a guy from Spiritual Spinners.  We rode for 15 miles and took a break for bananas, Gatorade, and Clif Shots.  Marvin Gaye was on the radio at the rest stop (and yes, it was THAT song!)

It was a beautiful ride, with long, fast hills and lengthy climbs.  Afterward, I had lunch at Denny's with the family and we headed back to Florence.  It was a great weekend!


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