Today was brutal. Not specifically for me, but for our entire team in general. But first here are some pictures:

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Today we were scheduled to ride 85 miles to Auburn, AL. In true 4k fashion, we turned it into 92, and one group had their second century today at a whopping 105 miles. To top it off, it seemed like we were ALWAYS climbing, it was blistering hot, and we didn’t start riding until 9am (really late). Three riders ended up in the van today, there were three broken bikes, and one person encountered a non-cycling related head injury. BUT despite all of this, we are all healthy, safe, and sound in Auburn. Phew! Brutal I tell you. It took 11 hours and 25 minutes. Longer than our century ride. Here’s all the stats and GPS route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/523710470. The ride actually ended up being generally downhill, but it definitely didn’t seem like it!

It’s always wonderful when hosts cook a hot breakfast for us in the morning. The problem is that they might not want to wake up at the crack of dawn to have breakfast ready by 5am so that we can be on the road at 6. This morning, breakfast was at 7am as promised, so we didn’t make it onto the road until around 8:45. It was already starting to heat up and by 10am the sun was in full force. The air was hot and humid and the ride was pretty hilly leaving Georgia.

By the first water stop, we already had one rider having trouble breathing so it was in the van for them! We then encountered a gravel road that we had to walk:

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There were a lot of armadillo carcasses on that road. Weird. By the second water stop, we had a serious issue of a nail through the tire, tube, and wheel. So we took one of the wheels off of a van driver’s bike and kept going. At the third water stop, another rider hopped in the van because they weren’t feeling well. (They ended up puking once we got to the host.)

We finally crossed the Alabama state line! Since I didn’t get a picture with the Georgia sign, I got one today:

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Yeah it’s a little late, but I probably won’t remember that years from now. A couple more steps and we encountered this sign:

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We entered a different time zone! Bam. We just saved an hour off of our ride. You can see the Georgia sign in the background! Then we turned around and took a picture with this sign:

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Alabama! So here’s my question to you: Exactly what state were we in while we were between the two signs? It was a good 30 yard gap between them. How will we ever know? It’s a little upsetting. Anyway, that’s my riding group of Lisa, Taylor, Aaron, and Allison. I’ll talk about them later. Alabama turned out to be pretty flat with a few occasional hills. We kept riding until we realized we ALL were pretty lost, and then decided to make the vans come to all of us for lunch. We rerouted and added some miles to the ride!

After lunch, another rider took refuge in the van after a bit of a panic attack, and one ride group got a little lost and added even more miles to their ride. At around this time, the sun started to get less intense and the day was cooler. That was really nice. Later on, two other riders each broke a spoke nipple. One of them within 15 miles of the host and the other within 4 miles of the host. We all finally arrived at the host at around 7pm Alabama time.

So back to my ride group. This is them:

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I haven’t ridden with Lisa or Allison, and I haven’t written about Aaron, so here we go! Weeeeeee! This is Lisa:

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If you have a sharp memory, you’ll remember that Lisa just joined us a few days ago. Today was her second ride with us and I have to say, I’m really impressed with how well she did. She’s still getting comfortable on her bike and learning how to shift, but she kept up with us and never complained once. She also has orange bar tape, like me! Her attitude is fantastic, and so is Allison’s. This is Allison:

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I think Allison is one of the nicest, happiest, and sensible riders of our entire team. She’s always encouraging and helping other people out. I’ve really never seen her in a bad mood, and even when she has crazy chaffing going on, a smile is still on her face! I also enjoy the fact that she’s quick to call out when we as a group are attempting to make a dumb decision.

Last but not least there’s Aaron:

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We call him Ay-Ay-Ron. As you can tell from the picture, he’s pretty fast. He can power up hills and fly down them! I really like hanging out with him. He’s always down to throw a Frisbee with me, and even drove back with me to Atlanta during one of our shuttle days! Also when we were in Richmond, he went with us to the river to go swimming. Like Lisa and Allison, he also has a great attitude and is a pleasure to be around.

Sidenote here: I will never again use 100 SPF. I lathered that stuff on today and got burnt. Meanwhile, yesterday, I lightly applied spray-on 30 SPF and didn’t even tan! And it was hotter and sunnier yesterday! I swear anything over 50 SPF doesn’t work. End rant.

Our host tonight is Auburn United Methodist Church. I have to give props to Shawna and Brianne right now. They are leg-leaders for our ride. I think leg leaders have the hardest job there is. They have to find and secure hosts for us, find dinner and breakfast for us, and find showers. Most of this is already done at this point in time, but this morning, we didn’t have dinner, breakfast or showers for tonight. Today, while she was riding, Shawna got us dinner and breakfast! Then, Brianne found showers for us all while she was on van duty getting us lunch donations. This situation has happened before and these ladies and the other leg leaders have always pulled through for us! Dinner was poppyseed chicken casserole with grean beans, rice, and salad. There was also a delectable eclair for dessert. It was all homemade! I’ve also been enjoying that for the past week, sweet tea has been served at every dinner!

After dinner we were taken to the police department so we could shower! This was our chosen mode of transportation:

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We aired out some of our stink in the back of a pickup truck! On the way there, one of the riders hit their head really hard getting out of one of the vans. Luckily there were paramedics at the police department and they recommended we drive the person to the hospital just in case. Since I was one of the first to shower, I volunteered to go. We got there and everything turned out to be fine. We talked with the nurse for a while about 4k and what we were doing and he told us that he cycles and competes in triathlons! He had also heard about Jamie which surprised us a little bit. News travels fast! As we were leaving he told us that he hoped we never had to see him again in the hospital.

On our return, I had some bikes to fix so I got that out of the way pretty quickly. Some of the other riders had gone out to get ice cream after such a rough day. Ice cream solves EVERY problem. Just ask my roommate Scott!

I literally have no clue where we are going tomorrow or how long the ride is. Hopefully it goes better than today did. In the meantime, comment on my blog and tell your friends about it too! Thank you all for your kind words about my writing and the fact that I am consistent with blogging. My motivation behind doing so is that, before I did the 4k, I wished there was something I could read that would answer my questions and give me an inside look at what the experience would be like. I’m just trying to write something that I wish I could have read earlier. I’m glad you all are taking so well to it!

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