Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Second Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for MATHCOUNTS

Marvelous ride yesterday!  I did yesterday’s century for MATHCOUNTS in conjunction with the Peach Peloton ride.  It was the grand finale PP ride of the winter training season, going from Barnesville to Pine Mountain and back.  The planned route was 124 miles.  Because I knew I couldn’t hang with the PP guys for that long at their pace, I planned a slightly shorter route, which turned out to be 108 miles.  I rode with them for about the first 40 miles (more on that in a moment) and rode most of the remainder solo.  It was definitely a harder century for me than in January, but it was satisfying.

I owe a lot to Chad Madan (Peach Peloton organizer) and some of the other veteran riders for teaching me how to ride in a group.  Riding in a group obviously is different from riding solo, but it’s also very different from racing in a group.  The point of a group ride is to be smooth, consistent, and predictable so that the group can stay together, except when there’s a designated attack zone.  For example, if you want to ride well together as a group, the front riders on the double pace line generally should exert less effort on the uphills and more effort on the downhills.  This might seem counterintuitive (and is opposite to race strategy), but it keeps the effort of the group more constant.

One training technique that we use during PP rides is rotations.  During rotations, the double paceline moves continuously in a counterclockwise direction.  When a rider on the right (closer to the white line) reaches the front, he/she moves to the left as soon as he/she clears the front rider on the left; he/she then begins to drift back toward the rear of the paceline.  The next rider on the front right executes the same move.  As each rider reaches the back of the paceline on the left, he/she moves to the right and begins pulling forward again toward the front.  In this way, the paceline keeps rotating counterclockwise.  The key is to continue doing this smoothly.

Rotations take more effort than regular double paceline riding, which can make them hard for the not-as-strong riders like me.  I’ve done plenty of rotation drills, but on a day like yesterday when I knew that I would need as much energy as possible, I opted to sit at the back during rotations.  If you sit at the back, you hang out behind the rotation on the left-hand side.  This isn’t as easy as lying on the sofa eating bonbons, but it does use less energy than taking part in rotations.  My original plan had been to ride with the group until the store stop in Shiloh at about mile 57, but about half way through rotations at about mile 40, I just couldn’t hang with the group any longer.  (The guys did rotations for about 15 miles!)  Getting dropped really wasn’t a problem.  I just wound up riding by myself a little longer than I had planned.  I tried to keep up a decent pace while enjoying the lovely scenery on this beautiful February day.  West central Georgia has some of the prettiest terrain in the state!

Store Stop
When I got to the store stop in Shiloh, I was pleasantly surprised to find the guys still there:

My Peach Peloton Peeps

They left before I finished my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and banana, but I’m glad I got to see them again before I split off on my shorter route.

The PB&J sandwich I had packed, rather besquished after being in my jersey pocket for 57 miles

From the store the guys headed west to ride the Pine Mountain ridge, and I went north toward Warm Springs.  (Warm Springs is the home of the Little White House, where Franklin D. Roosevelt spent much of his time when he was away from Washington, D.C.)

There was a detour in Warm Springs due to road construction.  The route was loaded into my Garmin bike computer, but it can be a little tricky to find the course again if you leave it.  The Garmin doesn’t show a real map, just a depiction of your current position and any imminent turns.  However, between my Garmin, the route that Chad Madan had uploaded onto his PP blog, and the mapping app on my phone, I got back on course.  Unfortunately, I added about two miles to my route by taking a slightly wrong turn!  At least I hadn’t gone too far before I realized that I was going north but needed to be heading east from Warm Springs.

As much as I love dogs, they can be a real bane to cyclists.  Just ask my friend Bill Causey, who has had two serious crashes from dogs running into him.  Generally, I can tell if a dog is simply curious, more bark than bite, or a true threat.  Fortunately, most dogs do not fall into that third category.

After I had ridden several miles on the correct road leaving Warm Springs, I went past a house with dogs that started to chase me.  They were…killer attack Yorkies!  There were four of them.  They may have even had bows in their hair.  They did their best to defend their territory, yipping and running after me for about 10 feet.

Rest Stop
I kind of have to remind myself on these centuries that it’s not a race, particularly when I’m by myself.  So, I took a rest at about mile 75.  What a nice stop!  I sat in a grassy area by the side of the road and enjoyed the pretty view across the road:

I also ate a Clif bar and drank some water.  Hmm…I was getting kind of low on water…

Divining for Water
After another five or ten miles, I decided to get some water at the next available opportunity.  Churches can be a good place to refill.  There are tons of churches throughout rural Georgia, usually lots more than stores.  Often churches have an outdoor spigot.  I can’t imagine the church folks would mind giving a cup of water to a thirsty cyclist.  On the few occasions I have encountered church members when I was looking for water, they have always been extremely gracious.

On my current quest for water, the first church I came upon was Deliverance Tabernacle of Praise:

I would have offered praise of my own if they had delivered on the water – but no spigot.  So, I continued on my bicycle.  After only another mile or so, I approached Beulah Baptist Church:

Is this not the land of Beulah?  Apparently not – they had a couple of spigots, but the water was turned off.  I think this was a sign that I needed to pray for water…

After a few more miles, I saw a fire station – bingo!  If they hadn’t had water, I really would have been worried.  There were two very nice fire fighters relaxing at the station.  I asked if they had a spigot I could use.  They said that the water there had sulfur in it, and instead they gladly offered me a cold bottle of water.  Thank you Pike County Fire Department on Highway 109!  Y’all are the best!

Do You Carrot All?
I wasn’t much of a carrot because it was a matter of when, not if, the peloton would catch me before the end of the ride. They finally did with about seven miles to go.  I was glad to see them regardless, but I was especially happy that it looked like I would be able to catch onto the back for a little boost back to the parking lot.  The guys were taking turns with a regular double paceline.  For the first two pairs that pulled, everything was going fine for me.  I was very tired, but I felt like I was exerting about the same amount of energy with the faster group as I had been by myself.  Then, I was thrown into…The Stoney Grinder.

Stoney is a mo-chine of a rider.  He pretty much pulverizes everyone, and I don’t know if he even realizes it.  When he started pulling, I immediately knew he was there even though I couldn’t see exactly who was at the front.  I simply couldn’t keep up, and I dropped off the back.  Robert (sweet husband!) stayed with me for the few remaining miles.  Shortly thereafter, Chad Davies also hung back to accompany me, too.  The Georgia Neuro Century Escort Service rides again!

Wrap Up
Yea, I made it!  I was whupped, but I was thrilled to have finished my second century in A Year of Centuries.  I rode nearly 70 miles of that by myself, which was a big accomplishment for me.  I told myself several times during yesterday’s ride that since I made it through the long recovery period after my crash, I could do this whole ride.

As I rode, I couldn't help but think about rate/time/distance problems (r x t = d), which are fairly common in MATHCOUNTS.  Even more importantly, I also thought about all of the MATHCOUNTS mathletes who are competing in chapter competitions during February.  I hope that in the same way that I persevere through riding and training, they will persevere through the problems they face, whether in math or life.

I had considered having some cycling MATHCOUNTS problems for the guys to do at the store stop, but Robert convinced me that I’m the only one in our group that really likes to solve math problems.  Even so, here’s a fun one that I know they all could get:

If John Cozart shows up for Tuesday Worlds, what is the probability that he rides wearing dress socks?  100%

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