Day 6 of BRAG: The end of the line

It’s hard to believe BRAG ended a week ago. It seems like yesterday that we were on our bicycles and our main concerns were cool fresh water, sore muscles, and traffic. I have to admit I miss it!

top of the Sidney Lanier BridgeThe trip from Brunswick to St. Mary’s featured the biggest hill of the ride, a long climb to the top of the Sidney Lanier Bridge. It was a beautiful ride, sunny and breezy, but the climb was too strenuous for my lungs. Even in my lowest gear, the exercise-induced asthma took over and I had to finish by walking. I was frustrated and disappointed that I had to walk, but one thing I’ve learned from cycling with asthma is to know my limits. And once I got to the top, caught my breath, and looked around, I was awed by the beautiful view.

top of the Sidney Lanier BridgeThe rest of the ride was challenging but enjoyable. We rode through pretty rural areas and some neat small towns, including one with a consignment store sign that read, “Dead People’s Things for Sale.” Our final rest stop was at the submarine museum outside the Naval Submarine Base at King’s Bay, where we explored the partial submarine.

One of the best parts of BRAG any year is that final approach to the finish line. When we started down the main street in St. Mary’s and knew we were almost there, I started singing “The End of the Line”  again while Doug laughed. With a cheer and a celebration, we rode across the finish line, and took the traditional end of the line photo with the Team Vaughn School of Bragging.

St. Mary’s had the best end of the road meal I’ve ever had on BRAG — fish, shrimp, hush puppies, slaw, and brownies from St. Mary’s Seafood. You may already know how I feel about brownies — the BEST food ever! On the ride home, we compared notes and agreed this meal topped most of them. Hooray for Vicky (or whoever on the BRAG staff chose the food)!

All in all, it was a fun and successful BRAG that helped build my cycling confidence. The ups and downs we’re worth it, and I’m already looking forward to riding again next year.

Team Vaughn at the end of the line 2013

Day 4 of BRAG: Awash in acid green

Some people I know think this whole riding-a-bicycle-day-after-day thing is craziness on my part. If you’re one who thinks that, hold onto your hat. We rode 56 miles today — not that unusual — through the outer rain bands of Tropical Storm Andrea. The first 15 miles were overcast and cool before it started sprinkling, then drizzling, then raining, then pouring. So for 37 miles, we got wet. Really, really wet.

And what really IS crazy is it was fun. I wasn’t all that cold, the asthma didn’t cause problems, and we rode strong. There’s a point when you’re so wet that you can’t get any wetter, and it’s time to just enjoy it. So we did. My theme song was a slightly altered version of “The End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys. “it’s all right / ridin’ around in the storm / it’s all right / our jackets will keep us warm/ it’s all right / everything will work out fine / it’s all right / we’re going’ to the end of the line.”

Acid green cycling jacketsThere was also a theme color for today: a lovely shade cyclists call acid green. It’s the most common color for cycling jackets and many jerseys because it’s easily visible. By the time we arrived in Waycross, we were dripping wet but still very bright green.

At the school this afternoon, EVERYTHING has become an improvised drying space. Every floor, doorknob, locker, table, and chair is draped with some piece of cycling gear. The women’s locker room looks like a laundromat. And my personal favorite are the improvised shoe drying stations in front of every air mover fan in the building. I doubt any of it will be dry by morning, but we are aiming for more dry.

My favorite quote of the day comes from buddy Kay, who declared that she spent a lot of today “fluffing.” When I inquired, she explained that after long hours of riding, your butt gets that smashed-down feeling, and you need to occasionally “fluff it up” by raising up off the seat. So happy fluffing day, everyone. I’m off for a well-deserved BRAG sleep.

Shoes drying in front of the air mover

An improvised indoor clothesline