A long, hot ride is what the Tour des Trees had today. This was the biggest day of the Tour, 124 miles with 4100 feet of elevations. For me, 124 miles is a personal best, the most miles I have ever rode on a bike. The ride trekked across North Carolina and into South Carolina where we rode on roads cut through pine plantations. They grow pulpwood down here and many of the "fields" have been clear cut as is the practice here. Pines are grown like corn and after a few decades are harvested. But for us riders that meant no trees to shade the miles and miles of roads we rode. This was the hottest day of the ride with temperatures nearing 80 degrees. Not bad, unless you are riding 124 miles out in the open sun. It was hot.
We dedicated several trees today including a nice oak at our dinner spot in Camden, SC. We were at the Steeplechase training center that had much history of horse racing in the area.
This was a day of gutting it out riding, knowing you are going to be on the saddle for nearly 8 hours. We had a great group of people riding together and that is why cycling is great, teamwork. We all took time to pull the peloton along the way and making sure our teammates weren't left behind.
Speaking of teammates, we were all reminded of the devastation that hurricane Matthew left behind as we cruised into South Carolina. Many, many trees down including large trees still on top of houses. We miss our fellow riders who had to go back to work to help with the hurricane clean up and all of those arborists working while we work cycling to raise money for tree research.
One of our great support people is Jet Martin who is a wonderful professional photographer. She's been there every day taking photos of the riders on and off the bikes. She also has a great sense of humor and couldn't resist teaming up with a fellow rider from Canada who wanted to honor a martial arts center with an interesting slogan. We look forward to seeing all her photos!
Tomorrow is my last day of riding and it will be a tough 88 miles with a TON of climbing before the first break. Best news is we get it out of the way early in the day. Then on to Charlotte and back to the hotel where it all started a week ago.
Many of our rest stops were at fire stations. These first responders have a career that is a calling. I just wanted to try on their helmet at mile 94.
One of Jet Martin's interesting pictures. Warren calls it "KFC"
Kristin Fletcher, wife of one of Bartlett VP's Paul Fletcher, and Elwood Pricklethorn.
Best new rider, Lucas Hubbard from Bartlett!