Tours des Vagabonds: Lake Seminole Trip

A report of the 2012 March 3rd Lake Seminole ride curtesy of the Tours Des Vagabonds

By Jim Higdon

Vagabonds Riders on the Ride (alpha order)

Steve Baird

Joe Barnett

Jim Higdon

Jim Mann

Carl Vincent

Dennis Wirth

 Pre Trip Friday March 2nd

Jim Mann took the lead Friday night and we decided to go for it.  We had been planning for a long time, and the weather was forecast to be good after a rain front moved through on Saturday.

Day One Saturday March 3rd @ 9:00 a.m.

Vagabond riders met in Havana at Tom Strazulla’s House Saturday morning.

At 9:05 after a group photo, we rolled out – our noses into the wind with some humid and breezy conditions.  That morning, riding was great and we were all able to share banter about cycling gear, local sites and previous trips of various members. Riding west near Quincy, we hit some rain.  We made a short scheduled stop in Quincy at the Piggly Wiggly for a breakfast top off, and to buy lunch items.  We also fixed a minor mechanical on one bike.  At this point Phil Ligget would say “the rain is really starting to fall and the boys are donning their capes”

Around 10:30 the rain went from steady to heavy and near Gretna we were treated to an impressive “light show.” Lightning began to strike on both sides of the highway and an executive decision was made in order to save life and limb.  We shoved our bikes along a fence row, and despite a very real concern about trespassing and “rural justice” we virtually hurdled the fence and made a run for a large pole barn/tractor shed.  This was our shelter for the next 30 minutes. As we waited out the weather – I pulled up radar on my phone and verified the heavy red and yellow thunderstorm cell which was directly over us.  It also showed that the worst of the weather would soon pass.  During that time we decided that if the wind took out the barn we would seek shelter under one of the massive John Deere tractors.

After the worst of the weather passed, we rolled towards Chattahoochee, and finally hunkered down for that sweet uphill grind into Chattahoochee.  We “danced on the pedals” through what was now only just a blowing steady rain.

At the top of the hill, we saw our shelter for the night, opting to stay at the “Relax Motel” instead of camping.

We all agreed it would probably a miserable cold night in our tents.  The next couple of hours were spent hanging our cycling gear to dry and grabbing a great lunch at Jerry’s Restaurant in town.

That evening we drew down on the “China King” restaurant, with lots of laughs especially reliving each of our own “Usain Bolt” moments running to the tractor barn in the storm.  We then walked back to our motel full and happy.

Day Two March 4th at Chattahoochee Relax Motel

Sunday morning we were greeted by brisk but clear conditions and fueled up at Jerry’s again, with hearty breakfasts and great coffee all around.   Leaving town and heading west we cashed in on the payoff for the uphill grind we had earlier, coming into Chattahoochee the day before, as we flew down over the bridge and into Sneads.

We made a leisurely stop in Sneads at the market for odds and ends and our last major opportunity to food shop before reaching Lake Seminole.

Riding north the temperatures came up as the day progressed, along with a fairly brisk wind.

Towards noon we had a nice lunch stop along the Chattahoochee River

Later nearing the Lake Seminole Park, we made a stop for drinks and potable water at a corner Market.

Arriving at the park for the first time, I should say, it is clean and modern.  Pitching our tents at our sites and nice warm showers were followed by a nice supper and lots of laughs during supper at the diner.  Leaving the diner after dark our rear blinky lights and headlights paid off.   With temperatures dropping and a full day of loaded touring behind us we were tired, and all opted to pack it in to our respective tents.

Day Three March 5th – Breakfast – Leaving Lake Seminole Park and on back to Havana

That night, temperatures dropped into the 40s, so in the morning it was a quick scramble to dress and pack for the day. ahead. In ones and twos we headed on our bikes to breakfast.  The diner puts out some great food accompanied by more laughs and good natured interaction with the local residents.  We all packed away a substantial breakfast anticipating a full day of riding.

Outside of Bainbridge we encountered couple of significant climbs.  I know now that my choice to switch to lower mountain gearing really paid off with a 40 lb. payload to drag up those inclines.

Around 12:15 we stopped just this side of Bainbridge for a nice relaxing lunch under and around the remnants of an old tractor shed.  It was a great opportunity to rest and take in the perfect spring weather.  Heading towards our goal in Havana we all had time to stroll along and continue conversations about the sites along the road and other bike trips.

Later, rolling onto Havana temperatures continued to climb into the warm-to-perfect zone.   Just outside our goal we encountered a couple of significant climbs, and the low range touring ratios on our bikes paid off.

Arriving back at Tom Strazzulla’s house we unpacked our bikes and all agreed it was a great event.  Looking back – the best part of this tour was the great scenery and camping. along with sharing ideas, getting to know the other members, as well as the more experienced riders sharing their knowledge of touring with the newer lesser experienced ones.  I am really looking forward to the next trip!!!!