We continued our ride past the barns made colorful with hex signs and barn quilts bestowing good luck, protection, and strength. Little black calves playing in the field made it difficult not to stop for a photo op. But we were on a mission. This was a gravel clinic and we had skills to hone, no time for dilly dallying. When I heard Lauren was leading the clinic, I hoped she would be riding a fat tire tricycle so I would have some remote chance of keeping up with her. But the pace was enjoyable and so far, no gnarly, two-inch rip rap or muddy clay like I experienced in middle Georgia. The twenty-mile loop selected by Michelle Hollberg, for the benefit of Lauren’s collar bone and those new to gravel, skipped the technical section at the back entrance to the park where mud, a creek crossing, and rocks provide a bit of a challenge.
Our second stop was at the bottom of a long, gentle hill with a hairpin right turn. There, Coach Tom set up the traffic cones “University-style.” Get in your drops, brake before the turn, take it wide, no braking in the turn, lean the bike, knee out to the right and your “crack,” as Coach Tom called it, on the left edge of the seat for balance. The line formed up the hill, and down we came hoping we didn’t embarrass ourselves by riding into the grass like our friend the “Track Man” who unknowingly came up behind us.