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Signature Ride 2013: Ride Report

In many ways, the 2013 RideSouth Signature Ride was a test. Even though we have presented this ride for many years, it is still a challenge to select a date, organize riders and support, police the activities, and actually ride the miles. Fortunately, Lane and Louis Reno did an outstanding job of all the hard parts, leaving only the miles to the riders! They were there in every case with forms, waivers, lunch, Gatorade, water, snacks, awesome SAG support all along the way, wine, beer, cheese, sausages at the reception, and transport back to Jackson! Thank you!!!

This year, another test involved Mother Nature. We made a calculated risk to go on with the ride from the RideSouth shop, and it paid off. The weather was cool and overcast with only a slight sprinkle leaving Prentiss. Perfect riding conditions! The excellent MHP officers helped us at every intersection leaving from the shop! Those riders that chose to leave from Hattiesburg on Saturday were not so lucky with the weather and had a couple of heavy showers, we were told. Still, the reception in the hotel parking lot was welcomed and well received. The dinner at Cracker Barrel was excellent and it was good to visit with everyone. Thanks to Tim & Jane for the ride to and from the restaurant!

Many riders tested their limits for mileage and speed. We understand about half of the riders bested their longest ride on the 120 mile trip down! Four riders were on brand new recumbents, less than a week old! John Crews and Rhonda Armstrong were riding a new RANS Seavo Tandem bike! David Read and Johnny Rawls were on new RANS Rifles! Way to go all of you! We understand there were some good-natured tests of speed as well. That almost always happens in the end and the results are mostly predictable. A special thanks to Doug Morgan for helping in the pre-ride planning and to him and Jim Lee for supporting the event every year we have had it! Way to go guys! We had a number of new riders this year. We are always glad to see new faces and hope everyone will decide to repeat next year! We hope Trish has recovered from her skinned knee at a fall leaving the Sumrall rest stop! Thanks to all the riders for your support! Special kudos for Mike Cobb as he was able to catch the group at Harrisville after damaging a tire right at the start . . . and going home for another tube! Special thanks to Pastor Sartin for opening the Harrisville Baptist Church for the riders! This is a welcome stop at the top of a good hill!

There are a few items that need mentioning for everyone’s safety. Please avoid parking at the Jackson Road Gateway to the Longleaf Trace. Rodger’s truck was broken into and a wallet stolen. He had to drive back in the rain with no side window. Best to leave your car at the hotel. Please do not bring headphones on this ride. We want to have open communications with all riders for safety reasons. Some energy gel wrappers were noticed on the Trace. If you use these, please dispose of the wrappers properly. Most everyone was good about bright shirts and jerseys and the lights on the bikes really helped in making us more visible! Special thanks to the MHP officers for an excellent escort to Prentiss! Captain Johnny and Beth organized the escort and the Pinola Baptist rest stop as well as providing some excellent photos. Thank you!!

The ride back to the shop on Sunday was uneventful (kidding) except for the tired legs, cold cloud bursts, and 30-40 mph head and cross winds! The hills also played a part in this test! We had breakfast at the Waffle House in Hattiesburg and began the journey on a cool and foggy morning. The ride along scenic back roads was entertaining with curious onlookers everywhere! We must have been the topic of conversation in many church meetings. After surviving a weak moment after lunch, Doug, Billy Owen and this rider trudged back through the winds and hills, eventually experiencing some warming sun. Then, the winds shifted from the north and turned much colder solidifying the reason we called the shop RideSouth and not RideNorth! Lane met us about 30 miles from home, but we were determined and persevered. Oh yes, the scenery was beautiful and the roads were mostly fantastic! We hope everyone will join us on the ride back next year! Thanks to Chad for meeting us at the hotel before his race on Sunday and transporting our bags back to the shop!

This year, the pre-ride buffet and clinic was well received and we hope to make this a staple of the ride event. Thanks to Richard at Time-Out for the excellent fare to help us prepare for the event. Tests are a part of life whether we like them or not. We put up with them in school and sometimes avoid them in adult life. The Signature Ride is difficult, but rewarding. It’s not the tee-shirt or even the medal that matters, but the fellowship and sense of accomplishment. We hope that confidence gained inspires folks to do more. We can always be better. The real test is choosing to keep improving and learning, and to leave the status quo behind. That is our position at RideSouth . . . The Way to Ride. Thank you for your support!!

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