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Photos, Speed and Thumbnail Maps: Paul's Cycling & Fitness Winston-Salem Tour to Tanglewood Training Bike Ride Inline Skate

roadskater's picture

Paul's Cycling & Fitness is hit or miss, I guess I'd say, over the years, when it comes to Tour to Tanglewood Training Rides. I have to say it has mostly been a good experience, but with some exceptions that make it hard to get out of bed and go there for the training ride. A few years back, the route was so disappointing we quit early and drove back to Greensboro Country Park to skate. Usually it has just been one or two signs that they don't see this as the same opportunity that some shops seem to.

I'm still glad to have these rides, and even the worst are better than most rides that cost $25-$40, but still, some shops seem to get it and do it, and others either don't get it or don't do it.

Let me hasten to say the tour staff are always excellent and they really know logistics, and they show up and do all they can. They just need some help.

There's often this feeling that while they're nice, they might not really want to be doing this, and want to get it over with as soon as possible. That's great for the peleton, but not for the ones who really need a training ride with superior care...the slower who are still wanting to be ready for the 45 miles two days in a row of the Tour to Tanglewood. Break down the rest stops early and you get an extra hour or two of your life, but you leave an impression forever for a handful of people who may become the faster cyclists down the road.

Let me add that some I knew felt that Paul's did a better job at welcoming everyone, and I heard good stories from others about the staff and their friendliness and helpfulness this year. They did seem friendly and I will say they were out there at the first route split with the Bicycle Response Team's Dennis, so that's extra effort there, indeed. Paul's also had a guy at the rest stop at Tom-a-Lex, but I think the tent was either going down somewhat early or up very late.

But really, to say even in jest as the store owner did that they didn't print a turn sheet for the 50-miler "so we wouldn't confuse you" is just bogus. It's far better to say, "Sorry, we just decided too late to add a 50-miler, so we don't have any turn sheets." The better idea is to get a copier or computer and make some quick notes for the 50-miler. Calling out the street names is not really going to do much for those that don't live there.

Having not made a turn sheet, it would be even more important to paint that part of the route with EXTRA care, with a turn arrow on the road everywhere it might be remotely possible to go astray. But several reports agree with my experience that a "turn" that should have been marked was not. Take a look at Midway School Rd and Old Thomasville Rd and you'll see that when they split, perhaps technically that's not a turn if you stay on the same named road, but if you're there, you know it needs to be marked because Old Thomasville Rd goes straight and appears to be the continuation of the main road. The true test is that riders got lost at this intersection.

Let me take responsibility here as the one who took us onto a route for which we had no turn sheet! I don't look at turn sheets until I'm lost, but when I'm lost, I find they are wonderful (if they're not soggy by then from being jammed into some sweaty pocket and ignored). It's especially hard to go down a hill not knowing if you might end up climbing back up it. I also didn't watch the street signs as we went along, or not always, so I was part of the lack of information that way too!

We ended up seeing riders coming back from their mistakes, but didn't know they were mistakes since we thought there was no reason to ask about the route while they were there. They didn't seem eager to say they had taken a wrong turn, but we did hear something like they were doing some "extra miles." This was the seed of doubt, and after this, we never saw more riders coming back, so we started to feel so uncertain about what we were doing on this rough road that we spent much time and energy trying to figure it out, including a call to the bike shop (which I can't recall ever doing) where help was difficult to obtain. They didn't say, "Oh we failed to mark the spot at..." but instead said something like "Some riders have gone onto Old Thomasville Road...."

We finally realized we were off course and by this time had so little confidence in the route being marked properly that we simply decided to go back to the 35-mile course, which had now become a 40-miler due to our silly choice of following an afterthought route with no turn sheet. Thanks to eebee for insisting we get back to good, because I would have just skated on thinking I was on the right road, but wondering why nobody else was out there! (For a laugh, check out the speed map, where you can see our mistake and see the many red spots where we tried to fuzzy logic our way out of it.)

We had a fine time before the incorrect turns, and Val and Elaine did the usual awesome job of taking care of everyone at Lake Tom-a-Lex for the rest stop. The roads were mostly fine but one road (Spry?) was a bit crunchy for our tastes, especially combining gatorback with uphills is not so fun! I don't mind that so much. It was not the kind of gatorback you simply can't skate on. Thank goodness for the flowers I wanted to photograph!

Still, of course, we appreciate Paul's hosting the ride, and hope they'll keep trying, or start trying, whichever the case may be. This year was way better than some! This was the first year I recall taking Silas Creek Parkway out and back and I think that is an improvement over past years through dicey gravel-decorated streets. We got to see other skaters briefly, and got to burn lots of calories, which is especially important for me right now!

Some participants pointed out that the group rolled out a few minutes before 8:30. I doubted that, but after checking the GPS data, I find it was true. As a result, some were left in the store and ended up on Silas Creek Pkwy with no Police support. As I've suggested before, be ready to go by the safety talk at 8:15, because the tendency is to start too early after that. But it really should not happen and usually the tour is careful not to allow it. One time-saving tip is to hit the restroom at a fast-food restaurant on the way to the bike shops, because there's always a line there. 

Thanks again to Paul's Cycling & Fitness in Winston-Salem and to the Tour to Tanglewood staff and volunteers for another fine, if sometimes frustrating, day on the road. No matter what else, we got in many miles and it was a good time out and also a chance to see tour riders, volunteers, staff and some of my family. That makes it a great day with 40 miles under the wheels, so you know that can't be bad.

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Skateylove, roadskater

Locations

Paul's Cycling & Fitness
United States
36° 4' 1.3476" N, 80° 15' 7.2216" W
Lake Tom-a-Lex Rest Stop
United States
35° 53' 20.4864" N, 80° 11' 29.3208" W
Old Thomasville Road, Old 109, Midway School Road
United States
35° 56' 28.14" N, 80° 8' 58.7076" W
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