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Tour de Lions, Grays Chapel, NC 2007 Report

eebee's picture

What another satisfying, smooth and sufficiently challenging Tour de Lions event! We arrived for registration at 7.30am, grabbed some bananas and other carbs, plus coffee, all provided by the event and its volunteers. The weather was sunny but brisk at about 50 deg F.

At first it looked like Blake and I would be the only skaters, but then Andy appeared in his Tours, and at the start line prayer, blessing all the participants, we spotted Tour de Lions veteran, Melinda. After setting off as a group at 8.30am, we got separated from Andy and Melinda, so we regrouped and discussed what mileage we'd be doing. Blake and I decided to go for the 30 mile option, and Melinda and Andy took the 10/20 mile route.


Remembering the smooth, uncongested, yet challengingly hilly roads of this bike ride, I was curious to see how my 2-week-old hill training would help me. I had been trying to do my Tribble Mill hills for an hour (or however many minutes my kids' ball game schedules would allow) twice a week, which involves a .65 mile hill-up, hill-down loop ad nauseum, observing my heart-rate and trying to keep it away from migraine levels. On my own I have not yet achieved 10mph but it's early days yet. During this hill-training, which I am beginning now, primarily to help me on A2A in October, I have been saying to myself through screaming quad pain: "This is ridiculous! I'm not going to be skating a course which is either straight up or straight down, without at least some flat road in between". Well today for the first 5 miles or so of Tour de Lions, it surely felt to me like it was either straight up, or straight down! Still, just taking in all the peaceful, mostly unharmed greenery was so exhilarating to me, it kept my mind occupied.


I don't remember any gatorback surfaces of the Tour de Lions 2005, but this year we encountered some, specifically along Hinshaw Shop Road - certainly not the worst gatorback we've skated on, but enough to eliminate a lot of roll. About the time Blake stopped to grab a photo of a red-roofed barn, Tour organizer Fred Lineberry stopped by in a car and yelled "Hey! The road gets smoother just up here!". I was impressed that a bicycle tour organizer would be so sensitive to this little bit of gatorback. That is to say, I didn't think it'd be a bother to the cyclists enough for the majority to mention it! This guy really knows how to organize a bike tour, and he lives in the perfect location for one.


There were 2 rest stops, both with porta-potties, and well-stocked with fruit, gatorade, water, fig newtons, chips ahoy, chocolate, trail mix.... We stopped at both of them very briefly, and after the 2nd rest stop the 60 mile route had rejoined our 30 mile route, and we were periodically graced with the cool breeze of a colorful peloton or two, full of fast, fit cyclists. I really enjoyed this, because last year I don't even think we went fast enough to be up with any spanky cyclists, even after they had just done 50 miles to our 20 :-)


The dreaded several-mile climb to the finish seemed so much shorter to me this year, but from what I remember about the sweet serpentine, long downhills leading up to it, that part of the course was on the the same roads as before. Again, thank you Tribble Mill Park hills! This year, some thoughtful soul had sprayed the mileage-to-go on the hilly climb tarmac. Far from stopping many times on the way up like the last time I did it, I was able to keep going, even with a proud smile, and to glide in to the parking lot finish with my breath under control. Having a heart-rate monitor that works definitely helped me not burn out too fast in the beginning.


Finish line temps were about 65 deg F, as we rolled in just under 3 hours. Probably for a lot of people that's nothing to brag about, but I was so ecstatic, because this would have been a real struggle for me at my level of fitness this time last year. And I don't feel like I half-killed myself this time, either.


So it was back to the church hall and kitchen for a replenishing post-skate meal and to retrieve our door prizes. I won a cute little mantlepiece-type clock, with the initials "FL" etched on the bottom, which I hoped meant that Fred Lineberry himself made it (he did!). Melinda and Andy were looking fit and refreshed after their 20 miler. Andy had originally intended to do the 10 mile route, so that was awesome and kudos to him. They skated together the whole way. Melinda did a fantastic job too, back out for the first time on a road event since a back injury last year. 


How polite the drivers are in that neck of the woods! But to give the organizers credit, they made sure of publicity and a strong visible presence in the form of signs, either hand-held, or on the back of vehicles, saying something like "Bike event today". In one of the little country towns we skated through, perhaps Liberty, NC, we were patiently given much space by several heavy goods truck drivers, who I'm sure were on a schedule.


Thanks again Tour de Lions folk, for another wonderful event.


roadskater's picture

Fun Tour de Lions 2007 Bike Ride Inline Skate Skride

What a great report, eebee. Yes it was a wonderful day, if just a bit windy at times.

I noticed that the Chatham County roads did not seem as good as those of Randolph County, or even those of Alamance County, which were somewhere between the two in smoothness. Some places in Randolph were silkysweet. We need to remember this when attending or planning events!

The funny part was that in every town we saw some sign with Fred's last name, Lineberry, on it. I don't know (and don't care) if they're related to him; I just know this is a sweet homegrown charity ride in an area near Greensboro that is not trying (yet) to look like the ring of devastation outside the ring of highway around Atlanta.

I'll share more thoughts on the awesome Tour de Lions in Gray's Chapel if I have them and photos of lots of stuff but I'm working on other things that take precedence right now. More on that too, soon. Thanks to the church for providing facilities and to so many volunteers providing rest stops and a great lunch!

Skateylove, Blake

andrewinnc's picture

Tour de Lions

Just wanted to say thanks to Blake and Eebee for helping to make my first marathon skate so much fun. And a special thanks to Melinda who was a pleasure to skate with and helped a newbie to feel at home on the long course. Also Melinda I got my R4's today, great boots, I love them, they are every bit as comfortable as you said they were.
roadskater's picture

Melinda Gets Kudos as Skate Guide

Andrew, thanks, but I get no credit. I was wrapped up in getting myself ready for the road and getting the camera checked and set to go, then taking photos of the cyclists while they were still in sight!

Then, going down the first hill we rolled away without meaning to create a gap, but with lots of bikes around we thought we shouldn't do any braking if not absolutely necessary. We waited at the first turn so we could make sure you were doing ok, then we were looking forward to a long and somewhat hilly 30+ so we tried to catch some bikes to keep from being the caboose on the 30 route.

I think it was simply great of Melinda to have spent the day sharing the skate with you, and it's really impressive that you came out for 10 but ended up doing 20 with her company and advice.  

Please do tell us more about the R4 skate boots when you have time, either on this thread or as a new create/blog entry or a create/forum posting...whatever...and come skate with us at Country Park sometime!

How was the pavement and scenery on the 20 route? Do you know if it was all within Randolph County? Did the cyclists talk to you much? Thanks again for joining RSN2 and for coming out to the Tour de Lions. I'm glad someone heard about the event because of the web site. That is very exciting. We need to post more events!

andrewinnc's picture

More on the Tour de Lions

The scenery was awesome, since I still have my map and live close I am thinking about heading down there once in a while on the weekends and skate a route. Only one stretch of pavement was rough on the 20 and that was better than what i am used to in Asheboro. So I was in heaven on the smooth roads. 

The cyclists were great they warned us when passing almost all said hey. One even stopped to talk to us as we were eating after the race and told us we were doing 26 mph down this one hill. That was scary. We didn't even finish last in the 20 so that was a good thing, as we didn't want to be the ones to pull up the rear, so to speak.

My R4's are so comfortable, they are a higher boot than my last ones but they fit like a glove. I would highly recommend them for anyone looking for a comfortable boot, who is not looking for a low cut speed boot. Melinda skated so effortlessly in her R4's I couldn't wait to get mine. 

I would love to attend more events if i could find out where and when. I would like to do Country park, let me know when you meet.  

Melinda was truly selfless to skate with and she was a delight to talk to. She shared some great advise and I will be ready for my next event.  

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