Tour de Pickle.
Seriously. That’s what it’s called: Tour de Pickle. As you can imagine, it’s a bike ride. I can’t call it a race, because nobody keeps track of official time. The event is held in Mt. Olive, North Carolina as part of the pickle festival. That’s right, THE PICKLE FESTIVAL. I’ve lived in a lot of places (California, Arizona, Virginia, Nebraska, Montana, Texas and North Carolina). But I’ve never seen so many festivals as in North Carolina. There’s the azalea festival, the blueberry festival, the strawberry festival, the barbecue festival, the dogwood festival, the herring festival, the spot festival and the list goes on and on. By the way, a spot is a type of fish. I didn’t know that until I went to the spot festival.
So anyway: I went to Mt. Olive yesterday to participate in the Tour de Pickle bike ride. I’ve participated in previous years and it’s always been quite a bit of fun. Misty, Erin and I signed up for the 75 mile ride. They offered 25 and 53 mile rides as well. The day started out without a problem. We arrived at the race area with plenty of time to pick up our numbers, change into bike clothes and get our bikes ready.
About 10 minutes before the start time, I felt it: the urge to pee. There were only two port-a-potties available and there were already about 10 people in line. By the time I walked (quickly) over to get in line, the line grew by two more people. My back teeth were not floating, so this wasn’t an emergency. I just patiently waited.
After the line had progressed so that I was now third in line, the ride organizer made an announcement. With a heavy southern, country accent, all riders in the 75 mile ride were asked to come up to the starting line, which was right in front of the port-a-potties. I was too close to relief to get out of line now. I finally got in the port-a-potty about the time there was a second call for riders to come to the start line. Relief felt good, but I was no where near finished with my business, when the guy with the heavy accent started the invocation. Keep in mind that this guy and all the riders are just outside the port-a-potty door. There’s something not right about urinating in a port-a-potty while a Pentecostal preacher is thanking God for his son Jesus. It gives a whole new meaning to, “Please bow your head.” Finally, I finished my job, but the invocation was still going.
Even though I’m Jewish, I have a whole lot of respect for Christianity and I want to be respectful to those who pray. So I was faced with a dilema: do I stay in the port-a-john and wait until the prayer is over, or do I quietly step out in to the praying crowd. I figured most everyone’s head would be bowed so it wouldn’t matter much what I did. I quietly opened the door and slipped out just as the prayer was finishing. That meant, the 75 mile ride was beginning. I now had to run back to the car, get my bike, and find Misty and Erin. I was about 50 yards behind the main group of riders and turning left out of the parking lot when I heard Misty call my name. She was riding toward me from the right. She had ridden her bike down the road to use the bushes because she didn’t want to wait in line at the port-a-potties. I guess Erin was hanging back in the parking lot waiting for Misty, so neither of my friends had left with the main group. By the time the three of us got on the road, we were at least a quarter mile behind the last riders of the main group.
Needless to say, we didn’t stay in the back for very long. Misty and Erin are very strong cyclists and they set a pace that was quite fast. Probably too fast for me, but I hung in there. The SAG stops on this ride are great because they offer the usual snacks and drinks plus pickles. A sour dill pickle tastes so good after riding 30 miles.
Around mile 35 it started to rain. Then the wind picked up. That’s when we decided to turn off the 75 mile course and follow the 53 mile course. It’s a good thing we did that, because I was dead tired. I don’t know if I could have gone the other 22 miles.
So that was the 2015 Tour de Pickle.
Oh yeah! After the ride, we went to the pickle festival in downtown Mt. Olive. Even though it was raining, there were a lot of people there. The main thing to do there is eat greasy food, go to the car show, eat greasy food, buy artsycrafty stuff, and eat greasy food. And they give out pickles too (which are not greasy).