Island tour

SPIGOLON: The bike tour brings back memories of my trek in Tennessee

A bike tour called the Covington Century is planned soon. This is a 160 mile bike tour through Newton, Walton and Morgan counties, but it also offers 30 mile and 60 mile routes.

It takes me back to a time when I wasn’t worried about getting run off the road or getting shot as I attempted a 50 mile jaunt in my early teens through the back roads of Shelby County, TN. Tennessee.

Most of these roads are probably developed with subdivisions and Walmarts and McDonald’s now that Memphis has endured the same type of urban sprawl that Metro Atlanta continues to see.

But, back then, you could drive for miles in the Memphis, TN area and maybe be passed by a few cars courteously driving around you.

There were a few, of course, who didn’t like sharing the road with a cyclist and made sure to honk your horn because you were slowing them down. But they were few and far between.

Now apparently you must have a police escort.

Anyway I remember buying a 10 speed with the money I saved from working one summer and thinking I could go 50 miles just because I rode a lot on some of the roads in my neighborhood.

“I went to Quince and had no problems,” I told myself and my parents about visiting friends about 3 miles away in a southeast neighborhood from Memphis.

These days I’m not sure I would let my son cycle 100 yards unless he had a reflective vest and a full cadre of experienced cyclists around him, with me behind in my car.

But, in those more innocent days – before road rage was almost a norm and people weren’t waving guns, or worse, at other motorists – my parents trusted me to drive 5 miles at a time out of their sight and then trust me to come home alone after dark, which I have done more than once.

So, armed with the knowledge that I could successfully maneuver my bike and fairly sure of my 15-year-old abilities, I was part of a large group of cyclists who began a 50-mile ride – without a helmet – that would end at Audubon Park in East Memphis to benefit St. Jude’s Hospital.

Of course, I was incredibly naive to think that I could keep up with much older, much better fit riders.

Pedaling like I always have, I started to realize that I was nowhere near catching up with the rest of the peloton I started out with. I just couldn’t understand why I found myself alone on this rural road somewhere in eastern Shelby County, huffing and puffing and only about 15 miles out of a 50 mile course.

Luckily, as the organizers of such events always do, they provided a flatbed truck big enough to take myself and other out of shape racers and our bikes to meet our parents at the finish line.

My much older body probably couldn’t go a mile without giving up because I haven’t ridden a bike in years.

Years later, when I was a member of the Kiwanis club in Forsyth County in the mid-2000s, I helped deliver water and fruit to a stopping point for an 80 mile ride that the club has sponsored in the northern part of the county which is the start of the foothills. mountains of northern Georgia.

You could tell that most of these people, including the former mayor of Roswell, were hardcore bikers. They were in good shape and knew what to expect as many of them rode Mount Sawnee effortlessly.

Anyone who tries such a ride without being in good shape expects a rude awakening.

Which brings me back to the Covington Century Ride, scheduled for July 30 at 7:30 a.m. with a course starting and ending at Legion Field in Covington.

These people are serious cyclists. If you meet them, give them some space. There will be many.

Tom Spigolon is editor of The Covington News. Contact him at