Friday, May 20, 2016

The 2016 Raleigh Region 400 Brevet is tomorrow

The 2016 Raleigh Region 400 Brevet is tomorrow.
I'm supposedly committed to riding it.
I know it will be a solo ride.
With the sole aim of finishing within the time limit.

Well, maybe I should make it a goal to actually start.
The forecast is for crappy, rainy weather.
What RBA Alan refers to as "proper brevet weather."

But I digress.


I was looking at the RWGPS map of the route:
[I was going to pull several lines of routes from my RWGPS maps, but the fools at google and the open fools that edit Firefox have decided that what used to work perfectly should now be screwed up.  It used to be that one could highlight several consecutively listed routes and copy the text perfectly into an Excel worksheet, with each route on one line of the worksheet.  Not now.  Now each cell gets its very own line.  That does not make for a nice looking chart at all.  Why cannot the geeks make things easy for non-geeks?]

So I was looking at the four RWGPS that I've made for Alan's 400,
One each for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
[I'm pretty sure there is a TrimbleOutdoors map for each of 2010-11 and 2012, but 
TO is a pain without an account.]
Every year a different detour because a different bridge (or set of bridges) is being re-destructed.

Recalled to me a certain "Research Trailer Park" post a couple years back by Mike Dayton:
Friday the 13th, or "Sunset Boulevard"

Mike summed it up quite well:
"... if you ride North Carolina backroads in the summertime, you know what that means. A bridge being replaced, oh, you betcha.
 

Monday, May 16, 2016

May-14: "Irregulars" - In Honor of Lynn

I joined some of the old Irregulars gang on Saturday morning for a three hour tour.
(pics of route and elevation profile below) 


When we got to Gordon Moore Rd at about 21.5-miles into the ride,
I mentioned that Gordon Moore was perhaps Lynn's favorite road to cycle.
Lt. Dave immediately commented, "okay then, we're riding in honor of Lynn."

That wasn't the original intent of the ride, nor my intent when I made my comment; however ... 
The crew:  LT, Snapper, Ricochet, Rich, Ags, BobH, me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Fortunate Day

Attention randonneurs:  this is the first post I've written in a LONG time that is mostly, maybe entirely, FOR the Irregulars.  As such, I won't explain certain things in detail.  However, if you know what happened in the rando world in Johnston County, North Carolina on Feb-20-2016, then you might appreciate the following, too. 

  
Looking back in my Excel logs, the first ride of what I would eventually come to call the Irregulars was Jul-22-2006.  Just Frank and me.
 
We met at PUE, and I truly mean MET, as in that was the first time we had met each other.  Frank had recently acquired a used road bike, but didn't know anyone to ride with or where to ride.  He had decided to ask a "superwoman" and the instructor in the Spin Class that he had been attending.  The "superwoman" was Lynn; the instructor was Lynn's friend Larissa.  As I recall the story, Larissa is the one that suggested Frank ride with me.  (Lynn and Larissa had been trying to hook me up with an existing group because they were concerned about me riding solo.  However, all the suggested groups had a at least one characteristic in common:  their rides didn't start until 8, or more probably 9 am, and I liked to be finishing by then.) 
 
Anyway, Frank and I met at PUE, probably at about 7 am, or maybe 6 -- Frank had a couple young children, so he wanted to finish his ride in time to get home and be a father.  We rode across Carpenter Pond to Olive Branch Rd (in those days, Doc Nichols Rd was in bad shape), then took NC-98 across to Kemp Rd so that we could ride up Virgil Rd.  And if I understand the cryptic notes in my Excel log, we also rode down Coley Rd to 98 and U-turned to ride back up to Carpenter Pond, from whence we returned to PUE completing our 31.0-mile ride.  (At an avg 15.6-mph while in-motion, it was the fastest ride I had ever done.)
 
You may be thinking that what was fortunate about the day Frank asked Lynn and Larissa regarding ride partners is that I got a ride partner out of it.  That is not what I am mean. 
 
The fortunate thing came from a long string of subsequent meetings, that is:
  • Frank soon brought his neighbor Sean,
  • who brought his co-worker Harvey, aka "Snapper," aka "Cheeta." 
  • who brought another co-worker Big-Wave-Dave, 
  • who brought his lifelong friend Bob, the "Duke," 
  • who brought Lt. Dave and IvaHawk and some others.
There were others that eventually came to Irregulars rides, but this is as far as I need go to explain "a fortunate day."
 
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and I received a call from Lynn last Friday night, about 7 pm.
Skipping the background details, could I help get a ramp built at her house by Tuesday? 
Skipping some hand wringing, I wracked my brain, who did I know that would know people that might be able to help.
The answer I came up with was Lt. Dave. 
I drove to Lynn's house so I would know first-hand the exact situation.
Then I drove to Dave's house.
 
Laurie, Dave, and Dave's dad, Lew, welcomed me into the house.
I came straight to the point:  did Dave have any ideas on how to get a ramp built by Tuesday.
I think Lew was the first to suggest "Bay Leaf Builders,"
A group of retirees at Dave and Laurie and Lew's church that build a ramp every Wednesday.

Skipping some more details, by 8:45 pm, Bay Leaf Builders had agreed to build Lynn's ramp on Wednesday, i.e., today.
The ramp was completed by about 2 pm earlier today, Mar-30.

The day Frank asked Lynn and Larissa for advice regarding whom to ride with,
That was definitely a Fortunate Day for me.
And for Lynn.
The ramp.
Ramp nearly invisible behind the bushes.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mar-09: Ambassador Tour 210

Actually, just my 'Warrenton + Egypt Mtn 210k perm' with my friend BobB.  (Hmmn, just noticed that the controls are not indicated on that RWGPS map -- maybe I'll edit it one of these days and include the icons for the controls.)

When we got to the first intermediate control at Epsom, approx mile 36.7, one of the regular customers, as we dismounted, asked if we were aware of four cyclists that had been recently hit down in Johnston County.

Bob and I responded simultaneously, "yes."

And since I recognized the regular from previous control visits, I continued, "all four of them are our friends, and I know that you've met the woman."

A shocked and sad face greeted those words.

We chatted for a bit.  I asked him to please pass on to his friends that he had met at least one of those four cyclists, the woman, and to please let those friends know that, from his experience, she was a nice person, and that the cyclists he had met seemed to be reasonable people, regular people.

He added, "you are regular people; the only difference being that you ride your bicycles a long way." 
Bob & I went in to get our respective receipts.  As I checked out, I mentioned the four cyclists to the clerk.  I knew that he, too, had met Lynn, even more times than the regular customer outside.  I was pretty sure he would recall Lynn.  He did.  Emotion was beginning to well-up in his eyes.  I asked him to pass on to his friends that cyclists were reasonable and regular people with family and jobs and all that; the only distinguishing thing being that we rode our bicycles long distances.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next intermediate control, ignoring the info control in Drewry, was in Warrenton.  On this ride, we went to the Subway sandwich shop.

One of the behind-the-counter employees asked me where my wife was.  I corrected, ex-wife.  She expressed disappointment for me.  I explained that we had been divorced for several years, but we were still friends, as witnessed by our doing these long bike rides together.  [Or more likely, "together."  But I didn't explain the difference between together and "together" -- North Carolina randonneurs ought to understand.  Anyone that has ever looked up our respective results ought to understand.  Anyway, back to the story.]  

As there was a line forming behind me, I did not do a "please tell your friends" routine.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The afternoon non-info-control was again at Epsom.  The same regular customer was still there.  Actually, he indicated that he had left, done some errands, and then returned, claiming the c-store was the "Epsom Walmart" where everyone eventually came.  We chatted some more, including that one of the nearby neighbors, about aged 80, rode his three-wheeled bicycle around the area for about 7 or so miles every day, and if he came across cans or bottles along the way, he would pick them up and put them in the front basket.  [Although I could have referred to the three-wheeler as a tricycle, have you ever checked the general statutes in your state?  I expect that you'll find that, legally, tricycles are bicycles.]

There was a different clerk at the store.  Busy line of customers.  I did not do a "please tell your friends routine".  Besides, I didn't recognize the woman.  And that is mighty strange, because she asked me for my control card without prompting.  Maybe I need to pay better attention to the clerks. 

Bob and I left and finished our ride.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Uh-huh, a simple "finished our ride" to refer to the remaining 47 or so miles into that howling headwind.  Bob is training to do a x-continental Northern PAC Tour this summer; I therefore graciously allowed him to lead most of the second half of the ride.  Hey, I had magnanimously led the entire first 64 miles, where, in "Fixie Pixie" words, we had been feeling really good.  Others might say that we had had a howling tailwind for those outbound miles.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------  
Eddington Cycling Number:
After this ride:  125.
Meaning that I have completed at least 125 different rides that were at least 125 miles long.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mar-03: Oxford 104

Originally posted to Facebook, but this is more appropriate for the long-term, and it gives me a better opportunity to pontificate, if I so desire:

Today, Mar-03, Bob & I did my "Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf" 104k route - a route that Lynn has done 60 times. (I hadn't realized it was SO many times - its main attraction for Lynn is the convenience, and it is "mostly flat".)
 
Anyway, as [we] were leaving the turn-around, the clerk, out of the blue, asked, "how are Lynn and Mike doing?"

Need I write more? 

In context of the time, following shortly after events of Feb-20 just southeast of Raleigh, NC, I didn't need to write more to get the kernel thought across.

=============================================
 
However, I do/did have some additional thoughts, some of which were captured by comments I made to the post.  Well, captured in an oblique way, because I wasn't blunt in my thoughts.  Here follows my comments, but I'll not copy the comments of others, which, by the way, were on-point.

Um, in contradiction to what is written immediately above, rando acquaintance Lin made a comment on the FB post, a comment that actually encapsulates everything:

"Wow.  Proving yet again that we live in webs of relationship.

My comments to/on the above referenced FB post:

Conversation revealed that the clerk only knew of Lynn from her many visits to that turn-around control. There is another clerk at that c-store whose main job is at Murdoch Center in Butner -- that clerk, whom mutually recognized Lynn from Lynn's MC days, met Mike on one of his 5 visits to that control, and refers to Mike as "Skipwtih."  [North Carolina randos that ever did Mike's 'Kerr Lake Loop'] should understand.  [Brother] Rob should likely understand the best. 

I've always thought that time spent interacting with store clerks and the community of customers is time well spent.   I'll gladly suffer a few extra minutes to chat with anyone at a store control that wants to chat.  --  In late October 2011, I did Byron's ['Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville'] three times in eleven days: my in-motion times got shorter, but the elapsed clock times got longer - because a local or two only had a word or two for me the first ride, but they wanted to talk more the second time and then even more the third ride.  [previous sentence edited in order to make more sense] 

Six months or so ago, there was a thread on the randon-google-list-serve and possibly also on BikeForums(dot)net where several randonneurs were urging, no, more like demanding that RUSA stop requiring paper proof of passage and allow, perhaps make that prefer, GPS tracks such as Strava or RWGPS or similar for proof of passage.  My thought at the time, which I did not "contribute" was along these lines: 

Great!  Let's further isolate ourselves from the larger world.  Let's further isolate ourselves from the people that are all around us, people that, for the most part, would stop and help if they saw us with a problem. 
  
The original FB post, reproduced at the top of this blog post, is just one reason to stay with the paper proof of passage.  In case you don't get it:  if we are reasonable human beings, we make friends or allies by simply interacting with people; those clerks and regulars, even those that might not appreciate cyclists, will usually come around to appreciating the individual cyclists they talk to; they might even pass on to their other friends that "them cyclists are NOT all weirdos, they are just people like us."  And that is a goal worth striving for. 
    

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jan-10: Lumberton 200 Pre-Ride

On the 9th, Lynn and I rode my Bahama Beach perm-pop, reversed (i.e., counter-clockwise), with the "3-Hayes" variant.  It was a WET roads, sometimes misty, sometimes almost a sprinkle, but mostly a wet, foggy ride, with water droplets just hanging in the air, or condensing on one's clothing as one road through.  It was a damp, filthy mess of a ride, esp. filthy to the bikes.  As a result of all that, I was determined to wait for the weather to clear on Sunday before I started the pre-ride -- that was agreed between RBA TonyG and me.

 
The alarm woke me at 4 am on Sunday so that I could head to Lumberton and start the pre-ride in a "timely" fashion.  At around 4:30, I sent Tony an email that I'd be leaving soon for Lumberton (a 100-mile drive, btw).  A few minutes later, I posted a similar note on that Facebook thing.  I don't have a "smart" phone, only a flip one.  Therefore, I don't look at FB or emails when I'm out riding.  I didn't check FB again until oh-dark-thirty on Monday.

Despite what I had emailed and posted, I didn't leave right away.  There were still rain squalls coming through north Raleigh; the radar showed a similar situation for Lumberton and points east.  Further, since Lumberton is east and mostly south of Raleigh, and the front was drifting to the south and east, it would be several hours before Lumberton and areas east would have clear skies.  [Click here for a RWGPS map of the route.  Tony created the map, but since he once informed me that he sometimes re-purposes his RWGPS maps, I copied his creation into my account.] 

Tony had requested that I text him from each of the controls.  What follows is the text from the several texts I sent to Tony and friends BobB, Iva, and Lynn -- I sent them all the same texts.  There were a few short responses + re-responses, but I won't reproduce those here.
  • The first text, which I apparently deleted after sending, was sent at about 8:45 am as I sat waiting for second-breakfast of a "Colorado Omelet" at the "IHOP" in Lumberton.  It simply indicated that things were finally clearing and I hoped to start soon, maybe around 9:30.  I now re-produce the texts I sent.  I might, repeat might, insert a couple or a few thoughts or facts that were not shared via texts. 
  • 10:24 am.  Started at 10.  Flat on Ivey Rd.  22 minutes of riding
  • 10:45 am.  Problem was/is tyre.  Patched tube, booted tyre.  If flats again, will limp back to Lumberton[I have carried a spare tyre on every ride since June-2010; however, the tyre that flatted had been filling the role of spare tyre until the middle of December-2015, when I tossed the rear I had been riding and replaced it with the then spare.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pack a spare for the rides since then; in other words, I had no spare tyre on this solo ride.  FYI, the tyre that was the problem on this ride -- it is now making its way to the rubbish heap.] 
  • Roseboro control, 1:17 pm.  
  • [I can't recall when I got to Garland "outbound," probably around 2:30 or 2:45, but I stopped there to get an "energy drink" -- to wit, an "Arizona Sweet Tea" -- first finishing the "Mt Dew" I had acquired in Roseboro.] 
  • Delray control, 3:34 pm.  Now the hard part.  58 miles into that wind.  May take 6 hours[I recall that I left Delray at almost precisely 4:00 pm.]  
  • [I reached Garland, inbound, at approx 4:50 pm.  I swapped out the warm weather gear I'd been riding (it had gotten as warm as 21C, 70F, during the day, with the tailwind and quartering tailwind (mostly); but it would start to get cold quickly after sunset).  Removed the somewhat damp long-sleeved jersey I'd worn all day and replaced it with a clean long-sleeve, put the short-sleeve I'd also been wearing all day on top of the clean long-sleeve, put on knee-warmers, swapped short-fingered cycling gloves for some warmer gloves and mittens, and added my shell on top.  Oh, and also put the refective vest back on (I'd worn it all day as the easiest way to carry it).  I did not bother with the arm-warmers, nor the "neck-gaiter" that I often wear when I expect cold.  I also picked up a couple "Snicker's" bars to nibble on during the remainder of the ride -- first food since the IHOP omelet.  I left Garland at approx 5:15, riding into the disappearing daylight.] 
  • 7:08 pm.  Fyi, @ White Oak.  Changing headlight batteries.  
  • [I stopped at Tar Heel a little after 8 pm to pee.  I hadn't been in the gas station there since the last time I did Dean's "Tar Heel 200" perm several years ago.  The tables we used to sit at are no longer there.] 
  • 9:30 pm.  Done
Hmmn.  Not much there if I don't include the responses -- it probably would have made a better post to include only the texts, but I decided to include the several additional comments.  Sorta' like the en route FB posts people make, but without photos.

I took no photos on the day.  Spare time that I might have used to do that was consumed by that flat tyre.  And the incessant, incessant, incessant wind.


I got home at about 2:15 am Monday morning after stopping en route from Lumberton to take a couple quick naps.  I checked FB before retiring to my bed.  There was a very nice PM from Tom Florian, resident of Lumberton, randonneur, ultra-racer, physician, etc., indicating that I should call him if disaster struck.  That was very nice of Tom.

My plan if disaster had struck, was to call Tom (whose phone # I have because of ride host/organizer activities in Jan/Feb-2015).  If Tom wasn't able to help, my plan B was to call LeeAnn, whose number I have because of the same reason I have Tom's.  My plea to LeeAnn would have been that there was a Hound that need rescuing -- those that are FB friends with LeeAnn should understand that comment.

 
Monday morning, I wrote a quick pre-ride report that I sent to the NC-rando-list-serve, essentially noting that all the bridge work from the last few years is done, and that the road, for the most part, were smooth.  I hope there is a decent turnout for the Jan-16 Highpoint Region Lumberton 200 + 300 brevets.  I'll be there, but not riding.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

RUSA Member Retention

Two years ago, I posted the active RUSA membership count early in the year.
I was wondering what the active count is now compared to then.

Yesterday, Jan04, about 9 am EST, the active membership was 2181.
Compare that to Jan-04-2013, 4 pm EST was 2184.

Seven hours short of of exactly two years later -- active membership down by 3.
Hmmn.

===================================================

Btw, I did check the active membership late in December 2015;
There were over 4000 active members.  

===================================================

[Edit Feb-12-2016:  about 8 pm EST, active membership 2717.  
Compare that to Feb-07-2014, when membership was 2732. 
Five extra days, membership down 15.]