Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Strava Heat Map -- An Experiement

I saw, on Facebook, a link to Dan Diehn's blog write-up of his recent Great Southern Randonnee adventure.  That led to a couple things, but the one important to this post is that I looked at my friend Sag's blog ("sagittandy") and stumbled across one of Sag's more recent posts.  Haha -- Sag used to post rather frequently, at least once a month, after completing his R-ride, but when Sag and his pedalpal, Jayjay, reached R-60, they deemed "enough" and retired from randonneuring.

Reading the above-linked "recent" post from "sagittandy," I looked at the Strava Heat Map embedded there.  That made me interested in looking at the heat map for certain north of Raleigh permanent routes (mine).

I traced the path of the "Egypt Mtn" course.  If one can discern Epsom on the heat map, and zooms in, one can see a very faint trace into the store at Epsom.  Continuing on, the most interesting thing I saw was that almost no Strava user has ridden Dick Smith Rd which, just west of Bobbitt, makes a big southern loop down to the flood plain of the Tar River and then connects to another road which the "Egypt Mtn" course uses to head back toward Kittrell.  I was rather pleased to see that few Strava users ride that on Dick Smith Road -- on the  other hand, people are missing a fun road.  (If this works, this will be a link to the Strava Heat Map centered on Dick Smith Road.  If you get the map from this link, Toggle Labels to see road and town names.)  

Dick Smith Rd is part of the "Egypt Mtn" course because I personally do NOT like Kittrell Rd between Bobbitt and Kittrell.  I rode it once or twice several years pre-rando; at the time, the trees were quite close to the road and there was NO sight line at the bottom of at least one of the two creek crossings.  I was almost clipped by a passing vehicle that suddenly had to squeeze over toward me because of the appearance of oncoming traffic.  I recall that the trees have been cleared back to make a decent sight line, but I prefer the lesser traffic on Dick Smith Rd.  Apparently, not all cyclists are quite so safety conscious; the heat map shows quite a bit of bicycle traffic on Kittrell Road. 

[Note:  I would embed the Strava heat map, but I can't figure out HOW to do that.  Maybe one needs to be a Strava user to embed the map?] 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nov-05: In NC During Summer, Expect Bridge Re-destruction

Okay, so November 5th isn't Summer.
But newbie DaveG and I encountered two bridges undergoing re-destruction.

The title of this post is rather an homage to another North Carolinian's blog post from a few years ago. 
If you don't know the author of the above linked blog post, let me just note this:
He writes quite well; I once noted that one of his posts looks like prose, but read like poetry.
(The third paragraph in the post linked-to above was prescient regarding this 210k perm ride.) 

Bridges being out on the "Egypt Mtn" 210k perm route is nothing new.
The first ever transit of EM, March-2012, went quite well.
But the second transit, April 29, 2012, revealed a major bridge outage situation.

In 2013, there was a set of two or three little creek bridges that were replaced;
Those were/are only a couple miles after the Sims Bridge over the Tar River,
But, apparently, I never blogged about those bridges.
Nor did I ever make a RWGPS map of the route used to go around those outages.

In 2014, third year of the existence of the "Egypt Mtn" perm, third year with bridge re-destruction

2015, no bridges on the EM route underwent re-destruction.
Seems rather odd.  LOL.

Prior to this early November ride, there had been no bridge outages on EM this year.
Actually, no bridge outages on any of my Raleigh perms and/or perm-pops. 
(Oops, make that until late in the year.)
The "Road to Hicksboro" had an important bridge-out in its first year.
The "Denny's Store Sortie" has had at least one bridge-out during its existence.
The "Bahama Beach" and my "Oxford" routes have a bridge out as I type this.  (Same bridge.)

The Lawrence Rd bridge affecting BB and "Oxford" was a planned replacement.
The MAIN bridge-out encountered on the Nov-05 EM ride seems to be
The result of too much rain resulting from the passage of Hurricane Matthew.
[I've heard of some additional bridges near Raleigh that were put out because of Matthew; 
I hadn't realized that we had had enough rain near Raleigh from Matthew to cause problems. 
And however one might look at the issue, it is the folks that live in or near 
Lumberton that are living, every day, perhaps every minute of every day, 
The difficult results of Matthew.]  


Well, that certainly is a long introduction / background essay.
Especially as I don't have that much to write type regarding the actual ride.

DaveG, RUSA #11611, contacted me out of the blue to ride my "Egypt Mtn" route,
On a Saturday that I had off from work, so
We arranged to ride together.

Dave lives on the southeast side of Raleigh,
And most cyclists from down there tend to ride further south and east,
In order to get to flatter and flatter terrain.

I inquired of Dave's cycling history.
He had taken up cycling in early 2015,
And had ridden five (5) centuries.
One on the Outer Banks, i.e., FLAT (but possibly with headwinds for half the ride).
Two had been back-to-back MS-150 centuries centered on New Bern, NC;
I.e., FLAT.
One had been the Heritage Century that starts/ends in Hillsborough, NC.
That one might have been hillier than "Egypt Mtn."

Based on Dave's reported avg pace while in-motion on those centuries,
I was confident he was faster than me,
And that he'd have no difficulties doing Egypt Mtn. 

We met at the start, exchanged some paperwork, and started (perhaps a few minutes late).

The ride was rather non-descript for the first 45 or so miles.
I don't even recall passing the "Llama House."
I usually count the number of visible llamas / alpacas.
And I almost certainly point the out to anyone new to the course.
But I think I may well have neglected that route-owner "duty" on this ride. 
I was faster on declines; Dave was faster on inclines.

The owner-clerk was not on duty at the Epsom control.
The bench outside was not occupied.
But the inside had several locals, most of whom seemed wary of us cyclists.
I rather concluded that they were regulars, but not regulars used to seeing us cyclists.
There are regulars at Epsom that greet us, and
At least one that inquires about Lynn every time he sees us.
But these guys did not fit that category of Epsom regulars.
I decided to act as if they did recognize and welcome us,
Engaging in some conversation, well, chatting would be a better description.
I'm not sure if they came around to thinking of us as regular people,
That are distinguished only by riding our bicycles on overly long rides,
Or not.
The did urge us to be careful as we left.
It is my opinion, and I'll be sticking to it, that "be careful" is the first step
Toward general acceptance.
Ambassador duty fulfilled.

Anyway, the first 45 or so miles were otherwise non-descript.
Then, at the turn at Middleburg,
Road Closed
Bridge Out
It's only half or three-quarters of a flat mile to the bridge,
Let's go see if it is really OUT, or only out for cars.
If it is OUT, we'll have to use US-1 / 158 until we can cut over on another road.
[I wasn't sure how far we'd have to ride on US-1 / 158, 
I don't use a GPS unit, nor do I have a smart-dumb-phone. 
Dave had a smart phone; 
But I wouldn't have bothered to look at it.

I would have had us go north on US-1 / 158. 
Map investigation subsequent to the ride revealed that going south is a better detour.]  

The work on the bridge over I-85 appeared to be nearly complete.
Needing only the smooth finish layers of the surface.
We walked our bikes and ourselves across, and continued on course.

It must have been an overcast day,
As I do not recall mentioning to Dave that my favorite part of the course
Is the ten miles from Drewry to Warrenton.

I do recall some conversation regarding the color of the house for the Info Control.
Maybe that distracted me from mentioning "my favorite section."

Lunch at the Subway in Warrenton was nothing special.
I prefer eating at the Subway to eating at the Hardee's,
But the reaction from the Hardee's customers is preferable.
Someone or ones are sure to be amazed at our goal for the day,
Not so much at the Subway.

Returning to the course from the Subway, we were greeted with
Road Closed 
Bridge Out 
Well, it has to be the bridge over the creek,
The bridge between the long decline and long incline.
It's only a couple miles
The bridge will likely be okay for us.

It wasn't.
Not so much "Bridge Closed" as BRIDGE GONE !!  [Thanks to Dave for this photo.  The two I snapped with my flip-phone did not come out nearly as well.]
Well, says I, we have to go all the way back up to Warrenton,
Then take US-401 S until we get to Tower Road,
Where we'll be back on course.

This seems a good place to insert the link to the RWGPS map for the intended course.
The link to the RWGPS map for the course we actually rode.
And, most interestingly, the link to Dave's Strava, with a Google-Earth-like presentation.
[I hope that last link works.]

A couple comments regarding Dave's Strava and info contained thereon:

After we got back on course, nothing much special happened.
Dave may have different thoughts on that,
After all it was his first rando ride.

[As previously noted on FB, Dave would have finished much earlier if not for me.]

Friday, October 21, 2016

Oct-20: Sinkhole 103

The standard Bahama Beach route upon which the 103-kms is based:

The route we intended to ride, skipping Creedmoor and detouring around the Lawrence Rd bridge re-destruction:

The route we actually rode.  The first green segment, "Creech-Geer" variant, because I turned the wrong way on Cheek Rd, and since "Bahama Beach" is a 'free-route,' I kept going -- after all, I know almost every surrounding road and how to link them back together.  The second green segment, the very small one at approx mile-25, Wiley Mangum Rd, because I thought Bob might appreciate the view from the crest.
Hmmn.  Although the route colors on the original link map are correct, the map image has too much green-route at the 25-mile mark. 

Here's what we most unexpectedly found at the 14.1-mile mark of the the route we actually rode:
That's Bob on the other side.
View from sinkhole toward the Lake.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sep-05: Lake Gaston 208

My friend Bob and I did back-to-back 100k rides today.  First we rode from Wilson, NC to Gasburg. VA.  Then we rode from Gasburg back to Wilson.
Actually, we rode Tim's Lake Gaston perm for the first time for each of us.  Nice route.  A little busy {by rural North Carolina standards) crossing Lake Gaston.  Controls only at start, turn-around, and end.  Stores or gas stations along the way, at convenient spacing, to fuel up mid-ride.  Some nice rolling vistas alongside some of the roads.

R-81 for Bob; R-1 (again) for me.
I hadn't ridden more than 65-miles in a single ride since mid-late-June when Bob and I did his North of Burlington perm (no blog report) and I was worried I'd have big trouble [well, that isn't quite true -- I forgot that I had done an 85-miler on Jun-30].  Bob, on the other hand. has ridden x-continent with PAC Tour since then and seems to still have his good form.

Bob took on most of the northbound, into the breeze/wind, leading duties and that was a good move as it only took us 5h04 elapsed from the start to the turn-aound.  BTW, I had to ask Bob to slow the pace early on as my out-of-shape legs were not doing well -- not warmed up and giving off complaints of pains.  

My legs eventually came around, or at least did better.  Or maybe it was just that they were so tired they couldn't feel any worse and they kept up a good cadence and pace on the way back, esp. the last 32-or-so-miles.

No photos.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I wish I was riding as well as last year

This, from one year ago, popped up on my Facebook memories this morning.

August 6, 2015

Woohoo! 104k "Oxford" pop this morning with the usual ride partner. Seemingly virtually effortless. Started very easy, never seemed to pick it up (except for one outbound stretch when I was deep in thought and the bike picked up the pace all on its own), 2h04 in-motion outbound, 2h00 in-motion inbound for me. (The official elapsed time might look a bit slow since we started about 7 minutes late due to headlight issues and managed to time 2 outbound stop-lights wrongly, and had to wait for traffic at several spots outbound and inbound.) 
Woohoo-squared! That usual partner only put 6 minutes into me in the final 13.5-miles. (She usually puts 7 minutes into me.) Anyway, 6 minutes behind today, but I was faster on Bruce Garner / New Light than usual this year (with no effort), fastest UP Ghoston this year by a minute (with seemingly no effort), UP Peed at 7.5-8 mph instead of 5-5.5 mph (with very little effort).
Finished. Showered. Eaten. Relaxed. NOT tired. Woohoo-cubed! 

Also wish I had posted this to the blog last year.
I hope that I might have entitled the post "Aug-06:  Woohoo! 104"

Monday, August 1, 2016

Jun-30: Denny's Store Sortie 138

I went to bed on the 29th, mentally ready for several consecutive days of glorious riding.
I woke the morning of the 30th to find a tickle on the right side of my throat.
In other words, a summer head cold had found me.
"Dammit," I thought.
But a second thought came immediately, "maybe it isn't bad and a ride will chase it away."

I stepped outside just before 0530, to find water falling from the sky.
"What the heck?  It isn't supposed to rain this morning."
Rain being pretty much the opposite of what I needed to help chase off the head cold.
"Should I call off the ride," I wondered?
"Too late.  Bob will have left home 40 minutes ago.  I know he'll ride, 'cuz ... "
"I don't have Sridhar's phone number.  I wonder if he will show?"

As I walked the bike over to the rack on the back of the car, I realized it wasn't raining.
The falling water was just residual drops coming from the overhanging trees.
One "job" that trees have is to slow the progress of rain to the ground below.
Thus allowing more of the rain water to seep into the surface rather than run-off into creeks and such.

I got to the start at about 0545; Bob was already there, his bike ready to go.
I got my bike ready; we signed the waiver; I put it inside my car and locked the doors.
5 minutes before the start time, both Bob and I are raring to go.
But no Sridhar.

0559, just as I'm about to cut our chat off with the comment that it is time to go,
I see a car make the turn off Creedmoor Rd on to Norwood.
Sighing, I noted to Bob, "there's Sridhar," and started to retrieve my car keys from the saddle bag.

I retrieved the group waiver and Sridhar's card from my car,
Looked around and asked, "where has Sridhar gone?  He ought to have come around by now."
Bob replied, "he turned into the gas station across the road."
"Why would he do that!?  
"I emailed him to meet at the same place as when he did Bahama Beach 2 weeks ago," I exclaimed.

A moment later Sridhar drove around the corner of the CVS.  Probably 0601.
"You're late, Sridhar.  Sign this and here is your card," said I.
He was quick to get ready, and we rolled out at 0608.

The stoplight at NC-98 was kind on this day, changing back to green after only a couple minutes.

The only thing of note until approx the 20-mile point,
Was the amount of traffic on Cash Rd heading into Butner.
It seemed the most traffic I could recall on that road.
Perhaps we caught the shift change at the various facilities in Butner at its height.

After Butner, the route gets much more interesting.
More scenic (though one should not compare to mountain vistas), more climbing, a LOT less traffic.

The first notable climb is on Range Rd, genially (or not) referred to as the "Range Wall."
Sridhar would tell you that he cannot climb.
But on this day, he made a strong effort and joined Bob in dropping me.
I was expecting to have to catch up to Bob.
I wasn't expecting Sridhar to be ahead of me.

The several miles on Range Rd are one of my favorites on this course, maybe my favorite.
In Spring, Summer, and Fall, early morning sunlight filtering between gaps in the trees;
I can't imagine much that could be better.
I don't dawdle that section, but I do like to enjoy it, at less than maximum effort.
On this day, I chased Bob and Sridhar the entire time on Range Rd,
Making no progress toward them, missing all my favorite scenes,
And generally not enjoying the ride so much.

They paused at the turn onto Bahama Rd.
That gave me a chance to take a drink with both feet on the ground,
Catch my breath,
And take a photo of a location that often seems quite pleasing.
House / homestead at corner of Red Mtn + Bahama roads.  [Some mornings this looks quite nice; either the sunlight, the camera, or the photographer (me) didn't give a good pic on this date.] 

There are several inclines on Bahama / Harmony Church Rd.
Sridhar attacked every one of them.  Very unusual.
Dropped me every time.  Very unusual. 

There are several more inclines on Mollie Mooney / Old Allensville Rd.
Sridhar attacked every one of them.  Expected by now.
Dropped me every time.  Also expected by now.

At some point on the above referenced roads, Bob stopped keeping up with Sridhar on his attacks,
Choosing instead to drop back with me -- mostly. 

There were no peeps waiting on the benches outside the Allensville Store control this day.
We made good use of the benches.
But took no photo this day. 

From Allensville to Berea, there are only a couple noticeable inclines.
Sridhar must have attacked them,
Because I recall I was again off the back approaching Denny's Cemetery.
I put in a Herculean effort and got to the Denny's Store corner first.
(The real reason I got to the corner first was that Bob + Sridhar backed off their pace.
But it is true that I did pick up the pace to get to the corner.)
Sridhar + Bob.  [I have been assured by Raleigh Region RBA Alan that there used to be an actual store at that crossroads.] 

After the Denny's Store crossroads, there is an immediate noticeable climb,
But after that, the route is more-or-less flattish to the second intermediate control in Berea.

We stopped for lunch at the preferred location in Berea.
Which should not be confused with the location noted on the cue sheet and control cards.

I don't recall of the ride between Berea and Creedmoor,
Except that I again dropped Bob + Sridhar off my front wheel,
Whenever the road tilted up, esp. the last two climbs into Creedmoor.

After Creedmoor, I know the guys dropped me again,
'Cuz they were wating for me at the turn off Old Weaver Trail onto New Light Rd.

We swooped the couple miles down and across Falls Lake,
And made the turn onto Ghoston Rd, just 10 more kms to the finish.

Locals will know that Ghoston is a 1.1-mile climb.
Something very unexpected happened on that climb.
Bob and I rode up, he a bit ahead, that was expected. 
But Sridhar was no where to be seen.
He had disappeared off the back!

Bob and I waited at the turn onto Peed Rd.
Bob at the corner, me a 100 yards up the road, in the shade of several trees. 
Sridahr appeared, and we zoomed down to the creek to the steep climb on Peed.

I recall that Sridhar did not zoom down the climb.
Neither did he attack the steep part.
Bob got to the turn onto Mt. Vernon Church Rd a bit ahead of me.
He was waiting.
I made the turn, looking for another shady spot, but also looking over my shoulder for Sridhar.
He was within sight, so I forged on, zooming down MVC Rd to another creek crossing.

Bob stopped to wait atop the MVC Ch climb, at the stop sign.
I went around to finish the last 2-kms.
However, Bob must have followed me,
'Cuz I know he finished the ride half-a-minute or more before me.

Sridhar came in a minute or so later.

The route owner gave us all the same time.
It was a record time passage on the route.
A record slow time.
Permanent Route Name / #DistanceDateFinishersDNF
NC: Denny's Store Sortie / 17951382016/06/3030
Cert#RUSA#NameClub / ACP CodeTime
RUSA-T634955843B___, BobRandonneurs USA / 93309507:55
RUSA-T634966218S___, MartinRandonneurs USA / 93309507:55
RUSA-T634971582S___, SridharNorth Carolina Bicycle Club / 93304507:55

 My head cold lastest only a few days, and it was never very much.
I failed to mention the left Achilles pain that plagued me all ride long.
Pain sufficient enough that I essentially took the entire month of July off from cycling.
I finally did another rando ride, a populaire to preserve the P-series, on July 31st.
NO Achillies pain.  Yippee!!

I type this completely overly long and boring report on August 1st.
I'm planning to do a couple or three populaires a week until later this month,
So that I'll be in shape to do a 200 with Bob in late August as he preserves his R-streak,
Which is uninterrupted since he joined RUSA in Jan-2010.
Btw, Bob and Sridhar are about half-way through their big adventure

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Jun-06 & 22: Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf Pop, x 2


Bob, IvaHawk and me.
My 104k Perm-Pop Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf.

Bob, training for a PAC Tour Northern Tour starting in mid-July.
May have been looking for an easy pace, sorta' recovery ride.
Or maybe just riding with a couple friends.

IvaHawk, training for the upcoming Blood, Sweat and Gears, the "50-mile" version.
Iva, and our friend Tito, have apparently gotten their fill of difficult 100-mile mountain rides.
Iva is in excellent shape, but hasn't been on his bicycle as much this year as usual.
(E.g., last year, I think it was last year, he did a couple Denny's Store Sorties to prep for the BSG.)

[Ha!  Turns out the double-DSS was in 2013; last year was a double Bahama Beach program. 
BB isn't as long as DSS, but there is more climbing per mile.]

Me, training for nothing, and no announced goals.
Just happy to ride with a couple friends.

I recall none of the conversation on the outbound leg, but I know it wasn't a completely silent ride.

As we dismounted outside the turn-around control,
Bob remarked, "I guess we're riding for Lynn."
[Lynn completed the "Oxford" route 60 times prior to the events of Feb-20-2016.]

Upon entering the store, the clerk asked, "how are you?"
I responded, "I gather you're actually asking about Lynn and 'Skipwith'?"
"Yes," she replied.
It was reminiscent of the March 3rd control experience on this course. 
So I filled her in on Lynn's status / recent progress.
But I had to beg off regarding "Skipwith" 'cuz I didn't know anything.

After completing our control paperwork and enjoying a short respite,
We headed out for the return leg.
I know there was conversation, but I can't remember 17 days back to report on it.

Oh, yeah -- Bob and Iva dropped me on the last climb of the day:
Permanent Route Name / #DistanceDateFinishersDNF
NC: Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf / 22591042016/06/0630
Cert#RUSA#NameClub / ACP CodeTime
RUSA-T628547702A__, Iva CRandonneurs USA / 93309504:49
RUSA-T628555843B__, BobRandonneurs USA / 93309504:48
RUSA-T628566218S__, MartinRandonneurs USA / 93309504:50


Just Bob and me.
(Though IvaHawk did serendipitously intersect and ride with us for some of the route.)

Bob had ridden 150-miles the day before.
His last big-miles ride before heading to the west coast for his PAC Tour.
[200k rides don't really count as big-miles as he has done so many of them. 
At least that's my story, and I'll be sticking to it.]

That 150-miles the day before helped me stay with Bob during the ride.
At least for the first 15 or so miles -- as Bob reported later, that's about when his legs loosened up.
After that, after a few miles where he repeatedly pulled ahead of me,
Bob backed off his effort so that we could stick together.

I didn't recognize the clerk at the turn-around control.
Which was rather strange, since he knew the card and receipt protocol.

He didn't ask about Lynn or "Skipwith."

We nibbled some snacks, refilled bottles with cold fluids, chatted a bit,
And then headed out on the return leg.

Outbound, we had chatted about fitting in a couple rides together before Bob heads west.
Inbound, there was less conversation, at least partially because I decided to
"Train" a bit -- mostly a long "hot interval."

There was also the slight headwind on the return.
That always makes convivial conversation more difficult.

Bob did not drop me on the final three climbs.
I'm sure he could have, but ... he chose not to.
Permanent Route Name / #DistanceDateFinishersDNF
NC: Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf / 22591042016/06/2220
Cert#RUSA#NameClub / ACP CodeTime
RUSA-T632705843B__, BobRandonneurs USA / 93309505:06
RUSA-T632716218S__, MartinRandonneurs USA / 93309505:06
[Sometimes, the stop-light at NC-98, approx 4.4-miles into the ride, 
Is green when we get there. 
Sometimes it is red, or turns red just before we get there. 
On this ride, it turned red just before we got to it, 
And, I swear, the light stayed red for at least five minutes. 
Clearly, a record wait at that light. 
At least a record at the start of the ride. 
There's been some seriously long waits at that light at the end of some rides.]