Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - Year in Review

The easy thing regarding doing a "Year in Review" post is deciding do it. 

The hard things are deciding what to put in it, why to put things in, how to put them in the post.  To help me sort out what to include, I asked the "Irregulars" for input.  Some obvious inclusions emerged, for example, favorite Irregulars ride of the year, most inspiring Irregular moment(s) of the year, most memorable Irregular moment(s) of the year.  Those helpful ideas still leave me to consider and decide upon my favorite moments, etc., be they "Irregular" or "Rando".

Another important consideration is:  "For whom is this post, and for that matter, this blog, written?"  I started out keeping it only for me, mostly with stats about the rides (for "back-up" purposes), with a little verbiage to remind me later of the particulars, and a few things I copied over from other locations or copied onto the blog in order to serve as a "back-up device".  It quickly morphed into being about and for me and the Irregulars as we were the only ones that knew about it.  This year, after I took up randonneuring, the actual audience began to change.  Sometimes I didn't know for whom I was writing:  Me?  The Irregulars?  "Local" randos?  Recently, entirely because of Andy's excellent compilation blog of RUSA blogs, the readership is sometimes national and nearly international.  

Back to the question at hand:  for whom do I write this blog?  I think I've learned that the answer is:  (1) me, (2) sometimes contributors and (3) those that were on the particular ride in question.  I think the better posts have been the ones that were targeted to those categories.  However, sometimes it turns out that even when specifically writing for a "limited audience", the "reach" is further.  For example, I recently put up a "reminiscing" post that I thought only "Irregulars" would be interested in, only to find that Biker Bob, a NC randonneur with whom I've shared an adventure or two (trust me, there is a reference to Bob making an uncharacteristic sarcastic comment buried in there somewhere), had made a clever and understated zinger of a comment.  Bob sometimes falls into category (3), but more often, he would be in a fourth category:  (4) other cycling friends and acquaintances that were not on the ride.  Beyond that, unknown readers are just a bonus.

I have also finally begun to understand that often "less is more".  One cannot relate everything from a ride, and if one tries, the post becomes too long and BORING.  Better to capture a few key moments and leave some things to oral re-tellings (or perhaps others will make insightful comments augmenting the skeletal post).  Comments from Doc on a Bike and local randonneuse JayJay (and others ?) drove this "less is more" idea home to me after I had made a really short post that was intended to be temporary (more later?).

Enough with the hand-wringing -- on to the meat:  in no particular order (or maybe there will be an order that emerges from the chaos): 

Seven days on the Blue Ridge Parkway:  7 days on the parkway.
Thanks Dave, Laurie, Lew, Zeke, Jackpot. 
Thanks also to Dave's sister and her family.

Favorite / Most-Enjoyable Irregulars ride of the year:  Summer Solstice Virginia Border Raid.
This was the second time we did the Border Raid as an "Irregulars" ride.  The first time we did it as a group was in late August 2008.  That was the first ever 100-miler for Frank and Snapper, the first in many, many years for Bob "Duke" S. and for Lt. Dave, was my second ever 100-miler, and the third 100-miler in four weeks for the Iceman.  The Border Raid was a popular ride in 2008 in addition to being popular this year.

No one explains why they liked the ride.  They just did.

My first ever 100-miler was a version of the Border Raid.  I was solo except for the short section from Stovall to Chewning Rd.  Earlier in the ride, I had diverged from the cue-sheeted / mapped course near Stem because I thought Tump Wilkins Rd might be a short-cut and easier than staying on Brogden Rd into Stem (it was neither) and I took Belltown Rd out of Stem instead of cutting over to Culbreth Rd in an attempt to minimize exposure to the building WNW breeze (I did succeed at that).  I did, however, follow the cue-sheet and take Philo White Rd instead of continuing straight on Cannady Mill Rd as done the last two times.  As my first ever 100-miler, this course keeps a special place in my cycling heart.

Most County Lines in one Ride:  12 CLs in 32 miles.
That ride was also the one that some of us had the most fun planning, er, plotting.

Most Inspiring Irregulars Moment:  IvaHawk (at age 63, the self-proclaimed "Old Man" of the Irregulars) doing a "Half-Human Flag" early in LT's mini-3-hump tour.  (Sorry, no photo.)

Scariest / Most-Horrific Irregulars Moment:  From the same ride as Iva's Half-Human Flag, and in Lee's own words:  "need I say, knowing I was going down at 30 mph."

That mini-3-hump tour also got a nomination for Funniest Irregular Moment -- when I "blessed" out Iva at the end of the ride for his abysmal distance estimation abilities.

Most Frequent Non-Irregular Commentors:  BransonBikerBob, Vance.

Tito's Second Favorite Ride, and one of my favorites of the year, too:  Tour de Flat River.

Best "Irregular Velo Adventures" Post of the Year:  Alan's August Brevet and Picnic.
Thanks to Robert, Iva, Tito and "the Mallet" for their write-ups.  Without those, the post for the ride would have been a lot less interesting. 
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Which form do you prefer?  "Better late than never" or "better never than late."
When it comes to this blog, I prefer "better never than late."  (If I hadn't come down with this head cold, I would have put up a faux, place-holding post for an intended Dec-31st Permanent -- so that the report would appear in the correct year, and forced publication of this post at ~ 9 pm on the 31st.)  As for this particular post, I find, that although I've been working on it for nearly a month, I just don't have the mental energy today to put together the remaining pieces.  So ... I'm going to post the input received from those that replied to my request for opinions, etc..  Besides, the guys did a better job of capturing "Irregular" memories than I would do. 

Favorite Moments: 

Mallet:  Goofing off and laughing with the guys. See photo [of] Tito with faux rock on his back. 

Favorite Ride: 

Mallet:  It’s all good. The first 30-miles of the cold drenching ride [Nov-6, see the "IR" ride report] was really good – chatting with John (and Tito and Iva) and solving the world's problems. 

Ags:  I am particularly fond of the Good Friday ride that surmounted so many wayward obstacles.  Three flats, missing shoes, duct tape, explosive BMs vs. unstoppable toilette (irresistible force meets the immovable object).  It all blossomed into a great ride of 64+ miles for some and 74 for the stalwart.  The bonus...it was Friday and there was no traffic. 

Lee:  The Virginia Border Raid

Most Memorable Ride: 

Lee:  When Rabbit Robert finally got on a bike

Worst Moments: 

Mallet:  1. The last 10-miles of the cold drenching ride mentioned above.  2. Watching Lee unable to make the curve on the 3-hump ride – at least he wasn’t too badly injured.

Iva:  Bob Sink's head sliding across Hwy 56.  April 24th.

Lee:  Need I say, knowing I was going down at 30 mph. 

Worst Ride: 

Mallet:  I’ve never had a whole ride that was bad. 

Funny Moments: 

Mallet:  Just reading the emails regarding Tito showing up for a ride without his bike!  That is awesome and makes me laugh every time just thinking about it and the constant ribbing he now has to endure. 

Iva:  Tito's "duct tape" fall on Robert's Chapel Rd.  Feb 20

Iva:  Me turning the wrong way and messing up the county line conspiracy.  Mar 6

Iva:  My birthday ride when once again I messed up a county line conspiracy.  Same ride - me giving away my birthday gift Baby Ruth to the farmer's wife.  April 17

“Heroic” Moments: 

Mallet:  Ducking behind Martin when seeing men with guns

Other:

Tito:  A remarkable ride occurred when Iva, Agnew and I were dysfunctional.  Even more than usual.  The multiple biking dysfunction concerned our bikes and equipment.  Ags had no shoes, I had no bike [ed.:  that was a different ride], Iva had a messed-up tire that led to blowing out a few tubes.  I knew that a bike can be replaced (by Iva's other one) and that Iva was capable of riding on a bike with only one wheel [ed.:  oh, he's purposefully mixing up two or more rides, or senility is setting in -- ;-) ]. 

Then there was more.  The Lieutenant had a fire station bathroom challenge and on and on.  Memorable and fun.  I don't know if you can market the wired on shoes that Ags had or the duct tape foot binding but someone should try. 

Iva:  Ironically, in sports like cycling and ultra marathoning where experiencing pain is a goal, an end and not just the means, some of the best and worst moments overlap.  One of my best and worst Irregular moments this year was the Icy Rain ride, aka Long Assault on Flat Rock in the Freezing Rain, with Tito, Mallet, and Ags.  So that is my nomination for worst ride and favorite moment. 

Iva:  "Anti-heroic" moment - most of us deciding Bob was fine and riding on trusting that his wife would be there to pick him up soon.  Lee D, especially, stayed almost five minutes before concluding Bob would be fine.  Apr 24. 

Favorite moment - same ride.  After making sure Bob was gone.  Tito and I got semi lost on Pokomoke Rd and had to talk to Wilbur the farmer who lives next door to the Llama House.  April 24 was also the day some of us wimped out of the 3 Hump ride because of the weather which turned out to be ok.  And, it was the day Martin was on a 300K. 

Iva:  Funny moment - Lt Dave's May 3 hump ride and my estimate of distance from Martin to the parking lot at the top of Hanging Rock.  May 15.

Worst moment - same ride.  Lee D's head over heels mountain crash.

Funny moment - same ride.  Tito convincing the country store female clerk that Norris was Ned Dale Jarrett.  [Lt. Dave seconded the “Dale Jarrett” moment.

[Gotta' give it to a guy that will list all the self-deprecating moments, includes all the good and bad moments of others, but never mentions his own outstanding, er, out-flying, moment:  the Half-Human Flag.  I think Iva is embarrassed every time we mention that.]

Funny moment - Tito forgetting ... his bike!  June 5.

Funny moment - same ride. Harvey and Ags and the "spanking" story atop Mt Tirzah [ed.:  I was there, and I don’t know what Iva is referring to – I guess I should be thankful for that].  

Favorite ride – Solstice 105 miler [aka, Virginia Border Raid] - distance record for me at the time.

Favorite moment - same ride, Tito pulling me out of Grissom at 23 mph to catch the peloton.

Favorite ride - Tour de Moore with Irregular buddies.  Sept 4.

Favorite ride - Mt Tirzah ride where Ags pointed out the "Cooler of Temptation" inside Hollow Ridge grocery atop Mt Tirzah.  This is where and when a famous group Irregular photograph was taken. 

Moments and rides I can't recall which ride - lunch at the country store in Berea where we got subs and ate outside with the jars of water that scared away flies. 

The Yanceyville ride where I had two flats in Roxboro and had to drive to Yanceyville to get a tube.
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That leaves me with the rando moments to recall.

First brevet ... whoosh! ... the lead pack (3/4 of the riders) were gone.
Tiny frogs on the road in the rain at night during the 300k brevet.
Cramplet storms in both calves while sitting in Uwharrie during the 400 brevet.
Sara and Gary "carrying" me home from ~ 160 km out on the 400 brevet.
A particular pain that lead to DNF on the 600 brevet.  Ouch.  Ouch!  OUCH!!

Gosh it was HOT trying to do L-L-L in July.  Congrats to BikerBob; he succeeded that day.
BikerBob's comment to me in Siler City during the August 200 km brevet.
October 200 km brevet, riding with a various assortment of temporary allies, finishing in 9 hours!!
Dinner with Andy and JayJay after the October brevet.

"Conquering" L-L-L, solo in October. 
And doing "Showdown in Black Creek" the next day.
The gnats on that "Black Creek" ride.
John O. dragging me through KLL, the day after I had done a second "Black Creek" ride.
1300+ RUSA credit kms in October.
Dean asking me to come along on the KLL ride where he crossed 10k kms for the year.
Jerry dragging Dean and me the first 100+ km into the headwind up to Boydton.


Some numbers (you didn't think a "numbers guy" would neglect numbers entirely, did you?):

7559 - number of miles ridden THIS year
6216 - number of miles ridden LAST year
3537 - number of RUSA credit kms this year / "lifetime"
1411 - number of RUSA kms in events started, but no credit, this year / "lifetime"

126 - number of rides LAST year
112 - number of rides THIS year

67 - average length of all rides THIS year
54 - number of miles I rode on my birthday
49 - average length of all rides LAST year
40 - number of "Irregulars" rides I did LAST year
38 - number of "metric centuries" I did LAST year
30 - number of "Irregulars" rides I did THIS year
30 - number of "metric centuries" I did THIS year (2 of which were Permanent Populaires)
22 - as in "M-22": current number of consecutive months with at least one 100-km or longer ride 

20 - maximum number of riders that started any single "Irregulars" ride
19 - number of 200+ km rides THIS year (1 in entire previous "lifetime")
17.8 - average pace of my fastest ride THIS year
17.7 - average pace of my fastest ride LAST year
17.3 - average pace of my faster ever 100+km ride
15.8 - average pace of all my rides LAST year
15.0 - average pace of my rides THIS year
14 - number of Permanents I started + 2 Permanent Populaires
13 -

12 - months in which to remember not do this kind of a post next year
11 - number of Permanents I finished within the allowable time + 2 Permanent Populaires
10 - as in "C-10":  current number of consecutive months with at least one 100-mile or longer ride
_9 - number of conspirators it takes to get Iva a CL
_8 -
_7 - days to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway
_6 - number of Brevets I started
_5 - number of Brevets I finished
_4 - number of Brevets for which I got credit
_3 - number of "humps" in Lt. Dave's mid-May "tour"
_2 - number of "Irregulars" rides Frank, IR #2, did this year (June ride) (July ride)
_1 - number of different bicycles I've ridden in the last four years
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Finally, and most importantly, to each and every one with whom I've ridden this year, or who volunteered at one of the brevets I rode, or crossed paths with me on a ride ... THANKS.   _

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It Was Bound To Happen

What with all the people around the last couple weeks coughing and spewing without even a pretense to cover their mouth, It Was Bound To Happen:  I've got a head cold.

Complete with achey legs and arms and tired eyes after reading (or whatever) for not all that long. 

I suspect that the first manifestation of symptoms was on the Christmas Eve Range Road Rover; my quads ached quite a bit on that ride ... probably more than can be explained by the lack of miles in early December and a 200 km Permanent two days earlier.

I was going to do a 200 km Permanent on the 31st for the fun (I already have a December 200 in the bank -- not that that "R" thing is a goal) and a Jan 1st 200 km Permanent for ... well, you know.

It would have been nice to be along on the ride where Jerry intends to "R-57", and Andy, JayJay, John O, Maria and possibly others intend to extend their "R-streaks".
I'll be happy if I can ride on the 1st while Dean does "R-48". 

And now I have some extra time to complete a "Year in Review" post ... if I can find the mental energy. 
 _

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dec-24: A Holiday Tradition? Third Year.

Two years ago, Dec-27th (I think), Lt. Dave and I did a Range Road Rover for the first time for either of us (the last section of Range Rd wasn't "asphalted" until mid-2008).  It was chilly.  No snow on the ground or in the air.  The main thing I recall from that ride is swooping down-and-up the rollers on Range Rd as we headed south toward Old-75.  We had fun.
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Last year, Lt. Dave, IvaHawk, Lee and I did the Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd.  There was snow on the ground (see the photo from last year).  It never got above ~ 37 F.  Most of us felt "sloggy".  We had fun.
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This year, there were seven:  Lt. Dave, IvaHawk, Lee, Levi, Rapid Robert, Gary, and me.  We again did the Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd.  Backing up a little, I put out the "rider-call" e-mail mentioning only the route ... thinking everyone (on the "Irregulars" list) already knew (or at least knew-of) the course. 
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In response to my "rider-call" e-mail, Levi responded:

At the risk of being punished…can I get a cue sheet?
Mileage 70 to 80?
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I responded with the following:

Cue sheet? ... Cue sheet! 
Do I have a cue sheet? 
In case I don't, here is a map:  Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd 

65 miles. 

I then realized that I did have a Range Rd cue sheet -- just not the exact course intended. The cue indicates staying on Range Rd all the way to Old-75. However, about 1.5 to 2 miles before getting to the end of Range Rd, we'd be taking the left onto "Little Mtn Rd"; that would put us on a flat section of Old-75 instead of having to cross a deep-ish valley to get into Stem.
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Levi thought it a bit strange that we'd be taking a road named “Little Mountain Road” to avoid a climb?  

I immediately alerted everyone EXCEPT Levi:  Do NOT clue Levi in as to how lame Little Mtn Rd is.  Let him "fear the unknown".  IvaHawk embellished the reputation of Little Mtn Rd with an e-mail to Levi:  Little Mountain Road should be named Very Big Mountain Rd. Think of Col de Madeleine on steroids. 
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Before the start of the ride, I was sure to remind everyone to save "something" for Little Mtn Rd.  Levi bought hook, line, and sinker.  To bad he was tired and showing it BEFORE we got to Little Mtn Rd.

I "stayed back" with Levi on Little Mtn Rd.  As we approached the end of the road, I said, "I'm confident that either you figured out we were having you on, or someone clued you in, yes?"  Levi was confused.  I told him he had just ridden the entire length of "Little Mtn Rd."  Levi was delighted.
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Later, Rapid Robert told me that I was "mean to Levi, today."  I thought he was referring to my mentioning the infamous "bell girl" ride to Levi (and LT) near the end of the ride, but I realized that Robert doesn't know about that ride, and was out of earshot when I mentioned the "bell girl".  However, in my defense, Levi is not the first that I've tried to slow down by intimidating with mentioning the "difficult" Little Mountain Road.  I pulled the same non-prank on Snapper.  And, hey!, most all you guys are faster than me -- I need better course knowledge or other "help" to keep y'all to a pace I can handle.
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As for the ride:  It was a bit chilly, possibly cold, at the beginning.  Before 6 miles, I was warm everywhere except for my left little finger -- even that was warm a few miles later.  LT requested a flo-max stop at the BP in Butner -- that turned into a fairly long stop as others, in turn, realized that they also suddenly needed a pee.  Those of us not so afflicted rested in a sunny spot of the parking lot; however, although sunny, the concrete was not warm -- my feet were warm when we arrived, but after standing still on the cold concrete for ___ minutes, they were quite chilled when we restarted.

Everyone else climbed the Range Wall with (what appeared to be) gusto; I climbed a bit slower than I usually do (but I doubt anyone else would notice the difference) -- I could definitely still feel "Wednesday" in my quads.  I think everyone else was feeling the chill.  Once atop the Wall, and then finally to where the plain levels out, the crew continued to soft-pedal waiting for Iva and me to catch up.  Also, I think the front five were having much enjoyable chat -- I certainly hope so; I think Iva and I were also chatting while catching up.  The front crew also made mad dashes for the Durham and then the Person county lines.  Gary took one of the CLs; I don't know about the other.

When we caught back on the peleton, IvaHawk and I enjoyed the wind-screen the others provided.  Somewhere along the still northbound section of Range Rd, Lee and I were discussing possible nick-names for Robert:  I suggested "Rapid Robert"; Lee suggested "Robert Rabbit"; we'll see if anything sticks. 

I was not re-warming as I thought I should be, and (if'n I recall correctly) others were also commenting on being somewhat chilly.  I decided that 15 mph on the "flat" was the problem, so I went around and dragged the pace up to 17 or 18.  Hating to see a draft go to waste, Rapid Robert grabbed my wheel (I'm guessing -- I didn't look -- but as Robert Rabbit ended up on my wheel, I'm assuming his usual "move"). 

After what seemed about 2 miles, there was a small curve in the road (in addition to the general bend taking us from northbound to eastbound) which revealed a small bridge, and just beyond that, one of those diamond shaped road-warning signs (cross-road) with the green Granville County sign attached to the same pole.  Being first to see the sign, I was was first to hit the pedals a bit harder -- I think Rapid Robert Rabbit was the only one to challenge -- on the flat, I can accelerate faster than Robert -- one CL for the "slow guys". 

The best thing about crossing into Granville County:  the road surface changed from rough chip-seal to smooooth asphalt.  The second best thing:  the northbound part of the ride was essentially over and we should start to collect a tailwind as we rode into the bright sunshine low on the southern horizon.

I tried to "swoop" the rollers southbound, but I didn't have the legs to do it.  All I managed to do was break up what had been a reasonably well-working social formation of cyclists.  Maybe we need a new "leader".  But I was much warmer; only my feet remained slightly chilled.

We stopped in Stem because that had been the plan.  The mayor didn't seem to be on duty at her store.  IvaHawk had promised that the store would be all "decked-out" for Christmas.  It wasn't.  I don't know why I had thought it would be.

Zoom most of the way to Creedmoor.  Slog up the one big slope before Creedmoor.  Zip through Creedmoor -- not all of us used the same course.  ;-)  Onto Dove; I didn't have the legs to roller-coaster the rollers; I was happy follow LT and ride with Iva.  Gary provided Iva with a "jato bottle" assist on the biggest "up" on Dove.

We reached Whitt Rd.  I saw Gary go into an exaggerated "I'm getting ready to sprint" position on the bike; someone said "I know what's coming"; I thought, because of the exaggerated position, that Gary was mostly "faking-a-sprint"; I saw a one-foot wide clear path between the fog line and the ugly gravel on the other side of the corner; I saw Gary cutting across the double-yellow and sort of pretend to start a sprint; I hit the pedals hard, NOT faking a sprint, taking the aforementioned clear pathway, hitting the pedals hard enough that the front wheel came up off the road surface; I don't know if anyone else gave chase, being only about 60 yards from the turn to the CL sign, if one hasn't pre-planned to "sprint", there really isn't time to react; mark up two CL's for the slow guys. 

Good thing about that "sprint":  it loosened up my legs and gave me cadence to carry me all the way up the climb on Whitt Rd.  I wasn't fast, mind you -- but it was not a slog.  Everyone else except Levi road easily up the Whitt Rd climb.

Onto Old Weaver Trail headed for New Light Rd; we split into two sections.  The back section consisted of Levi, Lt. Dave (who provided repeated jato assists to Levi), and me (watching for traffic from behind to make sure jato assists were viable).  The other four were in the front section; Gary apparently gave Iva some jato assists on Old Weaver. 

The back section caught the front section because Rapid Robert had dropped his chain and had to stop to put it back on.  (Robert -- take a lesson from Lee.  Lee had dropped his chain while climbing the Range Wall, and although his speed fell off to nearly "I can't balance going this slow", he used the "chain guide" to put the chain back on without stopping.  While going UP the Range Wall !!)

Oh, funny thing today.  Everyone decided to take the easier finish (NewLight / SixForks - Pleasant Union Ch Rd  instead of  Ghoston - Peed - MVC).  Even me.

All-in-all ... we had a fun ride.  (I suspect that I forgot to close something I may have foreshadowed.  If so, that's just the way the stream-of-thought works.)
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Dec-24: 

PUE:  Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd; 64.6 m.; 4 hrs, 17 min in-motion; 15.1 mph.  

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
Dec tot: __5 rides; __287.8 m.; _19 hrs, _5 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 112 rides; 7,559.5 m.; 504 hrs, 43 min; 15.0 mph.
 _

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dec-22: Tar Heel 200 Permanent

Just Dean and me.  "Irregular" Robert backed out Tuesday afternoon.  Fearless Leaduh Alan called Dean just before 7 to say he was backing out because he had forgotten to put his jacket/coat in his truck.  30 miles later, Dean realized that he had two jackets/coats in his car -- Alan could have used one of those.

A bit chilly early, but well above freezing.
Complete gray overcast.  Where was the "partly sunny"?
Light west (i.e., mostly "neutral") breeze.

The clouds came closer to the ground as the morning wore on.
(Meaning, that it became "hazy" -- I wouldn't call it "foggy".)
Moisture from the clouds (fog) condensed on the roads, especially River Road.
It was warmer and dryer in Tar Heel.
We speculated that the chill had settled into the valley.

After 2:30, the sun started breaking through.
By 3:00, mostly sunny.
But the wind direction had changed to northwest (i.e., not neutral homebound).

As neither Dean nor I were able to ride much the last three weeks, we found that "use it or lose it" definitely applied.  (Dean seemed more effected than me -- I couldn't talk him into "suspending his belief".)

Lots of road kill.
Even more annoying dogs.
Some more than annoying.
One in particular.  (Ask Dean.)

But we saw a Blue Heron in flight when outbound, and again when homebound.
Almost balances out.

Excellent ride.
Dean got in his December "R" ride.  Glad to have helped him get to R-47.
He got in his "P" ride two-and-a-half weeks ago.
(On his "P-12", Dean CLAIMS, while exuding wide-eyed innocence, it happened by accident.  Uh-huh.  Sure.  Probably had inside info from a "local RUSA official".  No evidence.  I'm just saying.)
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[Edit Jan-02-2011:  In his comment below, Dean mentions that he shall comment elsewhere regarding his "P-12".  To see those comments, click here.]
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Dec-22: 

Tar Heel 200 Permanent; 125.0 m.; 8 hrs, 26 min in-motion; 14.8 mph; rando time:  10 hrs, 0 min elapsed clock time.  (Slowest moving average on this route.  Fastest elapsed clock time.) 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
Dec tot: __4 rides; __223.2 m.; _14 hrs, 48 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 111 rides; 7,494.9 m.; 500 hrs, 26 min; 15.0 mph.

Btw, my "Eddington Cycling Number", as of this ride is ... 71.   
 _

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I've Been Reviewing Posts From Early in the Year

... for material for a "year-in-review" type post.

I think I see why I took up randonneuring.  The rando rides have less drama.

For example:
  • there have been no reports of people needing to be duct taped to their bike on the rando rides (Feb-20Apr-2Jun-12), 
  • no reports of randos forgetting their shoes (Apr-2),
  • no reports of randos forgetting their front wheel (I can't locate the post with THAT incident),
  • no reports of a rando forgetting ... their BIKE (Jun-5).
To be fair, I decided in November or December 2009 to have a go at "that randonneuring thing".  That was well before any of the examples noted above.  And I am aware of a rear derailleur cable repair being required (Apr-10) on a brevet, and Bryan "crinkled" his steel frame and Glenn "forced a car off the road" during the Morrisville 600 km brevet (RTP post regarding the 600).
 _

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dec-19: A Lake Loop

Exactly 52 weeks ago today, a "non-Irregular" "Irregulars" ride with the same exact participants as today's ride:  namely Lt. Dave, Lee, me, and some roadside snow and ice

What was different today?  Not quite so much roadside snow and ice, and we rode a different, slightly shorter course.  Oh, and I think there was more strength in the north wind today than there was a year ago.

The potholes on Olive Branch Rd between Carpenter Pond and Doc Nichols roads are REALLY annoying.  I don't want to ride that stretch of road in either direction again for a long time.  I wrote that about the Thanksgiving Day ride, but neither LT nor Lee read that post.  I'm now thinking that neither of them will want to ride that stretch of Olive Branch for the foreseeable future.

We had a good ride in the mostly sunshine, windier and chillier than we would have preferred conditions.

Funny thing:  my quads bothered me more at the end of today's ride than they have at the end of all recent rando Permanents.  Difference between "staying calm" while riding versus riding with some "assertiveness".  No one not there will believe there was any "assertiveness" given the average pace of the ride, but ... there was.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dec-19: 

PUE: modified Falls Lake Loop + DoveRd; 41.1 m.; 2 hrs, 37 min in-motion; 15.7 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
Dec tot: __3 rides; __138.2 m.; __6 hrs, 22 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: 110 rides; 7,369.9 m.; 491 hrs, 48 min; 15.0 mph.
 _

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Wrong Permanent

Clearly, some of us "Triangle area" types were thinking of trying the wrong Permanent this last Saturday.

Instead of the Tar Heel, or the Coffee Run, perhaps we should have been thinking Triple-L:

Permanent Route Name _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Distance Date _ _ _Finishers DNF
NC: Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville (L-L-L) 204 _ 2010/12/11 _ _1 _ _ _0

Cert# _ _ _ RUSA# Name _ _ _ _Club / ACP Code
RUSA-T13163 _621 _M., Byron E North Carolina Bicycle Club / 933045

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
Alternatively, perhaps a Friday ride would have been even better: 
 
The Wilkes County Rumble worked for some, but I suspect that it might not have worked for me. 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Congrats to those NC randos that already have their "R" ride in this month. 
 
Weather looking brutal (by NC standards) this coming week.
 
The last two years, the last 12 days of December have been better riding weather than earlier in the month.
(Or at least I got in the lion's share of my December rides the 20th thru the 31st both years.) 
I'm hoping the weather moderates after this week. 
 _

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dec-11: An LT Hill Training "Shadow Ride"

I was going to do the Tar Heel 200 Permanent with about four or five others today.

LT was going to lead interested "Irregulars" on the 69-mile version of the Johnson Mill Journey.

That was all planned when today was forecast to be partly to mostly sunny with temps ranging from ~ 28 F near dawn to 50-55 F in the afternoon.  But the "weather liars" got us.  Rain (and in some locales, snow) filtered in from the south and west.  Temps in Raleigh stayed near or above freezing at dawn; but I'm doubtful that temps topped 40 F this afternoon.

Most, hopefully all, the randos that were looking to get their "R" ride on the Tar Heel were struck with some "common sense" yesterday afternoon or last night, and decided to "stay in out of the rain."

LT, Levi, Smitty and Robert had decided to start their ride at 9:30 this morning.  And by the time I called LT at 7:30 to find out what his plan was ... LT had switched to "let's just ride around Bayleaf and stay close to PUE so we can bail before the rain starts."  I signed on.

One thing about LT:  he'd rather ride mountains than hills; he'd rather ride hills than flat.  So ... an LT Hill Training Shadow Ride resulted.  Different housing developments than last week's ride.  We did Boxelder Rd the opposite direction as last week.  But we did Boyce Mill Rd the same direction.  And then added in a couple more non-flat sections.

LT, Smitty and I called an end to our rides after 18.9 miles.  Levi (looking for miles to get closer to his yearly goal - he probably needs another 232 miles by year-end) and Robert ("I've never done a ride this short") opted for a bit more.  They did a 9.4 mile loop:  Pleasant Union Ch Rd to Six Forks / New Light to Ghoston to Peed to MVC Rd.  They did not quite beat the rain.

We all retired to LT's for a beer and some soup or gumbo -- THANKS, Laurie.  Over soup, crackers and beer, we traded memories of rides and moments from earlier this year.  We managed to get Robert quite wide-eyed in horror about some memory from before he started riding on Apr-24.  I filled in the information (that is not in the blog entry) about my May 600 km ride that I did not complete -- Robert's comment:  "and you're trying to talk me into trying those things?"  We, primarily Dave, did get him interested in riding the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Next year. 

No one mentioned Levi's "bell boy" moments from the 69-mile Johnson Mill Journey a year-and-a-half ago.  Darn.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dec-11:  

PUE:  An LT Hill Training Shadow Ride, no description (there's a reason); 18.9 m.; 1 hrs, 13 min in-motion; 15.4 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
Dec tot: __2 rides; ___57.1 m.; __3 hrs, 45 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: 109 rides; 7,328.8 m.; 489 hrs, 15 min; 15.0 mph.
 _

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dec-04: "Shadow Ride"

"What's a 'Shadow Ride'?"

"Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of the ride leader? ... 'The Shadow knows'."

Intentionally sans cue-sheet.
No one could follow a cue-sheet through all the turns we made ... and still have fun.
Short route on a cold day (central NC standards for "cold").
With many climbs (i.e., creek valley crossings), and many turns.
Though, since we were a group of 10, the route was "toned down" in some places.

How much climbing?
Not sure, but probably about 56.5 ft of climbing per mile.
Compare that to the usual 42 ft of climbing on usual / normal routes in north Raleigh / north of Raleigh.
That 33% more than usual !

And think, instead of 2160 ft of climbing in 38.2 miles, I could have gone on the inaugural ride on The Whirligig, with only 750 ft of climbing in 100 kms.  But this Shadow Ride was certainly at least as much fun -- except for the whirligigs.  (Be sure to check the RTP blog post -- good photos and a link to even more whirligig photos AND actual useful / entertaining information.  Thanks for those two posts, Mike.)

No map of today's course, but here are some maps of some similar courses:
    http://veloroutes.org/bikemaps/?route=14335
    http://veloroutes.org/bikemaps/?route=14212
    http://veloroutes.org/bikemaps/?route=14151
The route we did today was not only slightly longer @ 38.2 miles, but almost certainly had more climbing per mile than the average of the three routes shown above because of: (1) Carrington Wall & neighborhood, (2) Boxelder, (3) Boyce Mill Rd.  (Boxelder is the final "coup de grace" (and also the first noticeable test) of Byron's Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville Permanent.  We did it the outbound (easier) direction.)

Robert sent me a link to his Garmin data from today's ride:  Robert's Garmin data
 _ _(check out the map)

Moments from today's "Irregulars" ride":

A bit of "brain freeze" on the first two downhill cavalry charges.  (In addition to the ice-cream and cold drinks phenomenon mentioned in the Wiki article, any cold-weather cyclist can tell you that suddenly turning into a cold wind on a cold day ... is likely to get you some "brain freeze" ... if your forehead / head is not covered protected by sufficiently warm gear.)

After about 6 miles, I was comfortably warm everywhere except my feet.  I forgot to put on my toe covers before the ride; by the end of the ride ... COLD feet!!

Gary tried to turn onto the wrong road off Raven Ridge.  We were headed for Koupela.

How did the the lead section know to turn onto Brassfield Rd rather than continue straight on Durant?

Just after I called out the correct "turn" at Brassfield / Honeycutt, Snapper called out "right" -- messing with Gary.  Bad, Snapper, bad!!

Good ears and quick reflexes were important when I didn't realize until almost too late that we needed to turn. 

Carrington Wall.  Followed by the half-mile steady up on Whitestone ... was new to 6 (maybe only 5) of the 10.  (Will the Carrington Wall be involved in a late-February road bicycle hash?  I wouldn't bet against it.  (See also regular (running) hashing.))

On Ray Rd, Robert asked "are you taking us to Boxelder Rd?"  I had thought of taking it easy and just staying on Ray to Norwood, but once Robert asked, I had to respond "Yes."  "Oh, boy!" was Robert's immediate response.  [Robert is always enthusiastic ... and maybe a bit "teched".  ;-) ]  I decided I better minimize his expectations with "we're doing it the easy way, Robert."  "Downhill?" asked Robert.  I lied "Yep, all the way."

I hit 35 mph coasting down the steep part of Boxelder.  Then crawled up the opposite side at 6 or 7 mph.

Oh, yeah, it was near the top of Boxelder that Gary led himself and two or three others to make a "bonus feet" turn.

From my seat far in the rear, it appeared that the Mallet, Tito, Levi, and Gary got into some County Line action on the upslope on Victory Ch Rd as it neared / became Kemp Rd.  I failed to get details.

As we came to the Kemp / Carpenter Pond intersection, Snapper said he needed to head straight back to PUE so he could make the game in time (something about UNC and Kentucky playing roundball in Chapel Hill).  As he prepared to turn (taking his neighbor IvaN with him) while the rest of us continued "forward" on Kemp, Snapper quietly said "Thanks for the ride.  This was a hilly course."

Kemp - Coley - NC-98 - Boyce Mill for the last, and toughest, real climb of the day (Mt Vernon Ch Rd doesn't really count -- we do it all the time, and I usually start my cool-down on that climb).  As we turned off NC-98 onto Boyce Mill, I let all the climber / speed-demons know that there was another county line at the top of the climb.  I learned later that the Mallet did not believe me; perhaps he thought I was just trying to tire them all out a bit more thoroughly than the course had already done.  I wonder if any of the others did not believe me.

Members of today's crew not previously mentioned:  BobH - who rode his own bike for a change - speculation is that he had to stop riding Norris's new steed because it was falling apart under Bob; IvaHawk - who has season tickets to roundball games at Dean's Tabernacle, but kept me company on MVC, and maybe some of the other climbs - I dunno really - my feet were FREEZING !

After the finish, Tito told me that today was one of his favorite rides this year.

Glad you enjoyed it, Tito!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dec-04: 

PUE:  Hill Training Shadow Ride, incl. Norwood, PossumTrack, RavenRidge, Koupela, Honeycutt, Durant, Brassfield, Hardee, PossumTrack again, Lindley, Hardee again, Possum Track again again, Norwood again, MVC, "Carrington Wall", Baileywick, Ray, Boxelder, Vct Ch / Kemp, Coley, BoyceMill, CarpPond, MVC; 38.2 m.; 2 hrs, 32 min in-motion; 15.0 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
Dec tot: __1 rides; ___38.2 m.; __2 hrs, 32 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 108 rides; 7,309.9 m.; 488 hrs, 12 min; 15.0 mph.
 _
(total time has been corrected.  where did I go wrong?)
 _

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nov-28: Tarheel 200 km Permanent

Dean put out the rider-call with this message:

Come join the fun! If you need an excuse, here are eleventeen, ready-made:

_1) If I ride a permanent this weekend, I can eat more stuff(ing) on Thanksgiving day.
_2) I'm training for Tony's early-season brevet series, er, I mean series-es.
 _ _ _ _ http://www.bicycleforlife.org/rusa/events-rusa.html

_3) I need an R-ride this month.
 _ _ _ _ http://www.rusa.org/award_r12.html

_4) I neeed a second, third, nth . . . permanent this month.
 _ _ _ _http://www.rusa.org/newsletter/11-01-08.html

_5) I'm stir crazy.
_6) I'm crazy.
_7) There's no rain in the forecast (even if "fearless leader," Alan, rides).
_8) My in-laws, whom I desparately love till death do we part, are in town; and the best part --- because they love me so much --- they've encouraged me to take a day's leave and ride . . .
_9) I want an Andy's milk shake in Stedman.
10) It is an opportunity to ride with some cool folks, gaining some off-season base miles.
11) I don't need no reason to ride --- doin' what I like doin'.

If interested, contact me ...

Let's ride!
Dean/Raleigh
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I chose excuse #6 and signed on.

I don't what know excuses they were using, but Recumbent Lin and NC Rando 2010 Rookie of the Year Tim also signed on.  (I think Tim may have been concentrating on excuse #9, because he lamented that it was too chilly / cold for a milk shake.)

One good thing about doing this route with Dean, the route owner:  I don't have to worry about actually knowing the course or consulting the cue sheet.

One bad thing about doing this route with Dean, the route owner:  I don't learn the route (as quickly as I should - but I've almost got it down - even those turns in Dunn and Erwin - and today I even recognized where the "Get 'Er Dunn" route turns off East Denim Rd).

This was my third permanent this month.  On Kerr Lake Loop at the beginning of the month, Dean and I each set personal records for that course -- thanks largely to Jerry pulling us all the way to Boydton into the breeze that day.  On Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville last week, I set a personal record.  Today (yesterday), on the Tarheel, I got my third PR this month in three "tries".  I wasn't really "trying" to PR -- it's just that with cooler temps it has been a LOT easier than during the HEAT of the summer.  I often have trouble in the heat.

Thanks go to Dean, Lin and Tim for each taking serious pulls during the ride.  I would never have finished so quickly if it weren't for you guys.

There are lots of things I could write about the ride, including references to several more-than-annoying dogs and the great breakfast I had at Strickland's Marathon, but it is sufficient to write that I had a great day in the saddle, riding in the cool sunshine, with three great guys.

See you on the road.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nov-28: 

Tarheel 200 km Permanent; 124.9 m.; 8 hrs, 7 min in-motion; 15.4 mph; rando time:  10 hrs, 14 min elapsed clock time. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: _10 rides; __726.4 m.; _48 hrs, _6 min; 15.1 mph.
YTD tot: 107 rides; 7,271.7 m.; 484 hrs, 34 min; 15.0 mph.
__ 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nov-27: Hester Store and Wilton Ramble

Today, we got the bright sunshine that was missing two days ago.  But it came with a price.  Starting temp at 0815 was about 34 F -- significantly below the balmy 37 or 40 F two days ago.  And the chilly, gusting breeze from the SW was more of a nuisance than expected -- I think it was out of the SW -- it certainly felt like it on Horseshoe and Bruce Garner / New Light roads.  The strange thing is that on Patterson Rd, early-ish in the ride, it seemed like the chilly breeze had a significant north component.  And Brogden Rd from Creedmoor (the town, not the road) to Hester Store Rd also seemed to be mostly into the breeze -- but Brogden from Creedmoor is entirely N to NW.  Did the breeze change directions during the course of the morning?  The answer must have been ... yes.  At least we didn't get the dreaded "headwind out -- headwind back" phenomenon.  And ... except during tropical storms and hurricanes, there really isn't that much wind here in central NC ... certainly not when compared to my "homeplace" location (see here -- the very last section -- for a comparison of breezes in central NC versus WIND in northwest Illinois). 

Hester, at the corner of US-15 and Hester Rd. Hester Rd is named for Hester.
Wilton.  "Downtown" Wilton.
Grissom.  "Downtown" Grissom.   

Let's start over, shall we?


We got the sunshine we had hoped for two days ago (Thanksgiving Day), but it was decidedly chillier.  There would have been excellent scenes of very nice autumn color a week or two ago, but today, almost all the colorful leaves were on the ground.  We had an excellent ride -- well, mostly.

The cast:  Snapper, BobH, IvaHawk, Tito, Robert, guest Ken, me

Snapper kept to his "metabolic heart rate" training plan, except for the long quarter-mile on Cheek Rd across Falls Lake -- after we were all back together, I explained to Robert (who had been lamenting his inability to hold Snapper's wheel across the lake) that neither he nor I could hope to hold Snapper's wheel when he "cuts loose" for a long sprint.  Robert immediately picked up on the "big engine" issue.

BobH had an excellent ride, often setting the pace or pulling the "loose paceline" for long periods, as he once again "tested" Norris's new machine while Norris remains sidelined recovering from surgery.  I say "BobH had an excellent ride", and he did ... until the machine started to fall apart beneath him.  I wonder if Norris actually knows that Bob is testing that new bike, or if Bob only tells us that Norris asked Bob to "check it out".  Hmmn. 

IvaHawk is my most dependable cycling partner with the most consistent riding style.  But with negative body fat, being the self-proclaimed "old man" of the group, and with the pace usually being near his limit instead of well within his comfort zone, Iva seldom gets the opportunity to take any pulls.  Today, Iva got in at least one serious pull, and I think helped pull some of "lantern" sub-groups as we foolishly attempted on several occasions to bridge-up to the faster front crew.  (Btw, the pace of the group is usually near my limit, too -- that's one of the key reasons for "Irregulars" rule no. 3:  "3. No dropping the ride leader. Especially if we are operating without a cue sheet."  In case you don't quite understand:  Iva is the one partner most likely to be "off the back" or "taking it easy on Ghoston-Peed-MVC" with me.)

Tito said he enjoyed his ride today.  Usually, he goes up to ride alongside whomever is leading and to chat with that person.  Today, Tito spent most of the ride chatting with someone in the middle or near or at the back.  He did, however, ride several sections with significant panache -- especially, my spies informed me, the last 4.7 miles on G-P-MVC.)

Robert (the eponymous one from the "Robert asked ..." posts) is always enthusiastic about riding.  Before.  During.  After.  ALWAYSEnthusiastic!  ALWAYS!!  Robert's longtime friend, Lee, told me earlier this year that "[he] spent five years trying to get Robert on a bike -- now [he] can't get him off of it."  It is always a pleasure to ride with Robert.  Today, Robert seemed intent on earning a new nickname -- "Tito, Jr."  Except that is not quite correct.  Tito typically rides alongside to carry on a conversation with whomever is leading -- Robert, after repeatedly pointing out that "[he] hates to see a draft going to waste," would be off the front with ... whomever was leading / feeling it / trying to wear Robert out.  Thing is, I don't think we CAN wear Robert out.  In the middle of the ride, I told Iva that I think Robert will be the first "Irregular" to complete a 600 km brevet.  He's not even a RUSA member ... yet.  I'm working on him.  And I'd wager that Angie would enjoy a couple Saturdays or Sundays each month sans Roberts:  she told me that when Robert goes 'ariding long, that is her quiet / relaxation time.

Today was Ken's second visit ride with us.  He was in the care of Snapper (his "sponsor"), and I admit, I didn't notice much about Ken's riding style or abilities.  That is probably an indication that he passes muster on the SAFE front ("Irregular's" rule no. 2).  And he told me, early in the ride, that he enjoyed the post about my Blue Ridge Parkway ride earlier this year.  Hmmn.  Trying to make a good impression on the "ride leader"?  I doubt it.

As for me:  mostly I tried to conserve my legs a little bit so that tomorrow will not be painful.  I am confident that it will NOT be painful. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
American Gothic ??
Or, Men in Red with a Pitchfork
 
 We clearly need to recruit more women to this ride crew.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nov-27: 

PUE:  DocN-Creedmoor-HesterStore-Wilton-Grissom-G-P-MVC; 56.7 m.; 3 hrs, 42 min in-motion; 15.3 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: __9 rides; __601.5 m.; _39 hrs, 59 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 106 rides; 7,146.8 m.; 476 hrs, 27 min; 15.0 mph.
\ _ 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nov-25: Thanksgiving Day Around Falls Lake

For our "make room for turkey" ride, we planned an early-ish Thanksgiving Day morning "pedestrian-paced", short (40-ish miler) ride "around" Falls Lake, counter-clockwise so that the morning sun would be behind us and thus highlighting the remaining leaf color in front of us, especially as we crossed the lake on Old Weaver Trail between New Light Rd and NC-50.  That was the plan.  The "sun" part was integral.

As regards the sun, Mother Nature did not cooperate.  We got a completely overcast, dark gray sky.  50F degrees under a warm sun is fun -- 50F degrees under a dark gray overcast ... not as much fun. 

My day started with two unexpected and "wonderful" pieces of cycling news.  (1) My rear tyre was dead flat.  (2) My floor pump, that I carry in my car, is now useless for Presta valves.  By 7:10, two unexpected expenses.  Great! ... Not.

The tyre, still pretty new, had a small hole punched through, sort of where the sidewall meets the "tread".  I know what happened, a small, unnoticed rock had "patoi-ing'd" off the side of tyre on Wednesday's ride.  Nothing happened at the time.  The tyre was still fine at the end of the ride.  But, by next morning ... maybe I can boot the tyre with one of those thick rubber tyre-boots, and carry the tyre as the "spare" on future rides. 

Luckily, one of the guys coming to the ride, Gary, has his own bike-shop (TLC-4-Bikes).  I called him and asked if he happened to have any reasonable tyres at a reasonable price at his house or in his van, and if so, please bring one -- if not, I would just use the spare tyre I've been lugging around for "insurance" on Permanents.  Gary had a suitable tyre.

The pump has done yeoman service for about 6 years, but the "needle" in the "Presta head" has broken off or worked itself loose and fallen out.  Pump now useless for Presta valves.  Any local need a floor pump good only for Schrader valves
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Even though most of us were just "milling about" as early as 5 or 8 minutes before "wheels-away" time, and even though we actually left a couple minutes late, our "leader" did a woeful job of making sure everyone knew everyone else's name, and further did a woeful job as he failed to give any "safety tip of the day".  I happen to know that "leader's safety tip of the day" are as much or more to remind himself as any other reason, but I guess he was distracted.

Today's cast:  Snapper (who stayed true to his new "metabolic heart rate training method" -- even when he perhaps ought to have been the one to jump ahead to make it easier for traffic to pass), BobH (who "decided" to graft "Strawberry" and "Pottery" loops onto our "standard" Falls Lake loop), Smitty (who EVIL-ly decided to challenge for the last CL of the day), Levi (who did nothing special all ride except keep an eye on his "better half" at the critical time), Cathrine (Levi's "better half", who hadn't done much riding lately, but did just fine, and is fun to ride with), Scott (Levi's bro-in-law ... well, technically, he's Cath's bro-in-law), the afore-mentioned Gary, Wendy (Gary's "better half" -- and of course she rode the extra 10 miles home after the ride), Robert (decked out in some new cold-weather cycling clothes), and me.

No sunshine.  No colorful leaves along the lakeshore.  I think I didn't even look at the lake as we rode across it on OWT.  Hmmn.  What was I doing?  Maybe chatting with someone(s)?  I don't recall. 


A couple months ago, one of the "Irregulars" told me of a conversation he had with his spouse when he got home from a ride -- the most germane part of the conversation went something like this: 

Spouse - "Do you guys talk to each other during the ride?"
Irregular - "Oh, yeah."
Spouse - "Did you talk to anyone on today's ride?"
Irregular - "Of course.  We talked almost the entire time"
Spouse - "What did you talk about?"
Irregular - "I don't know."
Spouse - "Sheesh!"


After turning onto Cash Rd, I was torn between zipping up to the front crew to make sure they knew where to turn and staying back with Snapper and ???.  I started to zip up to the front crew, but then decided I would stay back (in no-man's land between) and just watch to see what happened.  A mile later I learned that there was much discussion as to whether the course was supposed to continue on Cash Rd, or turn left onto Northside Rd (we were operating withOUT cue sheets on the assumption that everyone knew the "standard lake loop" -- HA -- and because everyone has previously been sent an electronic copy of the cue sheet and they can print it off for themselves -- and also because ... never mind).  BobH knew where he was -- most of the rest really did not understand where they were -- and thought we should add a little to the course to get in a full 40 miles -- so he led the way past Northside as we continued toward US-15 on "Strawberry" loop -- so-called because the loop goes past Lyon Farms on Munns Rd. 

I learned just how lost some of the crew can be when we got to US-15 -- Robert thought we should turn right onto US-15.  Uh, Robert, that's not only the wrong way, but there are no turn-offs until we would get INTO Creedmoor.  ;-)

After the short stretch on US-15, we got to do the two extra rollers on Munns Rd and also checked out the strawberry fields.  Upon reaching Northside Rd, BobH was again / still in the lead, and he decided we should do "Pottery" loop just to make sure we got in a FULL 40 miles.  "Pottery" loop is so-called because it goes past Cedar Creek Gallery on Fleming Rd.  Levi now knows where Cedar Creek Pottery / Gallery is -- I expect he and Cathrine will visit it soon (but I'm wagering that I'll get an e-mail requesting clarified directions).

BobH and Robert were a bit ahead of the main body on Will Suiit Rd as we headed for the Wake CL and Boyce Rd, so I decided to zip on up to them and perhaps sneak a CL for myself, or lead-out Robert for the CL.  But Levi saw me bridging up to the 2 Roberts, and that reminded him that there was a CL just ahead -- so he came zipping up to the front.  However, his bro-in-law Scott saw Levi bridging and decided to bridge at an even faster pace.  Actually, Scott didn't bridge to us; he just went around us as if we were standing still; Levi gave chase -- but he had no chance. 

After crossing Falls Lake on Cheek Rd, Smitty and I led the entire group up the climb at a pace which all could manage together.  As the road leveled out, I told Smitty to be on the lookout for Shaw Rd on the left.  I figured to spice up the route a bit with a paralleling trip through the well established housing development between Shaw and Little Jimmy Rodgers roads.  The whole group made the turn onto Shaw, and just before Shaw dead-ended into the lake, we turned right.  Just after that turn, Robert informed me that we had lost Levi and Cathrine somewhere back on Cheek Rd.  I was flabber-ghasted.  How?!

Scott turned back to look for his relations.  But he eventually rejoined our main group 2/3 the way through the development.  He had returned to the Cheek / Shaw corner and waited a few minutes (entirely plausible because we were just putzing along), but he hadn't seen Levi and Cath.  (We later learned that Cath was feeling nature close in around her cold feet -- Levi had shoe covers - Cath did not - how chivalrous, Levi! -- but Levi gave his shoe covers over to Cath (some chivalry recovered) and that took enough extra time that they were well back, but not lost, and ended up making their own way back to PUE).


To some, the big highlight of the ride, and of many rides, was about to occur.  Deciding that L+C would be able to make their own way back and that they were likely ahead of us given how much time we had frittered away mulling about in the housing development, we decided to continue the ride.  The "leader" turned left.  A quarter-mile later he was heard to say "we need to make a U-turn."  Robert asked why.  Answer:  "Because Martin made a mistake."


Back on course, on to Patterson and a regrouping at the corner of NC-98 and Olive Branch Rd.  Not having ridden Olive Branch Rd all the way from the highway to Carpenter Pond for at least two or three years, the "leader" said "Rather than turn onto Doc Nichols, let's take Olive Branch all the way to Carpenter Pond."  The climbs on Olive Branch are nice (a NET gain of nearly 200 ft elevation between the first creek and CP), but the road surface leaves a LOT to be desired.  Unless Olive Branch gets the "stimulated" treatment, I won't be riding Olive Branch between Doc Nichols and CP for the foreseeable future.

Once on Carpenter Pond, given that we had spent the entire day putzing along averaging about 14 mph, enjoying varying conversations (and if you were paying attention above, you will know that no one has any idea what the topics of conversation were), I decided that we should end the ride with some panache.  21 mph, into the slight quartering headwind (breeze) out of the north.  Maintaining that pace on the run UP to the Wake CL, the EVIL Smitty decided to come and take the CL.  I saw him off my rear quarter and decided "it isn't going to be THAT easy, Smitty."  I think Smitty was surprised that I had a faster cadence in reserve as he saw me surge ahead.  Smitty adjusted and started catching me again -- I hit the pedals hard again -- and I think Smitty was again a bit surprised -- but he responded -- but I was out of courage and had been pulling for 3 miles and ... I did not respond a third time -- Smitty took the CL.  But then he slowed and both Robert and I went around, and then Robert thought he'd pull.  I knew Robert would reduce his pace after he completed his pass and was directly in front of me.  He did exactly that -- skipping a pedal stroke -- just as I expected.  Given the slight dip in the road at that point, I went around Robert easily.  But he and Smitty and Gary and Wendy all immediately re-passed me.  I needed a few moments "breather".

Turning onto Mt. Vernon Ch Rd, I was off the back of the above-mentioned crew, but I had had my "easy-pedal breather" and I've ridden MVC more times than the rest of them put together.  I saw that they had slowed a bit -- obviously "waiting" for me -- I went past at 24 mph and made them chase all the way to NC-50.  (Well, Gary didn't have to "chase" -- he was just happy to have another mile of a "Gary-friendly pace".)


My preferred highlight of the day:  After the ride, Smitty was telling me his version of Mt Vernon Ch Rd.  His comment to himself upon seeing me fly past:  "oh, now Martin is just playing with me." 

You just keep thinking that, buddy.  I need all the psychological advantages I can get.
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Nov-25 (Thanksgiving Day): 

PUE: Falls Lake Loop, counter-clockwise, w/ modifications; 40.2 m.; 2 hrs, 46 min in-motion; 14.5 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: __8 rides; __544.8 m.; _36 hrs, 16 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 105 rides; 7,090.1 m.; 472 hrs, 43 min; 15.0 mph.
 _ 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nov-24: Putzing About -- Seeing the Sights (or is that Sites)

"Irregular" cycling buddy Snapper e-mailed asking if I was available to ride Wed. morning.  We quickly agreed 8 am, Blue Jay Point County Park (BJP), for 35 or 40 miles to "just enjoy the day and get in some saddle time". 

Special paragraph just for Andy D., aka sagittandy:  Look, Andy, I defined "BJP".  ;-)

Highlight #1 of the ride:  We rode from BJP across to Norwood, went past LT's fire station, and on toward IvaHawk's.  Then, instead of turning onto Victory Ch Rd, I crossed Snapper up by continuing another 100 yards to Wood Valley Rd and then turned right onto Boxelder Rd.  My thinking was that I'd "spring" that road on Snapper, and "see" what comments I might get.  The joke was on me.  Why?

I had previously ridden Boxelder three times:  In July, I had to get off the bike and WALK part of the road.  In October, I had gotten as slow as 4.7 mph, but no walking.  Just a few days ago (in fact, my last ride before this one), I had managed to keep the pace at 5.0 mph or above.  Each of those previous experiences had occurred approximately 124 miles into Byron's devilish L-L-L 204 km Permanent.

Today, the encounter was after only 6.7 miles.  Without working all-that-hard, I kept my pace at 11.0 mph, until the very last few yards of the "steep slope", where I slowed to around 10.0 mph.  I started laughing.  It took a couple miles before I stopped laughing. 

(No wonder IvaHawk gives me funny looks whenever I mention that bear of a climb on Boxelder -- it apparently isn't so bad unless Byron has previously worn you out with 124 miles of hill-hill-hill ... well, if I'm going to describe the Perm as "devilish", I guess I should write "124 miles of hell-hell-hell".)

After I finally stopped laughing and caught up to Snapper, we rode leisurely on Carpenter Pond (apparently it was Snap's first experience with CP since it was "stimulated" a few months ago), recalling previous notable flo-max moments, checking out a particular parking lot for future Snapper use with Mrs. Snapper, and generally enjoying the semi-crisp, absolutely clear, sunny and still reasonably colorful scenes.

Highlight # 2 of the ride:  Upon reaching the cul-de-sac at the bottom of Baptist Rd, Snaps claimed he had never been there before.  The lake was quite picturesque.  In fact, he forced me take a snap of him.  He immediately sent a copy of the pic to either Mrs. Snapper or our friend Smitty (I'm not sure which -- he threatened mentioned both). 

After enjoying the sights at the edge of the lake, we took the short way (Southview and Kemp roads) back to BJP. 
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Tomorrow:  probably another "40", with a largish contingent of "Irregulars", around the lake.  I think I'll suggest we do the loop "backward" so that the sun will be behind us when we are on Old Weaver Trail (OWT). 

Hey, Andy, look!  Two things defined in one blog post!
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Nov-24: 

BJP:  Norwood-Boxelder-Ray-VctCh-DocN-Baptist-RollingView-Southview-Kemp-CP-MVC; 38.9 m.; 2 hrs, 38 min in-motion; 14.7 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: __7 rides; __504.6 m.; _33 hrs, 30 min; 15.1 mph.
YTD tot: 104 rides; 7,049.9 m.; 469 hrs, 57 min; 15.0 mph.
 _ 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nov-21: Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville 204 km Permanent

Or, No. of "Successes" Now Equal No. of "Failures",
Or, Racing the Sun Across North-Central North Carolina

"Failure" no. 1 -- June 13th.
"Failure" no. 2 -- July 24th.

Are they really failures if you learn things?
What's the old adage?  "You only learn from failures."

"Succuss" no. 1 -- Oct 9th.
"Success" no. 2 -- "today" (well, yesterday, Nov. 21st).

Official start time -- 0700.  ("Sunrise" was 0658.)
Official finish time -- 1722.  ("Sunset" was 1702; but I was still within "Civil Twilight" ... barely.)

It was the tail-end of dusk when I went into the gas station / convenience store at the finish ... when I came out it was DARK. 

I was MUCH slower on the bike this month compared to October.  But I was faster through the controls. 

Lesson learned on this ride -- "Triple-L" is for Saturday's, when the legs are fresher. 
(I should have learned that lesson back in June -- but I chocked that experience up to the HEAT, a flat tyre, and thunderstorm, and my cycling partner - a seasoned randonnuer, btw - did not have a head light!)

Personal milestones reached or passed on this ride (other than "successes" on L-L-L catching up with the "failures"):

 - passed 3000 RUSA credit kms for the year,
 - passed 7000 total miles for the year. 

So much for cash register receipts.  The receipts from "Hollow Ridge Grocery" (atop Mt. Tirzah) are problematic.  The cash register is still on "Daylight" time, and is also 23 to 24 minutes fast.  The store clerk and I each knew that it was 10:16 a.m. when I purchased my V-8; the receipt was / is stamped 11:40 a.m..  Once again, a human was more reliable than a machine.  Btw, the outbound control closed at 11:38 a.m. E.S.T. 

The cash register at "Leasburg Grocery" is still on "Standard" time, as it was all Summer.  It is also 19 or 20, or 27, minutes slow.  The clerk and I each knew it was 12:17 p.m. when I purchased my Pepsi; the receipt is stamped either 11:50 or 11:58 a.m. -- the printer in the cash register is nearly out of ink, and even with my reading glasses and under a bright light at the end of the ride, I couldn't be sure of the time stamped on the receipt -- it just wasn't readable.

Byron knows about these flaws in the receipts, and I certainly do not fault him in any way.  I don't fault any NC rando, nor any RUSA rando.  I don't fault the clerks at the store ... they don't have the ability to correct the cash registers.  I just think that absolute reliance on time-stamped cash register receipts is ... sometimes misplaced.

On positive notes, the clerk in Leasburg Grocery, and both clerks at the Redmill Quick Stop, knew the routine of getting a receipt and marking the control card.  The clerk at the outbound Redmill control was outside [smoking of course :-( ], and asked about all the cyclists stopping and getting cards signed.  She didn't mind -- she was just curious.  I hope I caused no damage with my explanation that we are essentially on a bike rally, and need proof of where we've been. 

The time-stamps at Redmill and at the BP at the start/finish seemed to be accurate. 

The autumn colors are fading fast.  But the bright red trees and bushes seem to be hanging on best.  (I don't have a dawg in the UNC / NC State / ACC contests, but it seemed that the bright reds were proclaiming the Wolfpack's incredible victory over the Tarheels in Keenan Staduim the day before.)   

Btw, my alma mater won on Saturday.  You may have seen or heard of that unusual game that was played in Wrigley Field.  I'm still irritated that those silly special rules were put in place -- half the fun / point of a throw-back game in a throw-back venue is to have to deal with the limitations that most college and pro football teams used to have to deal with.  Oh, well, at least my blue and orange team won the game.
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Nov-21: 

Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville Permanent; 128.8 m.; 9 hrs, 2 min in-motion; 14.2 mph; rando-time:  10 hrs, 22 min elapsed clock time. 

Q-1 tot: _16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: _31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: __6 rides; __465.7 m.; _30 hrs, 52 min; 15.1 mph.
YTD tot: 103 rides; 7,011.0 m.; 467 hrs, 18 min; 15.0 mph.
 _