Saturday, May 1, 2010

May-01: May Day on Eaton + Gray Rock Roads

Three Shorted the Course.  One Went Bonus Miles.  Two Followed the Course.

(Actually, IvaHawk and I didn't do the intended route, either.  To help the Hawk better understand how Gordon Moore, Fred Wilder, Long Mill and Pokomoke roads, and the Llama House, all relate to each other, we took Fred Wilder to Long Mill to Pokomoke Rd, instead of Gordon Moore to Pokomoke Rd..)

The planned route. 

Enjoyable chit-chat before the start meant we got underway several minutes late.  A nice ride to a pit stop in Creedmoor, where they were having a car-show festival.  Lee happened to be at the pit stop -- something about buying corn on his way to a shooting contest. 

More nice riding up to Stem.  IvaHawk and I trying to help Robert understand his gearing and how to improve his shifting between gears.  After receiving that advice / information, Robert liked using his big chain ring on downslopes. 

Just after Stem, BobH, Norris and Robert missed the turn onto Belltown Rd.  IvaN wasn't sure what to do -- he made the turn but then U-turned.  I shouted ahead to B, N and R "wrong way".  IvaN U-turned again.  Robert seemed to have trouble correcting the missed turn, due to some traffic or something.

I was all for soft-pedaling until the wayward three caught up, but IvaN said "they'll catch up -- go for it."  What's a guy to do?  Belltown Rd headed north, away from Stem is not only smooth, the rollers are like a set of steps down to the Tar River -- and I like to "go" on that road in that direction. 

We waited at Bryan's Hill Rd.  Some may have examined the flora really carefully.  I mixed up more koolaid.  Bryan's Hill Rd from Belltown Rd to US-15 is more favorable "Martin" terrain.  I continued to "go".  Everyone was close behind when I got to US-15.  A slight wait for a car, then up-out-of-the-saddle getting up to 18 mph upslope; a turn onto Sam Usry Rd, and I don't recall what happened on Sam Usry.  I think Norris was taking a turn off the back explaining energy drinks to Robert

A turn onto NC-96 and then Eaton Rd.  Eaton Rd has two tough down-and-ups whereas Sam Usry has two not-quite-so-tough down-and-up and Bryan's Hill has an easier down-and-up.  Sam Usry Rd also has a nice curving section cresting the middle "up" -- looks better with the sun at one's back instead of mostly in one's eyes -- also looks better when cooler than it was today.

On the second tough up on Eaton, Robert dropped his chain.  IvaHawk and I waited at the top of the climb.  Robert eventually went around us and kept going, as if he was intent on catching the fast troika.  The troika never slowed as they turned onto Cannady Mill Rd.  That was the last we saw of them as they "missed" the turn onto Gray Rock Rd.  (Being faster dudes, they probably wanted to work on their speed-stats by staying on flatter roads.) 

Robert had gone around IvaHawk and me.  We thought maybe he had glimpsed the troika.  We later found out that that was NOT the case.  In any event, Robert blythely zoomed past the turn onto Gray Rock Rd.  I thought about trying to chase him down, but decided that even if I caught him, the max effort would have ruined my ride.  IvaHawk and I considered our options:  follow Robert or do the intended course.  We figured the troika would wait for Robert / us just up the road somewhere, so the Hawk and I decided to do the intended course.

From six to two in slightly over a mile. 

The Hawk and I had an enjoyable ride -- well, it would have been enjoyable if the headwind had been a little less exuberent (sp?).  We did do a mighty sprint for the Vance county line (Gray Rock becomes Wilton Rd).  Our grunts and shoulder and upper body shakes and lunges were mighty.  Especially the grunts.  IvaHawk took the "grunting" Vance CL by the width of his wheel. 

After that, we rode sensibly, trying to get the most enjoyment possible from the ride as we continued into the headwind. 

We decided to stop in Grissom to get some additional water.  We split my last two Gatorade powder packets.  Just as we were thinking to leave, I said to IvaHawk:  "Look what the cat dragged in."  It was Robert

Apparently Robert had gone a mile or two down the road, crossed the Tar River, climbing up the steep bank from the bridge, and stopped near Philo White Rd.  After a few minutes, he decided that we had probably turned on that road he had gone past ... so he re-crossed the Tar River and rode back to Gray Rock Rd ... and somehow made his way on Charlie Grissom Rd --> Green Hill Rd, turned onto Mt. Olivet Ch Rd ... and somehow took either Gordon Moore or Long Mill to Pokomoke ... and reached Grissom a tired old dog.  (Later, I estimated -- and told Robert -- that when he turned around, he was about 10 miles from Grissom, and that by turning around and following the course, he had to ride about 20 miles to get to Grissom.  Robert's response:  "ugh.") 

If anyone gets lost or separated from the group when north of Raleigh, and you find yourself on US Bike Route # 1 -- just follow the BR # 1 signs in a southerly direction -- BR # 1 is relatively flat AND will lead right to New Light Rd (i.e., toward "the barn" at PUE). 

The Hawk didn't want to ride straight in on Bruce Garner --> New Light, so we took the longer Rock Springs / Old Weaver Trail detour.  Then up Ghoston, Peed and MVC, of course. 

I ended with 67+ miles.  IvaHawk, with his 6.6 mile round trip from his house to PUE, must have gotten just over 74 miles -- he is tough.  Robert, due to his bonus miles, ended up with 70 or 71 miles -- quite an increase from 38 miles the week before (both rides have been "longest distance ever" rides for him) -- he is tough.

Robert also completed his tough introduction (let's hope he has completed it) to road cycling the last two weeks.  He witnessed a one-bicycle accident.  He has dropped his chain at least twice.  He has unclicked the wrong foot when coming to a stop ... and fallen over ... twice.  He got harassed by jerk-in-a-car honking aggressively at him this ride ... and experienced some jerk-in-a-car action last week. 
Oh, and he went the wrong way, got lost, and separated from the group.

Despite all that, I think he had fun.  Was quite tired at PUE, though.
As for the troika -- who knows.
One line for the rando readers:  I am thinking that Alan and Maria are going to be hot and very windblown on their pre-ride of the 400k today.  I hope the weather is a bit nicer next Saturday.

PUE:  Creedmoor-Stem-BelltownRd-EatonRd-GrayRockRd-GreenHillRd-LongMillRd-Pokomoke-RockSpringsRd-OWT-G-P-MVC; 67.6 m.; 4hrs, 31min in-motion time; 15.0 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: 10 rides; __717.9 m.; _45 hrs, 27 min; 15.1 mph.
May tot: _1 ride_; ___67.6 m.: __4 hrs, 31 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 27 rides; 1,723.7 m.; 112 hrs, 37 min; 15.3 mph.

The wind was a major player today.  Started out an almost non-existant tailwind which became a light tailwind outbound.  Once we turned off Belltown Rd onto Bryan's Hill Rd, however, the headwind was noticeable ... increased during the entire homeward bound part of the ride.  I was avg'ing 15.6 when I turned onto Bryan's Hill Rd.  Clearly the homeward bound portion of the ride was ... slow. 



  1. Timely and accurate description. Yelling at Robert 1/4 mile away on Eaton with our voices coming back to us reminded me of the old expression to avoid doing other things into the wind. An excellent demonstration of rule 3 in action. It was a pleasant and fun ride. Beautiful day. It would have been even better if that wind had been at our backs. Nice work on Belltown, Martin. Signed, IvaHawk

  2. Martin, good summary.... very entertaining. Robert

  3. Robert is tough.


  4. Glad to hear everyone had an adventuous day. You were correct that the "trifecta" missed the Gray Road turn. We road along at a steady pace when IvaN commented about the lack of wind. Sure enough the turn onto Cannady was the beginning of the end of any tailwind. Despite the headwind we tooled along and the next thing we knew we were sitting in Wilton. We stopped at the Citgo gas station (which is out of business). The smaller grocery across the street was open but we preferred the shade and breeze of the Citgo.

    After we sat there, for about 15 minutes, waiting on the remaining 3, a gentleman from the grocery came over and introduced himself. He has recently purchased the store and wanted to let us know he would be carrying "biker friendly" items like drinks, power and Cliff bars etc. Nice guy.

    Realizing that either we were very fast, missed a turn or the second group was very slow we headed out until we reached Horseshoe. At that point IvaN split and headed for New Light while Norris and I headed for Creedmoor. We encountered several of the AIDS ride participants but we were too tired and hot to do anything but watch them go. We hit Creedmoor and circled the back route to the lake.

    After Patterson, 98 it was on to Carpenter Pond and the shortcut home. We arrived around 12:30 with 84 miles under the belt but it was definitely the hardest 84 we have done. With the heat, headwinds and Norris feeling bad from the medication, he was taking, we were glad to hit the barn and to lay on the deck in the shade.


  5. It was disappointing that the lead riders did not pause at the turn onto Cannady Mill Rd.. Especially as the reason we were so far back at that point was Robert's mechanical (dropped chain).