And on the 13th: Hot-Hot-Hot ... until the BIG STORM came.
Who picked the date for this ride?
Oh, I did. ... Never mind.
7 a.m.. Already above 70oF; headed for ~ 95oF; with a chance of thunderstorms.
Byron, Sridhar, John O., Tim L. and I set off into the heat and humdity, feeling chipper and optimistic.
I had ridden all the roads of Byron's masterpiece of hill torture,
except the ~ 12 miles from Hurdle Mills to US-158 about 3 miles east of Leasburg.
However, I had NEVER ridden all those roads on the SAME ride.
But, I knew the roads. I knew the climbs. I could handle them.
Not as quickly as Byron or John O. or Tim -- but individually, no problem.
Even in combination, given reasonable temps -- no problem.
People sometimes ask why the "Irregulars" ride so early in the summer.
I give two answers.
Coming clean, the less important to me is: so the dads can get home in time to be dads.
More important to me: I sometime do very poorly in the heat.
The combination of climb after climb could become a problem if it was hot.
Was it hot? YES!
But I remained hopeful that the terrain from Hurdle Mills to Leasburg would mimick the easy terrain between Timberlake and Hurdle Mills. HA!
Hester Store Rd had at least one kick-ass hill.
Gordonton Rd had at least two.
I recall wondering WHY Yo!-Adrian would have included such hills on his preferred Raleigh to Yanceyville route.
Insanity came to mind.
"Speaking" of insanity:
When Byron first released his Permanent for public consumption, I sent him an e-mail.
Byron put on the list-serve that one local rider had accused him of being "insane" because of this course.
I never did.
Yes, nice-guy Byron is acually Insane Sado-Masochist Byron.
Due to some extra stoppage in Hurdle Mills and bonus miles seaching for Sridhar, I became worried that I might not make the Leasburg control on time. My overheated brain cells calculated that 1:15 or 1:20 was probably the closing time (a cooler head would have calculated something more akin to 1:40). I pushed hard to Leasburg to make the control. I left Sridhar in the dust.
About 150 or 200 yards before I got to the Leasburg store, my front tyre had a gun-shot sounding instantaneous flat. I'm thinking I picked up a piece of glass earlier in the ride, and it took until Leasburg to blow. Worried as I was about the control time, I kept riding -- it was a flat road to the store, after all. I couldn't locate my control card -- I thought I must have lost it on the road from Hurdle Mills. I bought something to get a receipt. The time-stamp on the receipt read ... 12:05 p.m.. So much for receipts.
Sridhar arrived about 10 minutes after I had. By then I had found my control card, and the bag of ice the fast trio had left for us. My breathing was still extremely fast and shallow. My heart rate must have been off the chart. When breathing and heart rate slowed, I looked at the tyre. Needed either a really good boot or a different tyre. I didn't bring a spare tyre -- it was only a puny 200k, after all. Sridhar said he had both -- a spare tyre and rubber-patchy boots. I accepted the boot. It took a while to get the flat changed -- mostly to get the new tube in place inside the tyre -- I think I may have still been breathing heavily and ... tired. Sridhar remained calm -- after all, he has been through these kind of things with the masters of calm: Adrian and Gilbert. All things considered, as Sridhar noted, better to have blown just before the Leasburg store / control than almost anywhere else.
We left Leasburg headed for Mt. Tirzah by way of Hurdle Mills. We were behind on the control times, but could easily make it up if we kept our heads and refilled with cold drinks and food at regular intervals, including in between the controls.
I started noticing the huge (for North Carolina standards) cyclonic storm brewing up to the west. It reminded me of storms in the midwest; storms that have nasty, twisting things in them. About 3:30, Sridhar pulled up alongside and said "the gods are being good to us"; the clouds had just gotten in front of the Sun. Instantly cooler; we each were instantly riding about 2 mph faster. I replied to Sridhar that "yes, the gods are good for the current moment, but I'm worried for the next moments." Sridhar asked "do you mean rain?" I replied "I'm not worried about rain; but big winds and hail and lightning are what I'm thinking." I did not mention the nasty, twisty things.
Just after that, the first serious gust of wind hit us, head on. We instantly went from about 16 mph to about 5-8 mph, until the gust passed. Later gusts came from all directions of the compass; some them blew each of us around a bit. I don't recall when the sprinkles started, but we were on Union Grove Ch Rd (I think that is the name) when the light rain started, it built in intensity enough so that I know I never noticed "Rock of Ages", but luckily Sridhar had noted said info control #2 while still outbound. By the time I pulled in to the slight overhang of the store at Hurdle Mills, it was raining pretty hard. Sridhar was a minute or two behind, and he had no more than barely gained the leeward (south) side of the store when all fury broke loose. Sheets of rain. Sideways, lashing rain.
We ended up eating almost real food (chicken salad) while sitting in the no-air-conditioning-on-Sunday-because-it-is-closed-all-day cafe (the store was TOO COLD), waiting out the storm. We began discussing rescue ride options. I was surprised that the storm blew over in a bit less than an hour, maybe a full hour. No hail. No nasty, twisty things. But there had been lightning. (There clearly was lightning before we got Hurdle Mills -- Sridhar said he hadn't seen any -- I asked him where he thought thunder came from. There was clearly some lightning after we left Hurdle Mills -- not that I saw any, but there were a couple thunder-bangers.)
At Tirzah, after finding the gallon of water the fast trio had left for us (we hoped it was from them) probably nearly two hours before, we put my back-up-back-up front light onto Sridhar's handlebar, and put my main light on mine (I don't have just a regular back-up). Sridhar had figured why carry a light ... we'll be done long before dark. I had thought the same, but for some reason had thrown the little nuisance of a handlebar bag with batteries and my main (only real) headlight onto the bike. My back-up-back-up I can afix in such a way that it is completely out of my way, so I leave it on the bike all the time ... until I'm riding with someone who needs a light, not so much to see with, but to help been seen by cars and others.
We continued on. Sridhar had said that there was a possibility that even though we had missed an intermediate control, that if we finished by 8:30, we might still get credit. Although doubtful we could make Stonehenge by 8:30, we continued. Luckily, I knew the roads, so Sridhar had been able to put away his cue sheet even before we got to Hurdle Mills. I even knew a possible short-cut; but we did NOT take it. Where would be the honor in that?
I was concerned about the drop to Lake Michie on Bahama Rd, with its sharpish "curve", if the roads were wet, if it were raining. Turned out that I think I had worried about nothing. But maybe, since the rains and gusting winds may have caught the lead threesome on that section of road, maybe they can better speak to the potential level of hazard there.
I had been having small cramps, usually whenever I would push off after having stopped, ever since Leasburg. Also, my front tyre had been getting thump-thump-thumpy for some miles, and was getting worse with each revolution. I pulled into the store on Red Mill, looked at my watch, looked at the tyre, and decided I was pulling the plug if I could get anyone to come to the rescue. Sridhar relunctantly agreed. Each of us had been saying for 30+ miles that credit did not matter, but it would be nice to finish for personal honor. But at 7:45 with 17 miles to go, with only one light that would effectively illuminate the road, we each knew it was the correct decison. I called my friend and "Irregular" riding buddy Lt. Dave (he lived second closest and has the biggest, meanest vehicle); he came to rescue us. Dave had started his day in northwest Georgia, and had thought about doing a 30-mile ride to include a climb up Brasstown Bald -- but it was so hot and humid even at just after dawn, that he decided against the idea. He had to drive through the storm; I think he said he and his wife were near Winston-Salem at the time. (Second choice would have been IvaHawk -- he lives just off Wood Valley Rd.)
So, we pulled the plug. And probably just in time. I started having small cramps every time I was trying to surreptitiously stretch a leg while we were talking and waiting for Dave. I had to calm my muscles and "steel" myself before I hoisted myself into Dave's truck -- one leg was trying to cramp just in anticipation of getting into the truck. Not bad cramps, mind you. Just minor ones.
Our Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville ride was shortened to L-L-Gorman. Doesn't have much of "ring" to it, does it?
I will give the Hell-Hell-Hell Permanent another go. But I think I'll wait until the temperatures are likely to be less than 95oF for the high. Byron's write-up and excellent photo essay can be found here.
I know that Maria and Fearless Leader Alan are doing L-L-L on the 15th.
I predict that they will breeze through the ride despite high temps.
I hope so.
2.1 miles pre-ride, plus approx 111.8 miles (includes ~ 2 bonus miles)
My Cateye sometimes stops recording speed and distance when really wet.
Still records time-in-motion, though. Strange.
Byron's Hell-Hell-Hell Permanent; 113.9 m.; 7hrs, 57min in-motion (incl. pre-ride); 14.3 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: 10 rides; __837.2 m.: _58 hrs, 42 min; 14.3 mph.
Jun tot: _5 rides; __352.7 m.; _22 hrs, 52 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: 41 rides; 2,846.0 m.; 189 hrs, 38 min; 15.0 mph.