At a minute or two before 6 am, I asked Frank if he remembered when the ride was just him and me.
Today ... 20.
That's right ... twenty.
As Robert said when he passed me about 53 miles into the ride: "Hey, I haven't seen you all day."
Frank, "Water" (formerly "Iceman", but certainly he melted in June, don't ya' think),
IvaHawk, and his guest Suzanne, aka, his Wednesday morning "spin class instructor",
the Mallet, Smitty, Levi and his bro-in-law, Scott,
Norris, Lee, Tito, Aggs, Robert,
Gary + Wendy + 3 (Dennis, Richard, Mike),
The Setting (i.e., the Course):
With 20 riders, we split the group into a front section and a back section, each with about half the riders, with a decided gap between the two sections, so that auto traffic could more easily pass us on New Light Rd. Lee graciously allowed himself to be drafted and appointed Asst. Chief for the front section. Why Lee? Because his son, daughter-in-law, and most importantly, his grandbaby live in Louisburg, and Lee had previously ridden all the roads we traversed. Why "Asst. Chief"? To haunt him with a title from his past.
Hammers and hill-climbers in the front section. The "Evil Smitty" fit the general description for the front section, but he was specifically "assigned" to the front section to assure that someone would challenge the Mallet for the CLs. From reports, Smitty's seems to have lost some of his "Evil" power, or the Mallet has gotten into better cycling shape, because Smitty was unsuccessful in his attempts to take any of the CLs. I suppose they had fun.
Non-hammers, non-climbers, and those with more common sense in the back section. (You didn't expect me to give the better description to the front section when I was in the back section, did you?)
Lee and the rest of the front section waited for us at Pokomoke. YungFalbz turned back and headed for home and a total ride of 30-miles, as had been her plan. Several asked what happened to her / why did she turn back. Obviously, they didn't read their e-mail the night before the ride.
The crew quickly re-split into two sections. I think there were six of us in the back section. That must mean there were thirteen hammering away in the front section. Clever use of the not-so-secret short-cut in Franklinton allowed the tail of the back section to keep the front section under observation on West River Rd.. However, they paused not even a second at Mitchener's Xroads, where Iva and Suzanne were scheduled to turn around for a 50-mile ride.
A couple of us talked Suzanne into trying the entire 71-miler (quite an increase over her previous long of 26 miles on the road). Suzanne thought she could turn around in a few miles if the route started to prove too much. We explained "not an out-and-back route -- this is a loop". She decided to try the 71-mile loop. Given the results, Iva and I probably should have turned back while Suzanne could have gone on to ride even further -- I don't think she ever had to breathe hard the entire ride.
I hope everyone enjoyed Dyking Rd; certainly no one complained during or after the ride. (Oh, I must insert that Norris tried to miss the turn to stay on Sims Bridge Rd that led to Dyking Rd. His comment: "Oh, a new direction?" Actually, we had made that same turn to stay on Sims Bridge Rd when we did the Solstice / Middleburg Century last year -- however, last year we STAYED on Sims Bridge Rd instead of turning onto Dyking Rd.)
Arriving on the north edge of Louisburg, the reduced back section found the front section swarming about the gas station / convenience store at the corner of Dyking Rd and US-401. A short / long refueling stop; Lee tried to tell everyone to keep their speed under control on the steep downhill through downtown Louisburg because of the several stoplights; no one seemed to pay him any attention -- a situation with which I am quite familiar -- try to give people a head-up, but they will mostly ignore you.
The back section was reduced to four (me, Gary, Suzanne, IvaHawk). Mostly, I think, because of bad timing on our part dealing with the stop lights. We found the enlarged front section gathered at the Gem Farm at the corner of Mays Crossroads Rd and Tarboro Rd. I "suggested" that the better place to stop would have been the gas station / convenience store a mile-and-a-half closer to Youngsville. The Gem Farm has tree-shaded picnic tables, but the store has ... food and drink. I made my "suggestion" as a "teaching moment" kind of thing, hoping that some of the crew will remember next time we ride over that way. We'll eventually see if anyone remembers.
We left the Gem Farm ... only to find most of the riders at the convenience store. I recalled the Solstice ride from last year when the Mallet wondered what was going on when the group stopped for the third time in about 15 miles. Those stopped at the store waived the rest of us on.
I had hoped to maintain contact with the front section (meaning we would become one large group) from Youngsville all the way back to PUE. However, two things stepped in to sabatoge that idea. The first was the climbers not pedaling at the bottom of the first UP after Youngsville, which forced me to touch the brakes to keep from running over whomever was in front of -- that sent me backward with no momentum, and all 12 of the following riders passed me. I could / can recover from that, and was doing so when the second incident raised its ugly head.
Starting on Friday, and repeated on Saturday, I had been having difficulty shifting among the cogs on the cassette. I had timed the first creek bottom after crossing US-1 really well and had passed about a third of the total crew and had drawn even with Richard when, once again, the rear derailleur mis-performed, and the gearing was self-shifting apparently with a logic all its own, and not a logic of use to me. I settled into middle gears on the cassette, and minimized the damage.
Most of the front section passed Grissom without notice. A few were there when the back section arrived. I decided I was treating myself to a "Root Beer". After obtaining same, and sitting down at the picnic table, I encouraged all still there to ride on ... I would ride the last 11 miles (in peace and quiet) solo. Lee shot at me "Mother, may I?"
Trust me; it made sense in context of the e-mails that had preceded the ride.
PUE: Dyking and Peach Orchard Loop; 71.5 m.; 4 hrs, 29 min; 15.9 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.
Ju1 tot: _7 rides; __405.3 m.; _25 hrs, 33 min; 15.9 mph.
YTD tot: 54 rides; 3,606.8 m.; 237 hrs, 40 min; 15.2 mph.