Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jul-31: Tour de Flat River, plus . . .

... A Break In the Heat Wave. 

Overcast, drizzling / sprinkling, about 75F.
Quite a difference from last Saturday's 101F record high set at Leasburg.

IvaHawk, Tito, Lt. Dave and I met at the Durham Tech campus on Snow Hill Rd for a genial and exploratory 100 km ride.  I borrowed Byron's routing from Bahama to Mt. Tirzah (which is tougher than my usual routing -- though I claim mine is more scenic) to set the proper "let's do some hills" tone. 

First crossing of the Flat River:  Lake Michie next to Bahama is fed by the Flat River.  So that long arm extending northwesterly from the lake is "actually" the Flat River.  Up the "Michie Wall" on Bahama Rd after crossing #1 of the Flat River.

Second crossing of the Flat River was on Red Mtn Rd after having completed the rollers on Hampton Rd, but before reaching Moores Mill Rd.  Nothing special at crossing #2 -- just a normal north-central NC creek valley crossing.

Third crossing of the Flat River was on Moores Mill Rd, just before the "Flat Wall".  Three crossings ... two walls.  What exactly is flat about the Flat River?

During a pause in Mt. Tirzah to collect some infomation for possible future use, LT struck up a conversation with a "rock blaster" that was sitting on the bench whiling away some time.  Turned out that they knew of each other, but had never met, and in fact their respective firms are currently working on some of the same projects.  (Injected note from the editor:  we were avg'ing about 14.3 mph when we got to the store at Mt. Tirzah.)

Down the "mountain" and thru Timberlake and on to the small rollers on Satterfield Rd heading toward Hurdle Mills.  Fourth crossing of the Flat River, and the only one with a sign proclaiming the name of the creek / river, was on Hurdle Mills Rd / NC-157 just after turning off Satterfield Rd.  Looking at a map, it appears that the source of the Flat River is only a mile or two upriver from that bridge ... and there appear to be no roads that traverse the Flat upriver from that Hurdle Mills bridge.

We planned a pause at Hurdle Mills to collect some information for possible future use.  There were already about 8 cyclists gathered near the store, and apparently about to head out.  As Tito pulled in, he called out to one of the unknown (to me) cyclists.  Tito has cycling friends scattered everywhere.  He knew at least one other rider in the other group.  IvaHawk also knew one or two riders in the other group -- the same triathletes that Tito knew.  (The other group was out of Chapel Hill, and FAST.)  We bid adios as the other group headed out. 

With all the extra fraternizing, there was some question as to whether we should do the planned 65-miler, or short the course by about 10 miles.  (LT had a tight back-end time constraint; IvaHawk had a tightish back-end time constraint.)  Although the "Tour de Flat River" section of the ride was behind us, we hated the idea of missing the flat roads northwest of Hurdle Mills; and certainly, the "we have no idea where we are" trio of LT, Hawk and Tito wouldn't have wanted to miss the "flat" stuff on Hester Store Rd; also, LT would not have wanted to miss the potential opportunity to repair the commode at the Hester Store Firestation -- turned out the station was closed, so he did not get the opportunity to investigate.  Also, would anyone have wanted to short the distance to be ridden in the drizzle / sprinkle?

I had informed the trio that the climbing was front-loaded (even though I was completely unfamiliar with Gordonton Rd ---> Wheelers Church Rd ---> Wilkerson Rd).  Well, I knew where the road with three names went ... I just didn't know if it would be flat or "flat" to get there.  I would now say:  "somewhere in between". 

The drizzle / sprinkle continued on Schley Rd ... so I forewent pausing to take informational notes at the VFW post at Schley, the store at Schley Rd / New Sharon Ch Rd, and at Schley Rd / St. Mary's Rd.  St. Mary's Rd was wet and much busier than all the previous roads put together.  And at least two of the automobile drivers were ... jerks.  The advantage of St. Mary's Rd ---> Mason Rd ---> Snow Hill Rd is that it was a net downslope riding east as we were.  I "pulled out the 50T chain ring" and in true IR style, did my best to hammer the homestretch.  LT and the Hawk played it smart and let me hammer ahead.  Tito repeatedly bridged from LT and Iva up to me whenever he felt like it -- without breathing hard even once.

We returned to the Durham Tech campus somewhat damp from the light rain a full 7 minutes before our goal of finishing by Noon.  The decision to ride the entire 65-miles had been validated.

DTCC:  Bahama-Mt.Tirzah-Timberlake-HurdleMills-HesterStore-Schley; 65.4 m.; 4 hrs, 8 min in-motion time; 15.8 mph; (total elapsed clock time: 4hh48mm). 

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: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 60 rides; 3,988.4 m.; 264 hrs, 39 min; 15.1 mph. 


  1. Btw, there was a lot of chatting on various subjects during the ride, but at this time, the only subjects I can recall are: (1) discussing the large beaver road-kill on Union Grove Ch Rd, and beavers in general, and (2) Tito's girlfriend is a horsewoman.

  2. Nice report M. Funny how perception works- I've always dreaded riding StMarys east from Hillsborough to 501. Felt like 501 was the roof and every direction fell away from it.

    If you're in search of hilly alternatives out that way definitely add S Lowell and Johnson Mill to your cue sheet. The closest thing to all-natural roller coasters!

  3. @ bullcityrider, aka, Branson

    I'd hate to learn that my perception of the net slope of St. Mary's is backward. That would have made the ride a lot harder. And I never would have been able to muster the courage to trash my legs on the 50T if I had thought it was a net upslope.

    I am thoroughly convinced that your perception is because of the nuisance bump-ups just as one gets to NC-157 (Guess Rd) and again as one gets to US-501. And to paraphrase what Mrs. What's-her-name used to say on "Are You Being Served?", I am unanimous in my opinion, and I do not plan to investigate the facts.

  4. Martin definitely "dropped the hammer" on the way back in. I know Lt. Dave declined to chase. I, however, gave it a try with never closing the gap. I could see Tito and Martin off in the distance. I found the ride difficult for some reason. Tito and I enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Honey's on Guess Rd. There I saw hwy 157 sign and said ah ha. I saw that a few hours ago up north. Iva

  5. Re: "I found the ride difficult for some reason."

    I suspect the reason is that the ride was front-loaded with those things that "are Alive With the Sound of Music".