Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sep-28: "Racing" the Setting Sun

Beautiful day for riding 100 miles. 
 _ _ Didn't have time for that.

Beautiful day for riding 83 miles.
 _ _ Didn't have time for that.

Beautiful day for riding 55 miles.
 _ _ Didn't have time for that.

Beautiful day for riding 22 miles.
 _ _ Had time for that.  Barely.  As in barely beat the setting sun. 

No 1000-mile month. 
Very unlikely to get a 1500-km month.
Unlikely to get a 900-mile month.
But at least I set a personal record for miles in a given calendar month.
 _ _ That's what comes of riding a personal record seven days in a row. 
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Sep-28: 

PUE:  to BJP for water - Norwood-VctCh/Kemp-U-turn at NC-98 - Kemp-CarpPond-MVC; 21.9 m.; 1 hrs, 21 min in-motion time; 16.1 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 15 rides; __856.4 m.; _62 hrs, 58 min; 13.6 mph.
YTD tot: 83 rides; 5,494.7 m.; 368 hrs, 40 min; 14.9 mph.

Say Goodbye ...

Say Goodbye to a goal to ride 1000 miles in a given calendar month for the first time ever, this September.

With the rains now expected the next three days, there doesn't seem any way I can "sneak in" the requisite three 55-milers, one for each of the last three days of the month.  (Btw, it isn't that I won't ride in the rain, I have ridden in the rain, and enjoyed it during Alan's 300 km brevet back in April, it's just that I don't see the point of doing a just-riding-around-for-fun ride in the rain if I'm not really training for anything.) 

If two of the three days would clear enough to ride ... I cannot "sneak in" 83-milers.

Actually:

I lost the 1000-mile month in the middle of my first ride of the month:  the Tarheel 200 Permanent on Sep-04, when I did something to stress / strain my right leg / knee.  Instead for riding another 200 km the next day, and 100 km or so on Labor Day, I rested the leg / knee so all would be well for the BRP trip.  (Wish I knew what I did to the knee ... so I could avoid doing it in the future.) 


Say Goodbye to the quest for Super Randonneur this year. 

Tony's mountain-fest rides from Statesville to Little Switzerland, etc., would never have worked for me.  Tony's Labor Day Brevet-Fest included a 600 km, and the combined terrain may well have suited me, but the timing -- one week before the BRP trip -- was dangerous.

There remains Tony's "Seaboard-Fest" on Oct-09 starting / ending in Lumberton.  My butt got tired as soon as my eyes read "1068 ft 'climbing' in 382 miles".  I have never been a "get up out of the saddle" type rider -- I sit-and-spin my way up climbs -- and have never acquired the knack of standing and riding at the same cadence in the same gear at the same speed as when sitting.  Vance and Maria can verify how much trouble I had from sore / tired butt during Alan's 600 in May, from continual sitting with no reason or real opportunity to get out of the saddle and stretch the legs / give the buttocks a break.  (Actually, if Vance and Maria are being honest, they can verify how much trouble my sore butt caused them.)  If my 600 in May had not turned into "the bloody privates ride" it would have been "the incredibly sore butt ride"; the only semi-good thing about "the bloody privates ride" was that the pain from that completely blocked any pain messages from the buttocks to the brain -- insert joke about that not being very far for messages to travel.

"1068 ft in 382 miles"!  I'd rather face the 12 miles from the James River to Apple Orchard Mtn, again, without the legs being warmed up, again.

Maybe if I knew someone with which to ride.  Maybe if I trusted my car to go "into the wilderness" as far as Lumberton.  Maybe if I had a better idea of where the course went.  Maybe.

"1068 ft in 382 miles"!  And I thought Dean's Tarheel 200, with 1210 ft in 125 miles, was flat.

A Maria-style, gentler, kindlier 400 or 600 sounds interesting, because I could mix and match the terrain.  Maybe Byron's L-L-L (while I still have my BRP mountain legs), MikeD's Black Creek, and a non-RUSA ride (perhaps the "IR" Schley-HurdleMills-Stovall ride, or the "IR" Schley-Leasburg-GentryStore ride -- see the "route map roll" to the right).

If any IRs were interested in a group / club type 200k on the 9th, I could do L-L-L on the 8th, and suffer through Black Creek on the 10th.  Maybe.

It's all mental.  And I used a lot of mental on the BRP.  Even Tony's Lumberton 600 boils down to a mental thing -- and THAT is the true bottom line; I'm just not mentally "stoked" for it -- but, gosh, my buttocks start hurting as soon as I read or think "1068 ft in 382 miles".

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sep-26: There's a Touch of Autumn In the Air

Using the excuse that I rode hard the day before, I wimped out of exploring.  Of course, the thing I wanted to check out is north of Roxboro ... at least 50 miles from PUE / BJP; so maybe a solo 100+-miler "the day after" wouldn't really have been the wisest move.  I think I used to be more adventuresome in the past (in this case, "past" would be ... last year.)

On the other hand, the sky looked threatening at 9-ish, so doing a ride where one didn't go too far afield also appeared to make "weather" sense.  I decided to ride an undetermined length using the "TT" course as the base, with possible / probable side-trips down Coley and down Baptist.

I was half-way down Coley, slowing / stopping at the stop sign at Kemp, when I spied a couple cyclists heading northwest, away from Coley Rd, on the new Kemp pavement.  I decided to catch them up.  Wendy was apparently choosing the JRA (Just Riding Around) course for Gary and herself as she reached decision points.  She decided to use the "Southview cut-off" to skip the last 1.5 miles of Kemp (and two climbs) and go directly to Baptist Rd, already 2/5 of the way down to the "marina".  Blah, blah, blah, we ate some nibbles standing next to a picnic table on the cul-de-sac loop at the end of Baptist Rd in the State Recreation Area, and then blah, blah, blah reversed course.  When we got back to the Coley / Kemp intersection, I bid Gary + Wendy "so-long" and finished the Coley loop and then rode the rest of the "TT" route without further additions. 

It got really nice in the middle of the ride, but by the time I finished, the sky was overcast again.  As I write this at 4:51 pm, it is raining.  I guess the weather that hit parts of the Natchez Trace 1000 km ride has finally arrived here.

Btw, have you seen the forecast for this next week and for this next Saturday?  Mild to cool conditions for next week's brevet.  I hope that the forecast that the rain accompanying the cold front will be gone before Saturday morning turns out to be correct.
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Sep-26: 

BJP:  .25xColey-(Kemp-S'view-mairna-S'view-Kemp)-.75xColey-DocN-Kemp-Virgil; 50.6 m.; 3 hrs, 17 min in-motion time; 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 14 rides; __834.5 m.; _61 hrs, 36 min; 13.5 mph.
YTD tot: 83 rides; 5,472.8 m.; 367 hrs, 19 min; 14.9 mph. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sep-25: 17+ mph for 100k+ ride ... Finally!!

In May, in White Lake, on the return leg of the Morrisville 600 km Brevet, I overheard MikeD make a comment about leaving irritation with another rider on the course, and not allow it into the the blog.  That is excellent advice.  (Sort of like "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.")
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For grins, an exchange from earlier this week:

IvaHawk:  "Bearpond it is. 

"BTW, if you all wonder where Tito is this weekend, he is riding with an old friend of his who tries to ride his age each year. This year he is 64. If one were to graft distance vs ability on such an activity, one would see diverging lines. It will be tough for him to do the century when the time comes."

Snarky Guy:  "I think I might be able to deal with being on the receiving end of 'graft'.   

"However, a two-dimensional 'graph' of distance vs. ability would give a single 'line' for each individual since 'distance' would be on one axis and 'ability' would be on the other axis. 

"Each person would have a different line because of differing abilities and differing rates of 'ability acquisition' when young and 'ability loss' when older. However, each individual line, although requiring a different mutli-dimensional formula to define the line, would have the same general shape ... that is, all lines would have the appearance of an inverted U, since ability at age 0 would be 0, and abilty at age of death would return to zero, and in between, one hopes that ability would be greater than zero. 

"Isn't math humor absolutely hillarious!"

IvaHawk:  "I think I just got a F in English and Math!  ha ha."
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The response to the prospect of doing the Mayo Lake 100-miler was underwhelming.  Only Robert and the Hawk were mildly interested.

Lt. Dave inquired about possible short-cuts.  With a route that narrow, the answer was ... "yes".  (I can think of a 50-miler, a 56-miler, a 66-miler, and an 82-miler off the top of my head.)  Robert and IvaHawk quickly bailed on the prospect of riding a hundred miles ... they suggested that I could "pedal on" solo and go as far as I desired.

Wait a minute, I thought, If I'm doing a 100-miler solo, I would rather do the Middleburg route (ignore the lack of elevation data -- "veloroutes" seems to have developed a problem in certain situations) as it is easier and I haven't done it yet this year (see here, and read between the lines).  A little more thought ... and it was decided to do the Bearpond-Bobbitt route (there is a link on the "route scroll" to the right):

Road map

And I announced that if I was feeling good on the way back, I would try to accomplish something I had never been able to do before:

Complete a 100k+ ride at an avg pace of 17+ mph.

I had been well-past 100k and averaging 17+ mph several times previously, but something always intervened.  Sometimes it was the "Ghoston-Peed-MVC" finish.  One time last year the Mallet managed to pull his foot off his pedal and stick into his wheel between a couple spokes when he tried to respond at a CL I was trying to sneak (soft pedaling a couple miles waiting for Paul and others to catch up torpedo'ed the 17+ mph pace).

This time I figured I would substitute the much easier "New Light / Six Forks - Pleasant Union Ch Rd" finish if I was close (just above) 17 mph.  No one stuck their foot through their spokes (and hey, during an impromptu, instant conspiracy moment, IvaHawk and I managed to get the Franklin CL just south of Bobbitt for Iva - a much better result than a previous elaborately planned campaign - also a better result (because it took less planning and fewer people to pull off than another previous attempt to gift Iva a CL ) than another previous CL conspiracy).  No other problems popped up.

Well, the leading six riders did speed off into the headwind leaving me and a very tired Iva to try to get home and maintain the 17+ avg we'd built up during the earlier stages of the ride.  That was almost a problem.  And Iva might be able to confirm that I said some nasty things about some "friends". 

But I got my first ever 17+ mph finish to a 100k+ ride, and I have talked to half the "speedy six", and ... except for the above paragraph, I'm following MikeD's advice (see the first paragraph if you are confused).
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Sep-25: 

PUE: Bearpond-Bobbitt; 72.3 m.; 4 hrs, 10 min in-motion time; 17.3 mph
 _ _ _ _ _ _ _(currently slotting in at third fastest ride of the year; behind a Jun-30 33-miler and a Sep-21 30-miler)

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.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 13 rides; __783.9 m.; _58 hrs, 18 min; 13.4 mph.
YTD tot: 82 rides; 5,422.2 m.; 364 hrs, 02 min; 14.9 mph.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sep-22: Still Testing the New Confuser

You never know who you might meet during, after, or before a ride.  Today, at BJP, I was "hello'd" by Anne S., aka, Mrs. Mallet.  Anne's friend Liz was meeting her for Anne's first ever ride from BJP (and outside of Anne's comfort zone). 

Anne had gotten a cue sheet off the NCBC site.  Something called "Mangum Dairy 'something'".  I admit I giggled when I heard "Mangum Dairy".  I asked if she cared to show me the cue sheet.  I quickly passed over the Mangum Dairy entry (after mentioning that she would have to turn onto Lawrence Rd from Bruce Garner to get to Mangum Dairy -- Anne pointed to the very small handwritten "Lawrence" on the cue sheet -- too small for my 54-y.o. eyes to see without reading glasses) and commented that I wasn't crazy about her riding 3.5 miles on NC-98 even if that section was part of NC Bike Route #2.  Anne mentioned that Paul had said "Martin probably wouldn't like this course". 

I suggested she turn the opposite direction on Purnell and take Woodlief back to New Light.  That is what Anne and Liz did.  They probably did not speak kindly regarding me during the latter part of their ride because my suggestion accidentally added 5 or 6 miles to their course.  I certainly did NOT expect that. 

I saw Anne after our respective rides.  I asked what she thought of Mangum Dairy.  She paused, then said "it was tough." 

I'm not sure, but I think that Paul has never ridden Mangum Dairy all the way up to Purnell.  If that is correct, Anne certainly has "one up" on her lesser half.
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I reset my new confuser to "210" last night.  I rode from BJP to the corner of Carpenter Pond and Leesville roads because I know that is 11.0 miles.  The confuser showed 11.26 miles -- the same as yesterday.  At least I had confirmed that the confuser had been set to the most logical setting given my bike and tyre combo.

I reset the confuser to "206" and rode back to BJP.  At my car, the confuser indicated 10.83 miles. 

I reset the confuser to "208" and rode out to the Six Forks / Pleasant Union Ch Rd intersection.  I "zero'd" out the confuser settings and rode Six Forks / New Light to Ghoston to NC-98 to Peed to MVC to Pleasant Union Ch Rd and back to the 6F / PUCRd corner.  I know that loop is 9.4 miles.  The confuser indicated 9.38 miles.  I deemed that "good enough".

1)  BJP to CP / Leesville roads:  11.0 miles; 44 min., 0 seconds; 15.0 avg mph.
2)  CP / Leesville back to BJP:  11.0 miles; 34 min., 27 seconds; 19.2 avg mph.
3)  6F/NL-G-P-MVC-PUC loop:  9.4 miles; 35 min., 35 seconds; 15.8 avg mph.

Oh, for those interested, I did the "LeTivito time-trial" in 19 min., 10 seconds.
Any of you fast-guy mountain goats got the cajones to do that "TT" in that much time?
 _ _ _ ;-)
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Sep-22: 

BJP: see above for course; 31.4 m.; 1 hrs, 54 min in-motion time; 16.5 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 12 rides; __711.6 m.; _54 hrs, 08 min; 13.1 mph.
YTD tot: 81 rides; 5,349.9 m.; 359 hrs, 52 min; 14.9 mph. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sep-21: Testing the New Confuser on the "TT" Course

Someone else set the "tire size" function.  I tried to reset after the ride (because the confuser came up with 30.33 miles on a 29.6 mile course).  After a couple attempts, I settled for "resetting" to the 210 setting, which is what I think it was set to when I rode today.  However, I can't be sure.

So ... I'll ride the course again (perhaps tomorrow) and see what the confuser comes up with.  If it comes up with something as ridiculous as today, I will remove the battery and restart the entire "confuser setting" process from scratch.

As for the ride ... not bad.  No noticeable residual leg tightness or tiredness from last week.  2 minutes, 18 seconds faster than I rode the course on Sunday.  I do not expect any increase in speed if I ride the course tomorrow or the next day. 

Last 10.2 miles in 32 minutes, 11 seconds.  Never have averaged 20 mph for that last "10-mile" stretch ... I think the climb up MVC is the culprit holding the average to under 20.  ;-)
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Oh, I have worked on the BRP post ... but it still isn't done.
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Sep-21: 

BJP: DocN-Kemp-Virgil; 29.6 m.; 1 hrs, 42 min in-motion time; 17.4 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 11 rides; __680.2 m.; _52 hrs, 24 min; 13.0 mph.
YTD tot: 80 rides; 5,318.5 m.; 357 hrs, 56 min; 14.9 mph.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sep-19: Spinnin' on the "TT" Course

Decided to post this even though I have not yet finished the BRP ride post.  Having a lot of trouble with that BRP post.  Disliked the first version.  Second version was "okay at best", but the electro-gremlins ate the copy.  Working on the third version.  (See previous post.)

I think I'm having trouble writing the BRP post because no "angle" seems appealing.  And maybe because I'm trying to write for the "audience" instead of for me.  Usually comes out better when I write the posts for me. 

The BRP post has no consistent voice or tense.  Sometimes I write that way and it comes out better than just "okay".  Not this time.  Maybe I'm experiencing a post-ride let-down. 

I'll "finish" the BRP post, but in the meantime, there are other rides to document. 
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The usual "TT" course.  Could feel the BRP miles in my legs -- only gave my self one day between Cherokee and BJP.  Started really slow.  Then found some cadence.  I thought I was riding into a headwind on the outbound leg -- NOPE.  Last 10.2 miles took 33 min, 34 seconds ... instead of the hoped for 31 + minutes.

Oh, well.  I enjoyed the little spin.
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Sep-19: 

BJP:  DocN-Kemp-Virgil; 29.6 m.; 1 hrs, 45 min in-motion time; 17.0 mph. 
 _ _ _ _(timed on my stopwatch because my cycle computer is currently defunct)

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.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: 10 rides; __650.6 m.; _50 hrs, 39 min; 12.8 mph.
YTD tot: 79 rides; 5,288.9 m.; 356 hrs, 15 min; 14.8 mph. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sep-11 thru 17: Blue Ridge Parkway

Okay, all finished, now.


Motto for the week:
The road goes up,
The road goes down,
I'll just ride
What comes aroun'.
 
[Edit Feb-08-2011:  The following is an embed a "Trimble Outdoors" map that shows a "track" for each day of the ride.  Each track is approximate since the map did not indicate one or two of the overlooks that we used as stopping / starting locations on a few of the days.  Trimble does tend to underestimate the total climbing, however, overall, the elevation map for each day is a very good representation of what we encountered each day. 




There are some excellent information sources regarding the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) terrain.
Dave carefully noted where the big climbs and descents were.
I listened to his explanations, tried to remember what he said, and also tried not to get discouraged.
Didn't always succeed at the last.
At (often) less than 6 mph -- 10 to 11 minutes per mile -- it takes a long time to get up a 12 or 17 mile climb.

But eventually, always, the road dipped downslope, and that helped considerably on the morale front.
At (usually) more than 30 or 35 mph -- 2 minutes (or less) per mile -- the miles go fast.

While slogging up, at least one could look around when passing overlooks or other good spots -- such as when crossing the Linville Cove Viaduct -- at the scenery.  I did a lot of sweating and cursing and sometimes wondered if I should have opted for a 30/28 granny instead of a 30/25, but one could check out the passing scenes. 

Sometimes, a butterfly or two would accompany one while climbing ... at least for a while.  Sometimes, gnats accompanied me for part of the climb ... but that was only on lower elevations ... such as below 2500 ft..

While zooming down, there was NO time to check out passing scenery.  One was INTENSLY concentrated on the road -- where was it curving, tight or easy curves, constantly scanning for potholes, serious cracks in the surface, debris, wildlife, autos and pedestrians.

On one section, the first of FIVE consecutive "spiral curves", just after passing a road sign warning that the next several (I don't recall the actual number on the sign) miles were a "high collision area", a motorcycle coming up the mountain was entirely on MY side of the double-yellow.

One morning, just a mile-and-half after leaving camp (Crabtree Meadows / Falls), a large momma turkey and 3 or 4 nearly full grown chicks suddenly hopped out of the ditch onto the roadway.  I estimate that I was going at least 30, maybe 35 mph (my cycle computer had konked out the day before), and those wild turkeys had no logic to where they seemed to be running.  I locked up the brakes and ... BANG! ... an explosive flat of the rear tyre.  Suddenly, no turkeys ... but I had other things to think about ... such as keeping the bike upright until I could coast to a stop on the flat about 100 yards ahead -- luckily I was descending a "hill" and not a mountain (such as Grandfather Mtn for which I was headed at the time).

Wind on the mountains was a usual companion -- especially at the higher elevations.  Wind would blow up the valleys from both sides to meet one while riding through the various Gaps ... typically wind would slam you from one side and immediately slam you from the other.  Could get exciting if one was moving at 25 or 30 or more mph.

Wind would also roar up the side of the mountains, especially in the afternoons when the temps at the lower elevations were higher, and if the road happened cross a "saddle" between two "peaks", and super especially if the the road were on the exact spine of the ridge ... "exciting".

Don't get me wrong.  It was fun descending.  But extremely INTENSE.
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Food and water can be problematic on the parkway.

We had carefully researched the mileposts at which we could expect to replenish with water from Visitor's Centers, Picnic Areas, and Campgrounds.  We were somewhat conservative in our approach to getting water.  Even so, we each ran a bit low a couple times.  Most noticeably the day we rode past / around Roanoke.  We planned to replenish after about 22 miles at the Roanaoke Mtn Campground, and again about 30 miles later at Smartview Picnic Area.  We decided to skip riding into the campground because the road fell off the side of the mountain, and neither of us relished having to ride back up.  (I readily admit to sounding and being a wimp compared to self-supported cyclists with panniers or towing a trailer -- those folks seldom have a choice to skip such a situation.)  Smartview was a few miles further than we recalled from the maps ... and I was not familiar with the area and almost missed the picnic area after riding some 55 miles ... actually missing that stop might have made things quite "interesting".

The only other day we had water concerns was the last day.  Luckily, Laurie and Lew agreed to meet us atop Richland Balsam -- the highest point on the parkway at 6053 ft. elevation -- for lunch and to hand us off some water.

Oh, also on the last day we rode up / into Waterrock Knob Visitor's Center expecting to replenish water supplies.  No water.  Luckily, we had previously met another crew of 4 cyclists (with 2 sag vehicles / drivers) that were on roughly the same schedule that last day ... they gave us some water.

I also was gifted an ice-cold bottle of water by an older couple -- you know, my age -- that was at an overlook on the descent from Grandfather Mtn while I was stopped there eating my lunch out of my back pockets.  The gift was appreciated, but I think I would have made it to the Folk Art Museum outside Asheville without difficulty.  Dave did, and he only carried about half the water I did.  (I sweat a LOT more.)
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The Start:

All four (six counting the dogs) lunched at the picnic table on Saturday (the 11th) outside the temporary Visitor's Center near MP-0.
We pushed off into the sunny, breezy, delightful conditions at 1:05 p.m..
 If you click on the image, you can see Lt. Dave.  

Barely more than two miles into the ride, I stopped ... to slightly raise my saddle.
(I had lowered it earlier in the week, but never got the chance to "test" the result.
I raised the saddle about half what I'd lowered it, and ... NO butt problems the entire week!)
  Stopping to adjust the saddle.  Dave in the background, rides on.

Just a few miles later, our sunny and delightful conditions disappeared.
To be replaced with cloudy, drizzly, 53F chilly riding.
The gloom lasted all the way to Otter Creek (our first campground), which I reached just before 6 p.m..
 _ _The last 10 miles was all downhill -- that helped the avg pace a lot.

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Notable climbs:

I may have thought ... at the time ... that there were notable climbs the first day. 
The second day cured me of any thoughts I may have had along those lines.
In fact, I recall very little of the first day ... other than the cool, damp conditions, and an introductory 3-mile descent or two, and - of course - the last 10 miles.

Second day, we climbed from the James River (~ 650 ft elevation at ~ MP-63.5) to Apple Orchard Mtn, the highest parkway elevation in Virginia (~ 3960 ft elevation at ~ MP-75.5).  Took Dave about 2 hours, maybe a bit less.  Took me nearly 2 1/2 hours.  That discrepancy in climbing speed lasted all week.  (Dave claims I climbed faster on the last day as I stayed closer to him.  I think he slowed his climbing pace so that he would not have to wait quite so long -- he wanted us to ride the last sections together.)

 Dave at the Apple Orchard Mtn sign.  With Zeke, the sometimes "wonder dog".

The climb up / away from Roanoke was nothing to sneeze at.  A female day rider out Roanoke saw me slogging up as she zoomed down; she yelled something.  A few moments later, she pulls up alongside and says "oh, you're not Jerry; I thought you might be Jerry; he's 'the century man'; where you headed?"  I told her "Cherokee".  We chatted for another minute, and then she U-turned to head back down the mountain and return to Roanoke.  I was tempted to follow her.

Did I mention that I missed the turn into Rocky Knob Campground?  I recognized the open pastures across from the campground from last year.  But I had been repeating the mantra "Rocky Knob, MP-169" all day, and the campground was at MP-167 ... "halfway" up the climb from Tuggle Gap.  My mind was not working properly, and I did not READ the words on the sign for the campground ... I only noted the "icon" for hiking.  There was no "tent icon" for camping ... only the word "Campground".  I continued up the "spiral curve" past MP-168 and the top of the climb.  I continued across the shallow descent to MP-169 and the picnic area.  As I began the more serious descent, I thought to myself "this doesn't seem right", and started looking over my shoulder at the signs for the northbound traffic.  Second sign:  "Campground  2 miles".  CRAP!!  I U-turned and ... got to the camp to find the truck and Laurie and most all the food was gone ... looking for me.  It had taken an extra half hour to get those four bonus miles.  Dave was all cleaned up as he had given up on me and the possibility of riding further.  Laurie had driven north looking for me; I was south of the campground, of course. 

The climb to the top of the shoulder of Grandfather Mtn was about 17 miles long.  There were a couple of short, but fast, descents along the way.  Given my flat tyre only 1.5 miles (10 minutes) after leaving the campground, it took me about 4 hours to complete that climb.  Two lucky things. 

1) When Laurie and Lew drove past, I was able to shout and flag them down.  They pulled into the overlook that was just ahead.  I gave Laurie the now useless tyre and tube (to give to Dave when she saw him), and more importantly, I pumped my replacement rear tyre up to about 125 psi -- I had climbed well over half the climb on about 75 psi.  The mini-pump is good, and will get you home ... but I don't recommend it as your main pump, especially when climbing mountains. 

2) The descent from Grandfather Mtn into Asheville was being repaved.  BEAUTIFUL, fresh pavement.  And the "pilot vehicle" led the "parade" of southbound traffic for several miles -- most of the descent -- all of the steep part of the descent -- at 20 to 25 mph (I'm estimating because my cycle confuser had konked out).  Riding the slower speed in the middle of the traffic caravan eliminated any chance of going too fast (faster than, say, 40 mph) and also eliminated the chance of any cars or motorcycles trying to pass on the steep part of the descent.  Slower is sometimes better.

The climb later that day up Mt. Pisgah was tough, but it was at the end of the day and I knew I would make it to the day's goal (more or less).  Dave and Laurie collected me about 2 miles below the goal as we were due to join Dave's relatives in going out to dinner near Candler (near Asheville and Mt. Pisgah).  I could have made the extra two miles except I ended up in a 25 minute conversation with the "Birdman"; he had been sitting at an overlook most of the day counting migrating raptors (hawks); I didn't know that hawks, eagles and the like migrated.  Reasonably interesting conversation monologue about the migration pattern of hawks.  It ain't all and only about the riding.

The climb up to Richland Balsam seemed daunting on paper.  Miles and miles above 5500 ft elevation, topping out, after several ups and downs, at 6053 ft.  Except for the winds and the chill (especially chilly above 5500 ft), the climb was not bad. 

The ~ 8-mile climb up to Waterrock Knob just after descending to Balsam Gap (~ 3300 ft elevation) was much tougher.  Dave and I agreed it was a relentless climb.  We got water from another group of cyclists at the "summit" of the climb, and (more or less) rode down the descent from Waterrock together. 

Then, the last climb (or so we thought).  Two-and-a-half miles to the first of many tunnels in the last 10 miles.  We started down together; Dave finished the descent less than a minute after me.  It was disappointingly hot and humid at Cherokee, especially compared to the temperatures, lack of humidty, and windy conditions we had experienced earlier in the day, and over the previous seven days.

Other cyclists:

There were a few day cyclists near Roanoke (see above).

There were some day cyclists near Boone.

There were a lot of day cyclists descending Pisgah as we climbed near the bottom of the mountain (i.e., just outside Asheville).  It looked to be a well organized club ride, with a LARGE front group, and three following mini-groups, each of diminshing numbers. 

We also met one or two groups of cyclists (it was never clear to me if we met two different groups, or the same group twice) that were riding from Front Royal to Cherokee.  The group that gave us water atop Waterrock Knob were "snow-birds"; I think the ride was part of their migration this year from Massachusetts, Ohio and Kentucky to Florida.  This was the first time any of the four cyclists had "ever done anything like this".  (When they told me that - atop Waterrock Knob - I responded "for me too; Dave, however, rode the Parkway three decades ago."  That brought the immediate rejoinder "three decades??"  And my further response "yep, Dave was about 22 at the time."  The group went back to eating their lunch.) 

At the Rocky Knob campground, we met George.  He was touring from Florida back to Philly after attending a family wedding.  Full front and rear panniers.  He was fast ... even with the panniers.  His first day in Florida, he had covered 170 miles (George claimed the beginning and ending elevations that day were the same ... 0 ft above sea level).  He was riding the same daily distances on the BRP us we were, except he had panniers.

At the Doughton Park campground, we met Gary and another "unnamed" cyclist.  The unnamed was fit and riding with four VERY full panniers.  Due to leapfrog dynamics, I think the unnamed went into Asheville, but I'm not sure.

Gary was more interesting.  At about 6 ft, 1 inch tall and 240 pounds, Gary was a large man.  He was riding a 61 cm touring bike, towing a trailer he had built himself.   He raises beef cattle somewhere near Knoxville, and took up cycling three years ago at age 52.  He loves it.  He entertained us in camp with some stories from his early riding days:  "no way I was ever going to wear those funny shorts -- until after touring for three days in regular clothes."  He was doing a short tour -- perhaps from ??? to Pisgah -- on "grit" because he had done nearly no training this year.  He left camp in the morning before us; Dave passed him a couple hours before I did (I'm slow when climbing, and that was the day of my flat); each of us chatted with Gary for a minute or two before spinning on.  We looked for Gary on the last day, but as we did not catch him, we concluded that he may have decided to end his short tour atop Pisgah.

Motorcycles:

Back and forth all day long.  In groups of 4 or 5 or 6 or 8.  Harleys are LOUD.  Some other makes are quiet.  I've had my fill of motorcycles for awhile.


  Important rock at overlook near MP-100.
 Key support staff and fellow travelers -- Lew and his dog Jackpot.  
 Another important person and fellow traveler:  Laurie (Mrs. Lt. Dave) and her dog, Zeke.


Farmland and Tractors:

Lest you think it was all either slogging climbs or harrowing descents, the Parkway goes through quite a lot of farmland in Virginia, especially near Roanoke.  Farm fields and pastures came within a dozen feet or so of the edge of the road since the Park only owns the road through those areas.  Horses and cattle were often grazing only a few yards away.  There were also a couple pumpkin fields -- one in particular was noteable.  Sorry, no photo.

There were farmers atop tractors working at many farms along the route.  Most seemed to be cutting hay.  I liked the tractors ... they were they types that were prominent in my youth ... not those behomoths that dominate midwestern farms nowadays.  Sorry, no photos.  (I can think of one local / NC rando that might have trouble staying on a schedule past some of those farms.  She would have to stop, in some places, every quarter to half-mile to take yet another photo of a tractor in action.)

NC Bike Routes 4 and 2:

I didn't see the road where Bike Route #4 joined the Parkway (from the east), but Dave and I each judged the road where it left the Parkway as little better than a goatpath -- strewn with gravel -- and V-E-R-Y steep.  I am sure I could not ride up to the Parkway on BR #4 from the west -- too steep.  I would not want to tempt fate by trying to exit on that road.  I think Bike Route #4 was only on the Parkway for about 20 miles.

I didn't see, and neither did Dave, the road where Bike Route #2 joined the Parkway from the east.  Nor did we notice the road where BR #2 left the Parkway to the west.  However, Bike Route #2 appears to follow the Parkway for 100 miles or more.  And unlike the "Showdown at Black Creek" Permanent, Bike Route #2 on the Parkway is NOT flat.

Campgrounds: 

Were basically empty.  This was a good time to ride and enjoy the Parkway.  Leaf season for a cyclist would likely be consistent with a suicide wish ... too many cars. 

Wildlife:

As possibly indicated above, there wasn't a lot of wildlife.  A few turkeys -- I could have done with about 4 or 5 fewer turkeys at one critical point.  A couple chipmunks (I think North Carolinians would refer to them as groundhogs -- but to me, they were chipmunks).  Caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers galore.  Some butterflies -- didn't see any migrating "Monarchs".  I saw a doe and her nearly full-grown fawn.  I also saw a large 8-point buck saunter across the Parkway in front me (I understand that what in North Carolina counts as "8-points" would count as "4-points" in Montana -- 4-points on each side).  I think Dave is still jealous over the buck.  Lee D may well be jealous when / if he reads this. 

Traveling companions:

Lt. Dave, of course.  But more important were Mrs. Lt. Dave, aka, Laurie and Lew (Dave's dad and my tentmate).  Also along for the trip were Zeke (Dave and Laurie's Jack Russel) and Jackpot (Lew's best friend).  Jackpot finally warmed up to me after about three days, and asked me to let him out for his morning "walk" when Lew was otherwise occupied. 

This trip was also a vacation for Laurie -- not just a "service the cyclists" trip.  Despite several disappointments (the Folk Music Center was virtually closed down, the same for a couple other things, and I suspect that she was unable to make her hoped-for sidetrip into Woolwine to visit her favorite fabrics shop), I think Laurie finally managed enough "Laurie-time" to enjoy her vacation ... at least that was her story, and I suspect that she is sticking to it.

Lew would read voraciously whenever he had spare time.  On at least two nights, he flipped the page of his book to suddenly discover that it was way-past being too dark to read.  Lew was also our campfire man.  I think we had a campfire every night.  Sometimes it was just for eosoterics; one night we made s'mores, and one or two nights the extra warmth was nice.

I learned a crazy new card-game from Dave, Laurie and Lew.  Dave and Lew had learned it on a recent mission trip to ... I forget which Central American country.  Easy to learn.  Can be played without too much strategy.  Can be played employing too much strategy.  Therefore, good for most all ages and desired levels of concentration. 

Due to disparate climbing speeds, Dave and I rarely saw each other during the day.  Once we accepted facts and did away with false expectations, my rides were much better from a mental point of view.  I was unable to fathom Dave's thoughts on this front.

Mountain vistas:

The four of us only had two cameras along on the trip ... and one of those quit working on about the second day.  Lew's camera did itself and its owner proud.  No "mountain vista" photos were taken ... if you are looking for those, there are plenty of other places to find them.  We concentrated on people and flora photos.

More photos:

Two fools ready to start riding on ... I can't guess which day.
This might be the overlook near MP-260.
 
Dave at the Pisgah picnic area campground.
Ready to ride at the start of the last day.
 
Me.  Same location.  Notice that Dave was smiling and I was not.
But that was only because I was concentrating on sucking in my gut.
 
 
 
 
 

 
Dave at the Richland Balsam sign. 

  
Dave at Balsam parking lot with his dad, Lew. 
I thought there was a photo of Dave with Laurie at Balsam.  Apparently not.  :-(  

  
My tentmate, Lew, and me at the Balsam high elevation sign. 
Also pictured:  Zeke, the sometimes "wonder dog". 
Photos mostly by Laurie. 

    
 


"Entering" the Parkway?  No.  Leaving it at Cherokee. 
We could not find the MP-469 milepost. 
Probably in the room of some college kid. 

  
Fin 

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Sep-11:  BRP:  MP-0 to Otter Creek; 62.4 m.; 4 hrs, 38 min in-motion time; 13.4 mph. 
Sep-12:  BRP:  Otter Creek to near MP-100; 39.0 m.; 3hrs, 43 min in-motion time; 10.5 mph.
Sep-13:  BRP:  MP-100 to Rocky Knob; 72.8 m.; 5 hrs, 57 min in-motion time; 12.2 mph.
 _ _ _ _ _ _(incl. ~ 4 "bonus miles" for me as I rode PAST the campground, and had to ride back)
Sep-14:  BRP:  Rocky Knob to Doughton Park; 73.5 m.; 5 hrs, 52 min in-motion time; 13.5 mph.
 _ _ _ _ _ _(Dave rode a further 20 miles to near MP-260)
Sep-15:  BRP:  MP-260 to Crabtree Meadows / Falls; 80.8 m.; 7 hrs, 24 min in-motion time; 10.9 mph.
 _ _ _ _ _ _(my cycle computer konked out after ~ 33.5 miles; est. distance and times for the last three days)
Sep-16:  BRP:  Crabtree Meadows / Falls to Mt. Pisgah; 67.0 m.; 5 hrs, 45 min in-motion time; 11.6 mph.
 _ _ _ _ _ _(this is the day I had the explosive flat only 1.5 miles -- 10 minutes -- into the ride)
Sep-17:  BRP:  Mt. Pisgah to Cherokee (MP-469); 62.7 m.; 5 hrs, 13 min in-motion time; 12.0 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: _9 rides; __621.0 m.; _48 hrs, 54 min; 12.7 mph.
YTD tot: 78 rides; 5,259.3 m.; 354 hrs, 30 min; 14.8 mph. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway Trip Sep-11 to 17 or 18

Some of you know that Lt. Dave and I, managed by Mrs. Lt. Dave and Lew, LT's dad, intend to ride the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting from the the north end near Waynesboro, VA, on Sep-11 thru about the 17th (depending on weather and our butts).  Since every ride I do goes on the blog, the (now) seven rides will be posted here.  But since, unlike MikeD who apparently has every electronic communication gadget invented in the last half-dozen years, I will not have access to the blog, I will not record the daily entries until after the ride is completed. 

And ... for various reasons ... don't expect very many photos.  Just words.  And there might not be that many of those, either.

Anyway, I have scheduled this post to "publish" at 2 p.m. on Saturday, the 11th.  With luck, Dave and I will just starting to "sneak in a few miles" on Saturday to break up the originally planned 86-mile first day.  Actually, Mrs. Lt. Dave wants to camp at Otter Creek Saturday night instead of near Waynesboro, and ... what the cook suggests ... we do.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sep-08: Short Shake-Down Ride

I had planned to do "big miles" over the Labor Day weekend.  That did not happen because I somehow managed to strain my right leg / knee on Dean's Tarheel 200 on Saturday.  Instead of doing MikeD's Black Creek 200 on Sunday and another 100 km JRA on Monday ... I rested the knee.

But I HAVE to get some miles on my new shoes to try to break them in somewhat before next week.  

Little to no knee pain, today.

Anyway, a ride on the "TT" course with a pretty stiff SW wind slowing the pace considerably on CarpPond and on the upslope of Coley.  21 mph down Coley with a tailwind ... well under 15 mph up Coley into the headwind.  At least that could be called "serious hill training" or even "mtn training" today.  (You'll notice I only did Coley once, not twice ... no need to go overboard.)

Oh, I did the last 10.2 miles from Virgil / CarpPond (after going up Virgil with pizzaz!, btw) in 32 minutes.  All me.  No tailwind.   

If you believe that ... have I got some deals for you!
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Sep-08: 

BJP:  Coley-DocN-Kemp-Virgil; 37.0 m.; 2 hrs, 16 min in-motion time; 16.3 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.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: _2 rides; __162.8 m.; _10 hrs, 20 min; 15.7 mph.
YTD tot: 71 rides; 4,801.1 m.; 315 hrs, 52 min; 15.2 mph.
 
 
Btw, on Saturday's Tarheel 200, Sridhar told me that if I was really serious about credit / no-credit on RUSA rides not really mattering, that I would stop recording the mileage, time, and avg pace of my rides on this blog.
 
Well ... here is a better response than I made to Sridhar on Saturday:  Completely different, Sridhar.  Mileage and pace has nothing to do with RUSA credit / no-credit. 
 
Hmmn.  Maybe that is a worse response.

Labor Day Weekend -- IR and rando acquaintences everywhere

A place holding post in case I actually decide to post something consistent with the above title.
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Sep-30:  I decided to do something.

Irregulars at the Tour de Moore, by IvaHawk:

The [six of us] gathered at 8:00 AM in Southern Pines for the Tour de Moore century ride.  They also had a 50 miler going off right after us.  I think most of the riders were there for that. 

Our group hung back from the start since Dave had seen start up crashes.  For a good long time, the course runs down hill slightly - the perfect start but makes for a lousy finish.  The easy ride lured us into thinking we were the US Postal TT team.  With Tito at the front, we were easily doing 25 or more down the hill passing everyone in sight.  The torrid pace continued when we hit the up slopes for awhile and then leveled out somewhat. I think.  I can't remember.  The early pulling was from the other four.  Iva didn't pull any at all until mile 89.  So thanks to my fellows for putting up with that. 

As you can imagine, with Robert, Tito, Ags, and Lee, whoever was at the front wasn't too interested in taking it easy.  Lt. Dave and I were only hanging in, but despite that, Dave took his turns at the front.  The 1st SAG stop was too soon at 13 miles, but we stopped anyway mainly for flo-max activities.  The second stop was at 31 miles in Carthage.  Somewhere between there and the 3rd stop at 53 miles at Pleasant Hill Church, Lt. Dave decided he had enough of the time trialing and dropped back.  All the SAG stops were well stocked and manned by friendly volunteers who seemed to enjoy what they were doing.  Lt. Dave joined us at Pleasant Hill but then pushed off early while the rest of us enjoyed the food.  From there, it got to be a grind to the 4th rest stop at NC 24/27 at mile 73.  It was hilly and hot.  Every time we stopped some expert said, well now it's gets really tough.  Although, not encouraging, it was true !   It seemed they had the course divided into sections by the SAG stops such that each section was harder than the previous. 

We joined Lt. Dave at the 24/27 rest stop.  Tito was feeling tired and pushed off early.  He had done a triathlon brick the day before.  Go figure.  The rest of us joined up with two other guys including "Jim" who liked us so much he has requested a guest pass for the Irregulars.  He seems to fit in nicely with us on all fronts.  He works at UNC in International Relations.  Age about 50 I'd say. 

Between Hwy 24/27 to Foxfile General Store at mile post 86, there were rollers of the cat 2 and 3 variety.  Way down, way up.  Way down, way up.  Grind, grind, grind.  Robert got caught at an intersection.  He tried to pedal hard to close the gap, but couldn't and dropped back.  As you may have gathered, there wasn't a large focus on the group part of the group ride. 

On Ft. Bragg Road about mile 100, Ags got two quad cramps.  He had to stop, and it appeared he couldn't go on.  In the spirit of the ride, we wanted to leave him in the ditch, but decided that just might be too much.   He quickly recovered however and continued on.  Both he and I complained we had signed up for a century, not a 105 miler. 

More grief awaited with a four mile slight but steady uphill climb all the way to the finish.  104.4 miles on my odometer vs 105.7 on the cue sheet.  Total trip time was 7 hours (I think) maybe more.  Time on my confuser was 6:18 for average speed of 16.5. 

Afterwards, we all sat around and had a bite to eat talking about how tired we were.  Jim joined us and enjoyed the post ride banter. 

Iva
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Comments on the above: 

1.  104.4 miles on my odometer vs 105.7 on the cue sheet. 
 _ _ _I keep telling Iva that his confuser is shorting him on miles.  I think he should reset his confuser.

2.  Robert got caught at an intersection ... tried to ... close the gap, but couldn't ...  there wasn't a large focus on the group part of the group ride.
 _ _ _This has become a recurring problem on IR rides lately.  I'm out of threats.

3.  Between Hwy 24/27 [and] ... mile post 86, there were rollers of the cat 2 and 3 variety.  Way down, way up.  Way down, way up.  Grind, grind, grind.
 _ _ _Local (NC) randonneurs might understand the above, and also understand why I tried to organize an IR road trip with the ride to start / end at Erect, and turn around at the half-way point of the Morrisville 400 km brevet.

4.  "Jim". 
 _ _ _Ya'll know the protocol.  Jim being from Chapel Hill, it seems he should carpool with Tito.  Not to be "ugly", but I'll bet I never meet "Jim".

5.  I received another report, but it was oral.  Therefore, I reproduce it not.
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Some rando acquaintences did some riding over the Labor Day weekend.  The following links are so that I can re-find the stories at future dates.

"Brother Rob", aka RobD, aka lots of other things (or so I'm told).  I've only met Rob once - on the Jun-2010 Full Moon Kerr Lake Loop - but he seemed okay, and more importantly, his NC 1000 km ride and story are epic and enthralling:  NC 1000k ride report by Brother Rob.

"Tim from Wilson".  I met Tim at one of Alan's brevets -- I think he was headed home while I was still outbound.  Rode with him (and Byron and John O. {from Rocky Mount}) on my first DNF on Byron's Hell-Hell-Hell Permanent, and sucked his wheel at Alan's Aug-14 Brevet and Picnic to the bottom of the climb on Jack Bennett Rd.:   NC 1000k ride report by Tim L.

"MikeD".  I've known of Mike for several years, "met" over the internet (probably because of his excellent "Research Trailer Park" blog), and finally met Mike in person to ride, eat pizza, and to show him "Stovall Mtn".   Btw, that photo at the top of the blog [edit Aug-29-2011:  I've changed the "protocol" on the photo at the top-right; now typically change it for each new month], I revell in having the "Mallet" and MikeD at the rear of the line while I'm leading for a reason.  Anyway, he did his 280+ km "Blackbeard's Permanent" over Labor Day; solo:  MikeD gets a close shave 
 _

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sep-04: Tarheel 200 km Permanent

Possibly the coolest morning in over three months found me joining four well-seasoned randonnuers (Dean, Sridhar, Mike O., and Fearless Leader Alan) just before 7 a.m. in Benson for a running of the Tarheel 200 Permanent. 

If you ride mostly north and northwest from the north edge of Raleigh, only one word is needed to describe the Tarheel 200:  FLAT. 

(Dean, the permanent owner, estimates the climbing for the entire 200 km at ... wait for it ... 1210 feet!  Any "normal" north of Raleigh course will give that much climbing in less than 30 miles.  I won't even mention certain "gluttonous" courses such as ... name redacted because I'm not mentioning it.)

Mike O. and Alan and Sridhar seemed to be in a hurry from the git-go.  Not wanting to have to navigate for myself using the cue sheet, I decided to stick with the group (after all, Sridhar is not faster than me, and I  thought that Alan wasn't faster, either).  Sticking with the early pace allowed some some pleasant conversation with Alan ... and might have allowed the same with Mike, but just after I mentioned my plan to "mark" Alan for CL sprints, Mike took off, possibly in pursuit of Sridhar ... who had clearly taken off WAAAAY too early to try to claim the Aversboro Battlefield CL. 

Concentrating too much on chatting with Dean after the ~ Stedman control, Sridhar and Alan pulled quite far ahead ... Mike O. was so far ahead as to be invisible.  Dean and I tried to close the distance to Sridhar and Alan, but I called a halt to mix up some "koolaide" when we got to Cedar Creek.  Dean and I continued at a very nice pace to Tarheel, Dean pointing out the cactus in bloom and the Spanish Moss on the way, to find the other three set to start the return leg. 

Dean waited for me to finish a morale-boosting Coke-on-ice, then we started our return journey.  I found that there are more snippets of Spanish Moss beyond the main grouping Dean had pointed out; they run almost all the way to the road that leads into Tarheel (if I would look at the cue sheet, I could figure out the road names).  We were making a reasonable pace into the north-northwesterly wind, trying to figure out the odds of finding Shridar in the ditch on the various segments of the course. 

I noticed that my right leg was bothering me somewhat, so I suggested a one-minute stop at Cedar Creek so I could get my right heel firmly on the ground.  (My ride protocol used to call for one minute each hour with the right heel firmly on the ground.  That along with a LONG warmup - 2 hours or even up to 40 miles - and saddle perhaps a teensy bit too high, have kept my from having bad pain in my right leg for about 4 years now -- except on a few occasions when I have "forgotten".  However, as I have gotten stronger and riden farther, the one-minute-per-hour has mostly been discarded.  I've also lowered the saddle a bit.  The warm-ups have gotten longer.)  Anyway, Dean and I were not able to continue our "where will we find Sridhar" calculations / discussions because he was waiting for us at Cedar Creek. 

Resuming, Sridhar seemed intent on continuing the fast pace of Mike and Alan as he took the lead and I slotted into second while Dean CONTINUED in his sweep position.  (Hint to Dean:  I found something to harass you about -- read the previous clause CAREFULLY.)  All the rando world knows that Sridhar climbs even worse than I do, so on one of the little bump-ups just north of Cedar Creek, I took over leading.  I thought I was setting a very nice, comfortable pace for the three of us, but about a mile or maybe a bit more before we got to Stedman, Dean rode up alongside and informed me that we had dropped Sridhar.  (I apparently share certain characteristics with my ex-wife:  "L.I.L." tends not to notice when she has dropped others in the line following her.  I would eagerly trade that characteristic if I could get her speed or her ability to climb.)  A moment later, Dean "suggested" that I ride ahead to Andy's in Stedman to get some food.  So I did.

I had been sitting in Andy's for about five minutes when Dean came in to tell me that he and Sridhar were going to continue at Sridhar "soft-pedal" pace to the Marathon some 5 or 8 miles up the road.  They would wait for me there.  Okay. 

It only took another 15 minutes for my food to be delivered.  It had seemed an eternity.  10 minutes to eat.  5 minutes, mostly waiting for someone to come to the cash register, to pay my bill.  5 minutes for the washroom and to re-saddle up.  40 minutes total stoppage time at Andy's.  Legs getting tighter and tighter and tighter the whole time.  I've eaten in Andy's twice now:  once on the 600, and once on this ride.  Unless I am with a group of at least 3 others that all want to eat at Andy's, and I have lots and lots of time in the bank, I'm swearing off that joint.  Too much time.  I'll just eat a Snicker's Bar at the Marathon.

I continued my ride.  And of course being a wise 54 year-old, knowing my legs had been getting stiffer and stiffer the whole time I was at Andy's, and knowing that my right leg had been bothering me somewhat even before reaching Cedar Creek ... I threw caution to the wind and rode pretty hard right off the bat upon leaving Stedman.  Hey!  I'm telling you that 16.5 +/- mph into that breeze qualifies as pretty hard riding ... for me. 

I got to the Marathon, did a quick circle-about on the bike, slowing only enough so as to not be a hazard to customers that might be in the parking lot, and continued toward Erwin.  I kept up the 16 +/- pace for quite a while, but then my right leg started to significantly bother me ... and I slowed.  Especially on any of the little bump-ups (which should not have slowed me) I found myself putzing along at 10.5 to 12 mph. 

I was putzing along at about 10.5 mph on Sisk Culbreth Rd when I heard a dog barking.  I paid little attention as it was clearly well behind and certainly would not come running this far down the road.  WRONG!!  Next I knew that demon was nipping at my left heel.  I yelled and hit the pedals hard, reaching 17 mph in about 3 seconds. 

But I was soon putzing along again.  Trying to find the best pedal stroke to minimize the "breaking in" sensations my brand-spanking-new cycling shoes were inflicting on my feet.  Pulling back and a little up worked best. 

I reached the Erwin control to find Dean and Shridar engaged in conversation with locals.  Dean standing.  Sridhar in his characteristic sitting flop position; he can sit anywhere; he can get into that position, and back up, no matter how tired he claims or appears to be. 

After a bit, the three of us headed out for the final 15 or so miles together.  The best thing about Dean and Sridhar being at the control:  I could put my cue sheet away and let Dean do the navigating.  Through Erwin.  Through Dunn for the second time on the day (neither of which counted as "Get 'Er Dunn").  Into the short country space still existing between Dunn and Benson.  Dean not only navigating, but also taking most of the pulls.  It was my turn to tell Dean that we had dropped Sridhar. 

Then, with Sridhar still trailing out of sight ... we reached Roscoe.  Dean described the ensuing action:

"Ya'll should have seen Martin's left jab --- left foot to be exact--- to the mug of Roscoe the dog, who bit Martin's shoe.  Martin nailed him good!  Next time the home cooking will include some pepper spray."

Roscoe did NOT actually bite me or my shoe. Came close though.  (Thank goodness he missed because one dog bite in a career is enough for me.)  Got him a glancing blow once, and then got him good ... his head snapped aside after I delivered a very satisfying, loud "thud" with the bottom of my shoe to Roscoe's head.  Should have been an 8 count for sure.  Only downside ... my left calf cramped from the violence of the kicking action.  I don't know how I got clear of Roscoe ... what with my right leg being in enough "strained" pain that there was no power being generated there, and my left leg cramping and hanging free of the pedal.

I don't think Roscoe learned anything ... I heard (but did not look back because of the cramp) Sridhar shouting at and dealing with Roscoe just a minute later.
 
After stopping to ingest some SportsLegs and some Endurolytes (thanks, Dean) and a long drink of eLoaded water.  Dean and I followed after Sridhar.  The cramping sensation in my left calf mostly disappeared and on that little climb on that last road ... I passed Sridhar.  Dean must have passed Sridhar, too.  Because I recall navigating the red (stop) light district in Benson with Dean but don't recall Sridhar. 
 
All-in-all ... it was a beautiful day to be on a bike with good company ... even if the breeze did pick up during the late afternoon. 
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Sep-04: 
 
Tarheel 200 km Permanent; 125.8 m.; 8 hrs, 4 min in-motion time; 15.6 mph; elapsed clock time 10 hrs, 24 min. 

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.
Aug tot: _9 rides; __649.9 m.; _40 hrs, 45 min; 15.9 mph.
Sep tot: _1 rides; __125.8 m.; __8 hrs, _4 min; 15.6 mph.
YTD tot: 70 rides; 4,764.1 m.; 313 hrs, 36 min; 15.2 mph.