Monday, October 11, 2010

Oct-10: Showdown at Black Creek

I came.  40 or 45 minutes late. 
I rode.
I finished.
On time.
[Edit Oct-19-2010:  You might think that a numbers guy would have noticed that this ride was my ten-ten-ten ride, AND noted such in the original post.  But, no.  I didn't cogitate that this ride could have been referred to as "10/10/10" or "10-10-10" or "Ten-Ten-Ten" until today.  Oh well, a missed opportunity.]
First time I've ridden the "Showdown".
But only the sections from Wakefield High to Purnell,
And from Hornes Church to Black Creek were new to me.
Pre-rando, I had ridden from Youngsville as far east as Hornes Church.

Cool morning, but not as cool as yesterday.
Warmer in the afternoon; high likely a bit above 80F.

The wind forecast was for WSW in the morning,
Becoming S in the afternoon.
Tailwind in the morning (except for the last 17 miles).
Side-winds and quartering tail-winds in the afternoon.

Actual wind?
W, with maybe a hint of NW, in the early morning.
But by the time the sun was well-up,
All the flags were as limp rags.

Afternoon wind.
Bang out of the West.
Meaning that about 1/3 of the 35 miles from Hornes Church were spot-on into that wind.
And 2/3 of the time, it was a quartering headwind.

13 +/- mph when head-on into the wind.
17 +/- mph, with the same effort, when riding to the NW or WNW. 

It was a GLORIOUS day for a bicycle ride.
Some highlights (or lowlights) of the day:

I have wanted to ride Falls of the Neuse Rd north from Raven Ridge, past Falls Dam, and up the climb to Wakefield High for a couple years.  But there is too much traffic on that road.  (Those that have been riding in the area for 20+ years tell me that Falls of the Neuse used to be a favorite way north out of Raleigh, but there is too much traffic, and it is growing every day, for normal humans to ride that section of road.  Occasionally, one will see some cyclists during mid-day riding past the dam ... they must have a suicide wish.)  I decided to do a pre-ride from PUE (an undefined location to protect the ... you fill in the blank) to the "Showdown" start, intending to do a post-ride (but not past the dam) after completion of the ride, thus getting in 150 or 160 miles for the day.  (My eyes probably bit off more than my legs could chew; especially since I had done the "not-easy" L-L-L the previous day.)

I had mostly prepped the bike the night before, was at PUE, only minutes from starting my 11-mile pre-ride, when certain body functions decided to "act-up" in an intense and decidedly inopportune moment.  Forty minutes later, confident that I'd make the start before 0800, and confident that I could catch the imaginary DNF line that began moving at 0700 at 15 kph, I left PUE for the 11-mile pre-ride to the start location (in the absence of the route owner, a McDonald's about 0.9 miles across a side-road from the listed start location).  Thus the first line of this post.

I should have looked at Mike's cue sheet.  Instead I had looked at the on-line electronic maps, and relied on my understanding of how NC-98 and a couple other roads had been recently re-routed just to the west of Wake Forest.  Result:  1.6 or 1.7 bonus miles.  45 minutes late starting, and another 8 minutes wasted.

I wasn't worried.  I was confident I would catch and pass the moving DNF line.

Eastbound on Purnell in the morning was a bit of an adventure.
If in shade, everything was okay ... one could see what was ahead.
If no shade ... not so good ... more like BLINDED by the big yellow thing hanging low on the horizon.

Swooping downhill on Purnell, I knew I had to be close to the turn onto Jackson Rd,
But I couldn't SEE much of anything, let alone a side-road.
An SUV that had passed me near the top of the downhill turned left off Purnell.
I wonder if that is ... as I slid past, missing the turn, I could read the little green road sign ... Jackson.
50 yards past, U-turn, 50 yards back, onto Jackson.
I had forgotten that Jackson is all uphill / upslope all the way to Holden Rd.
(When I usually ride - JRA - in those parts, I take Bud Smith straight (no real climb) and ... with no turns ... one ends up on Holden Rd ... no turns, but there is a less-than 90-degree SHARP curve ... so I had forgotten the particulars regarding Jackson Rd.)

Starting forty minutes late did seem to have one advantage.
That BIG church on Holden between US-1 and Youngsville ...
The parking lot was full when I rode by.  No church traffic.
It seemed I had found a "hole in the donut" between early and mid-morning church traffic.

A big, lumbering, annoying dog on Tarboro Rd.
Never had seen that dog before.
Dang thing forced me to move all the way across the road to other fog line so as to not collide.
I did try unsuccessfully to deliver a "right jab" ... this dog seemed a bit smarter than Roscoe.

Ride on, ride on.
I got to the intermediate control at approx 42 miles ahead of the moving DNF line.
However, the swarming gnats got there before me.
Control signed.  Receipt obtained.

Ride on.  Ride on.
Right turn onto Bike Route #7 at Hornes Church.
Time to get the cue sheet out where I can read it.

11:41.  The phone rang. 
New phone.  New battery.  I can leave the phone turned on.  I can hear it ring.
I stopped to answer.
It was "L.I.L.", telling me about her Coastal 600. 
She interrupted her story to exclaim "a Dairy Queen ... I'm getting a milk shake."
A minute or two later, I had to explain that I was not yet to Black Creek,
And that the GNATS were swarming all over me.
I'll call you later.

Ride on,  Ride on.  Cautiously.
An extra ~ 0.9 miles at the beginning, plus ~ 1.7 bonus miles,
And I thought my cycle confuser was measuring long,
I couldn't be sure of the mileages for the turns.
In my delirium and frustration with the confuser, I thought that some of Mike's distance seemed wrong.
By luck, I happened to think "it seems about time to turn south again".
I stopped at the next road to the south, examined the cue sheet and my confuser.  Not much help.
Then I saw that the cue sheet had an important hint:  "sign missing".
I thought "well, there are no little green roadsigns at this intersection", and I turned south.
Good guess.

I made to it Black Creek and the Grocery well ahead of the imaginary moving DNF line.
A V-8 and an ice-cream bar for sustenance.  A Pepsi for morale.
I got out the cue sheet and a piece of paper and a pen, and removed the confuser from the bike.
A little bit of math scratch-work, and ... I discovered that the confuser was measuring slightly short.
Only slightly short.  Not LONG, as I had been convinced only a few minutes earlier.
Replacing appearances with facts.  To paraphrase an actuarial motto.
I recorded the outbound mileage and time, including the bonus miles, on the piece of paper
That already had the info from the pre-ride,
And reset the confuser to all zero's.
I'd have "clean" readings on the homeward leg.

Leaving Black Creek, I immediately knew that the wind was not going to be my friend.
I kept the cue sheet handy in case I needed to navigate my way back to Hornes Church.
Never looked at it once.
Put it away when I reached Hornes Church (aka, NC Bike Route #2).

Pedal on.  Pedal on.  Into the wind.
Try not to stop ... the GNATS are terrible.

The G-N-A-T-S were so bad at the intermediate control that once I went in to the store ...
I didn't come back out until I had eaten my "hunk of pizza" and finished another Pepsi.
When I left the inside of the store, I covered the 10 feet quickly, put my helmet on quickly, and rode on.

Before I reached Youngsville, I had decided to skip the post-ride ride.
But whom to call?
I hadn't put any of the numbers of the usual suspects into the new phone yet.
But at least the new phone's battery was still full of life.
I could call Lynn ... but she had sounded really tired after her 600.
I knew the last four digits of Gary's number.
I managed to correctly guess the middle three.
I called from the west edge of Youngsville.
Would he be willing to come to the Wakefield McDonald's and give me a lift to PUE?
I could hear the reluctance as he agreed.
Turned out he was watching the 'Boys.
Gary came.
Turned out that without him watching, them 'Boys lost to the Titans(?).

Oh yeah, on a clear day, you can see forever.
But forever is farther if you're on top of a hill.
No hills on the "Showdown" east of Youngsville.
Well ... compared to the "Tarheel" ... but the "Tarheel" is FLAT.
But not as F-L-A-T as Tony's Coastal Brevets were this weekend.

The very last bit of Thompson Mill Rd to get up to NC-98 is STEEP,
I looked at that 100 yards and said to myself "oh, this is going to hurt."
It did. 

But the short bit on NC-98 wasn't bad.
On then, on the shallow upslope on Falls of the Neuse Rd,
I suddenly found myself going 17, 18, 19 mph.
Where that was coming from ... I know not.

Prologue:  PUE to Wakefield McDonald's; 11.2 m.; 0 hrs, 47 min in motion time; 14.1 mph.
Main Event:  Showdown at Black Creek 200 km Permanent: 
 _ _ _ _outbound; 64.7 m.; 4 hrs, 17 min in-motion time; 15.1 mph.
 _ _ _ _homeward; 63.0 m.; 4 hrs, 18 min in-motion time; 14.6 mph.
 _ _ _ _sub-total; 127.7 m.; 8 hrs, 35 min in-motion time; 14.9 mph; rando time: 11 hours, 30 min elapsed clock time. 
Epilogue:  skipped in favor of a lift.
Total:  138.9 m.; 9 hrs, 22 min in-motion time; 14.8 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.
Q-3 tot: 37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _5 rides; __454.8 m.; _29 hrs, 56 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: 89 rides; 5,949.5 m.; 398 hrs, 37 min; 14.9 mph.


  1. Congratulations on completing a couple more permanents, especially the L-L-L that has dogged you this year.

  2. Congrats, Skiff.
    You are right, the new routing at the end on NC-98 and FON is a surprisingly pleasant engineered upgrade. Psychologically, it extends the 'barn smell' exhilaration for me just a tad further back from the finish.

  3. @ Biker Bob -

    Thanks, Bob. I look forward to reading your Coastal 600 post.

    Btw, next year, let's NOT try L-L-L in July when the temp is going to hit 3 digits!

    @ sag, aka Andy -

    My head starting sniffing the barn at Hornes Church, and Daddysville, and Sutton, and turn onto Tarboro Rd, and the "barn smell" was quite evident to my head by Youngsville. But turning off Jackson onto Purnell, that smell was quashed by need to climb a bit (lucky for me I'd recently been on some mountains and done the Hill-Hill-Hill Permanent the day before, so when part of the brain went all "a hill !!", another part of the brain went "it is a tiny thing, PEDAL !!".) The brain re-acquired the "barn smell" at the turn off Purnell onto Bud Smith / Thompson Mill.

    However, despite the brain initially sniffing the barn from 45 miles out, clearly the legs did not acknowledge the "barn smell" until I was on that surprisingly pleasant engineered upgrade of FON.

    Something I learned after about three days on my recent Blue Ridge trip: "trust your legs". Your eyes / brain can be deceived (regarding upslope vs. downslope).