For our "make room for turkey" ride, we planned an early-ish Thanksgiving Day morning "pedestrian-paced", short (40-ish miler) ride "around" Falls Lake, counter-clockwise so that the morning sun would be behind us and thus highlighting the remaining leaf color in front of us, especially as we crossed the lake on Old Weaver Trail between New Light Rd and NC-50. That was the plan. The "sun" part was integral.
As regards the sun, Mother Nature did not cooperate. We got a completely overcast, dark gray sky. 50F degrees under a warm sun is fun -- 50F degrees under a dark gray overcast ... not as much fun.
My day started with two unexpected and "wonderful" pieces of cycling news. (1) My rear tyre was dead flat. (2) My floor pump, that I carry in my car, is now useless for Presta valves. By 7:10, two unexpected expenses. Great! ... Not.
The tyre, still pretty new, had a small hole punched through, sort of where the sidewall meets the "tread". I know what happened, a small, unnoticed rock had "patoi-ing'd" off the side of tyre on Wednesday's ride. Nothing happened at the time. The tyre was still fine at the end of the ride. But, by next morning ... maybe I can boot the tyre with one of those thick rubber tyre-boots, and carry the tyre as the "spare" on future rides.
Luckily, one of the guys coming to the ride, Gary, has his own bike-shop (TLC-4-Bikes). I called him and asked if he happened to have any reasonable tyres at a reasonable price at his house or in his van, and if so, please bring one -- if not, I would just use the spare tyre I've been lugging around for "insurance" on Permanents. Gary had a suitable tyre.
The pump has done yeoman service for about 6 years, but the "needle" in the "Presta head" has broken off or worked itself loose and fallen out. Pump now useless for Presta valves. Any local need a floor pump good only for Schrader valves.
Even though most of us were just "milling about" as early as 5 or 8 minutes before "wheels-away" time, and even though we actually left a couple minutes late, our "leader" did a woeful job of making sure everyone knew everyone else's name, and further did a woeful job as he failed to give any "safety tip of the day". I happen to know that "leader's safety tip of the day" are as much or more to remind himself as any other reason, but I guess he was distracted.
Today's cast: Snapper (who stayed true to his new "metabolic heart rate training method" -- even when he perhaps ought to have been the one to jump ahead to make it easier for traffic to pass), BobH (who "decided" to graft "Strawberry" and "Pottery" loops onto our "standard" Falls Lake loop), Smitty (who EVIL-ly decided to challenge for the last CL of the day), Levi (who did nothing special all ride except keep an eye on his "better half" at the critical time), Cathrine (Levi's "better half", who hadn't done much riding lately, but did just fine, and is fun to ride with), Scott (Levi's bro-in-law ... well, technically, he's Cath's bro-in-law), the afore-mentioned Gary, Wendy (Gary's "better half" -- and of course she rode the extra 10 miles home after the ride), Robert (decked out in some new cold-weather cycling clothes), and me.
No sunshine. No colorful leaves along the lakeshore. I think I didn't even look at the lake as we rode across it on OWT. Hmmn. What was I doing? Maybe chatting with someone(s)? I don't recall.
A couple months ago, one of the "Irregulars" told me of a conversation he had with his spouse when he got home from a ride -- the most germane part of the conversation went something like this:
Spouse - "Do you guys talk to each other during the ride?"
Irregular - "Oh, yeah."
Spouse - "Did you talk to anyone on today's ride?"
Irregular - "Of course. We talked almost the entire time"
Spouse - "What did you talk about?"
Irregular - "I don't know."
Spouse - "Sheesh!"
After turning onto Cash Rd, I was torn between zipping up to the front crew to make sure they knew where to turn and staying back with Snapper and ???. I started to zip up to the front crew, but then decided I would stay back (in no-man's land between) and just watch to see what happened. A mile later I learned that there was much discussion as to whether the course was supposed to continue on Cash Rd, or turn left onto Northside Rd (we were operating withOUT cue sheets on the assumption that everyone knew the "standard lake loop" -- HA -- and because everyone has previously been sent an electronic copy of the cue sheet and they can print it off for themselves -- and also because ... never mind). BobH knew where he was -- most of the rest really did not understand where they were -- and thought we should add a little to the course to get in a full 40 miles -- so he led the way past Northside as we continued toward US-15 on "Strawberry" loop -- so-called because the loop goes past Lyon Farms on Munns Rd.
I learned just how lost some of the crew can be when we got to US-15 -- Robert thought we should turn right onto US-15. Uh, Robert, that's not only the wrong way, but there are no turn-offs until we would get INTO Creedmoor. ;-)
After the short stretch on US-15, we got to do the two extra rollers on Munns Rd and also checked out the strawberry fields. Upon reaching Northside Rd, BobH was again / still in the lead, and he decided we should do "Pottery" loop just to make sure we got in a FULL 40 miles. "Pottery" loop is so-called because it goes past Cedar Creek Gallery on Fleming Rd. Levi now knows where Cedar Creek Pottery / Gallery is -- I expect he and Cathrine will visit it soon (but I'm wagering that I'll get an e-mail requesting clarified directions).
BobH and Robert were a bit ahead of the main body on Will Suiit Rd as we headed for the Wake CL and Boyce Rd, so I decided to zip on up to them and perhaps sneak a CL for myself, or lead-out Robert for the CL. But Levi saw me bridging up to the 2 Roberts, and that reminded him that there was a CL just ahead -- so he came zipping up to the front. However, his bro-in-law Scott saw Levi bridging and decided to bridge at an even faster pace. Actually, Scott didn't bridge to us; he just went around us as if we were standing still; Levi gave chase -- but he had no chance.
After crossing Falls Lake on Cheek Rd, Smitty and I led the entire group up the climb at a pace which all could manage together. As the road leveled out, I told Smitty to be on the lookout for Shaw Rd on the left. I figured to spice up the route a bit with a paralleling trip through the well established housing development between Shaw and Little Jimmy Rodgers roads. The whole group made the turn onto Shaw, and just before Shaw dead-ended into the lake, we turned right. Just after that turn, Robert informed me that we had lost Levi and Cathrine somewhere back on Cheek Rd. I was flabber-ghasted. How?!
Scott turned back to look for his relations. But he eventually rejoined our main group 2/3 the way through the development. He had returned to the Cheek / Shaw corner and waited a few minutes (entirely plausible because we were just putzing along), but he hadn't seen Levi and Cath. (We later learned that Cath was feeling nature close in around her cold feet -- Levi had shoe covers - Cath did not - how chivalrous, Levi! -- but Levi gave his shoe covers over to Cath (some chivalry recovered) and that took enough extra time that they were well back, but not lost, and ended up making their own way back to PUE).
To some, the big highlight of the ride, and of many rides, was about to occur. Deciding that L+C would be able to make their own way back and that they were likely ahead of us given how much time we had frittered away mulling about in the housing development, we decided to continue the ride. The "leader" turned left. A quarter-mile later he was heard to say "we need to make a U-turn." Robert asked why. Answer: "Because Martin made a mistake."
Back on course, on to Patterson and a regrouping at the corner of NC-98 and Olive Branch Rd. Not having ridden Olive Branch Rd all the way from the highway to Carpenter Pond for at least two or three years, the "leader" said "Rather than turn onto Doc Nichols, let's take Olive Branch all the way to Carpenter Pond." The climbs on Olive Branch are nice (a NET gain of nearly 200 ft elevation between the first creek and CP), but the road surface leaves a LOT to be desired. Unless Olive Branch gets the "stimulated" treatment, I won't be riding Olive Branch between Doc Nichols and CP for the foreseeable future.
Once on Carpenter Pond, given that we had spent the entire day putzing along averaging about 14 mph, enjoying varying conversations (and if you were paying attention above, you will know that no one has any idea what the topics of conversation were), I decided that we should end the ride with some panache. 21 mph, into the slight quartering headwind (breeze) out of the north. Maintaining that pace on the run UP to the Wake CL, the EVIL Smitty decided to come and take the CL. I saw him off my rear quarter and decided "it isn't going to be THAT easy, Smitty." I think Smitty was surprised that I had a faster cadence in reserve as he saw me surge ahead. Smitty adjusted and started catching me again -- I hit the pedals hard again -- and I think Smitty was again a bit surprised -- but he responded -- but I was out of courage and had been pulling for 3 miles and ... I did not respond a third time -- Smitty took the CL. But then he slowed and both Robert and I went around, and then Robert thought he'd pull. I knew Robert would reduce his pace after he completed his pass and was directly in front of me. He did exactly that -- skipping a pedal stroke -- just as I expected. Given the slight dip in the road at that point, I went around Robert easily. But he and Smitty and Gary and Wendy all immediately re-passed me. I needed a few moments "breather".
Turning onto Mt. Vernon Ch Rd, I was off the back of the above-mentioned crew, but I had had my "easy-pedal breather" and I've ridden MVC more times than the rest of them put together. I saw that they had slowed a bit -- obviously "waiting" for me -- I went past at 24 mph and made them chase all the way to NC-50. (Well, Gary didn't have to "chase" -- he was just happy to have another mile of a "Gary-friendly pace".)
My preferred highlight of the day: After the ride, Smitty was telling me his version of Mt Vernon Ch Rd. His comment to himself upon seeing me fly past: "oh, now Martin is just playing with me."
You just keep thinking that, buddy. I need all the psychological advantages I can get.
Nov-25 (Thanksgiving Day):
PUE: Falls Lake Loop, counter-clockwise, w/ modifications; 40.2 m.; 2 hrs, 46 min in-motion; 14.5 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.
Q-3 tot: _37 rides; 2,293.2 m.; 156 hrs, 31 min; 14.7 mph.
Oct tot: _13 rides; 1,050.6 m.; _58 hrs, 44 min; 15.3 mph.
Nov tot: __8 rides; __544.8 m.; _36 hrs, 16 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 105 rides; 7,090.1 m.; 472 hrs, 43 min; 15.0 mph.