Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jan-16: Assault on Flat Rock (AFR)

Fast and Furious on the AFR, Or
A Friend-In-Need is a Friend-In-Need

Since each of my quads were radiating pain when my "Lucky" Saturday ride ended, and continued doing so for the entire evening and night and were still painful Sunday morning, I left a couple messages for those I understood were riding with Lt. Dave on Sunday.  The thrust of said messages:  "if I'm not there at wheels-away, don't wait for me; IF I ride, I know I won't be able to keep up, so I probably won't do the same course, and even if I do, I am not going to try to keep up, because I won't be able to".

I arrived at PUE, intending to do my "spin-out-the-legs / TT course", but starting from PUE instead of BJP, and therefore shortening the course to about 25.4 miles.  I figured I could get through that regardless how bad my legs felt ... and with good luck, my legs might feel better afterward.  I had prepped the bike and needed to put on only one cycling shoe, my helmet and my gloves before starting my solo ride -- in other words, I was about two minutes from starting my ride when ... the "security guard / patrol" told me I was not allowed to be in the PUE parking lot!!  I've been starting rides from there for at least six or seven years ... others have been riding from there for much longer than that ... this was the FIRST time I had seen any evidence of "security"; I'd never heard of any such situation previously.  Since there was a County Deputy Sheriff parked on the other side of the lot, I loaded my bike back into my car to leave.  However, before leaving, I called Lt. Dave to let him know what had just happened; he was incredulous.  During the one minute I was on the phone with Dave, Smitty pulled into the parking lot; I got out of my car to tell him what had just happened.  While informing him, the other "Irregulars" began to arrive.  While they were debating what to do, I said, "well, that security guard spoke to me; she will remember my car; and given the Deputy that was parked over the way when she spoke to me ... I'm driving over to BJP and will ride from there."  The guys eventually decided to ride from PUE. 

I left BJP, now intent on doing the entire "spin-out-the-legs" course.  I was about a mile into my ride when I saw six assorted riders ... I didn't recognize them until one called out "are you going to follow us?"  I made a traffic impeded U-turn and set out to catch the six motley crew -- two had yellow jackets, one purple jacket, one deep blood red or reddish-maroon jersey, one had a jersey color I can't recall, and the last I can't recall the color or whether their top layer was a jersey or a jacket -- one or two had shorts only, one had knee-warmers, and three or four had full-length pants or leg-warmers -- quite a variance in approach for the same temp / wind conditions.  They waited for me at the corner of Pleasant Union Ch Rd (PUC Rd) and Six Forks Rd (you can easily find that location on the map linked-to above).

At the corner, I asked what course they were doing.  The answer:  "simple Assault on Flat Rock."   I told them "I certainly don't have the legs to climb, so I won't be able to keep up, especially on a course such as AFR, and won't try."  Lt. Dave suggested I just "follow along to Gordon Moore or NC-56, and turn around there; that would be mostly flat."  So ... that's what I set out to do.  LT chatted with me (asking about my rando ride the day before) on the flat bridge across the (very low) side-arm of Falls Lake that Six Forks crosses between PUC Rd and NC-98, but he bridged up to the other five before reaching the stop light at the highway.  I caught the group at the stop light ... because they had to wait for the light; but by the time we were crossing the deep channel of the Neuse River hidden beneath Falls Lake on New Light Rd, I was losing contact with the crew.  The only thing I had going for me was an excellent cadence.

The first UP northbound on New Light away from Falls Lake is not too steep ... I began to think that maybe I could keep in contact with the crew if I could keep the cadence up.  During the slight respite after the first UP, I realized that my legs were feeling better ... the higher cadence and the presence of some climbs seemed to be counter-acting the stiffness from the previous day's flat course.  And ... I determined that if I didn't lose too much ground, I could probably catch the guys on the flatter parts of New Light and Bruce Garner roads.  I kept the cadence up, even though I was slow on anything UP, and even though my quads were complaining a bit.

Before reaching Old Weaver Trail, I lost sight of the crew.  I almost threw in the towel.  But the fact that I'd actually lost sight of them ... seemed to kindle some flames down in the ego department -- I decided I was going to catch the crew, regardless of how much it hurt, even if it took me all the way to the end of Gordon Moore Rd, or even required the downhills on Wes Sandling Rd ... I was going to catch them -- not "chase" them, with its implication that I might not catch them -- I WAS GOING TO CATCH THEM -- no matter how much it hurt -- after all, I had twelve 200 km rando rides in my legs the last 3 1/2 months and none of them had any -- I knew I could get "home" regardless of how much my legs were hurting when I caught them -- I AM GOING TO CATCH THEM!!  (Btw, for those that don't know, I usually say something such as "I don't have a competitive ego, anymore" and / or "well, I do have a competitive ego, but I usually put it in my pocket and don't act upon it."  {County Lines aside, of course.})  Somewhere still inside Wake County, I again spied the tail of the crew ... actually, it was one of the two yellow-jacketed riders that had fallen off the back ... at first I couldn't determine which ... then, based on the leg action, I knew it was not "the Duke" ... it was BigWaveDave

Still within Wake County, I saw that both yellow-jackets were sometimes off the back.  The "main body" of the crew seemed to pull away slightly, apparently "sprinting" for the Granville County Line.  But then they seemed to possibly slow up to let Wave and Duke get back on.  On the flattish Bruce Garner Rd in Granville County, I was clawing my way closer to the group ... my hands on the hoods in a semi-aggressive riding posture, body calm, legs relaxed, but hammering out an excellent cadence.  [The guys encountered a particular solo rider coming southbound on Bruce Garner; and probably 30 seconds later, I crossed paths with him; Lee was heading for home; he was under orders from "the boss" and had to be ready to go to a function by 1:30 pm whereas several of those whom I was in the process of catching couldn't ride until nearly noon.]  I noticed that either or both Snapper and Ags were sometimes with Duke and Wave, slightly off the back of the "main body" of the crew.  By the time I reached Woodland Ch Rd, I was rapidly gaining on the regrouped crew.  I began to think and then was sure I would catch them at about May Store Rd.  I determined that if I caught them there, I was going to ride around them all and use the slight DOWN to take the Frankling County Line! 

Then the front of the crew (Lt. Dave and Smitty) exploded off the front of the other four, somewhat dragging Snapper and Ags with them; I later learned that Lt. Dave knew where the CL was, Smitty didn't, but when LT attacked, Smitty went with him; LT took the CL honors.  As the slight UP from the Franklin County Line to Pokomoke began, I had virtually pulled even with Wave; since the guys would regroup in Pokomoke, I decided that I had caught them and reduced my effort up to the stop sign at Pokomoke.  At the Pokomoke stop sign, LT told me "when [he] saw [my] cadence, [he] knew [I] was 'in' for the entire ride."  I'm not sure exactly WHERE he meant he saw my cadence ... but the only time he could have gotten a clear look at me was about 12 miles earlier, when still south of NC-98.  But ... I don't know ... he is very astute about picking up on other's riding styles, etc. ... I don't know. 

On Gordon Moore Rd, Snapper told me that everyone was sure that I had turned around at Grissom ... but then word was passed along that I was still behind them ... and catching them. The seven of us zipped across Gordon Moore and zig-zagged onto Wes Sandling ... Snapper tried to add-on as he tried very hard to miss the turn onto Wes Sandling.  Actually, he did miss it; but since he'd asked and I'd told him, just before we reached the end of Gordon Moore, to turn right and then immediately left, I didn't try to rein him in until he was clearly missing the turn -- I never asked, but I'd wager that he was headed for Olive Chapel Rd another 1/10-th of mile east on NC-56 (and on the other side of a little "bump-up") -- we sometimes take Gordon Moore to NC-56 to Olive Chapel ... but those are longer rides.

Down into the first creek crossing on Wes Sandling with gusto in order to "pop" the other side; then down again in order to slog up the second UP on Wes Sandling.  Just after the second UP started, I asked Smitty if he was going to challenge LT for the next county line.  Smitty inquired as to its location.  "At the top of this climb."  He took off, bridged to LT and whomever (Snapper or Ags) was with LT, and reportedly got revenge for the previous CL.  True to my pre-ride evaluation of my climbing ability for the day ... I had no climbing speed ... all six got to the WesSandling-GroveHill / GroveHill-JohnSandling intersection before I did [had a google-street-view here, but google seemed messed up, so I took it out].  Everyone was waiting for me, milling about, taking a drink, and discussing whether they'd make it back to PUE by Snapper's 3 pm back-end time-limit.  I looked at my watch ... 1:19 pm ... and decided that standing around was a good way to lose the race against the clock ... so I took off down the big Grove Hill descent.  When Snapper passed me (he is about the only one in the crew that can descend faster than me), I told him to be aware of the possibility that there might be a lot of sand at the bottom of the hill, on the tight curve, and onto the bridge.  (I was mindful of what LT, Lee and I had found 13 months earlier at the bottom of that hill when we rode the AFR about a week after a snow-storm.)  There was no sand.  Everyone except Snapper (who was already ahead) and Wave passed me as soon as the long climb on Grove Hill began; Wave took a bit longer. 

Everyone was waiting at the next stop sign.  I rolled through (to curses from the crew) and kept going.  This next couple sentences will surprise JayJay (if she reads this):  I recall nothing of the mile or so across the flat section on Grove Hill Rd to the turn onto Flat Rock Rd.  I recall nothing of the 1.4 mile descent on Flat Rock Rd; and the only things I recall from the 1.4 mile ascent on Flat Rock Rd are:  1) as the climb began, everyone except Wave passed me as if I were standing still,  2) I could only manage about 5.5 mph on the steep part of the Flat Rock ascent, and  3) on the flatter part of the ascent nearish the top, Ags, panting heavily, commenting that he'd ridden 47 miles the day before and was toast -- he couldn't understand how I could have ridden 200 km the day before AND do the AFR, including riding solo into that north breeze to catch them, on this day.  I told him "practice".

Some of the keen-eyed in the crew had found something interesting near the stop sign atop the ascent -- you know, at the Flat Rock / Grove Hill intersection (not to be confused with the Grove Hill / Flat Rock intersection -- look at the map -- you'll understand). 
LT, Wave, Smitty, Ags, Duke.  Snapper snapped the photo.  I was hiding.
I don't understand why this photo is 90 degrees off kilter.
I edited the darn thing so it would be top-side-up.
We zipped across Grove Hill Rd - Suitt's Store Rd, Old Franklinton Rd, Suitt's Store Rd again (no stop at the Western Wear Store), along NC-96 and down the descent on Wayside Farm Rd.  I had been looking forward to testing myself alongside / behind LT, Smitty, Harvey and Ags on Bruce Garner - New Light Rd, but during the climb up to Bruce Garner Rd, I looked back for BigWaveDave after the others had passed me as if I were standing still, and saw that Wave needed a friend a lot more than I needed to hammer it in.  Riding in with Wave allowed for some good chit-chat (don't ask what we chatted about ... I don't recall) and we eventually collected "the Duke".  Reports are that everyone with tight time-frames made it home before their kitchen pass expired and / or in time to meet other obligations. 

I believe that everyone had fun.  Even Wave, who acknowledged that 20-mile neighborhood rides at an easy pace was not enough to keep up with the crew, especially as frisky as several of them were on Sunday. 

One more thing.  Bob "Duke" S.  His first ride since June or July.  He was an animal.  If he gets back to riding his usual 3 times every 2 months, he will be an ANI-MAL, especially as he now has clipless pedals for the first time evah'.

And ... one last thing.  Two "Irregular" rides this weekend.  I was only on one of them.  But, and here is the best part, I didn't have to organize either of them.  :-)

BJP:  Assault on Flat Rock; 43.4 m.; 2 hrs, 53 min in-motion; 15.0 mph.  (Although this ends up looking like a slower ride, it was FAST and FURIOUS for me, except for the climbing.)

Jan tot: __5 rides; __395.5 m.; _27 hrs, _7 min; 14.6 mph.
YTD tot: __5 rides; __395.5 m.; _27 hrs, _7 min; 14.6 mph.


  1. thanks to LT for keeping me on pace all the way home. He'll make me a better climber one day! Thanks LT.

  2. @ "Chewy" -

    If only I had worked your other nickname into the story, there would have been four different "names" by which to identify you in this one post (and comments). And ... from what I hear ... you likely were cheating on your "metabolic heart rate" training plan during the final 13 miles of the ride ... so "Cheeta'" could certainly have been appropriate.


  3. Martin, you have regained your blogosphere form with this write up. Style and facts told in an entertaining fashion. It brings the reader into the action. You mention the other Irregular ride which was Saturday: Tito, Smitty, Ags, and me. Lake Loopy. I was going to write it up, but one thing led to another and now my memory is sketchy on the details. IvaHawk