Set-up and Cast
The plan was to ride the 47-mile Creedmoor-Grissom route (simple map with profile), but were willing to modify the course if we found icy conditions near Creedmoor. The night before, we had been expecting snow, but within the city limits of Raleigh, not even rain. However, just north of town, as close as Bayleaf, there had been precipitation -- Lt. Dave informed that the roads had been icy at 7 am when he'd gone on a fire call.
Levi and his bro-in-law, Scott, rolled into PUE at 9:47 ... two minutes after published "wheels-away". Aargh. We waited. Local (and tough) randonneuse Lynn had ridden from home (about 7.5 miles), so she rode circles in the parking lot while we waited for the two youngsters to get ready (Levi is 22 years younger than me - Scott is
Quickie introductions, a mumbled reminder to ride safely and point out hazards, and we were off at ... I dunno when we actually started.
Here's a funny. We had switched to a 9:45 start so that we wouldn't be starting at the same time as the "B" group of a local north Raleigh cycling group / club. The only person from that group / club that actually showed for their 10:00 start was substitute leader Ken. We took him along with us.
So we rolled out 10 strong: Snapper, Lt. Dave, Lee, Robert, Levi, Scott, Dennis, randonneuse Lynn, come-along Ken, and me. Smitty had called me around 9 to let me know that he wouldn't make the ride ... he didn't have to tell me why ... he sounded TERRIBLE. Wimps IvaHawk and Tito had e-mailed to inform that their old bodies couldn't handle a blustery day, so they were running at 9 in Umstead, and then taking in the roundball game over Chapel Hill way. Hmmn. Iva didn't mention whether they were catching the game on TV or in person; since he has season tickets, and it was an ACC game, I suspect they went to Dean's Temple to catch the game in person.
I was near the back on Old Creedmoor Rd when I decided the pace was not quite adequate to warm-up my muscles AND pump enough warm blood through various body parts. I passed almost the entire line, overhearing comments "there he goes for the county line", to pick up the pace 1 or 2 miles per hour (16-17 vs. 14-15 is noticeable). Snapper caught me before the CL, but didn't actually pull even ... then he commented "they're saying you moved to get the CL, but I heard you comment before you made your move that we needed a slightly higher pace." Harvey settled in front to pull the line at a good warm-up pace ... besides ... he makes a better wind-break than I do.
Come-along Ken had been riding along at the end of the line ... a reasonable thing when one does not know anyone with whom one is riding ... and he may have been concerned we might be a bit too fast for him. Anyway, somewhere early-ish on Carpenter Pond, Ken comes up to the front to let Harvey know that he has dropped two riders. Ken then proceeded to drop back to the end of the line. I pulled out of line to find out what was up / who had dropped off -- concerned that maybe Lynn's bad knees had already waylaid her. When I first pulled out of the line, I had asked who had been dropped; "Lynn" was the only name mentioned. I drifted back about two more riders and found Lynn ... so she hadn't dropped off the back. Shortly after drifting from alongside Lynn, someone (perhaps Lt. Dave) mentioned that it was Levi and Scott. At almost that same moment, I had drifted back far enough back to independently confirm that it was Levi and Scott. "Oh," said I, "in that case, I'm not going to worry about it ... they can easily catch up."
A minute or two later, Scott pulled alongside me to report that "Levi tweaked his back a couple days ago, and he can barely soft-pedal. He has already turned around, and I'm going to go back to the car with him. See you another day." No more youngsters.
We Settled Into a Nice Pace
We settled into a nice pace in the sunshine on the rest of CP, then Leesville and Doc Nichols and Olive Branch roads; also NC-98 and onto Patterson Rd. Then ...
The Ride Changed !
We got hit with the increased wind about 15 miles into the ride ... just after we rode out of the sunshine and beneath dark clouds.
A minute or two after the stronger wind started, there were white flakes in the air ... just a few.
I got gapped on the last small hill on Patterson (it used to be a bigger hill, but is now barely noticeable on the Byron
Harvey mentioned we were crazy riding in the snow. I said "this doesn't qualify as snow." Harvey lambasted my northern roots. But I was busy checking with local randonneuse Lynn because I had been pushed sideways by the wind while still on Patterson; I knew she would NOT be liking the wind. She was definitely in "I hate crosswinds; I can't ride in crosswinds" mode ... disadvantage of growing up in almost-never-any-wind-Raleigh AND weighing almost nothing.
We stopped to wait after climbing from the lake back up to the plain ... waiting for Lt. Dave, who had stopped to admire the winter flora ... and to discuss the wind situation. Lynn wanted to head back via the shortest route. Harvey was of similar mind. When Harvey started to express confusion about how to navigate the three right turns onto Old Weaver Trail to New Light Rd to Pleasant Union Ch Rd, I told him "don't worry; Lynn knows the way; she'll guide you to PUE." (I didn't ask, but should have, how it can be that Harvey has ridden 'round the lake so many times, but still not know the way.) By the time we completed the 2 flat miles (filled with more cross-winds) across Boyce Rd to get to Old Weaver Trail, EVERYONE was all for shorting the planned 47-mile route. The modified plan was to essentially ride the "Basic IR Falls Lake Loop" (simple Lake Loop map with profile), but given the gusty conditions, we decided to skip the little de tour / side-loop onto Stool Tree, Northside and Cash Rd. (Not being on a rando ride has advantages.)
After the turn onto Old Weaver Trail (TAILWIND), the few snow flakes in the air became a serious flurry (unfortunately, no one had a camera, and no one wanted to take out their phones to take a photo, either). Harvey, born and raised in Raleigh of long-time North Carolina families, described it as a "white-out". I suspect he has never seen a real "white-out" ... you can't see anything more than a few yards away, sometimes a few feet, in a real "white-out".
We broke up on the ride in (some of us (me) don't climb very fast, and at least one likes to back off in cross-winds because she is concerned about taking others down if she should fall, and she's also concerned that someone else might take her down if the wind suddenly pushes them where they weren't intending). The lead group probably should have slowed a pedal stroke, and kept everyone together. I arrived back to PUE with Harvey in bright sunshine to find new RUSA member Rapid Robert augmenting his shorted mileage by riding circles around the PUE parkiing lot. There was little wind.
Blustery conditions continued throughout the rest of the day and currently show no signs of backing off. About 20-30 minutes after I finished my ride, the snow really came down hard for several minutes. Still not "white-out" conditions though. I think we made the correct decision when we shorted the ride.
Strongest winds I've probably ever ridden in. Certainly the strongest winds in Winter. First time I've ridden during a snow. First time it has snowed during an "Irregulars" ride.
During the ride, I overheard Lee comment that he was bookending 2010 and 2011 with consecutive "bad rides." On the 31st, a large black dog and a German Shephard had come bounding out when he, LT, and Robert had been going up a steep climb over on Ball Rd near Bahama (NC, not the islands east of Florida). Net result: the black dog raked his paw over Lee's thigh ... calf ... (?), put two puncture holes into him ("looked like a snake bite") and ripped open an ugly gash exposing pulsating muscle. That was 2010. Today, 2011, was strong winds and snow. I think he preferred today.
I am very glad I am not riding Tony's Salisbury 200 km brevet today.
Although my feet got quite cold after the WIND began to blow, I think it was a great ADVENTURE. And after all, the name of this blog is Irregular Velo Adventures.
PUE - modified "IR Falls Lake Loop"; 36.2 m.; 2 hrs, 19 min in-motion; 15.6 mph.
Jan tot: __2 rides; __161.3 m.; _10 hrs, 35 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: __2 rides; __161.3 m.; _10 hrs, 35 min; 15.2 mph.