A Hard Day's Ride
Route owner Byron and Irregular buddy Ricochet Robert rode to the start. I drove.
Byron filled the early part of the ride with stories from brevets past. Made the first 17 miles go by in nothing flat with seemingly little to no effort.
I was ready to leave the "Red Mill / Gorman" control, but saw that Byron was still in the middle of his feast. I rode on telling B & R that they'd probably catch me on Stagville Rd or certainly on the Michie Wall. The latter was a better guess. I was about half-way up when I heard voices, but I could not see them in my mirror (and I certainly did not hazard a look over my shoulder). They caught me just after passing Ellis Chapel Rd.
Hampton rollers up to Red Mtn Rd and on to Moores Mill Rd. Byron pointed out Red Mountain. Having had it pointed out to me, I now see that its pyramid rises uniquely above the ridge of which (I think) it is part. Somewhere along here, Ricochet pointed out that I'd be in trouble today ... riding with two "tiny bodies". Ricochet weighs in at 135 lbs.; Byron similarly. Because of my fat gut, I make about 150% of either of them. Gives me a downhill gravity advantage. I made use of that advantage repeatedly all day. I particularly made use of that advantage to practice a CL-sneak-attack; I think I may have figured out a plan to spring on the Irregulars.
At Hollow Ridge Grocery atop Mt. Tirzah, I told Ricochet, "the hard part is done now, Robert." I heard Byron chuckle-gasp under his breathe that sounded something like "sheesh." (Just previously, out of Robert's earshot -- because he was too far ahead -- Byron and I had been discussing the hills on the course as we rode the final approaches up to Mt. Tirzah: Byron was of the opinion that Gordonton Rd was harder than Moores Mills Rd; I had agreed, adding that I thought one of the climbs on Hester Store Rd might also be harder.) But Byron played along with my comment to Robert and said nothing. Unfortunately, Robert voiced that he thought I was pulling his leg.
Upon arriving at Leasburg Grocery (the turn-around control), I raised my saddle two or three mms. But it was too late -- my quads were past rescuing. (Click here for a short discussion of my recent saddle-height saga.)
B & R's upslope gravity advantage really became noticeable the further we got on the homebound leg. Usually, I could use the next downslope and a wound up flywheel combined with their putzing along to re-catch and often pass (sometimes even pass while going up shallow upslopes). They pulled ahead on the road to US-501 at Timberlake, but the light stopped them. Luckily for me, the light turned green just before I got there, and I zipped past while they were still trying to click in or find their seat. When they caught me a mile or two later, I asked Robert -- who is known for "not allowing a draft to go to waste" why he hadn't caught me wheel back at the light. His responded that he wasn't clicked in. While that was true, I thought it might also have had something to do with the fact that I was rolling at 23 mph and he was doing about 6 mph as he tried to click in.
Leaving Mt. Tirzah, Red Mountain was prominent straight ahead. I still wouldn't have realized it EXCEPT that Byron mentioned it again.
B & R took it easy on the Hampton rollers and I used the last downslope to Bahama Rd to catch them. They allowed me to lead the entire way to the beach at Lake Michie. As he passed at the bottom of the climb up to Bahama, Byron said, "we'll see you at the top." They weren't at the top, nor anywhere in Bahama. Nor were they anywhere on Stagville Rd. I figured they had decided to ride to the control. I found them the first turn on to Red Mill Rd.
Robert asked if I wanted to take a break. "Just long enough to take a good drink; the control is only 3 or 4 miles on." They putzed, I rode slowly up the upslopes; we arrived at the penultimate control together. We left together.
They continued to putz. I continued to ride slowly whenever the road tilted up. I caught them, for the last time, as they waited at the light at Patterson and NC-98.
Slowly, but calmly, I did the 5 climbs (each after its corresponding descent) on Kemp / Victory Ch Rd. The last climb up to Norwood Rd is always the hardest for me. But that climb is NOTHING compared to the pain in the butt -- literally on this ride -- that is the climb on Boxelder. Pain in my quads; pain in the muscles at the top of each buttock; I remembered riding up this slope with Snapper the day before Thanksgiving at 11 mph, albeit much earlier in a much shorter ride; I almost wanted to cry.
The last "up" on Ray Rd leading to the turn on to Howard brought on the same pain in the butt as had Boxelder. Tired.
Got to the finish. Byron and Ricochet were waiting. Signed and checked over my control card. Handed same to Byron. Ricochet said something about his legs wanting to explode in the last 30 miles (something which I certainly did NOT understand (see comments below)) AND he was excited to be riding home from the ride.
L-L-L 204 km Permanent; w/ Byron and Ricochet Robert; 127.3 m.; 8 hrs, 57 min in-motion; 14.2 mph; rando-time: 10 hrs, 41 min elapsed on the clock.
Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 35 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __1 rides; __127.3 m.; __8 hrs, 57 min; 14.2 mph.
YTD tot: _10 rides; __798.7 m.; _55 hrs, 32 min; 14.4 mph.