+ a Little Mountain Road
I couldn't interest anyone in an Equinox Century, nor even the shorter 80-mile Allensville - Dennys Store, so we did the 64-mile Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd. Everyone (BobH, Norris, IvaHawk, Mallet, Gary, Wendy and me) had done the route more than once previously, so there was no "pulling the wool over someone's eyes" regarding Little Mountain Rd (unlike the ride three months ago).
Ride was scheduled for wheels-away from PUE at 8:00 a.m. EDT. At 7:25, just as I was to begin my ride to the ride, a series of chilly gusts from the northwest made me wonder if the expected cold front had arrived early. I grabbed arm and knee warmers and stuffed them in the handle-bar bag; I also grabbed a wind-vest and ... since the easiest place to "carry" it was to wear it, I put it on.
Now it was 7:30, maybe 7:31 or 7:32. With the wind against me, and the probable need to stop at a couple red lights, I would have to push hard to arrive on time. Two lights were red; two were green. I arrived with my watch still indicating it was 8:00 plus a few seconds.
People were milling about. The Mallet was taking off one above-the-waist layer (he later told me that the shift or increase in the wind had also "caught him out" just as he was starting his ride to the ride -- he had to push hard also); BobH and Norris were sitting on the asphault by the back end of Bob's truck -- I'm not sure what Bob was doing but Norris was putting on his socks with individual toes (sort of like the fingers on a pair of gloves); Wendy seemed ready; IvaHawk seemed ready; actually, I think Gary was still fiddling with either Wendy's or Iva's bike; Gary was still in bare feet and his bike was still in his van; I think Gary may also have been talking to Hans (my riding partner from Aug-08 last year ... the ride on which I got bitten by a dog); Hans was on a tight back-end time constraint, and on a "speed" mission, so he set off on his solo journey to the Ruin Wall and Kittrell.
Iva drew my attention to Norris. I'm not sure if he did that because it was Norris's first appearance since surgery in November (with subsequent medicine complications) or because Norris was putting on socks with individual "toes" or because Bob and Norris were not ready by wheels-away time (they are ALWAYS ready before time).
At 8:08, I suggested we start, "taking" Wendy with us, and reminding Gary of the starting roads and noting that he would easily catch us. We started with an easy pace, letting Norris slowly get back into it (that continued for quite a while - and the payoff was that Norris did the full 65-mile RRR instead of shorting to 35 or 50 miles). Gary caught us before we had gotten two miles; I had figured we'd make at least four or five.
There was a LOT of conversation between everyone today. Subject matter was all over the map. I know I talked at least once with everyone. Everyone seemed to talk with everyone else during the ride in a constant mixing of the social ride order. Especially during the first half of the ride into the northwesterly wind; we did let Gary and Paul do most of the work ... figuring that letting the strongest / fastest amoung us do more of the work improved the pace and the quality of workout for everyone (at least ... that is our story and we are sticking to it). The ever-changing-chat-partner conversations continued once we made the double-turns at the north end of Range Road headed for Little Mountain Road and Stem. Smooth pavement, smooooth pavement, and a tailwind, and nice rollers -- what more could one ask for.
Sunshine and warm temps is what one could ask for. And we had gotten just that well before the half-way point. The sunshine had been forecast, but when those 7:25 wind gusts blew through, the sky was quite overcast, and looking as if the overcast was going to increase. Luckily, the sun seemed to "burn off" the overcast the way it often "burns off" an early morning fog.
So ... sunshine, warm temps, excellent rolling roads, a tailwind, and constant chat. What more could one ask for? I can't think of anything.
After Stem, more like during and after Brogden Road, those with tighter back-end time constraints that were capable of picking up the pace, did so. The Mallet headed straight for home; BobH and Norris were gone by the time Iva, Gary, Wendy and I reached PUE. Actually, Iva got there before the other three of us; but he decided to ride down and back up Nipper Rd (looking for all the climbing training he can get ahead of AoMM in two months).
I suppose I could go into more about the various conversations, and I how I pulled a "Jerry P"-like move on the Mallet at the county line from Person back into Granville county, but ... today ... what happened on the ride ... will stay on the ride ... otherwise, this post could get very long.
Map of Range Road Rover + a Little Mtn Rd:
--> PUE: Range Road Rover + a Little Mtn Rd -->; 79.0 m.; 5 hrs, 10 min in-motion; 15.3 mph.
Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __3 rides; __210.4 m.; _13 hrs, 48 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: _19 rides; _1487.8 m.; 101 hrs, 45 min; 14.6 mph.