Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apr-17: Morrisville 300 km Brevet

BikerBob and I Deemed Experts

This ride was originally scheduled for Saturday, Apr-16.  MikeD documented why it was postponed one day better than I could ever hope to explain or document.

On Sunday, we started "21-strong" as opposed to the ~ 40 that had registered for the brevet (the "21" includes Vance that appears to have started late, and also turned around early).  Those not there were a cross-section of the various paces, but the back-half-of-the-pack was again quite thin.  The front of the pack may also have been a bit thin, but with Annette and Chris K, Tom and Mary F, and Kim, there looked to be at least some of the serious speed.  I looked around to see who among the not-nearly-so-insanely-fast might be there that would also start at a reasonable pace that I could hang on to until the serious climb on Jack Bennett Rd.  TimL was there -- that would be enough.

It turned out to be THE MOST CIVILIZED START for one of Alan's brevets that I have experienced (admittedly, I've only been to 8 of Alan's brevets).  Perhaps it was unfamiliarity with the new start that slowed some -- we all still managed to miss the turn off Green Level Ch Rd onto Morrisville Pkwy.  Perhaps those leading the pack were all in delayed warm-up mode.  Maybe the leaders were all enjoying more conversation than usual.  Whatever the reason, the entire pack stayed together (see esp. the second video clip) until Jack Bennett Rd (I thought we had all stayed together until the climb started, but one person informed me he was dropped a half-mile before the climb).  I looked at my confuser:  18.3 miles; the time was 8:03 am -- so the start was about 1 to 2 mph slower for that "warm-up" section than it had been for the 200k fifteen days before.

Only one semi-uncivilized act occurred during those first 18 miles:  approaching the Chatham CL, BryanR (not "fast Bryan" -- I hate to think how fast "fast Bryan" must be) was next to me and I commented, "there's the county line, but without Jerry here, it doesn't look as if anyone will make a mad dash out of the pack to get there first."  About a three-count later, Bryan took off -- I thought he had left it too late -- I was wrong.  Bryan then took advantage of being in the front to get out his camera and shoot his signature drifting-back video (see above link for "the entire pack stayed together" -- count 'em -- including Bryan taking the video:  20 cyclists). 

I traded a few snippets of conversation with recumbent rider LinO on part of the Jack Bennett climb.  The 300 was his first hilly ride on his new bent with its "big front wheel."  At some point, Lin had commented "I'm a big wheel rider, now."  Funny, Lin.

Next notable thing was me slowly catching Lin on Castle Rock Farm / Old Switchboro Rd.  I wondered if perhaps Lin was not quite as recovered from his recent bout with the flu / sinus-infection / whatever as he had hoped.  When I passed Lin on the rollers of Old Greensboro Hwy, and more so when he didn't zoom past me on downslopes of said rollers, I wondered if maybe he would turn-around at Snow Camp for a century, or maybe turn-around at Siler City for a "fun" 200k. 

I was inside the Snow Camp store when Lin and a couple of his friends (that had gotten to Snow Camp several minutes earlier) left for Siler City.  I emerged from the store after having taken care of natural business and took off for Siler City.  I like the section between Snow Camp and Siler City -- unless there is a tough wind, it always seems to me to be a net downslope both directions.  I arrived at the control in Siler City only 5 minutes later than I had arrived two weeks earlier during the 200 -- not bad considering there had been no natural business needs on the 200. 

My hopes for a 9 pm finish, and expectations of a 10 pm finish, started to disintegrate at that Siler City control.  I allowed myself to enjoy too much conversation with LinO as he was describing why he was turning around.  Isn't that terrible!  Enjoying conversation at the control and wasting time.  Sometimes it can be; but usually it is not. 

I left Siler City with LinO's friends Paul and Denis, but not before promising LinO that I would mention him in my blog as being a "wimp" for abandoning.  I only tease friends and/or those that I appreciate and/or respect.

I thought that LinO, Paul and Denis all knew each other prior to the brevet.  It was true that Lin and Paul knew each other from wayyy back, but as Denis later pointed out to me, Denis met Paul only 30 miles before he met me.

It seems almost sac religious (given the chaos, destruction and deaths experienced in North Carolina on Saturday (and since) because of that Saturday storm) to write the following, but Old Coleridge Rd between Siler City and the near-ghost town of Coleridge was BEAUTIFUL.  Rolling, green pastures, many covered in small yellow flowers.  Several herds of dairy cows.  Horses.  Houses set upon hilltops.  Higher hills in the distance, seemingly in all directions.  (I don't carry a camera; apparently MikeD took no photos; I hope that Bryan or Geof took some.)

Paul, Denis and I enjoyed the wonderful day and conversation.  I was really enjoying my ride:  a good cadence, decent pace, conversation.  We saw the lead group of 5 (Tom and Mary F, the two Kamms, Kim) on the first leg of Fork Creek Mill Rd.  Other groups (usually of two) were scattered along the two legs of Fork Creek Mill Rd; I can only recall a couple of the groupings:  Geof and TimL; MikeD and JohnM (being chased by Bryan -- but I doubt Mike and John knew they were being chased, nor that Bryan knew he was chasing -- from Mike's RTP blog, I gather the three of them teamed up for much of the ride back to Morrisville).  Back to our group:  Paul was struggling a bit, and we lost him on the later set of rollers on Fork Creek Mill Rd and / or on the final climb into Seagrove.

Ian and Mary were manning the control in Seagrove.  As I approached the turn into the control, I could see Ian's legs sticking out from the passenger side rear door -- I called out "wake up, Ian, customers!"  He may not have been asleep, but he was certainly supine across the back seat.  Mary was sitting in the front passenger seat, apparently studying.  They both greated us warmly and introduced us to the good supply of food and drink they had.  One thing though:  they only had one cookie, and Denis repayed me for navigating and pulling us most of the way from Siler City to Seagrove by scarfing that last cookie.  Can you believe it!  He claimed it was Alan's or Ian's fault for not having enough cookies.  I don't know about that.

Paul arrived and he and Denis went in to the Hardees for "real food."  I continued to munch on PBJ and peanut butter and honey sandwiches, a banana, a Coke or two (for morale purposes); but mostly I talked to Ian; I think I finally bored him nearly to tears.  As I was about to leave, Denis appeared and noted that Paul was also about ready to leave, so we all left together.  Nine pm, and maybe ten pm, were now goals of the past -- who cared?

I like the first few miles heading back toward Erect from Seagrove, esp. in daylight.  One can bomb the downslopes, and with a little "Jerry-impersonation" on just a couple upslopes, pop almost every UP all the way to where Fork Creek Mill Rd makes that right turn (don't miss it, because straight is NOT the correct road; also don't turn half-a-mile too early on that other road, because that is NOT the correct road, either).  I must have really been enjoying myself.  Denis was with me, but Paul was nowhere to be seen -- even after waiting for two minutes at the correct turn to head to Erect.  After about two minutes, I decided to ride on, with or without Denis, figuring that Paul would work thru his struggles and could team up with BikerBob and / or Chloe that were behind us.  As we pushed off, I commented to Denis that I hoped it was not my karmic destiny to "blow up" 10 or 20 miles down the road.  Denis chuckled.

We stopped at the corner of Riverside Dr and NC-22 just outside Coleridge to get a good drink, nibble a bit, and so that I could admire the flora.  We may also have stretched a bit.  We remounted, pushed off, and before I could settle in ... pop ... I had flatted my front.  Karma? 

Off the bike.  Tire tools retreived from saddle bag (turned out I didn't need them).  Spare tube and spare tire retrieved from the handlebar bag (I decided to replace both since I suspected that a particular weak spot - with a weak boot - on the tire had given out).  Mini-pump snapped from the side of the frame. 

The tire came off easily.  I folded up the damaged tube and tire separately and stuck into separate back pockets -- so I could examine them later -- and not "litter."  Ian drove by showing Mary the course on their way back to Raleigh; he stopped to make sure we were okay; he also noted that he was not allowed to provide help.  Paul rode up and on -- I'm confident that he expected we would re-catch him -- I figured we would likely re-catch him.  Replacement tire on, and starting to pump up.  Ian commented that I was a lot quicker than him -- I credited Gary for a lesson or two.  Just as I said that, and Ian prepared to leave, BikerBob pulled up, asked if I wanted a full size pump, and also commented that this made my third flat in two weekends.  Since I had just gotten to 105+ lbs. pressure in the tire, I didn't take Bob up on his full size frame pump offer. 

We were now three:  Denis, BikerBob, me.  Coleridge Rd was still beautiful, but it seems a lot longer coming back than going out.  Old US-64 into Siler City also seems a lot longer coming back than going out.  Joel was manning the Siler City control.  Bob and I and Joel started making Denis nervous because we were talking and eating and talking and eating and talking at the control instead of riding.  The food was good; so was the Coke (for morale purposes).  My legs appreciated the rest period -- even though Joel had forgotten his "camp chairs" and we had to stand instead of sit.  After nearly 40 minutes, we headed out for Snow Camp.

I enjoyed the ride from Siler City to Snow Camp.  In a "zone," I pretty much forgot about the two guys following me.  It took 40 minutes to cover the 12.5 miles to Snow Camp.  I was figuring a "5 minute" stop in Snow Camp since we had spent so much time in Siler City, but Bob bought another feast.  We sat on the bench in front of the store while Bob sat and feasted.  25 minutes.

As Bob had mentioned that he only lived 14 miles from Snow Camp and that the rollers on the Old Greensboro Hwy never seemed to bother him, we put him in the lead, hoping they wouldn't bother us, either.  Well, I can't vouch for what Denis may have thought. 

Bob descends more slowly than I do -- even though I have "lost" 20 pounds in recent months.  And approaching about the third UP -- a short but steep one -- I "knew" that if I didn't carry enough momentum onto that sucker ... it would hurt.  I did the obvious thing:  I hit the pedals on the downslope and went around Bob, and then did another "Jerry-impersonation" to perfection ... that steep UP was over in nothing flat and seemingly almost without effort.  Another, slightly longer UP followed; I tried the same trick; I was in the wrong gear to dance-up-while-standing-on-the-pedals; I managed to make it over the top. 

On Lindley Mill Rd, my left calf notified my brain that it thought it would be a good idea to cramp.  My brain and the rest of my body disagreed.  I did ask Bob and Denis to get in front of me just in case I suddenly did something stupid on the bike.  I slowly drifted back from Bob and Denis as I soft-pedaled through convincing the calf that cramping would be a bad idea.  An extra half-bottle of E-load'd water (with a Zim tablet thrown in) probably also helped.  And maybe the "third helping" of "Sports Legs" that I'd swallowed back in Snow Camp kicked in. 

We paused just before Old Switchboro Rd became Castle Rock Farm Rd to seriously light-up and reflector-clothing-up.  We put Bob on the front with his bright headlamp and because he knew where he would be going.  We put Denis in the middle because of his bright headlamp and failing taillight.  I got on the rear because of my dim headlamp and decent taillight. 

As darkness descended, so did our pace.  However, while on Hamlet Chpl Rd it finally dawned on me that Bob's slowing pace was not because of the darkness ... he was seriously bonking.  Now I understood the reason behind the extra feast back in Snow Camp.  We decided to stop at Andrews Store.  I got a good look at Bob.  I'd never seen him looking so poorly.  I had, however, felt as poorly as Bob now looked (click here to be bored even further; I thought Bob had also written a report on that ride, but nope).

Andrews Store was out of most everything that could almost pass as "real food."  Bob finally found some "Spaghettios", and made that the center-piece of another feast.  While Bob was eating, I tried to explain "soft-pedaling" to Denis (I had earlier told him I would do the 400 less aggressively, and would likely soft-pedal the 400); Bob cut in with a more appropriate definition:  "you know, 'soft-pedaling,' what you've been doing the last 20 miles."  Bob is mostly quiet, but he can come up with some zingers.

After 25 minutes at Andrews Store, we set out for the finish.  I took the lead, Denis second, Bob the rear.  Bob would drop off the first 10 miles or so, but then his feast seemed to have kicked in.  We made it to the finish with our only additional blemish being that we rode past the turn on to Green Hope School Rd; but we only rode another 100 yards or so before checking the cue sheet.

We finished with what appeared to be pizzaz.  Alan came out to greet us and effectuate the paperwork.  He also offered some home-brew.  All three of us replied with an eager "yes!"

As Alan went to get some homebrew for each us and we sat down in three of Alan's "lawn chairs," Denis called his wife to let her know that he was safe in Morrisville and had successfully completed the 300k.  I overheard him say to his wife that he had been guided in by two experts.

I leaned over to Bob and chortled, "with all of two years combined experience between us, we're experts."

Bob chuckled, "yeah, that's right, two years total combined ... experts."  He chuckled again


Morrisville 300 km Brevet; 189.2 m.; 12h,31m in-motion; 15.1 mph (incl. the 1/4-mile ride back to the start); official rando time:  16h,25m elapsed clock time. 

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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __4 rides; __465.7 m.; _30 hrs, 16 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _27 rides; _2287.9 m.; 153 hrs, 22 min; 14.9 mph.
Must write shorter reports.


  1. Martin, I enjoyed your report. One thing that baffled me was there was not a single mention of you and Denis being blinded by a certain taillight, or of you and I being blinded by a helmet light shining in our mirrors. This ride was pleasantly dog-free - just some fenced in barkers. Thanks again for hanging back and being part of the "penultimate lantern rouge" group.

  2. "... not a single mention of you and Denis being blinded by a certain taillight ..."

    I decided to go with a corollary of the MikeD rule: "some things should be left on the ride, and not put in the blog."
    However, since you bring it up:

    I plan to bring some wire cutters with me for the next time I'm riding behind a particular someone with a particular taillight at night.

  3. "Must write shorter reports." If you ever figure out how, please do let me know. Great report Martin!

  4. Thanks, Bryan.
    And just in case someone doesn't understand the response to BikerBob, let me clarify:

    Glad you enjoyed the write-up, Bob.

  5. Regarding my flat:

    "I decided to replace both since I suspected that a particular weak spot - with a weak boot - on the tire had given out."

    Turned out that I ran over something that made a pin-prick-like small hole in the tire and tube. The tire should still be useable. I will try to patch the tube, but the pin-prick is right alongside the center-bead-seam of the tube, and that bead may well get in the way of being able to patch properly. (I'm not the best at patching tubes.)

    I would certainly like to get more than 100 miles out of that tube.