Sunday, May 8, 2011

May-07: "IRs" Dabney-Watkins-Gray 'n Flat Rock Roads

Cadence-Cadence-Cadence, Then Some Climbing

Planning for Alan's 600 km brevet next weekend, a flat-flat-flat affair (except for the first and last 45 miles), I figured the thing to practice, to "embed" in the legs and the brain, would be cadence ... so I was looking for a somewhat flatish route.  However, with six of the crew doing "Assault on Mt. Mitchell" next Monday, I figured they might like a local course with some climbing, just to keep toned.  The near-perfect route came to mind; I had done the course once before, and had wanted to do a repeat ever since.  We'd done the first half of the route, in both directions; we'd done the last half of the route, as part of a different course; but we had never done this particular combination.  Post-ride, everyone (except possibly Robert -- more on that later) expressed joy regarding the course. 


Paul "the Mallet" and I each cycled to the ride.  Each of us had to ride a little over seven miles.  I avg'd 16.3 mph getting to PUE.  Paul later indicated to me (at the half-way stop, I think) that his average was less.  His route to get to PUE has many more creeks to cross (i.e., more climbs) than does my route; I only have the one on MVC between Six Forks and Norwood roads.


BobH, IvaHawk, Smitty, Robert and Dr. Phil were already at PUE when I arrived (10 minutes before "wheels-away"); most were still prepping for the ride.  Wave arrived, driving, a couple minutes later; I didn't realize it was him because I didn't recognize the vehicle.  Mallet arrived three or four minutes before "wheels-away".

Wave wanted to ride about 45 miles; I explained the logical shortcut and even indicated where on the cue sheet to take the "short" turn.  We would be going through the Cannady Mill / Philo White corner twice; if he turned onto Philo White the first time through that intersection ... 45 miles.  Phil wanted to ride about 60 miles, but decided to ride with Wave; I explained and also pointed out the short-cut to him.  (Unfortunately, I made a poor choice of words when I explained the short-cut.  I had said, "we'll be going past Philo White twice, if you turn onto it the first time we go past that road, you can follow the cue sheet, no problem.")

I explained that I would be practicing "cadence" the first half of the route, and then intended to take it easy the second half.  The second half had more climbing for those that needed to tone or sharpen their climbing.  IvaHawk asked, "what is cadence?"  I replied, "I'll explain later."

Due to Wave having imitated the absent Snapper (did the White Lake Sprint Tri on Sunday), we started a few minutes late.

Cadence to Dabney

Having ridden to PUE, I was somewhat warmed up.  Having ridden to PUE, Mallet was somewhat warmed up.  The other six were not.  I immediately went to "cadence" and was dropped-off-the-front.  Mallet, being a more respectful kind of guy, stayed with those-not-yet-warmed-up.  I got to Six Forks Rd, looked over my shoulder, shrugged and thought to myself "they'll catch me on one of the climbs to get across and up the other side of the lake."  They did.

Nice cadence, the group all together, riding in a shuffling double-paceline, various and sundry conversations going.  Smitty spied the sign for the Granville County Line (everyone has - finally - learned where that CL is located) and made a move; the other Paul (i.e., Mallet) took out after him; I forget who claimed the line.  Two Pauls now leading the lines ... they, and apparently everyone else had looked at the cue sheet, but not actually carefully read it; the cue sheet did note 34 miles between the turn onto Six Forks Rd and the turn onto Poplar Creek Rd (at Dabney), but they apparently failed to notice the "follow NC Bike Route #1" instruction; Paul and Paul were intent on missing the turn at Grissom; a "yell" to turn saved the moment.  Some claimed that there was no sign for BR #1 to make the turn off Bruce Garner onto Lawrence Rd.  I'll have to try to remember to look next time I ride through there.

Cadence on Horseshoe Rd.  Cadence on NC-96 to Wilton.  The crew dropped me off their front, again.  Robert caught me at the stoplight in Wilton and told me "they were saying that we needed to catch up to you, but no one seemed willing to do the work, so I went to the front to pull us back up, but when I looked in my mirror, no one was with me; I decided to bridge to you, anyway."  

Slowed down a bit between "downtown" Wilton and the elementary school a kilometer north to let everyone re-group.  After the regrouping, I mentioned to Iva "that was cadence."  

Short-cut Crew Goes Amiss

Half-a-kilometer after the school, Philo White Rd "T's" into the highway.  A little after that, Mallet comes alongside to ask if Stew and Phil were supposed to turn back at that Philo White intersection.  "Nope," said I.  "Good," said Paul, "because they didn't."

A few minutes later, perhaps after the turn onto Cannady Mill Rd, Mallet again pulls alongside and tells me "turns out that Dave and Phil DID make that turn turn onto Philo White; you did say to turn onto Philo White the first we went past it."  I responded, "well, that IS what I said, but that wasn't what I meant."  My bad.  Poor Dave, every time he takes the short-cut option which includes Flat Rock Road, things go amiss.  

Back to Cadence.  With Chatting Comes "Bonus Miles".

Down to the Tar River and heading back up to the plain.  The Mallet noted the honeysuckle and some other greening up scents and sights.  I showed him the sight / site that I concentrated on whenever I climb back up from the Tar River, heading north:  the site where that damned dawg suddenly appeared from behind the azalea bushes that come out almost to the road and gnawed on my right leg several inches above my ankle.  No damned dawg today.

Cadence to US-158.  No stop at Mike's first control on the rando Kerr Lake Loop perm.  Cadence onto Tabbs Creek Rd.  Cadence onto Salem Rd.  I asked Robert if he was memorizing the course.  He came up alongside me, and told me that he doesn't have my knack for memorizing courses.  We started chatting about the upcoming 600 and logistics planning for that -- I later told Robert that I knew he would recall none of what I told him about food at the various controls, but the discussion had helped to pass the time -- we rode through the sign for the Vance County Line without me ever noticing it -- and I had been aware of it coming and was planning to have "some fun."  One of the two Pauls noted that they thought Robert's wheel had been just ahead of mine at the sign; Robert acknowledged that he had at least seen the sign.

Cadence and more 600 talk to Dabney.  Suddenly we were topping the high elevation at Dabney and going past the big house right at the apex of the crest; I realized that Robert and I had chatted our way into missing the turn onto Poplar Creek Rd.  Having a good time -- that is how one often collects "bonus miles," I think.  We rode a further mile to Glebe Rd (NC BR #1 makes a left turn there, btw), then U-turned and rode back up the slope, thus getting to transit the high elevation of the day twice (if we had made the original turn on Poplar Creek Rd, that crest would NOT have been on our ride), and then turned onto Poplar Creek Rd and rode the two miles to our planned refueling stop.  (The two "bonus miles" are not shown in the above map.)

It was about 9:30 when we reached the refueling stop -- several of us agreed, the Mallet prominent among them, that it was great to have completed 40 miles so early in the day.  Robert purchased a gallon of water to share about.  Thanks, Robert.  We "feasted" on items we had with us.  And several visited the room with the porcelain fixtures.  According to my calculations, we had covered the 40-mile "cadence" portion of the course at an average 17.3 mph (very good for me).

Some Repeat Climbs for the Homeward Bound Leg

Before leaving the RS, I reiterated that those wanting to hone their climbing should feel welcome to drop me off the back as I intended to take it easy for the last half of the ride.  Robert announced that he would likely be dropping off the back as he still had no legs.

Old Watkins Rd received universal acclaim for its scenic central North Carolina views including two or three ghost houses and several fantastic trees with great "architecture."  If you are looking for a non-rando route to spice up your non-credit rides, we all highly recommend Old Watkins Rd.  Old Watkins Rd suddenly becomes Peaces Chapel Rd near Fairport -- can you guess why? 

After the only DOWN (heading south) on Old Watkins, one crosses a creek, then the road tilts up (can't really claim "UP", only "up"), and most of the way back up to the level of the plain -- Granville County Line!  I warned Mallet, just as the DOWN was starting, that he might want to start his lead-out -- he later claimed that he did at least close the distance to BobH -- which was true, but I had to sit up to keep from running over the two of them.  I also warned Smitty that he needed to mark the Mallet -- he later claimed that he never heard my advice.  Once BobH and Mallet finally got into a decent aero position, I was able to get back into an aero position, and closing rapidly as we reached the creek, I hit the pedals hard, and went passed Mallet and BobH as if they were standing still.  It is reported that, at that point, Smitty knew "something was up."  He hit his pedals hard and went past Mallet and BobH.  The Mallet finally responded.  The county line was a hundred or more yards farther UP (now, it felt like an "UP") than I recalled; I actually gave up, then saw the change in the road surface, and re-engaged to defend my lead.  I heard Smitty making noise or saying something -- perhaps he was cussing the Mallet.  Paul "the Mallet" passed Smitty and then edged past me just before the line.  I think Smitty also edged ahead of me before the line.  My legs felt better after the dash than before.  We all had fun.  Even those "that only rode and watched" reported having fun. 

Once BobH passed me on the shallow slope up to Fairport, I hatched a plan for the next county line -- on Fairport Rd, with a slight downslope all the way from Fairport to Charlie Grissom Rd.  I silently signalled Iva and Robert to attach to my wheel; Robert commented, "I'm trying."  I rolled past the Mallet, Smitty and BobH as we turned onto Fairport Rd; Iva was attached to my wheel.  Robert hung back.  I hoped the fast threesome would hang with Robert, and Iva and I could sneak away to the CL only 3/4 of a mile distant.  Unfortunately. the Mallet sniffed out the game, and so did Smitty.  "Oh well, Iva, maybe next time."  (The Mallet suggested an enhancement to the strategy that might have allowed us to pull of the trick -- I won't write it up -- in order to keep it somewhat "secret" for next time.

Onto Charlie Grissom Rd, and more more-or-less continuous downslope.  I told Robert and Iva that if things worked out "right", I would have another go at the two Pauls on Wilton Rd.  Wilton Rd becomes Gray Rock Rd -- can you guess why?

Apparently the little green road-name sign for Wilton Rd is hidden behind some trees or such -- I wouldn't know.  Anyway, BobH and Smitty and the Mallet were all intent on missing the turn -- perhaps playing a bit unfairly, I waited until I was sure they were intent on missing the turn before I yelled at them, and almost simultaneously made the turn myself, and did the best dang "Jerry impersonation" I have ever done to get over the little crest before the downslope that becomes a downhill run to the creek begins -- long before reaching the creek:  Granville County, again!  I checked my mirror -- no one coming -- I let up -- I checked my mirror -- Smitty coming -- three or four hard pedal strokes -- I win!  Smitty refused to believe that I was not going all out, but I never got up to 25 mph.  I have hit 30+ sprinting against Lt. Dave and on a separate occasion against Lee ( I won those straight-up sprints); I also got to nearly 30 once trying to stay ahead of Snapper -- thinking I had "it in the bag", I sat up and ... Snapper has a POWERFUL engine when he gets it wound up (I lost because I sat up -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).

Robert and I slowly drifted off the back after the above fun.  BobH seemed rearing to go, and he drifted off the front.  The Mallet, Smitty and Iva waited at one stop sign to confirm that Robert and I were "putzing it in" and the rest should just go on.  Robert was quick with the "yes."

I enjoyed the rest of the ride in; Robert did not.  I've had many rides where I've had to "slog it in;" this ride was a first for Robert.  I told him it would make him tougher in the end; I doubt he believed me.  I tried to share knowledge about getting up a climb when there is nothing in the legs:  use only easy gears, granny gear, whatever slow speed that results on the steep is okay, as the slope lessens, cadence and speed will return.  Just accept it.  You won't lose that much time.  (According to my calcs, Robert and I avg'd 15.9 mph for the "climbing" portion of the ride.)

Back at PUE

The Mallet was just leaving as Robert and I arrived.  BobH, Smitty and Iva were still chatting.  We couldn't have been THAT far behind, then.  (Overall avg pace for the entire Dabney - Watkins - etc. route:  16.4 mph.  That is just 0.1 mph faster than I did the same course -- but starting and ending at BJP -- two years ago.  Riding straight in on New Light / Six Forks is a much easier finish than ending G-P-MVC to PUE.)

Everyone else loaded bikes onto or into their vehicles.  Robert and I chatted a little more about the 600.  He is concerned he may not finish the 600.  I, on the other hand, am convinced he will complete the 600 next week (unless he actually comes down ill), and qualify for PBP with a 200, 300, 600, 600 series.

Iva provided access to his Garmin data:


If I rode straight "home", I would have ended up with ~ 93 miles.  I decided to turn the ride into a Century.  the easiest way to do that was to ride to an intermediate landmark, then ride "home".  I chose to ride by TLC-4-Bikes and inquire of Gary what happened to him and Wendy -- they were expected for the ride. 

After staying too long at Gary's shop (where I "bumped into" Hans from my "dog bite" ride from last August), I rode on "home."  Gary's shop must be located closer to the Neuse River than I realize:  riding from there always results in a slow avg pace.
No Ricochet this ride.

You may have noticed that there are no references to "Ricochet" in the above.  That is because there was no "bing-bing-BING!" in Robert this ride.

---> PUE:  Dabney - Watkins - Gray Rock - Flat Rock ---> TLC-4-Bikes --->; 104. m.; 6h,27m in-motion; 16.1 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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __7 rides; __793.8 m.; _52 hrs, 28 min; 15.1 mph.
May tot: __2 rides; __118.7 m.; __7 hrs, 29 min; 15.8 mph.
YTD tot: _32 rides; _2734.7 m.; 183 hrs, 03 min; 14.9 mph.


  1. Martin, Good riding yesterday on the "cadence" portion of the ride. Esp the up-hill county line sprint on Old Watkins. Good course and good write up. I think Smitty proved he is ready for AonMM with his hill work. Nice work by BobH for his 2nd half move that dropped the peleton.

  2. So apparently Ricochet did not pull off his 400 in TX, but I agree with you that he will probably do fine on Alan's 600. I rode a 100K with the Burlington club Saturday and actually felt like turning around and going home after 5 miles. However, "riding through" such down times usually brings a revived mental state.

  3. Apologies to Phil. Sometime during the ride I think I started suffering from hypoxia and started calling Phil “Frank” ... maybe the ghost of Frank, aka, "Irregular" #2?

    Anyway, I knew I was in trouble when you provided me with dubious short-cut directions and paired me with a guy ... who was hammering me despite informing me that he was 10 years older than me…

    Way to go Martin!

    I enjoyed the company and we didn’t use any GPS technology to make it home.

    Wave, aka, "Irregular" #5

  4. @ BB -

    If you don't hear the story before, maybe Ricochet can fill you during the 600. Time and distance fillers always useful on long rides.

    @ Wave -

    Frank and Phil each have large calves -- that may have been what threw you on the names. Here's a hint to tell them apart: Phil's calves are massive -- Frank's are only large. Also, Phil is a Red Sox fan -- Frank is not.

    As for knowing where you were and not needing GPS -- maybe those previous times when you got lost have finally paid a dividend.