Olive Branch Rd was recently re-surfaced.
Probably will be good to ride until a few freeze-thaw cycles this coming winter.
After all, they did NOT address the underlying roadbed issues on Olive Branch
In that little valley just south of the corner where Doc Nichols comes in from the southwest.
Anyway, for the first time in a few years, Olive Branch is fit to ride.
So I wanted to ride it.
The hard way.
From NC-98 to Carpenter Pond Rd.
The hard way does give a net 200 foot elevation gain in just a couple miles from
The northern-most of the creek crossings on Olive Branch to
Carpenter Pond Rd.
A net 200 foot gain is not all that much.
But ... there aren't very many (any) 200 foot net gains near north Raleigh.
The next closest I can think of is "Stovall Mtn" on MikeD's Kerr Lake Loop Permanent.
I suppose that Snow Hill Rd over north of Durham is a net 200 foot gain ... haven't checked.
One "problem" is that almost all our / my courses are clockwise,
And we'd need a counter-clockwise to include Olive Branch the hard way, near the end of the ride.
Not a problem ... just reverse one of the usual courses.
I wasn't going to bother with reversing a cue sheet.
Who needs a cue sheet for a familiar route?
Okay, so reversing a route can confuse one because the familiar landmarks seem out-of-place.
Okay, so we're taking a short-cut or two off the Stem-Mt.Energy-Grissom 100k course.
Will that actually confuse anyone?
Well, actually it could.
Especially if some newbies / guests are along for the ride.
So ... a reversed cue sheet was made available.
Some actually brought copies!
What a concept!
I've lost a lot of weight in the last six or nine months. A LOT.
Six gallons of water worth of weight.
Cap'n Lt. Dave noted it would be interesting for me to do some of the climbs on the BRP now.
Anyway, it seemed to me that we were bogging down on the upslope from Falls Lake to
Old Weaver Trail and beyond toward Grissom.
I took the lead to set what I thought was a reasonable pace.
But as my confuser was still on the fritz, I didn't actually know what that pace was.
But there was a lot of envigorated conversation just behind me.
So I thought we were all together ... I didn't actually check my mirror ... my shoulder still aches.
Just after Ricochet Robert hit the pedals a bit extra for a turn or two so that
He could sneak the Granville County Line (chapeau!, Ricochet),
Snapper noted that Wendy and Gary were no where in sight.
Eight miles into a 54-mile ride and we've dropped two of the seven riders!
What the hell kind of leader does that make me?
We slowed to a soft-pedal and intent to stop at Grissom and wait.
We waited a couple minutes.
I rode back six-tenths of a mile to the churches at Rock Springs Rd.
No Gary. No Wendy.
I rode back to Grissom and borrowed Iceman's phone.
"Have you abandoned us?", I asked.
"Wendy recently slightly pulled her back and the climb up from the lake aggravated it", Gary replied.
"We're going to do something short and slow," he continued. "It is alright."
Gary is one the most honest, non-obfuscatory people I know.
I took him at his word then.
I still am.
But I may ride by his TLC-4-Bikes shop in the next couple days just to chat and make sure.
Gary and Wendy probably ended up on the long-end of the stick.
The rest of us got sprinkled on shortly after.
Ricochet Robert expressing dismay, "oh, no, I just had Gary clean this bike for packing for France!"
Later, we got rained on pretty good. But only for a few minutes.
NOT three hours such as some randonneurs experienced in Virginia.
And we didn't get poured upon such as it was doing just one or two hundred yards
Off to the west as we rode across Falls Lake on Cheek Rd.
By then, Ricochet was philosophical, "oh, well, this bike is already filthy, anyway."
Iceman was also philosophical and commented. "I hope Snapper stayed dry."
(Harvey had taken the "Dove Rd way" home from Creedmoor, saving 10 miles from the ride.
He figured to use the energy thus saved during a sprint-triathlon the next day.)
I, however, disagreed with Iceman.
I thought it a shame if Harvey had missed the greater rain-fun that we were experiencing.
By the time we got to Patterson Rd, fellow Irregular-randos Ricochet and Ags
Were definitely in the groove.
I, however, was not.
As I told Iceman when I caught up to him (he had slowed considerably):
"I can do this pace for another 100-miles,
"But today I can't do that pace up ahead for even a few more miles."
Shortly after that, Ricochet and Ags slowed, and we all turned off Patterson onto NC-98 together.
Less than a mile later ... the highlight of the ride: Olive Branch Rd -- upslope.
And me with no energy.
I guess it wasn't too bad. I'm sure I've experienced worse on that road in that direction.
After all, I used to avoid doing Olive Branch upslope because it was so hard.
But I don't really recall anything except I had no pizzazz and just spun my way up.
One thing I do recall is that suddenly Ricochet was immediately in front of me.
He had concluded that I was suffering enough that I might like some company.
He must have virtually stopped on the road to wait for me.
On Carpenter Pond Rd, I was able to force myself to find some speed.
As I told Ricochet, Iceman and Ags: "I've done that stretch, especially on my 'TT' route,
"So many time that I know how to find and force the pace,
"And where to do so, and where to let the pace slip away."
Four wet Irregulars, three of us also randonneurs, finished the shorted, reversed course at 1100.
All in all, we had a good time.
We all wished Robert good luck in France.
I am confident he will do well.
Because ... as I told him in the middle of the ride ... Ricochet is back!
Catching the wheels of whomever is slipping off the front.
Catching me on any and all upslopes.
We'll have to schedule a(nother) Irregulars 100-miler,
So the Mallet can tell us all the details from his foray into the Alps in July,
And so Ricochet can tell all the details from his upcoming ride through Normandy and Brittany.
--> PUE: reversed + modified Stem-Mt.Energy-Grissom --> fire station -->; 71.3.; est. 4h,28m in-motion; 15.9 mph.