Friday, September 30, 2011

Sep-29: Mid-week (?) Black Creek 204 km Perm

Clean, green, quiet, sunny with pleasant morning shadows, tailwind.
At least to Hornes Church outbound.

It was dry and mostly cloudy until around Daddysville or Pine Ridge or Sutton.
Then it was dry and sunny -- as the front had completed its passage.
Headwind the entire homebound trip.
It was work.
The rolling terrain from Youngsville to Purnell broke up the surface winds,
But the UPs on the valley crossings were still work.
At least I had to work them -- MikeH apparently not so much.

Oh, and the morning quiet?  ...  was replaced with quite a bit of traffic on 98 and Tarboro Rd.
I think an hour or two earlier (based on admittedly only one previous mid-week ride) ... less traffic.

Net summary for this ride?
See the Aug-21 write-up for this same route.
That applies more to this ride than last month's ride.
Sep-29:  Showdown in Black Creek 204 km Permanent; 127.0 m.; est. 8h,24m in-motion; 15.1 mph; elapsed time 10h,55m  +  however long I took to get a receipt

Q-1 tot: _23 rides; _1822.2 m.; 123 hrs, 05 min; 14.8 mph. 
Q-2 tot: _30 rides; _2604.9 m.; 174 hrs, 22 min; 14.9 mph. 
J-A tot: _23 rides; _1944.0 m.; 128 hrs, 29 min; 15.1 mph.
Sep tot: __6 rides; __535.2 m.; _34 hrs, 36 min; 15.5 mph. 
YTD tot: _82 rides; _6906.3 m.; 460 hrs, 32 min; 15.0 mph. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sep-28: Three Errands

Some paperwork delivered.
A shop key returned.
A house key returned.

Gosh, but north Raleigh -- actually inside the city -- not my usual cycling ground -- is hilly.
--> SBC owner's --> Bedford --> ___ ; 29.1 m.; 2h,03m in-motion; 14.2 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _23 rides; _1822.2 m.; 123 hrs, 05 min; 14.8 mph. 
Q-2 tot: _30 rides; _2604.9 m.; 174 hrs, 22 min; 14.9 mph. 
J-A tot: _23 rides; _1944.0 m.; 128 hrs, 29 min; 15.1 mph.
Sep tot: __5 rides; __408.2 m.; _26 hrs, 12 min; 15.6 mph. 
YTD tot: _81 rides; _6779.3 m.; 452 hrs, 08 min; 15.0 mph. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sep-25: Party on the KLL 208 km Perm


ChrisW posted on the NC rando list-serve that he'd like to do "Black Creek" to get his R-12.
Jerry posted that he'd join Chris.
Next thing one knows ... seemingly everyone in the area wants to join the "party".
But prefer Kerr Lake Loop.
I didn't care ... I was "sick as a dog" on Wednesday.
By early Friday, KLL route owner MikeD posted that he would also do the ride,
And he would bring some blank cards ... just in case.
By late Friday, I felt incredibly much better than I had 48 hours earlier.
I e-mailed Mike that if my health continued to improve, I'd like to ride.

The course:

Getting there is one-half the fun ... one-fourteenth, anyway.

I cheated three miles or so my start location,
And started from the Whole Foods parking lot.
10.5 miles to get to the ride, including three non-trivial "ups",
I concluded I needed to start riding by 0615, to be on the safe side.
Actual start time ... 0622.
Uh-oh.  I've done that same pre-ride in 36 minutes,
But not just three-and-a-half days after having felt like ... you-know.

I wondered how many randos would pass me on the way to the ride.
Several did, I think.
But I didn't recognize any of the vehicles in the dark.
Besides, half of the inscrits were probably at the start by the time I started rolling.

One rando, JohnA, also an Irregular, btw, mentioned to me at the start that
He thought he had passed me, and wondered if I would have accepted a lift to the start.
I told him I probably would have accepted a lift.

Oh, for the record ... I arrived, on my bicycle, for the 0700 start at 0659 (by my watch).
The parking lot was crowded.

Kerr Lake Loop Party Crew

I'm confident that I didn't quite figure out everyone who was there, but ...
Five 2011 PBP anciens:  MikeD, Jerry, StevenA, Ian, Branson.
Three 2011 ToC-1200 finishers:  LynnL, Smiley-Bryan, Tim (also Texas 1200 earlier in the year).
At least one other veteran fast-guy:  JoeRay.
One rookie fast-guy:  JohnA.
One veteran that is sometimes a fast-guy, and sometimes not-quite-so fast:  Byron.
Another strong rookie, but I haven't figured out if he is a fast-guy, or only nearly-fast:  Rick.
And the likely lanterns:  Chris, Richard, me.
That makes fifteen.  I wonder if that was all?
Results will get published in a week or so.  That will tell.

With so many 1200 and other fast-guys ... who needs to pedal to the first control?

I don't recall needing to pedal, except to get back up after crossing the Tar River.
Arrived at the control, ~ 23 miles into the course, at 8:23.
My receipt indicated 8:28.
Quick nibble.  Quick pee.  I was starting to stiffen.
I left first out of the control at 8:33.

Jerry chased after me ... saying, after he caught me, that he thought I need not ride alone.
Thanks, Jerry.  But I was silently wishing that we were going about one-half mile per hour slower.
Jerry and I stayed side-by-side,
Him asking after his PBP roommate, and my fellow Irregular, Ricochet Robert.
(Sorry, Robert.  But no one knows who "just plain Robert" is.)
Jerry also telling me about parts of his PBP adventure.

Jerry is county-line sprinter-par-excellence in the local randonneuring scene.
I was pretty sure that he wasn't going to suddenly zip ahead to the CL,
And then drift back to resume the conversation.
But ... I've been told that Jerry is expert at doing just that.
Anyway, Sunday, I had to work it a bit to make sure we were "even-wheels"
As we crossed the Vance County Line.

A mile or two later, on Glebe Rd., I told Jerry I thought it time for me to retreat
To the protection of the group.

It had been lightly raining, but being in-front, I hadn't paid it much attention.
But as soon as I pulled over near the double-yellow,
Sliding backward behind Jerry, I started looking for someone(s) with fenders to follow.

I was behind Byron and someone else with fenders.
Staying dry.
Then some curves or corners or something,
And JoeRay had managed to oust me from my position.
I cursed JoeRay in a friendly way.
He slid over so we could ride side-by-side behind the befendered.


Just as predicted, the fast-guys dropped me on the climbs on Nutbush Creek,
Followed by Anderson Creek, and whatever that other road near them is.

I wondered if I would end up thinking of the ride as a group permanent, or a solo.
Then I saw Richard up ahead.  Also as predicted.
Doing well on the flats, quite fast on the downslopes, but I was catching him on the upslopes.
I bridged.  We chatted.  Eventually, I took the lead, figuring I had partner 'till at least Boydton.

A couple/three miles later, we reached the county store on the side of the road in Warren County.
I've been told that that is an interesting country store, but I've never needed to stop.
The entire fast and not-quite-so-fast crew was at the store.
Richard and I rode on by.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jerry starting to "come after us".

Jerry caught and passed us.  I forget who was in tow.
Just as I was deciding to try to catch onto the Jerry-train,
Hopefully all the way to Kerr Lake Dam,
Along came the Branson-train.  Branson finally looked like he was actually pedaling.
I tried to up the cadence / effort to snag the Branson/Jerry-train.
To no avail.
The smarter side of my brain had indicated that that could be a dangerous thing to do.
I might end up in Boydton (66 miles into the ride) and be TOAST if I stayed with Branson.

I continued pulling Richard along.
Eventually, I realized Richard was no longer behind me.
Oh, well.  He has a cue sheet.  And Chris is behind him.

It was dry in Virginia -- well, not raining, anyway.

Crossed the dam alone.
Didn't really notice the lake surface.
It was probably all gray and ugly -- just like the sky -- more like "just like the air".

I decided to stop at the entrance to the Virginia Buggs Island State Recreation Area.
To swallow some electrolytes and eat a PB sandwich (no J).
Just as I was finishing the sandwich, about 4 or 5 minutes after I'd stopped,
I saw two randos making their way toward me from the dam.
Richard and ... Rick.

They passed me as I was re-mounting.
I drifted downslope to the curve after the recreation area, and just after completing the curve,
There is JohnA, with a filthy white jersey, and Rick and Richard commiserating.
I pulled over a few yards after passing the others,
Almost immediately, Rick asked, almost jokingly, if I had a spare tyre with me.
"Why, yes I do," said I, "two actually, but no spare tube, today."

John's rear tyre (I must admit that I prefer the British spelling of tyre to the American tire).
One or two or three of my great-grandfathers would be irritated to hear that.
They left England, or Ireland, for reasons.

Anyway, John's rear tyre had a three-or-four inch tear in it,
Right down the center, where there had been a "bead" when the tyre was new.
My spare was a bit iffy, but likely serviceable.
Jumping ahead, it accomplished the task asked of it, providing John ~ 77 trouble-free miles.

John repaired and ready to ride, but now probably part of the near-lantern-rouge crew,
Instead of being part of the fast-crew.
We headed for Boydton.
Two Richards and two Johns.  (You figure it out.)

I really enjoy Phillis Rd from the sharp curve at the end of the short steep all the way into Boydton.

Richard, being on his first KLL, we made sure he got a good look at the usual info control device.
Rick and John, being on their second KLL tours, had the opportunity to take a good look,
But settled for a cursory glance.
Me, on my twelfth KLL tour (seventh since Jun-11), what did I do?
You'll have to guess.

To Skipwith and Clarksville.

After filling in the info control question, some needed to stop around the corner to get H2O.
A few many minutes later, ChrisW pulled into the store, also wanting to top-up.
We waited for Chris ... now a party of five lantern rouge crew.

I've learned to enjoy the short trip from Boydton to Skipwith.
Rollers a bit tougher than than those leading into Boydton.

The Skipwith store was closed.
Alternative info control question dealt with.
On to Clarksville.

The road to Clarksville from Skipwith is mostly flat and not too twisty.
Some good section for side-by-side conversation.
Actually, almost the entire course is good for that.
There isn't much traffic on most of the roads.
Just a few spots requiring attention.

We decided to take lunch at the Subway in Clarksville.
However, all summer long, I've been starting KLL tours at 0600 or 0630,
That meant beating the post-church traffic to the Subway.
Sunday, starting KLL at 0700, the post-church traffic was backed up to the door.
Comparatively speaking, there was almost no one behind us.
Will have to remember that and adjust winter start times accordingly.

To the NC State Line, and Stovall, and Peace Mountain.

Chris thought that we shouldn't give Richard a heads-up regarding the mountain.
No one had given him a heads-up.
I guess the first person he did KLL with didn't do a very friendly course introduction.
Or maybe, that person was interested in seeing Chris's reaction.
And watching his 28 front - 32 rear gearing in action.
Who was that person that Chris did his first KLL with, anyway?
(Don't tell anyone ... it was me.)

Zip from the mountain to the Exxon control.

Uh ... closed ???
We called MikeD to let him know what we had encountered.
And that given the route and the closing times,
We'd try to get a couple receipts up the road.
We did.
Fourteen miles up the road, at Wilton.
You can't safely ride a bicycle from Stovall to Wilton unless you go past the Exxon control.

Hey!  I can sub-10 this!

Rolling out of Wilton, I told John and Rick (Richard and Chris had dropped us off their front),
That I'd like to do the last 10-miles in 37 minutes or less, to get a sub-10-hour tour.
Rick looked at his cue sheet (John had lost his) ... and informed me that it is only 8.9 mile to go.
That's better than 10.

John, Rick and I pulled into the finish at 4:55 pm --> 9h,55m --> my second fastest ever KLL.
Chris and Richard pulled in 13 minutes later.

R-12 completed for Chris.  Congratulations!

About the fast-"guys", and the ONE gal.

LynnL told me that the first finishers completed the ride at 3:10 pm --> 8h,10m. Yikes!!
Several more were 4 or 5 minutes behind.

---> Kerr Lake Loop 208 km Permanent; 

 _ "pre-ride"; 10.5 m.; 0h,37m in-motion; 16.8 mph; 
 _ _ KLL proper; 131.8 m.; est. 7h,49m in-motion; 17.0 mph; elapsed time 9h,55m;
 _ _ _ total ride; 142.3 m.; 8h,26m in-motion; 16.9 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _23 rides; _1822.2 m.; 123 hrs, 05 min; 14.8 mph. 
Q-2 tot: _30 rides; _2604.9 m.; 174 hrs, 22 min; 14.9 mph. 
J-A tot: _23 rides; _1944.0 m.; 128 hrs, 29 min; 15.1 mph.
Sep tot: __4 rides; __379.1 m.; _24 hrs, 09 min; 15.7 mph. 
YTD tot: _80 rides; _6750.2 m.; 450 hrs, 05 min; 15.0 mph. 

R-14, C-19, M-31 (earlier this month).  P-0. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sept 18 -- Bridge to Bridge Irregular Style

Five Irregulars participated in the Bridge to Bridge cycling event Sunday, Sept 18. Ags, BobH, Iva, Norris, Tito. Also in attendance were wives Kim (Tito), Bren (Norris), and Mary Kay (Bob). The eight of us met at The Sagebrush steakhouse Saturday night and had a good time. Tito had raw tofu, water (no ice), and a piece of lettuce.

The Route
The race (or is it a ride) starts in Lenoir, NC and goes east before doubling back towards the mountains. The first 50 miles are relatively flat until it hits Hwy 181 north of Morganton. That starts a 10 mile 2500 foot climb to the community of Jonas Ridge. Normally, the ride then joins the BR Pkwy, but this year, due to construction, they closed the parkway to the ride (not good). Instead it went up through Linville and west of Grandfather Mt down highway 105. Near Banner Elk there is a steep downhill segment (1000 feet four miles) that passes through the community of Foscoe before turning onto Shulls Mills Road near Hound Ears Resort. This was a definite downgrade from the BR Pkwy because 105 is heavily traveled.

Leaving 105, thank goodness, the route then goes by Hound Ears Country Club and starts a 10 mile 1800 feet beautiful climb from Hound Ears to the BR Pkwy / Hwy 221 intersection. From there it’s rollers and hills and bigger hills on Hwy 221 to the Grandfather Mt entrance.

By the time you reach Grandfather, you’ve ridden 100 miles, and you face a really tough, tough climb. It’s 900 feet in two miles with the average not a true description. The first part is doable. Then, there are about four switchbacks were I had “trouble” (see The Ride). In terms of length and elevation, it’s similar to Pilot or Hanging Rock, but seemed harder (see The Ride). Maybe it isn’t. I suspect the preceding 100 miles had something to do with it.

The ride info says 10,580 feet of climbing. My Garmin said 8,926.

The Ride
We five met at the starting line at 0800 ready to go. Kim had gone on to Grandfather to wait. Bren and Mary Kay were there to see us off. At the gun, that’s the last I saw of Tito and Ags till much later.

Norris, Bob, and I started off together and then got caught in different pace lines for a good while. Somewhere around the first rest stop (25 miles) we got back together and pretty much stayed there for awhile. We climbed together on Hwy 181. BobH was in the lead most of the time. Norris was climbing well despite his own admission that he had not been doing much hill training. The climb seems to go on forever with few flat spots. Look at the elevation profile to see what I mean.

Somewhere still on 181, but after the steepest part, I had my first chain incident. When I shifted to my small chain ring, it would get thrown off into the frame – not every time – sometimes. I lost Bob and Norris and the others when I stopped to fix it. We got back together at the next rest stop.

Finally, we got to Linville and over to Hwy 105 and the long downhill. I talked to Bob on the phone afterward and he said he hit 41 mph riding the brakes. He said Norris hit 50. And, this was on a busy road with the wind blowing. In this stretch, we also something we rarely saw all day – blue sky. The warm sun felt great on my back.

After this, we all were in a nice 10 person pace line going past the exclusive Grandfather Mountain Golf and Country Club and onto relatively flat ground when I had my second chain incident. Again, I lost the pace line to stop and fix it. Now I was totally by myself. I got to the point where I thought I may have missed a turn, but finally I saw Shulls Mills Road. This went by the beautiful Hound Ears Golf and Ski club and started another long, steep climb back to the pkwy / 221 intersection. It was still beautiful weather.

Once on 221, the weather socked in again but worse. Fog reduced visibility to 100 feet if that. This was about mile 90 and I was ready to exit the bike. I was cold and damp and tired. I was riding with this (I thought) nice guy. I told him about my chain problems and said “ok. I’m getting ready to shift down. It may throw”. I found that if I was real careful, I could do it. But, this time it threw and I busted my posterior. Unlike before, when I had some forward momentum, this time I was going up and came to an immediate halt. A bicycle quickly loses its stability as its forward momentum slows. Down I went. I threw myself to the ditch to avoid falling into the fog shrouded mist in the middle of the road. The ditch, about a foot deep, nicely accommodated my rear end. My head slammed into a rock embedded in the cliff, but fortunately, my bike helmet did its job. AMEN on bike helmets. This is one of several times I’ve said I’m glad I have a helmet on as my head encountered something hard. My “friend” kept on riding. Maybe he didn’t see me. I had been seeing cars coming south on 221 with people who had finished the race. One of them stopped and asked if I was o.k. I got myself untangled from the bike and said thanks, but yes. Now, the fun of clipping in on an upslope began. Finally, I managed that and continued on somewhat angered at myself for not having my equipment in top shape for such a ride. Another lesson learned.

Later I learned that Bob and Norris got to the GF Mt gate about 8 hours elapsed time. Their plan all along was not to tackle GF Mt, but to go on to the Meadows where the shuttle from the top was taking people. I arrived at the gate about 8:15 elapsed. For awhile (8 minutes), I considered going to the Meadows myself. But, then I said what the hell and took off up the mountain. For a while, it wasn’t bad at all. I was saying what’s the big deal. But, that changed quickly. I started seeing people pushing their bikes. I started zig sagging across the road. Kim and Tito passed by me in my car going downhill. Tito yelled for me to meet them at The Meadows. Finally, I got off myself and started walking with a young guy. We were leaning into our bikes like pushing a heavy wheel barrow up a ramp. Then we would get to a “flat” spot and remount. Then get off again. We repeated this process till finally we saw the finish line high above us. No way could we get on our bikes so we walked and pushed our way to the top.

My elapsed time was 8:56. Both Ags and Tito stayed on their bikes the whole way. They both had great rides with Ags at 6:56 and Tito at 7:38. I hope they can comment to give their perspective on the ride.

The winner in 4:51 was Bruce Humphries from S.C. Bruce is a cat 1 racer who rides on the Hincapie Green team. Soni Dyer, whom some of you may remember from N.C. triathlon days, came in seventh at 5:04. The first female was a 17 year old in 5:35. The first sixty year old finished in 6:16.

Is this harder than Assault on Mt Mitchell? I’ve answered both ways since the ride. I didn’t have to dismount at Mitchell. But, Mitchell was longer and more elevation gain. I think The Bridge had a lot of gain at one time or another whereas Mitchell was more steady gain. At any rate, I’m glad I did it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Commentaries and Reflections

I haven't been blogging every ride lately, but the only ones missing are a couple / few insubstantial spin-out-the-legs type things and one test-ride of prospective permanent populaire route.  I wasn't going to blog about the test-ride, but I realize that this blog brings back forgotten memories.  I think I will put up a short post about that test-ride ... in a couple days.

Ride early or don't ride at all.
That isn't advice ... it is a summary of what happens to me if I don't ride first thing of the day.
Only time that I counter that is when I'm specifically meeting someone later in the day.

Past commentaries and reflections worth remembering / re-reading:

Solo versus group riding.
A particular rando friend noted that they had seen and read that post some time ago.
They thought the one disadvantage of going solo outweighed all the advantages noted.
I didn't tell her, but sometimes, I think that "disadvantage" is the biggest advantage.

Reflections on why we ride.
The section in the above-link with the blue-type ... no additonal comment.

A cycling poem.
I wrote the above specifically about the Irregulars.
I suspect that it applies to almost every group or club.

The poem consists of 6-couplets.
Each line is diametrically the opposite of the line with which it is coupled. 

Sometimes, I have heard both lines of a given couplet regarding the same ride. 
Sometimes, I have heard both lines of a given couplet from the same person, a few months apart.  
I admit that I have sometimes said one or more of the lines from the poem.   

The next time you make a suggestion or complain to your ride leader,   
Please do make your opinion known -- how else can the needs of all be taken into account.   
But please recognize that at least one of your friends is probably thinking the exact opposite,  
And the ride leader is probably trying to balance several interests. 

Sometimes it is a small world.
The above is as close as I have come to social or political commentary in this blog.
I don't do politics or religion or business when I'm recreating.
A rando friend has noted that one cannot detect my political leanings from this blog.

Something frivolous.
I have no idea why I entitled that post "back to the future".

Lucky or blessed.
The above is as close to a philosophical post in this blog as there is.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept 10 -- Prison Break with Options

T’was a beautiful day today – both weather and ride. This was the first regular Irregular ride we’ve had in awhile. I’m sure Martin could tell us when the last one was. Martin delegated the ride leadership to me this weekend. With me and others being in between Tour de Moore and Bridge to Bridge, I didn’t want to go too long. The famous Prison Break was selected due to its relative short distance. And, I wanted to ride by the prison again. I like it’s architecture and functional style.

Knowing that not all are riding long next weekend, I offered two options to extend the basic route. The first was to continue on past the Butner to Range Road. From there any distance at all would be possible. The second was to turn left on Beaver Dam / Rock Springs off Old Weaver and do the hills east of Grissom. This would add about 12 miles to the route with good climbing. But, no one selected either option. I suspect all were having such a good time, no one wanted to break up the group. Ah, the group. How could I get this far without saying who was there: El Martin, Mallet (of L’Alpe de Huez fame), Ags, Tito, RRtRR (first ride since PBP), The RED Rocket (of TdM blue room fame), and me.

The whole ride was well paced with all (minus me) taking their turn at the front. It was a good example of Irregular riding at its best.

Martin showed us how it’s done on Old Weaver beating the pack to New Light with a spirited high cadence climb worthy of mention here. He’s climbing well.
Headline news: Ags set a new world record of 14:15 for GhostonPeedMVC. Only Jens Voigt has bettered that time and that was with a wind assist. Not far behind him and setting a personal best was Tito with the excellent time of 14:30. This too would have been a world record had it not been for Ags. Personally, IvaHawk set a PR of his own of 17:14. I might add that the Red Rocket was behind Tito and far ahead of me.

Mallet, Martin, and RRtRR were not trying to set a record today helping Robert (do not pronounce the t) to PUE who is still not totally recovered from his outstanding effort in France. I encourage all of you to go by TLC for bikes where Gary has a PBP photo of Rober(t) proudly displayed.
Thanks again to all for a great ride.

P.S. It was RRtRR's birthday ! After the ride, he produced refreshments for all. His excellent taste was in evidence (probably with advice from LeeD) with a nice selection of beverages.

P.S.S. I got a note from BobH. He and Norris did 80 at the beach getting ready for "The Bridge” as the locals call it.
Proposed longer ride combo:

Hmmn.  Next time?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cycling Group Refrain

We start too early.
We start too late.

We ride too fast.
We ride too slowly.

We ride too far.
We ride too short.

We ride too many different routes -- we should ride the same route each weekend.
We ride the same roads all the time -- can we please mix it up?

Must we always start from the same location?
We must always start from the same location.

Must you do those safety comments?
Please do more safety comments.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Risk Analysis - ROM # Expected Rando Deaths

Reading the statements from the candidates for the RUSA board elections this autumn, I noticed that one candidate wants to do a study regarding safety and enhancing same for randonneurs.  The catalyst behind his thinking is that one randonneur has died while doing a brevet in each of the last four years (accepting his "fact" without checking, but I do wonder why he apparently excluded permanents).

Ignoring the curious combination of sentences "... skiers can reduce their risk if they choose.  But brevet riders do not have this option", the thing I immediately thought was:

I wonder how many deaths can be expected among randonneurs during brevets, and permanents?

Being an actuary by training, I decided to do a "quick back-of-the-envelope" estimate of those questions -- it will take me longer to write this up than it took me to do the calculations.

I needed to make reasonable estimates for a few key variables:

  • number of randonneurs, 
  • amount of time spent doing randonneuring rides, and 
  • expected death rates from all causes. 
One can consult the membership databases on the RUSA website, under RBA resources to get a list of all active members.  I did that a few months ago, and found the number was around 3000 active members.  (If I was going to do more than a "quick back-of-the-envelope" estimation, I would, of course, confirm that number.)

I went on-line and quickly found three sources of publicly available death rates by age, or by age and sex.  These included all causes of death, and while randonneurs might be healthier than the average, I'm only intending a quick rough-order-of-magnitude (ROM) calculation; these seemed acceptable for the purpose.

I chose to use the third of the three shown above.  IMO it has a couple advantages:  (1) death rates are available by age and sex should I decide to try to do a more refined calculation, (2) I inherently have a better idea of what processes may have been used to develop the death rate estimates.  (Since this is just a ROM back-of-the-envelope estimate, I did not attempt to find and study the methodology of the three above possible sources.)

I still needed to determine which death rate(s) to use from the SSA Table.  I wanted to develop a range for the answer to my posed question(s), but I didn't want to make a huge project of this (typing this far has taken longer than finding the necessary assumption estimates AND doing the calculations).  I decided to use the death rate for Males-age-50 as the low end of the spectrum and Males-age-60 for the high end of the spectrum.

That left me needing only an estimate for the time people spend doing brevets (and permanents).  If I had access to the entire RUSA database in a data-downloadable fashion, I could crunch the number for everyone, and come up with ... the exact amount of elapsed time for RUSA members on brevets and permanents that they completed ... that would still leave out time information for DNFs, and this is supposed to be a quick ROM estimate.  I needed something I could get my hands on quickly.  The answer:  my time spent so far this year doing brevets and permanents.  Am I representative of the entire membership?

Well ... I am 55 and male.
I did one SR this year (with no extras, so far).
More brevet kms than quite a few; much less than many.

I am a mid-to-back-of-the-packer.
So it probably takes me a bit longer than average to complete a brevet.

I am no Lone Star rando, but I have ridden more permanent kilometers this year than most.
As I write this, I have completed 18 permanents so far this year (4 not in the RUSA results, yet).
I have also completed 12 permanent populaires so far this year.

One could argue that I have more RUSA kms and time doing rando this year than "average".
But, I am only trying to get a ROM estimate based on readily available data.

What did I find?

Based  on:  3000 members, my time in-motion and overall elapsed time, death rates as indicated:

Expected Deaths While Engaging in Randonneuring
Time in Hrs Time in Days
Kms In-Motion Elapsed In-Motion Elapsed
Breverts 1,500 64.013 85.033 2.667 3.543
Perms 4,926 215.351 261.933 8.973 10.914
Total 6,426 279.364 346.967 11.640 14.457

Annual Death Rates Expected Deaths, In-Motion Expected Deaths, Elapsed
Male 50 Male 60 Male 50 Male 60 Male 50 Male 60
0.00551 0.01141 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.3
0.00551 0.01141 0.4 1.0 0.4 1.0
0.00551 0.01141 0.5 1.4 0.5 1.4
  • Expected deaths while randonneuring at my rate:  0.5 to 1.4 per year.
  • Expected deaths while doing brevets at my rate:  0.1 to 0.3 per year.  

Based on this Rough Order of Magnitude estimate, and leaning more on the "Total" numbers which include the permanents, I think I agree with Lois Springsteen's response to Mr. Berk's previous suggestion to RUSA regarding the safety research:  thank-you, no.

(I suspect that Jonathan Berk is a Ph.D. based on the content in his "saferrando" blog; please accept my apology if you would prefer to be "Dr. Berk", but on the other hand, we are all just randonneurs in fancy underwear here -- no need for fancy titles.)

Martin Shipp

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tour de Moore 2011

Ags, Tito, RedRocket, and IvaHawk participated in the Tour de Moore Classic on Labor Day 2011. Rain threatened, but aside from one thorough dousing near the beginning, it was a dry, even sunny, day. With gravity assist, we went out fast making it to the first rest stop averaging nearly 20 mph. No, I haven’t become cat 1. It was mostly downhill. After that we had an aggressive but reasonable pace. The others had to wait for me after some climbs as usual.

After the ride, we relaxed in Ags’s very nice camo camp chairs enjoying Fat Tire draft and a pasta supper. We missed the other Irregulars and wish they could have been there.

Total time: 7:05
Moving time: 6:10 (yes, nearly an hour of sag time)
Distance: 102.4
Average moving: 16.6
Elevation gain: 3,773

For comparison, here are some other ride elevation gains:
- Mayo Lake Century: 3,407
- Raven Rock Century: 3,105
- Bobbitt 72 miler: 4,182
- Whirlygig 113 miles: 1,967
- Last 50 miles of Bridge to Bridge (without the final 2 miles up GF Mt): 7,134

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Paris - Brest 2011 Adventure

Paris Brest Paris 2011 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

This new Randonneur has had quite the adventure at PBP 2011.

This was the greatest adventure of my life....the hardest thing I have ever done. The mental, physical and emotional endurance required reminded me of my Army boot camp days. I made it to 1050k of the 1230k distance (650 vs 750 miles) and quit when my seat beat my rear in their conflict. I could endure the pain no longer.... I DNFed, very sad and disappointed but had a great experience.

The Goal
Joining RUSA in Jan 2011, I heard about this 1200k PBP ride early in the year. That would be fun to try.... oh, it is only every 4 years, oh, it is August 2011...this year. Ummm. What is involved? Must qualify with 200, 300, 400 and 600k rides in 2011. I have never done more than 200k (125 miles) but lets try this thing out... wish is was in 2012 though.

Prep Work
Plan for the 4 qualifying rides starting in February and finished in May. Ok completed that... I can ride 600k.

Reading Long Distance Cycling, by Burke & Pavelka, and PBP 2011 Issue of American Randonneur - all sorts of info required for PBP: lights, bags, what to take, training, eating, drinking, sleeping, night riding.... I also drilled veteran randos with tons of rookie questions... they were all very helpful.

This was considered a high risk project...lots of things that could go wrong. Each area was critiqued and I tried to mitigate each one. My biggest concerns were... my longest ride was 600 and now I would be going 1200k and my stomach could be problematic.

Training - I could not fit in any longer than 600k rides, so based on Chet's advice I did a 100 to 125 miler each weekend for 8 weeks with a couple of back to back 200ks on Sat/Sunday. This really broke me down and near the end of training my legs were drained. However, the 3 weeks of taper worked wonders as the strength of 1200 miles came back just before PBP.

Gary got my bike in tip top shape and we packed it up ready for the trip.

Off to
Paris and St Quentin
The flight from RDU thru Boston to Paris leaves Wednesday afternoon and gets to Paris Thursday morning. There are lots of prayers the bike makes the connection when the first leg gets into Boston late. The first victory.... Robert and bike both make it to Paris in time... now lets look for Terminal 2E where bus/truck will take us to hotel in St Quentin.

Outside 2E dragging luggage/ bike and no sign of red bus. Go back into airport looking for 2E still can't find. Comes out other side, then 50 yards away see the red bus, cross thru barriers, get close to bus, then it's a movie scene: bus pulls away, Robert runs dragging bike/luggage, waving and shouting.... bus driver finally sees me and stops.... I catch up and notice bus is full of Asian ladies.... not Rando's. Sweaty Robert apologizes to driver and realizes the adventure has already started. Still lost at airport... not a good sign. Back into airport and trying to find correct exit....finally someone sees guy with bike and desperate look then points.... others with bikes are over there. Finally, finally there is bus. Get on and see Jerry's familiar face. What a welcomed sight!

Bike Party
Now at the hotel and its time to put bikes together. There are about 8 to 10 people outside the hotel on grass/parking lot in various stages of putting bikes together. What fun! Where are you from? Mostly Americans. Great socializing, laughing, no pressure, calm before the storm.... everyone helping others as needed. Guys are using bike pumps, struggling to get to 100 psi breaking into a sweat. Test riding their bikes, putting on lights, bags, adjusting seats, etc. Lawrence from Munich comes up to me and asks if I would like to use his floor pump.... great timing, absolutely.... just leave it in the bike room. I pump up my tires and do not get sweaty. Then notice I am the king for the moment..... all eyes are upon me....can I use that next? can I use that next? The floor pump is enjoyed by all!

The bike room.

Test drive the start of the course
On Friday a group of US riders, 100 to 150 leave Hotel Campanile and plan to ride about 20 miles out then back on the course, loosen up legs and test drive newly put together bikes. What people for all over US. Seems like 10 miles then we are in the country, lovely scenery. After 20 miles the leaders keep going.... that is enough for Robert and I turn back.... still a long line of riders going out. I ride about 3 miles to the first round about and not knowing the route stop, chill out and wait for the returning peloton. I am sitting by the side of the road, eating, drinking, enjoying people watching ....when a car pulls up next to me.... I give a big smile and my best Bonjour! Bonjour Monsieur, (then a lot of fast French)... and I respond" je ne sais pas, I am an American" We both smile, laugh and shake our heads.... he drives off looking to find directions. I feel proud to blend in and be mistaken as a local.... here comes peloton... back on bike for return trip to hotel.... the adventure has definitely started.

Lunch prior to start of ride. Starting on left, Robert, Branson, Jerry and Shay.

Palace of Versailles

After the group ride, a bunch of us have lunch at an outdoor restaurant, then Jerry, Branson and I ride about 5k over to the Palace of Versailles. We have a great bike tour of the grounds... enormous and gorgeous. On the way back we stop at a local bike shop for a couple of minor adjustments. The owner has a bike lift to transport bikes from the main floor up one floor to his shop.... very cool.
Palace of Versailles

Robert with the lake and palace in the back ground

The Bike Inspection at 930 am Sat
The French like their rules and their enforcement of them. My inspection is 930 am and it takes about 10 minutes to ride to the start / inspection / package pickup location. I go to bike room about 915, dig out my bike and for some reason squeeze both tires.... oh, no I have a flat. I am going to miss my official inspection time.... they will not let me ride PBP....crap. So, I change the tube as fast as possible, pedal like a demon and get to the inspection station late.... fortunately they are in a good mood and do not check my time..... bike passes and sent in to pick up packet with number, chip, etc. Chet told me that Murphy always hangs around Randonneuring events... getting a flat prior to going to the inspection.... not a good sign.

Robert at the start

My view of the start

The Big Ride

PBP ride itself was the greatest of adventures. From the companionship of the riders and the support of the local French residents to the beautiful countryside and the mental, physical and emotion stress endured by 5 days of continuous riding. A true test of oneself. The ride was divided into segments of riding with 20 or so riders (Seattle group), smaller groups (Lancaster 3 riders, Brittney 5 riders, Denmark 2 riders) and solo. There were easy times and the tough times. The hills in some sections were brutal. Fortunately, I am light and was well prepared for them as I normally was passing those around me. One night going thru forested hills in the rain was especially scary as the small road had no lines and the grass on both sides was the same level. I had a hard time distinguishing where the road was on the steep down hills. The next morning when the sun came up, the mist was so thick that I had to wipe my glasses about every 20 -30 seconds and this lasted for hours.

A view of the French country side

The locals had tables set for us with food and water and they were like an oasis in the sun. Some spoke a little English. They realized we were under the gun to continue and we both enjoyed the few moments we spent together. I did splurge at one village Saint-Martin de Pres. It was late at night and I needed a mental break. The village was having a party for us. In front of the local pub was a tent with outdoor kitchen, tables and even a DJ with music blasting. I stopped and had a local favorite buckwheat crepe and talked with the locals. Great time and pics.

Stopping along the route

Robert at Saint-Martin de Pres

Petite crash

The control areas are hectic with sleep deprived riders trying to optimize their time with required activities of getting card stamped, eating, stocking up for next leg, restroom, and maybe sleeping. As I pulled into a control on the second night an organizer guided me in to the main bike parking area, however neither of us saw another rider cutting thru the area and I ran into him. Down I went on my left side. Two workers rushed to pick me up. I shook my head, said I was ok and proceeded into the control. A couple of hours into the next leg I noticed stiffness in my left arm and leg. Later I noticed the left side of my bike was off and I was compensating. My shoe was rubbing on each turn of the crank and my seat was off. At the next control I explained the damage and left the mechanic to fix it while I was eating. I was lucky it was not serious.

Spoon in Mouth
I think I was in Brest. The food line was relatively long and when I got my turn I picked up too much food - mashed potatoes, some kind of meat, soup, carrot salad, another salad, fruit cocktail and a coke. I saw Ian and welcomed his friendly face sitting across from him. As I parked my rear, I realized I was fatigued, needed sleep, just dropped bike off at mechanic and when I looked at all that food, my stomach turned..... not in mood to eat. I sat there not moving, hearing 2 or 3 conversations in different languages around me and gazing off. Finally I muttered...I am not hungry. Apparently Ian had picked up on this. He looked me straight in the eye and said slowly "Put your spoon in your mouth" Still eyes to eyes, no blinking, I did not flinch and stared back. Ian knew I heard him and that it still did not sink in. He repeated the same words at the same speed "Put your spoon in your mouth". After a continued pause, finally I understood... OK time to eat. The mashed potatoes and fruit cocktail tasted ok while everything else was a struggle. Ian, I did not tell you I appreciated this, but a big Thank You for that help!

The Quiet Italian

Leaving Villaines-la-Juhel the last night after a 30 minute nap there seemed to be no one around me. Off I go with the same pain I had coming into the control. No miracles had occurred. After about 25k I am climbing a hill and see lights coming up from the valley on the other side. As I crest the hill and start down I am riding directly into high beams...not able to see and it being a steep down slope, I slam on the brakes stopping in time not to run into the vehicle. I am waved around the vehicle and told all is ok. As I continue I see on my right a man with a beard laying in the road with his head laying down hill and covered to his neck with a blanket. He looked very peaceful, but something was not right. 50 meters down the hill, I see his bike in the ditch with its lights on. Then it hit me.... no one was attending him....very sad. Later I found out he was from Italy.

The Wolf and the Toilet
After seeing the Quiet Italian I was shook and figured to avoid his same demise I would stop and take a short nap. It looked like a deserted house in the middle of fields. Stopping and pulling out my bivvy bag as it was cold, I climbed into the bag and laid on the ground. As I started to sleep, I heard this unique sound like a long howl.....not believing my ears, I sat up and heard it again. It was real. I did not want the Wolf to eat me in a field in the middle of France. I got back on the bike, the pain was still there and pedaled to the next village looking for someplace safe. Public toilettes...yes, that might work. Luckily for me it was open and the tile floor was very soft. Before I closed my eyes I put my feet to the door as I noticed it opened both ways. I did not want the Wolf to come in.

The Pain and Agony of Defeat
When the struggle between my rear and my seat started I am not sure. It turned from uncomfortable to unbearable pain as the miles turned from 200 to 400 to 600 miles. I tried to minimize the pain by changing seat positions and leaning the bike to one side. Since having good shorts and tested seat, I did not think this would be a problem however with many hours in the rain and Murphy around it proved to be my downfall.

My speed deteriorated and breaks were more frequent as the pain increased. I realized I was making noises out loud as I sat or tried to stand.....very embarrassing but I could not hold it in. I fought to solder on as I represented NC and USA plus I had told many of my friends and work team members who were following my progress.

I stopped at a restaurant for food and requested croissants and coffee noticing a car parked with 2 bikes on top. Two men came over to my table and we chatted... them in Russian and me in English. They had to quit the day before due to knee problems and one's wife had picked them up. It was great to have someone to talk to. After stuffing down my food and coffee, saying good bye to the Russians I set out again.

I went another 20 to 30k then realized I could not continue. I stopped by the side of the road in the middle of the country side and had a discussion with myself. The outcome did not change.... I could not figure out how to continue.... yes I was ready to quit, DNF, abandon the PBP. The decision was made, get over the what in the world was I to do?

This was taken at the place I ended my PBP ride. Very appropriate.... fields of sunflowers.... death ones.

My Heros

Walking my bike, I waved at any car that was bigger than a VW. That did not work. Then over the hill I see a car with 2 bikes on top......I just stare.... they slowed down and stopped. It is the Russian family I had talked to in the last village. They came to rescue me. They all jumped was looking at a map for the nearest train station, one was removing a bike and loading mine on the roof, one was giving me an orange and putting me in the car. They left one bike, the Grandfather and their daughter on the side of the road as they drove me 17k to the nearest city with a train. I was overwhelmed by their attitude and assistance.

When we arrived at the train station Denis brought my bike in and his wife took me by the arm into the station and would not leave until I had a solid plan to get me back to the start. I got their address and after hugs I walked to the train very dejected but very, very fortunate.

I arrived at Versailles about 3 hours later and lucky for me I knew the way back due to our pre ride tour. I walked my bike thru the town to the outskirts and then mounted for the 5 k back to the start.

With head down I entered the control and turned in my card. Abandoned was written in as the time. I had covered 1050 of 1200k (650 of 750 miles). DNFed...hard to stomach. A trip to the Doctor was next... I realized I was a broken man when the French Dr and Assistant were looking at my bare ass and I was jumping as he felt my problem area.

My card stamped from Paris to Brest

My return route with controls missing

I did think to look at the professional photos that were taken on the ride. Retrieving my bike I slowly headed out the gate for my last PBP activity. Then a smile came to my face, my world just changed.... how could this be? My Russian friends were waiting outside the gate just to ensure I made it back. What love! I was overwhelmed can people from a different country that did not know I existed yesterday go out of their way to help me? Tears and hugs and thank goodness I thought of taking pictures of my Heros. What a beautiful ending to a painful and disappointing adventure!

My Russian heros

Potential updates:
The tractor and the french rider
Attacking the Orange in public
Post PBP stress syndrome

The Good
- all my friends pre ride support, the French people providing encouragement, food and drink, my Russian Heros and the PBP Adventure
The Bad - the physical pain, disappointment of DNF and the death of PBP riders
and the Ugly - what the French Doctor saw

Robert Bergeron Sep 5, 2011