Thursday, February 23, 2012

Genesis of a Route -- Egypt Mtn

First, a disclaimer:  all links embedded in the following are probably for gratuitous purposes only. 

I thought it would be interesting to have a permanent that started just north of Raleigh, went north to pick up NC Bike Route #4 for a non-trivial distance, then came back south to Raleigh, making a loop.  I also thought it would be nice to get further east than MikeD’s “Kerr Lake Loop” route, thus opening some new territory of north-central North Carolina for “’permanent’ riding pleasure”.  The process has been convoluted and has led me, at least temporarily, to a totally unexpected conclusion.

To begin evaluation of a permanent route, I mapped using US BR #1 from Bay Leaf to Drewry, with the intent of taking NC BR #4 east from Drewry until … a point to be determined.  An immediate “problem”  popped up – it is 53 miles on BR #1 to get to Drewry à that wouldn’t leave very much distance / time for BR #4.  Further, only 9 of those 53 miles are not on MikeD’s Kerr Lake Loop start.  Two things were obvious:  (1) I needed a different routing to get to Drewry and that might mean a different start location; (2) if the route started from the north edge of Raleigh, there wasn’t going to be much new NC BR #4 on the route.

As anyone that has done “Irregular” rides knows – I certainly know an alternative routing to get to Drewry (or Ridgeway, or Warrenton).  I had intended to use that alternative routing to return from Warrenton – or from some point east or southeast of Warrenton.  The alternative routing would also work from an alternative start location – namely, Wakefield McD’s (the start of MikeD’s “Showdown in Black Creek” route).  One issue with the Wakefield McD’s start / finish location is that getting there from north Raleigh on a bicycle is … a bit dangerous.  Narrow, over-used road being moved and widened à too much traffic in too much of a hurry (some of the  traffic being teen-aged drivers and passengers on their way to high school, too many construction / hazard barrels lining the road, too much road construction / destruction. 

Despite the issues with using the Wakefield McD’s as the start, it would be easier to open “new territory”, and I mapped out – I don’t know how many routes – I lost count.  At least one or two of those routes has merit, but I didn’t get a “warm and fuzzy” feeling.  I mapped routes heading east from Wake Forest through Rolesville and onto Fowler Road and continuing over to Spring Hope Rd, up to Spring Hope and then Centerville and Warrenton and returning on my preferred alternative routing to get from north Raleigh to Drewry – good thing a loop route can be ridden in reverse.  I mapped out other “eastern side” alternatives to a loop route, always combined with my preferred alternative routing to get from north Raleigh to Drewry.

Finally, I decided “dang it, I want to be able to cycle to the start and return afterward … safely!”  I returned to thinking of the Bay Leaf location for the prospective start / finish. 

By this time I had given up on starting from the north edge of Raleigh AND including Warrenton and more than just a few miles on BR #4.  Bay Leaf to Warrenton via the alternative routing to Drewry turned out to be 62.4 miles.  Many might have just done that as an out-and-back route; however, I was stubbornly still looking for a loop route (two routes in one) AND the out-and-back routing would need a control at … Drewry … because of the definite “L” shape of the route.  Drewry – sometimes there is what almost looks like a store there – most of the time it appears to be “out of business”, or at least “closed” – and when not one of those two … it still looks awfully “suspect”.  Rando-Dean had told me that Crista wouldn’t allow out-and-back duel info controls; I haven’t inquired of Crista on that score – after all, I wanted a loop route. 

Okay, so the route will start at Bay Leaf, and use the alternative routing to get to Drewry via Franklinton, Epsom and Middleburg, share a few miles of US BR #1 with the Kerr Lake Loop, and then take NC BR #4 into Warrenton.  Then what?

Darn good question. 

Baltimore Road looks interesting.  A road so named in North Carolina, with no “Baltimore” near at hand might even amuse someone that lives in Maryland.    

Lick Skillet Road has an interesting name.  That could be useful for a short conversation or two – once or twice, anyway.  The only problem with Lick Skillet road is that it doesn’t go anywhere “useful” from a rando route perspective, and if included would lead to a couple info controls and besides, I don’t actually KNOW if I’d like cycling on the road.

Okay, then – Baltimore Rd to Park Town Rd to NC-58.  There’s no traffic over there.  NC-58 to Centerville.  Probably an info control in Centerville.  Besides, I did grades 1-7 in Centerville School – in NW Illinois, not NC – but if Dean can find an Orange Street or Road on most every one of his routes (because he was born in Orange County, NC ?), I can put in Centerville for personal kicks.

NC-561 from Centerville to Louisburg.  There’s no traffic over there.   Once back to Louisburg, I know the roads from personal experience.  Can use either Dyking Rd or Peach Orchard Rd, and choose the finish accordingly.  I chose Peach Orchard Rd, then through Youngsville on a bit of NC BR #2, then continue on a couple more down-and-up roads to get to Bruce Garner Rd, then to Grissom where US BR #1 comes in from northerly side, and retrace the start to get back to Bay Leaf.

That route would work. 

Wish there wasn’t that 30-mile “hole” in my knowledge, though.

Check out the Google-street-view.  The little yellow man hasn’t traversed MOST of Baltimore Road – hmmn – the ends look good though.  Park Town Rd – appears mostly flat, but okay.  NC-58 mostly flat, narrow (but there is no traffic – the little yellow man only encountered one or two vehicles in his trip down the 6-miles the route would use).  NC-561 – uh,oh – “tar snakes” galore – perhaps 2 or 3 miles when the street-view pics were taken.  Wonder if the road has been Obamulated, and no longer has “tar snakes”.

When can I do a ride to check out those 30-miles?  Tar-snakes ... 

Am I sure I want to do those unknown 30-miles over and over?

Rando-Dean always suggests that one take a favorite training route, or just a route that one likes, and tweak it a bit to make a permanent, or a permanent-populaire.  Am I going to be able to tolerate NC-58 and NC-561? 

Tolerate?  How about something I can enjoy! 

When can I check out that 30-mile hole?  From Raleigh, it would require almost a 200k bicycle ride to get to and check out that “hole”.  Might as well just ride the potential 213-km route.


The solution came to me in the night.  A bit twisted, figure-eight looking, combining parts of three of my existing "Irregulars" routes:  Middleburg Century (map), VGCC-Warrenton loop (map), Bobbitt - Egypt Mtn (map).  ALL on roads that I know – and like.  Not too much climbing – after all, east of US-1, the rollers are not as “interesting” as they are west of US-1.

The solution comes with a bonus!  First was Stovall Mtn – for which I am credited / blamed for introducing to MikeD (see 2nd section).  (Really, though, Branson should get the credit -- the first paragraph fully explains.)  Second, Little Mtn Rd – which is already on my Bahama Beach populaire.  Egypt Mtn Rd – for this prospective permanent.  Trifecta!

Oh, in case you are still reading this, and interested – I have NOT given up on a permanent starting from north Raleigh and using quite a few miles on NC BR #4.  After all, there are three roads with the word “Mountain” in their name – all east of Roxboro, all within easy cycling distance of north Raleigh -- and I already know how to get two of them into a decent ride!  

The “Warrenton – Egypt Mtn” permanent has been approved since mid-February.  I’m going to “open” the route on March 3rd (for those not going to Tony’s mini-brevet-fest from Harrisburg).

Come and I hope you will enjoy – I know I will.   


  1. We definitely do not need to introduce you to ROMA's Matt Settle- between you two we'll be climbing anything and everything with a "Hill/Mountain" in the name from DC to SC.

    Félicitations on the new route-


    1. Too late, Branson, I already met Matt, though I didn't know who he was.

      Extract from a post about Alan's 300-km brevet in 2010.:
      "I certainly enjoyed, appreciated, and must mention control conversations with Al P., JayJay, Andy and Nancy(?) D., Chloe (Seagrove, Siler City, Snow Camp), and two snatches of conversation with some guy named Matt -- later found out (due to "sagitandy's" photos) that Matt was Matt Settle."