Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mar-18: 200k Pre-Ride w/ the "Gab Brothers"

Fearless Leader RBA Alan greeted us warmly.
I asked, winking as I did so,
If he had been able to carefully check the road names during his pre-ride.
Alan grimaced / grinned and said, "no."
He knows the course too well.

I decided to try and check all the little green road-name signs for consistency with the cue sheet.
I know the course too well, also.

Well ... make that ... I know the roads too well, also.
Because on this ride, I noticed lots of houses and things I'd never noticed before.
There are still things I've not yet noticed, though.
"Gab Brother" #2 asked about some semi-notable thing,
I don't recall exactly what;
I responded that I hadn't noticed,
But it would probably only take another 3 to 4 rides for me to notice it.

After all, it had only taken 5 or 6 times before I finally noticed the old dam below Snow Camp.

Before going on to the "road report", let me go back to before our start.
Alan gave a very short report of the pre-ride of the day before (Alan, MikeO, Jerry).
The most important thing seemed to be Jerry finding and "un-losting" a couple of visiting cyclists,
And more importantly, the reward that followed.

Interesting things on the day:

  • We "found" the tail-end of the marathon and half-marathon walkers and jogger/walkers; the runners were long gone.  That pedestrian traffic on the roads won't be there on the 31st.  But it kept our minds busy for a couple miles. 

  • "Yard art" on Castle Rock Farm Rd / Old Switchboro Rd all still waiting / posing for pics. 
  • On the return, a large ostrich had joined three bovines in one of the fields on the north side of Castle Rock Farm Rd.  We see llamas and alpacas in many places in central NC, but first ostrich on a farm for me. 

  • The UFO on Siler City - Snow Camp Rd has an additional vehicle alongside. 
  • The purple-silhouette woman seemed more prominent (on SC - SC Rd). 
  • The historical marker alongside that large church on SC-SC Rd indicates that there has been a church there since at least 1757.  Also mentioned something about the "Regulators", but I didn't read fast enough.  Maybe next time I'll be prepared to read. 
  • [edit Mar-29-2012]  Thanks to Branson (see comments below), who seems to know all the history stuff, or how to access the on-line history stuff, neither I nor you have to wait until "next time":  http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?sp=map&sv=H-73 
  • One should definitely downshift as or BEFORE one turns off SC-SC Rd onto H.A.Rd.. 
  • Gab Brother #1 and I each failed to do that ... and each had to muscle it up the slope. 
The UFO now has a "companion vehicle".  You'll have to do the brevet to see.  
Thanks to "sag" of  "sagittandy" blog fame for the "undated" photo. 

Road conditions:

  • Parker Herndon Rd, outbound, is smoother than it was because of some effective patching. 
  • I failed to notice inbound, as I was intent on catching the Gab Brothers. 

  • The eastern 1-mile of Castle Farm Rock Rd is smooth. 
  • Old Switchboro Rd at the west of end of Castle Rock Farm Rd is nice. 
  • The several miles in between are still rough. 
  • People on 35 to 42 mm tyres will likely not notice, though. 

  • The NC-55 shoulders, outbound and inbound, have a lot of gravel and sand "washout" and other debris.  Riding the fog line seemed best to me.  Otherwise one would be swerving back-and-forth between the shoulder and the lane; better to just claim your position and let the traffic go around; there are two entire lanes each direction (and a suicide lane -- I think), and there shouldn't be that much traffic. 

  • I can't think of any road that warrants special mention because of a poor or bad surface -- just about every mile of every road (except as noted above) is nicely smooth.  It used to be worse.  There has been some improvement even since I first did Alan's brevets in 2010.  However, I understand that the roads used to be much rougher.  

Terrain conditions and flora report:

  • Although Gab Brother #1 will likely disagree with me, the repeating climbs back up from the many little creek valleys don't seem nearly as difficult as they used to.  Your experience may differ. 
  • Green.  Green.  Everything Spring-Green!  With redbuds and bradford pears and tulip magnolias and everything else bursting out in appropriate colors.  Two weeks on, the particular species most noticeable will likely have morphed-on, but it should still be a glorious outing for anyone that appreciates spring flowers.  (And, since I noticed things were covered with yellow pollen on Monday ... maybe the pollen will be not be bad on the 31st.  WAIT ... I recall that the 2010-400-km-brevet was run in a pollen storm -- especially visible at night.  Therefore, expect pollen in the air.) 

Gab Brothers?

  • #1 (Dean) and #2 (Mick -- he claims there are too many rando-Mike's in NC) repeatedly dropped me off their front.  
  • They were usually having a fine old gabfest. 
  • I couldn't properly hear them. 
  • And they didn't need a third, mostly boring, voice to drag the conversation down. 
  • As noted above, after being dropped off the front, I had more time to notice things I'd not before. 
  • One notable exception.  I had stopped at Frosty's and was munching on a bit of food, and they got ahead a few minutes.  Catching them took my mind away from paying attention to the road conditions on Jones Ferry / Hamlet Chpl Rd and also the first half of Parker Herndon Rd.  However, as I type this, I recall that there are still plenty of chips / top layer of asphalt missing on JF/HC Rd.  Shouldn't be a problem in daylight.  Shouldn't really be a problem for night-time 300 and 400 finishers either -- the missing bits are not yet holes, but remain only 1/4 inch or less deep. 
  • The extra minutes at Frosty's did allow me to be the bearer of good news about the NC State victory in the men's round-ball tournament.  (There were outdoor speakers at Frosty's tuned to the sports radio station.)  

We had an excellent ride with almost no noticeable breeze all day, good company, and nicely cool conditions.  We did not hurry while on the bike.  We did not hurry the controls.  We finished in 10h01.

And Jerry did not get my share of the homebrew!

I'm not sure what "job" I'll be doing on the 31st, but I hope to see the usual crew, and more.

One last thing:  I am confident that the cue sheet is absolutely correct !
Click here for Alan's website in general.
Click here for the 200-km cue sheet currently on the website.
The sharp-eyed may see why my story, which I'm sticking to, is that that cue sheet is correct.


  1. Replies
    1. I don't usually publish unsigned anonymous comments, but I'll make an exception:

      Yes, "tyres".

      I prefer the Brit-speak "tyres" to Ameri-speak "tires". Eliminates confusion between "tyre" and "tire". Not everything that Webster, et al, did to make "American" different from "English" was a good idea.

      That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

  2. http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?sp=map&sv=H-73