Friday, April 13, 2012

Apr-06/07: Dean Martin & Hogan's Heroes - A Fleche

The epic struggle of one man and his bike against the elements, the dark, the terrain and mishaps.
Wait -- isn't a Fleche a TEAM event?
Oh, yeah.

The epic struggle of one team ... against the elements, the dark, the terrain and mishaps.
Wait -- wasn't the highest elevation of the ride at the start?
Well, okay, yeah, but there was all that flat stuff to navigate.

The epic struggle ... against the elements, the dark, navigation errors and mishaps.
Wait -- wasn't there a full moon on a crystal clear night?
Well, okay.

The epic struggle ... against the elements, navigation errors and mishaps. 
Wait -- what mishaps?
Well, okay, there were no mechanicals or crashes or anything similar.
But Byron worried about the noises from his bottom bracket from almost the first pedal stroke;
The only time he didn't worry about that was when he was too COLD to care.
But the bottom bracket survived the ride, performing well the entire way?
Well, yes.
Doesn't appear to have been a mishap there.

Well, Martin was really sleepy between 4 and 5:30 Saturday morning.
But he didn't crash?
No, but he weaved around a lot.
Did he cause problems for the other team members weaving around worse than the Duke?
Well, no.  He got ahead of the rest so that if he crashed, no one else would get hurt.
But he didn't crash?
No, but he came close -- once.

Okay, the epic struggle of one team and their bikes against the elements and navigation errors.
What "elements"?  Wasn't it a beautifully clear day and night?
Not at the start.  There was a cold rain.
Rain?  Are you sure it wasn't more like a heavy sprinkle?
Okay, heavy sprinkle.  But it was cold.
Didn't it stop "raining" before y'all got to the first control at 14.3 miles?
Well, yeah.  But it was cold and overcast for another 30 miles or so.
"Pregnant pause".
Well, okay, so the rain wasn't THAT bad.
And we did dry out before well before the 40-mile mark.

The epic struggle of one team and their bikes against the wind and navigation errors.
Wasn't your course a mostly "go-east" affair until dinner-time?
Yes.  What of it?
That doesn't seem like much of a headwind; more like a cross-wind.
It was a quartering headwind, and sometimes we were head-on into it.
For example?
The section on NC-58 was really bad.
Wasn't that only one-and-a-half miles long?
Well, yeah, but the wind was really bad on that section.
For example, there was one particular "gust" that I recall,
First, you heard it in the trees,
Second, you saw the grass just ahead on the side of the road really whipped up,
Then, wham!  Instant loss of several miles-per-hour and slammed sideways almost into the gutter.
Anywhere else?
Yes, after we realized our navigation error and turned around,
We were head-on into the wind for ... long enough that it wore Byron out.
Navigation error?
I thought you were asking about the wind.
Well, continue then.
The entire time we were on NC-111 getting to Tarboro was head-on into the wind.
How long was that?
7.4 miles.  Averaging about 12 miles-per-hour.
And the gusts were sometimes quite amazing.
The wind, and the gusts in particular, were worse the further east we rode.
After Tarboro, it was mostly only a quartering headwind; some head-on, but mostly quartering.
Any other windy places?
Well, it did go completely calm after sunset.
But kicked up again with a vengeance come sunrise on Saturday just in time ...
Are you getting ahead of yourself?  But it does appear you had at least some wind to deal with. 

The epic struggle of one team and their bikes against the wind and navigation errors.
Navigation error?  You had a cue sheet, and Byron's magic phone, and 
Didn't three of you pre-drive the course a month earlier?
Yes, but, in the moments after lunch in Elm City,
The conversation was more interesting than paying attention to the road, and
We missed a "bear-Left" and ended up headed for South Carolina.
What was so interesting about the conversation that you missed a turn?
Oh, I don't recall; or if I do, I'm invoking the MikeD rule,
"Some things should remain on the road, in the ride, and not in the blog."
Did you collect many bonus-miles?
14.65.  And with the headwind battling back to the course,
It cost an hour.  Easily an hour.
Any other navigation errors?
Well, have you ever looked carefully at a map showing the roads from
Williamston to Elizabeth City?
I swear half the roads are US-17, or US-17-Bypass, or US-17-Business, or Old-17.
And on maps, the Bypasses and the Business sections all tend to be labelled US-17-B.
It is very confusing.

How were the roads?
Pretty good.  Except the side/back roads between Edenton and Hertford, and
Between Hertford and Elizabeth City, were bumpy.
Not so much potholes, but ridges across the road, or lumps in the road.

Any good or nice things happen?
The people at the Wendy's in Williamston were very nice.
Several were in awe of what we were doing.
It usually is that way outside of the bigger cities and towns.

The Full Moon was great.  Nice to see and it helped us see ... the roads.
The night was so clear the moon looked like an over-exposed photograph.
Lots of stars visible when we were in the middle of the "boonies", too,

Traffic at night was quite respectful.
One theory is that at night, the cars can't tell what we are,
Just a bunch of wiggling about and blinking red lights.
Once it got daylight again, the cars were less respectful.
Especially on the peninsula heading down to the Wright Memorial Bridge,
And on the Outer Banks.
People in a hurry, I guess.

Interestingly, on the Wright Memorial Bridge,
With the re-awoken north wind slamming us about,
Sometimes a gust would shove one a couple feet sideways,
Anyway, all the traffic gave us the entire right lane (which we tried to claim).
Even with the respectful traffic,
There was unanimous opinion that the three-miles crossing that bridge
Were the worst any of us had ridden -- EVER (or at least in long while).
I, for one, am not interested in cycling across that bridge again any time soon.

That last doesn't seem to qualify as a "nice thing".
Were there any other good or nice moments during the ride?
Well, the best moment was probably when the most-sober of the loud-drunks
At the IHOP in Elizabeth City told the IHOP staff to give us their table,
Saying that we needed it more than they did.
That saved us at least a 20-minute wait to be seated.
We were already thinking that we might not make the 22-hr control,
Nor the finish, in time.
As it was, we only made the 22-hr control with 22-minutes to spare,
After the fastest night-time riding four of us have ever done.
Not five?
I think Byron has cycled faster at night than we did on this ride.

[BTW, I do understand about alternative 22-hour control sites, and
Alternative finish locations, and
We had a route that was officially 388-kms long,
So ... if it had come to that ... I know the "team captain" understood the rules on those points.]

So ... you finished the ride on time, all together?
On time.  All together.
No mechanicals.
No mishaps (other than navigation errors).

The joy-filled epic ride of one team that overcame the wind and navigation errors.
And we got stories we can tell.
Only some of them won't make this blog.
Else, no one would have reason to talk to any of us.
And we need to keep something in reserve for future long rides.
Any post-ride stuff you should mention?
Thanks to Biker Bob (who completed his first Fleche two hours before us) and
His wife Deane for showers at their hotel / motel room.
And Byron and Ricochet and I had our 5th breakfast in 28 hours,
With Biker Bob at the "Grill and Grits" near the finish.
We exchanged some stories.
Would have been nice if more people had been about.
But Dean and Mick/Mike were met by their respective spouses, and went ... somewhere(s).
And Bob's two teammates went ... somewhere(s) after their rides.

And the team of Steve B, Terry A and Jimmy something from Ontario, Canada
Started their Fleche at 10:15 -- 75 minutes after ours officially ended.

Anything else?
Well, I left my keys in my saddle-pack with my bike.
And my bike came back to Raleigh with Dean,
Whereas I came back to Raleigh with Ricochet and Byron.
How did you get your keys?
That's a story for another day.

Edit, Jan-25-2013:  tried to embed the Trimble map of the course before I lose access to my (used to be free) Trimble maps) -- that didn't work -- maybe just a link:


Fleche:  Raleigh to Nags Head; 259.9 m.; 18h08 in-motion; 14.3 mph; official rando time:  24h00, of course (if we get approved).  

Q-1 tot: _22 rides; 1,610.3 m.; 108 h, 42 m; 14.8 mph. 
Apr tot: __3 rides; __359.4 m.; _24 h, 46 m; 14.5 mph. 
YTD tot: _25 rides; 1,969.7 m.; 133 h, 28 m; 14.8 mph. 

1 comment:

  1. This is one of your best writings, if not the best, that I have read. It made me wish I was there.

    "Wilmington" Rick