By Saturday morning / afternoon, MikeD had opted out because he'd hurt his feet.
Sunday morning dawned ...
That's not correct. With an 0600 start, I cycled to the start in the dark.
So ... Sunday morning arrived warm and humid, and a funny thing happened on the way to the start. There was a fine mist in the air; one couldn't call it rain; one couldn't call it a sprinkle; the drops of water were too small for that; one couldn't even call it a drizzle because the drops seemed almost suspended in the air. Further, the roads were not wet, nor did they seem to be getting wet. However, if it continued to mist like that for long enough, roads would be wet.
Anyway, I arrived at the agreed meeting place (open control with several options, not all of which can be seen from each other -- a single designated meeting point is a good idea) to find that the McD's did not open until 0600 -- aargh. I saw Tim in the McD's parking lot, and let him know that I had seen Jerry's car in the HT / Starbucks parking lot. I cycled across the street, and was greeted by Jerry (who had all the paperwork). Tim drove his car across the street and parked a couple spots from Jerry. Ian arrived, having cycled to the start from a more-or-less opposite direction than I had done.
2nd funniest exchange of the morning:
Me: "Who ordered this rain?"
Ian: "Alan did. It is left over 'brevet-weather' from yesterday."
Funniest exchange of the morning:
Tim: "Where does this route go?"
Me: "Elm City."
Ian: "Why the reaction?"
Tim: "I just came from there."
[Locals will understand. Non-locals ... check this map: Tim lives in Wilson.]
Waiver(s) signed, cards and cue sheets distributed. Receipt plan in place. I went to use the HT rest room.
When I returned a few minutes later, Jerry was handily changing a flat on his front tyre; recognizing the tyre, I knew Jerry was planning a single-speed or fixed ride. But as he pumped up ... BANG ... Jerry decided to send us on without him, and he would go do his Howling Grits populaire -- probably on his purpose-built rando bike ("Cinnamon Girl") with gears.
Disappointed was I that I'd not get to hear about Jerry's recent RAGBRAI on a 3-speed bike which is several years older than him (I found the link to a semi-recent RTP blog post with photo of bike), with Drew Buck of PBP fame. Another time, perhaps.
On the flip side, the ride was down to only 2-fast-guys and me (from the original 4-fast-guys).
More "good news" for me: turned out Tim had no legs. Well ... what he called "no legs". I'm convinced that he and Ian could have powered off and left me any time they chose.
I knew that Tim was not a fan of hills, but other than the first 17-miles of Alan's brevets, it had been about two years since I'd ridden any distance with Tim -- and in each case, he powered off after a certain point. "No legs", some rollers, maybe I'd be able to stick with Tim and Ian for a while.
We three arrived together at the control in Spring Hope (43.5 miles) in 2h49. Receipts and signatures acquired. I adjusted my saddle (earlier in the ride, I had mentioned to Ian that the week previous, although I was suffering from fatigued legs due to being ill with a cold, I had felt at one with the bike the entire day, but this morning, although I was apparently riding well, I felt as if my butt was sitting heavy on the saddle). As my legs were starting to tighten up a bit after I completed the saddle adjusments, I rolled out, knowing Ian and Tim would catch me momentarily.
While still on the decline away from Spring Hope headed toward the underpass beneath controlled access US-64, those two went around me as if I were motionless. I picked up my pace, but soon they were out of view. I settled-in on the flat of Macedonia Rd for a comfortable and peaceful solo completion of my appointed round. I had to stop for a couple minutes at the turn onto Bend of the River Rd to check the instructions (sign missing, follow the arrow that indicates NC-58 is 5-miles to the left).
Confident I was on course, I was enjoying my ride, wondering when I'd meet the returning fast-twosome. Three miles from Elm City, I turned onto W. Langley Rd, expecting to see Ian and Tim at any moment. A mile later, and I was sure I would see them any second. I was 100% sure on each pedal stroke the last mile into Elm City: Ian and Tim, any time now. They were still at the control when I arrived at 4h25.
After the guffaws of "how long was our nap?" and a similar comment or two. Tim and Ian acknowledged that they had been discussing the fruitlessness of hammering an inconsistent 19-mph pace and needing more time at the control, compared to riding a steady-17-mph pace and being a bit quicker through the control. They concluded that it wasn't worth the extra effort; and that all they had gotten out of the last section was ... they were tired.
Subsequent to the ride, I checked the cue sheet and did some calculations. It is 21.5 miles from the suggested Spring Hope control to the suggested Elm City control. At 19-mph, it takes 8 fewer minutes to cover the distance as compared to 17-mph. If the 19-mph riders take 8-minutes-more at the control than the 17-mph rider --> the 17-mph rider will leave the Elm City control first.
To complete the circle: I did pull out first as we left together. And Ian and Tim tacked-on to me for awhile.
It is still my thought, which I'm sticking to, that they could have powered off and left me any time they chose.
Back in Spring Hope at 5h55, we grabbed quick bites at a couple different food options (a flat half-mile off course) and were back on the road within 20-minutes. However, I had to stop before clearing town: I had intended to lube my chain during the break, but had forgotten; it REALLY needed lubing.
The roads on the return were completely dry -- outbound, the mist described earlier must have been actual rain further east, because several of the roads had been quite wet, even with little puddles.
The cloud cover dissipated and things warmed up a bit -- but nothing compared to some days the previous couple months. Maybe the heat of summer has been broken -- I'm sure that anyone doing the ToC-1200 in a couple weeks (that includes Ian, Tim and Jerry, by the way) would be glad to avoid temps in the upper 90's during ToC.
The closer we got to Raleigh, the more noticeable the rollers became. Ian, who has done many rides with Tim, explained that if he (Ian) drops off the pack on a ride, he (Ian) is "gone"; but if Tim drops off the pack, Tim recollects himself, even on serious hills, and then hangs off the back a hundred or two or more yards, reconnecting at turns or stop-signs or what not. Ian explained that because that is exactly what Tim was doing. However, since he used the tactic to take at least two or three county lines, maybe he was looking for more county lines, and intending to wind-it-up and zoom past us as we remained unaware.
I thanked the two as we sat on a bench at the penultimate control (15.4-miles from the finish); I noted that a sub-10 hour 200 was likely nothing to them, but I didn't have all that many sub-10-hour rides.
We left the control at 8h30. Given that it was only 15.4 miles to the finish, you might think that we got in under 9h30; you'd be wrong. Too damn many stop-lights and stop-signs, and we got every dang one of the lights on red, with traffic about. Tim and I are each "diesels"; we did not like the stop-and-start-and-rinse-repeat. Ian, on the tiny-wheels bike, and being somewhat of a hipster, didn't seem to be affected.
We pulled in to the Cameron Village McD's at 9h40 -- I think we all got our cards signed equivalent to 9h43. We checked over our respective cards, making sure we had answered the info control and signing our cards, then we went our separate ways. Since Mick only lives 1-km from the finish, I took the cards and the waiver and deposited same at his house, saying hello to his spouse, and to Jessie, their very well-behaved Australian Shepard. (Mick was still on the Carolina Crossroads route -- I thought about waiting for them at the finish of that route -- but that is an open control finish, and I didn't know where they'd stop to get receipts, etc..)
I had an enjoyable ride at a pretty quick pace (for me). Ian and Tim got in their "R-insurance" ahead of the ToC-1200 later this month. (I suppose Jerry will be sneaking in an "R-insurance" ride next weekend -- with an R-series somewhere around 80, it would be the prudent thing to do.)
I'm out of finishing ideas that I cannot fit into the same paragraph, so ... fin.
---> OakElmOak 209-km Permanent ---> ; 142.5 m.; 9h01 in-motion; 15.8 mph; OEO accounted for 131.1-miles and 8h19 in-motion w/ 9h43 elapsed time.
Q-1 tot: _22 rides; 1,610.3 m.; 108 h, 42 m; 14.8 mph.
Q-2 tot: _29 rides; 2,711.5 m.; 182 h, 48 m; 14.8 mph.
Ju1 tot: __9 rides; __751.5 m.; _49 h, 10 m; 15.3 mph.
Aug tot: __3 rides; __317.9 m.; _21 h, 16 m; 14.9 mph.YTD tot: _63 rides; 5,391.2 m.; 361 h, 56 m; 14.9 mph.