Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oct-28: Poodles, Cotton Fields + Monsters

Except for the 600k in June and the Fleche in April, this was the most rando kms I accumulated in one weekend this entire year.  Last year, I did a few back-to-back permanents, and even did a triple-double over the July Fourth holiday weekend (the first two days with Irregular and rando buddy Ricochet).

I planned a double-double, plus a perm-pop over Labor Day weekend.  But, day one on Kerr Lake Loop, I had a mechanical and decided it would be smarter to DNF and have the bike ready for the day two on the Black Creek route with newbie Karen.  That day didn't go so well for Karen, and although I completed the route with plenty of time to spare, I just didn't feel like riding on Labor Day.

Last year, I did 10 solo perms.  I like doing 200-km rides solo.
This year, my only solo attempt was the KLL DNF.
I did manage to do two entire perm-pops solo.
The first, Bahama Beach just before July 4th, left me wiped out.  Not a pleasant experience.
The second, the Benson Mule Pull on Sep-30, was a strange mix of riding well and very slow, but I enjoyed the ride -- I think.

What has all the above got to do with the ride I did on Sunday, Oct-28?
Nothing, really.

Except that by completing Egypt Mtn on Saturday and Hope Springs Eternal (HSE) on Sunday, for a combined 350-kms, I got in my third largest RUSA-credit-kms weekend of the year. 

Each ride was with one other rando.
Saturday with Ricochet, who had no legs while I had energy to spare.
Sunday with Mick, I had Ricochet's Saturday legs, and I guess Mick had energy to spare -- I'm not sure.

Poodles:  There is a poodle breeding farm between Bunn and Spring Hope.  It is amusing to watch the different personalities of the poodles in their large pens as we ride by.  One can even begin to develop favorites after a few rides.  Having now done OakElmOak (OEO) twice and HSE twice (three times ?), I have a favorite.  I won't spoil it for any NC or visiting randos that may do HSE or OEO in the next month -- you can find your own favorite.

Cotton Fields:  There were several cotton fields -- between Bunn and Spring Hope (near the poodles) -- all WHITE and apparently ready for harvest.  Cotton fields just before harvest look quite inspiring -- that's my opinion, anyway.  However, I expect that the fields will either be harvested before the next HSE or OEO ride -- OR the cotton in the unharvested fields will be abandoned.  That sometimes happens if the price of cotton plummets just before harvest.

Monsters:  Upon completion of the ride, while getting a receipt at Cameron Village (CV) near downtown Raleigh, MANY costumed runners were leaving CV.  Apparently a 5k charity run had just completed all their post-race festivities.  Didn't see anyone I know, but I suspect that one IanH may have participated (I saw a couple suspect photos on Facebook).

Anyway, Mick and I had a pleasant, if somewhat slow ride under the completely overcast clouds emanating from Hurricane Sandy.  We stayed dry and with temps between 57 and 64 F, the day was nicely cool-warm.  Oh, there were strong winds out of the north and northwest all ride.  That made some portions of the ride extra slow, and on other portions, one hardly needed to peddle.

We got lucky here in central NC.  Sandy did no damage of which I am aware.  Down east -- not so.  Up in the Bos-Wash corridor -- definitely not so.
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Oct-28:  

--> Hope Springs Eternal 140-km perm -->; 105.8 m.; est. 7h20 in-motion; 14.4 mph; HSE elapsed time:  7h20 (we didn't even come close to challenging our record slow HSE time of 7h41 -- ha!).  
 
Q-1 tot: _22 rides; 1,610.3 m.; 108h42; 14.8 mph; 1947 RUSA kms
Q-2 tot: _29 rides; 2,711.5 m.; 182h48; 14.8 mph; 2700 RUSA kms
Q-3 tot: _32 rides; 2,958.9 m.; 197h17; 15.0 mph; 2983 RUSA kms
Oct tot: _10 rides; __868.8 m.; _58h45; 14.8 mph; 1089 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _93 rides; 8,149.5 m.; 547h32; 14.9 mph; 8719 RUSA kms

FYI, after this ride, Mick is closing in on 15-thousand RUSA credit kms -- that's just insane.
And it might also be wearing him out mentally as well as physically. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Oct-27: Ricochet Robert and the Blustery Perm

Unlike "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day",
We had no rain nor flood ... at least not where we rode.
"Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day".  
Robert indicated he had never heard of "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day".
"Down east" in North Carolina ... they were not so lucky.
Down south in the Caribbean ... some there were very unlucky.
Up north, and to the northeast ... I'm hoping everyone is prepared, and lucky.


Ricochet and I rolled the dice.
Most everything came up 7's or 11's.
Everything except Robert's legs and possibly the wind.

Robert's legs ... did not appreciate any inclines.
Well, maybe they came around for one or two climbs around the 90-mile mark,
But then his legs apparently resumed their refusal to deliver any oomph on inclines. 
My thought is that Robert's legs aren't so much tired, but are instead "fatigued".
Two-and-half-years ago, at age 61, Robert did his first adult bicycle ride.
Now ... he'll qualify for a RUSA Cup on Nov-24 (weather permitting). 
The wind was mostly bang-on into our faces until Drewry,
At about the 54-mile mark.
(Don't tell anyone ... I actually looked at the cue sheet to check the mileage.)

The 10-miles from Drewry to Warrenton include my favorite vistas along the course. 
And, except for the half-mile on US-1 / US-158, we had a side-wind.
After the 54-mile headwind leg, the side-wind felt as good as a tailwind.

There are other nice vistas along the route,
But I think the best are along NC Bike Route #4 between Drewry and Warrenton.
That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

Three climbs after leaving Warrenton to get to Stagecoach and Tower roads.
The first two are short ... the third is long ... none are hard.
In fact, though long, the third climb is a perfect "Martin slope".

On that long third climb mentioned above, Robert + I were so busy chatting,
That I lost track of where we were ... and thought we might have missed a turn.
We hadn't ... it was another third of a mile ahead.

Tower Rd has some nice vistas and also Jones Chapel Rd that follows it.
Most everything was muted by the deep overcast from the outskirts of Hurricane Sandy.
Things that may have looked wondrous in bright sunshine were still nice,
All yellow and harvest gold, accented by red and orange leaves, and some unharvested cotton.
[Uh-oh ... four lines instead of three!] 

Big bag lunch for each of us at the Hardee's in Warrenton.
Too much food, really.  But at a low price.
I assume Robert felt bloated for hours afterward ... I know I was.

My stomach did NOT like me getting aero until after Egypt Mtn Rd.
But with a strong tailwind most of the second half of the ride,
Who needed to be getting aero, anyway?

The short-lived veneer of oomph in Robert's legs disappeared on Egypt Mtn Rd.
I didn't realize that until I was passing Egypt Mtn Farm atop ... Egypt Mtn.
I always encourage those new to the course to "save something for Egypt Mtn Rd."

Despite a rather low average in-motion pace and a longish stop for lunch,
Robert and I finished a DRY Egypt Mtn in 10h23 officially.
Too bad we were 18 or 20 minutes late in starting.
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Oct-27:  

--> Egypt Mtn 210-km perm -->; 140.3 m.; est. 9h34 in-motion; 14.7 mph; EM elapsed time:  10h23.  
 
Q-1 tot: _22 rides; 1,610.3 m.; 108h42; 14.8 mph; 1947 RUSA kms
Q-2 tot: _29 rides; 2,711.5 m.; 182h48; 14.8 mph; 2700 RUSA kms
Q-3 tot: _32 rides; 2,958.9 m.; 197h17; 15.0 mph; 2983 RUSA kms
Oct tot: __9 rides; __763.0 m.; _51h24; 14.8 mph; _949 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _92 rides; 8,043.7 m.; 540h12; 14.9 mph; 8579 RUSA kms

FYI, after this ride, Robert has 8879 RUSA kms this year. 
"My recruit" from 2+ years ago ... has gone wayyyy beyond me, now. 

 
Eddington Cycling Number: 
After this ride:  97
Meaning that I have completed at least 97 different rides that were at least 97 miles long.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oct-20: "City Slickers" 204-km Perm

Ricochet Robert, Biker Bob, RickRod (better known as "Wilmington Rick" or "R^2") and I met slightly pre-dawn to ride Byron's hillfest, "Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville".  R^2 was R-series-hunting; Ricochet & I were kilometer hounding; Biker Bob had the best reason of all to ride -- he was just looking for a nice bike ride with some friends.

Rick brought a camera, and used it quite extensively -- after his fingers "thawed out".
Early on, he mentioned that it was about 10 degrees warmer in Wilmington.
It got down to about 43 F.
I can imagine the northern tier randos laughing.
But Rick was dressed for 53 F.

Rick made his photos available to Bob and me.
I'm looking forward to seeing and reading Bob's take on the ride.
In the meantime, some pics courtesy of R^2:
A view from just off Stagville Rd, near Bahama.
Duck or Swan Pond, just below where the previous pic was taken.  "JJ's horses" were on the other side of the road.
Moores Mills Rd (?), heading to Mt. Tirzah.
Leaf color developing nicely.
Hollow Ridge Grocery atop Mt. Tirzah.  Favorite control of many.  Favorite store for many others when JRA.
L to R:  R^2, Biker Bob.  Ricochet behind the camera.  I don't know where I was.
 
Just west of Timberlake.  I think R^2 wanted a good pic of the long grasses.
Gordonton Rd (?) -- from the angle of the shadows:  outbound.
Apparently no photos from Leasburg -- the turn-around.
 
Hester Store Rd, inbound just before dropping down into the first deep creek valley on Hester Store Rd.  The scene and colors are/were more impressive in person.
Bison.  As seen from Hester Store Rd.
Ghostbusters.  Between Hester Store Rd and Hurdle Mills.
Just after crossing the Flat River near Hurdle Mills -- parked alongside the road.  1936.  Ford (?).
Some of us were looking forward to BBQ lunch at the afternoon control at Hollow Ridge Grocery.  Here I am, confirming that they ran out of food before we got back from Leasburg.  Aargh!
View from Hollow Ridge Grocery.  Looking to the southeast.  I don't know where / what that hump in the distance is located.
Back in Raleigh on Ray Rd, we were joined by a local female cyclist.  I heartily endorse her choice of jersey. 
All finished.  L to R:  R^2, Sandbagging Bob, Ricochet, me. 

For more pics from the ride and from other rides + more, try Rick's Flick'r.
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Oct-20:  

--> Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville 204-km perm -->; 140.0 m.; 9h21 in-motion; 15.0 mph; Triple-L elapsed time:  10h21.  
 
Q-1 tot: _22 rides; 1,610.3 m.; 108h42; 14.8 mph; 1947 RUSA kms
Q-2 tot: _29 rides; 2,711.5 m.; 182h48; 14.8 mph; 2700 RUSA kms
Q-3 tot: _32 rides; 2,958.9 m.; 197h17; 15.0 mph; 2983 RUSA kms
Oct tot: __7 rides; __545.5 m.; _36h47; 14.8 mph; _636 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _90 rides; 7,826.3 m.; 525h35; 14.9 mph; 8266 RUSA kms.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sinclair Dinosaur

NC randonneuse MaryF is / was in Tulsa on business (and maybe some pleasure activity, too).  She posted a photo on Facebook of a truck-stop-gas-station sign, noting the $3.10 per gallon price of gasoline (currently in the $3.70 range in central NC). 

I picked up on something else on the sign, and commented:  "WOW -- a Sinclair station!".

I hadn't seen one of those, in person or via photo, for decades.
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In response, Mary e-mailed me three pics she must have taken, but, at last report, had not posted to Facebook.  Made me smile.

Here are the pics, slightly edited -- and I hope they come out "right-side-up" -- and the files are rather large, so I may have to condense them if they make uploading the blog too slow.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Three Years Ago ...

I really should pay a little more attention to the calendar and anniversary type things.

Three years ago was before I had done any randonneuring.
I had thought about it, but until late 2009, I thought I didn't have what it might take.
Seems crazy that I should have thought that.
My first 100-miler was a solo 109-mile ride in late September 2007.
If one can ride 109-miles solo, one can ride 125-miles in a group, or solo.

Anyway:  last Saturday (Oct-13), Lt. Dave and I did an enjoyable "reversed-Hayes + Hester Rd" ~ 46-mile ride through the wonderful sunshine and cool temperatures, and not much wind.

After our ride, while burning some burgers, or perhaps while eating them and enjoying some Sam Adams Octoberfest beers, I mentioned to Dave that our ride had been on the third anniversary weekend (not the exact date, but on the same weekend, i.e., the second weekend, of October) as the first Irregulars 200k ride three years previously.  My experience that day was "not the best", and I recruited Smitty to do a guest blog post of the ride (click here to see that post). 

======================================================

Second story-line related to "Three Years Ago":  one week after our first Irregulars 200k, we did it again!  A number of lessons were learned that day -- lessons from which I've since profited.  (click here so see that post)

OR, read the [slightly shortened] story as reproduced below:  

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Snapper, Mallet, Smitty and Tinman. They formed the crest of the Irregulars cyclone before which another biting northwest wind was swept over the precipice of the North Carolina Fall Line yesterday as no willing spectators peered down on the bewildering panorama spread on the black asphault lines. 

A cyclone can't be snared. It may be surrounded, but somewhere it breaks through to keep on going. When the cyclone starts from PUE, where the blinkie lights still gleam through the North Carolina pines, those in the way must take to storm cellars at top speed. 

The above, with apologies to Grantland Rice.  http://archives.nd.edu/rockne/rice.html 

Four intrepid cyclists @ PUE.  Two ready to go on time.  I tried to dress really slowly, so thatSnapper would not be last and embarassed.  I couldn't dress slowly enough.  In fairness, If I had been to the cities that Snapper had traveled to last week, and (as he claimed) someone had removed a particular jacket from the car, I would likely have been more confused preparing to ride than he was.  Heck, I probably would not have gotten up when the 6:05 "human alarm" sounded.  

The day was cold and gray and threatening rain.  But if you've lived your whole life in the South, I don't think you can really appreciate the blue-gray October sky that Grantland Rice described in his famous column about the 1924 Army-NotreDame football game.  Cold, blue-gray October skies up north are a different thing from gray October skies in the South. 

We left several minutes later than planned, and found the IvaHawk riding towards us on Kemp Rd.  How many extra times did he ride that six-tenths of a mile between Carpenter Pond and Coley?  I didn't ask.  But I am guessing he now knows exactly how much effort it takes to go in either direction for a range of desired speed and upslope work outcomes.  So we became five: Snapper, Mallet, IvaHawk, Smitty and me. 

The advantage of riding Snow Hill Rd early in the 200k, with the Guess Rd gas station just a couple miles later is that one is concentrating on settling into a comfortable pace and preparing for and then climbing the Snow Hill.  Advantage?  No time to think about or notice any wind.

Before Snow Hill Rd, Smitty was trying to drag the pace up from wherever-it-was-at-that-point to something closer to 15 mph.  At the Guess Rd gas station, the Mallet was softly and quietly bemoaning the pace-so-far.  I was having none of it.  I was confident that the pace would be significantly quickened during the last 40 miles -- tailwinds will do that. 

Someone had tried to entice Irregulars to this 200k with promises of "scenic" Schley and Walnut Grove Ch roads after hilly Snow Hill Rd.  That ploy didn't work to entice any takers beyond the original four + me.  For future reference, Schley and Walnut Grove Ch roads are scenic as well as "scenic".  The elevation on Walnut Grove Ch Rd tops out at 716 ft (according to "veloroutes") at the intersection with Hurdle Mills Rd.  There is a bump on Hurdle Mills Rd which tops out at 718 ft elevation -- that was the elevation high point of the day.  

Zipping into Hurdle Mills, I wanted to stop there to fill the water bottles from the outside tap and stuff more food into me.  I wasn't sure the Mallet knew that . . . and I almost left the "sprint" to catch him until too late.  I caught him, blurted out my plan, he said "okay", and I had to grab the brakes . . . I thought I had at least another quater-mile, maybe more, before the stop. 

We took longer in Hurdle Mills than anticipated.  But being in the lee of the buildings probably enticed us almost as much as the Sirens of the pre-ancient world.  Finally, with the promise of semi-tailwinds and the prospect of a tough climb after crossing the Flat River only half-a-mile distant, we left the cover of the buildings in Hurdle Mills.

The semi-tailwind turned out to be a semi-pipe-dream, but at least the wind was no longer "head-on".  The tough crossing of the Flat River was not a pipe-dream, but only a fiction invented to give "allure" to the epic ride.  The crossing is in fact FLAT, and the the climb is nothing much.

To me, the toughest part of the course is Charlie Reade / Jim Latta / Glenn Fogelmann road(s).  Scenic yes.  And the climbs max out at only 8%, and Lt. Dave may say "those climbs are nothing", but to me, each of them is SOMETHING.  Luckily those roads lead (eventually) to Goshen Road, which is a treat. 

On Goshen Rd, Smitty and then Snapper and finally the Mallet and I finally caught up with a rider we had first espied when approaching Mt. Harmony Baptist Church.  I'll leave comments regarding her to Smitty and Snapper as they are the ones that engaged her in conversation.  Perhaps too much conversation as when we turned off Goshen Rd and parted from our erstwhile companion BANG !! Smitty had run over a piece of wood and had a tramatic flat of his rear tire.

Snapper and I chatted - with our backs to the wind - and noticing that there was actually some sunshine sneaking through the cloud cover - while Smitty and the Mallet changed Smitty's tube, etc..  I may have finally learned my lesson that too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many helpers get in the way when fixing a flat.

10 or 15 minutes later, the flat fixed.  We start to get underway, Smitty goes about 30 yards  BANG !!   I had not even thrown my leg over my bike.  I carried my bike the 30 yards and set it down anew in the ditch.  This time there were three cooks; I looked on, but other than providing the "temp" patch kit with which "we" tried to help boot the inside of the rear tire that looked to be trying to fail in several places, I pretty much kept my mouth shut (I think).  Surprised, aren't you.  

15 or twenty minutes later, we are underway again.  One good thing about a repair to a possibly dodgy tire is that everyone understands that a controlled pace might be a good thing.  But life is good and the road is smooth and we can make up the time by not taking as long for "lunch" in Stovall.  After all, with these chilly conditions BANG !!!  Crap.  

Smitty says enough is enough.  He calls his wife.  And . . . she is on the way.  I'll leave the rest of "Smitty's story" to Smitty.  I think all four of us learned why the Rando guys (and gals) carry big bags with a lot of gear, tools, and supplies.  A new foldable tire would have been very welcome there on the side of Satterwhite Road in the apparent middle of nowhere.  I'm betting Smitty would have appreciated a dry top to replace the sweaty one he'd been wearing all day.  Shorter rides may be good.  Or the ability to carry a bit more gear.  

I felt kind of small as we left Smitty on the side of the road -- after all, he hadn't abandoned me after the crash.  Snapper wondered if he should go back and stay with Smitty.  Smitty had pooh-poohed me for expressing my "small" thoughts; he likely would have told Snapper he was nuts for staying behind or going back.

After our long delay(s), Snapper commented that he was having trouble getting back up to speed; not only was he cold (as were the other two of us) but he described his leg muscles as being cold and contracting.  I told him that that was how my legs had felt the first 40 or 46 miles of the ride. 

Snapper dislikes the word "hill" when that 4-letter word is part of a road's name.  Today, he discovered another word he dislikes even more.  The new word?  "Mountain."  As in "Mountain Creek Road" and "Little Mountain Creek Road".  On one of those "Creek Roads", Snapper tried to shift into his 39 crank (from his 53) for what he claimed was the first time all this year; result:  dropped chain number one.  At least we didn't ride on "Stoney Mountain Road" or just plain "Mountain Road".  Both of those roads are out there on the edges of our course (and could easily be included in a slightly modified route).

Lunch in Stovall consisted of staying in the warmth of the gas station / convenience store, eating pizza.  Not in sitting in the gazebo across the road enjoying the chilling north winds.  Two slices for the Mallet and Snapper; one slice for me.  

After Stovall, we "enjoyed" the two mile downslope, then turned truly south for the first time all day.  THIS is what we had been looking forward to all day.  No effort and 17, 18, 19 mph.  The Tar River crossing on Cannady Mill Rd, Lawrence Rd, and Ghoston-Peed-MVC did drag the pace down a bit.  Lawrence Rd., by the way was the site of our second dropped chain of the day -- this time by the Mallet 

Best two things of the day:  no cramps for anyone and everyone finishing New Light, etc. with reasonable gusto.  

Mission accomplished.  A 200k notch on the belt.  Longest ever rides for Snapper and me.  The Mallet?  Who knows?  He probably has ridden farther than the 140 or so miles he rode today -- just by happenstance some time. 

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Intra-ride stats -- notice that the pace increased as the day wore on -- windage and elevation: 
Date _____tot miles _pace _ segment pace _ location
Oct-17-09 __ 28.0 ___14.2 __ 28.0 __14.2 _ Guess Rd 
 ____________48.1 ___14.4 __ 20.1 __14.7 _ Hurdle Mills 
 ____________84.0 ___14.7 __ 35.9 __15.2 _ Stovall
 ___________126.3 ___15.4 __ 42.3 __16.7 _ PUE

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At risk, as my father would have said, of breaking my arm:  three years ago -- my first 200k ride.
Since then:  seventy-six (76) rides have been at least 200k -- not all of them have been rando rides. 

To celebrate the third anniversary of those two Irregulars 200's:  (1) the ride with Dave mentioned above, and (2) I hope to do Byron's permanent this Saturday with a couple friends I met after I took up randonneuring.