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). 

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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.

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