Friday, December 14, 2012

Dec-09: Egypt Mtn 210-km Perm

One thing I've come to understand is:  a great ride does not necessarily make for a great blog post, not even one that is easy to write.  There is a corollary:  a blech ride does not necessarily make for a blech blog post.  I'm not saying that the following is a blech post; but I am saying that is wasn't easy to write some of it.

So, with that warning:
Three people were waiting for me when I arrived at the start.
Only 3 minutes late according to my best guestimate of when I'd arrive.
7 minutes later than I wanted to arrive.
I wasn't too worried -- after all, I had the cards and waiver, etc..

"Life" meant that Ricochet Robert couldn't do the ride,
But he came to share some stuff and snap a photo or two.
I tried to ignore Robert's photo attempt while I dealt with the pre-ride paperwork.
Ignoring didn't work.  Ricochet insisted on a posed photo with a smile.
Ricochet claimed he was going back home and to bed. 
Jerry, Byron and I started on our way.  A few minutes later than the official start time. 

JP snapped this "early in the ride" photo just before the first CL (at 10.2-miles into the course),  I have the CL in my sights; Byron wasn't going to waste any energy being silly regarding county lines; luckily, Jerry was too busy taking this photo and chatting with Byron to notice the CL or the zip-zip-zip 3-pedal-stroke CL "attack" I made.  Or, he may just been giving me a "gift" since he likely knew where he was since EM shares this bit of road with the Kerr Lake Loop -- well, MikeD says he's "tweaking" KLL, so who knows.
I tried to sneak the next CL, about 5-miles further on, but my front derailleur threw the chain onto the crank, and I coasted through the CL after Jerry, as I used the "chain guide trick" to get the chain back on the chain ring. 

After those two CL's in relatively quick succession, the next wouldn't be until miles and miles later.  Well, there is a CL -- sort of -- at / in Epsom, at a stop sign, maybe -- or maybe down the middle of the road after leaving Epsom.  Anyway, no more potential CL "contests" -- at least for awhile. 

The morning was a bit wet, but warm (the low temp during the ride was 53F -- very nice for December).  The temps in the mid 50's and lower 60's made for excellent riding, and we made pretty good time (for me and for Byron who claimed to be a bit out-of-shape; Jerry was often dawdling along on his fixie). 
Pokomoke Rd:  between Pokomoke + Franklinton.  ...  ...  Hmmn, seems the roads were wetter than I recalled.  Can randonnesia set in while the ride is still in progress?
Jerry snapped a pic of the llamas / alpacas as we zipped by.  (There are more llama pics in this post; and it was SUNNY that day.)  (I could have cropped this photo, removing the detritus in the foreground, but ... .)
Pokomoke Cowboy Church (click to perhaps embiggen and see sign).  The Cowboy Church used to be on Pokomoke Rd, near the crest of the longest climb (from each direction) on Pokomoke Rd.  First or second time anyone did the Egypt Mtn perm, the members were in the midst of moving from the previous location to this on West River Rd, between Franklinton and Mitchell's Crossroads.

I have little to no recollection of what the conversations we had were about (or if I do recall, I'm staying "mum"), but time passed quickly on the easy rollers between Franklinton and Epsom. 
JP snapped a pic of Byron (described as "somewhat salty") outside the Epsom control.  I thought / think Byron just looks completely at ease -- the result of doing this rando thing since long before RUSA existed?  He has been doing rando since before RUSA, and yet B is only 40 or 41 years old. 
Jerry also took this photo of the bench in Epsom and the toes of his shoes.  Or, maybe, he was posing the snacks on the bench.  Either way, my favorite Epsom control food photo remains one taken by Ricochet when he did EM solo (click here).
 Leaving Epsom, the course continues more-or-less due north to Middleburg.  
Church just as the route heads north out of Middleburg.  I like this photo.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it is slight hint od sunshine on the side of the chapel, or the hints of blue sky between the clouds, or maybe just the setting of the large pine (tree) and the church building being atop the crest of the ridge.  (Photo credit to JP.)
Less than a mile from Middleburg, after crossing over I-85, we rejoined US Bike Route #1 / joined NC Bike Route #4 / rejoined the Kerr Lake Loop for about 3 or 4 miles (you don't expect me to look at the cue sheet and verify the distance, do you?).  In / at Drewry, US BR #1 + KLL continue in a mostly-northward direction.  In / at Drewry, the Egypt Mtn course pauses at the corner for an Info Control, and then heads in a mostly-eastward direction on NC BR #4

I have been plotting how to take the CL just east of Drewry from Jerry for MONTHS.  And I admit that earlier in the ride, when Jerry had drifted 30-yards or so ahead of Byron, I had enlisted Byron to help me by helping to distract Jerry at the info control.  Did it work?  Yep! 

As I told Jerry immediately after, it was almost as much fun taking the CL as it had been plotting / anticipating doing so for the previous 6 months.  

I've written before, I write it again, now:  the 10-miles from Drewry to Warrenton is my favorite section of the route for scenery.  However, no one took any photos along that section.  It did look kind of ragged under the overcast and still semi-damp road conditions.  

Lunch in Warrenton after 64+ miles (~ 104-kms) -- you know I didn't check those figures against the cue sheet -- and then we continued on.  There's a nice, gentle climb out of Warrenton on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. to get to Stagecoach Rd.  After about half of the climb, Jerry apparently needed to stretch his legs (or maybe he wanted to test the cue sheet -- he actually had one with him -- imagine!), and drifted off the front of Byron and me. 
Car parked next to the lunch-stop control in Warrenton.  I never noticed said auto; Jerry did.
Tower and Jones Chapel roads offer some nice views -- if you accept that you are not in the mountains and don't try to compare thereto.  The road back to Epsom offers up a long climb, a bit steep for 100 yards or so at the bottom, and then a slowly decreasing grade.  Byron and I were nearing the crest of the main climb when Byron commented, "is that Jerry up ahead?"  It was.  As we coasted up to him, Jerry announced, rather dejectedly, "I need some help." 

The unusual problem was that the mechanic that had put the wheels on Jerry's fixie (I would mention the brand, but I forget -- I don't pay much attention to what people ride -- instead, I tend to notice how they sit and pedal and try to pick up any idiosyncracies) -- anyway, the lugs were on so TIGHT that none of us could budge them.  How to fix a flat on a rear tyre when you can't remove the tyre from the bike?  

Byron knew how.  He had apparently done so quite a few times in his career.  Pop one side of the tyre off the rim and sufficiently roll off the tube to find the the hole, patch the tube while still on the wheel, reinstall tube in tyre, re-seat the tyre, pump up.  As it was Jerry's bike, and Byron knew what he was doing, I stayed out of their way.  It is good to have Byron along on a ride; as a certain LynnL told me before I did any randonneuring, "Byron is really nice and can fix anything." 

After the flat repair, we rode the final mile or so into the Epsom control together.  Jerry was able to borrow a wrench with a longer handle --> more leverage --> loosened the rear tyre lugs a bit.  I think he also purchased some air from the store.  (I offered my stand-up pump a couple times, but ... I dunno'.) 

After leaving the Epsom store control, Jerry drifted away from Byron and me; thus he did more solo testing of the cue sheet and got to experience Dick Smith Rd and Egypt Mtn Rd and Green Hill Rd in quiet.  [I just had a terrible thought:  what if Jerry wasn't so much stretching his legs at his own pace, but was trying to get away from too much racket from my mouth?]  Anyway, I had given Jerry my standard advice for those new to the route:  "save something for Egypt Mtn Rd."  All I will note here is that Jerry came to appreciate that advice. 

Byron and I slowly drifted further behind JP.  With the roads finally drying out, even in the "shaded" areas, we soon lost contact with even his tyre-tracks.  However, as Jerry had insisted earlier in the ride, we found him sitting at the slowly delapitating picnic table at the store in / at Grissom, with a beverage or two (for which he had a plan). 

We left Grissom to cover the last 12.6-miles of the course and with a plan to stop at the corner of New Light and Ghoston roads.  Jerry and Byron took the lead, riding side-by-side, chatting.  I was happy to follow the double wind-block.  Well ... I was happy to follow for approx. 2.27-miles, then zipped around to take the CL into Wake County, 2.3-miles from Grissom (Jerry growled that that would not happen next time).  Big fun. 

I had been watching the clock.  I realized when Byron and I had reached Pokomoke at 8h42 with 16.2-miles to go, that a sub-10-hour time would be easy to do, except that we had a planned store stop, and a stop for something else planned before we would reach the finish.  After stealing the CL, I thought a sub-10-hour time might still be possible, but we'd need to put a little extra time in the bank.  [Also, any Irregular will tell you that, if I still have legs on Bruce Garner / New Light Rd and there is not too strong a southwesterly wind, there is no dawdling along on that stretch.]   

We stopped at the turn onto Ghoston Rd (better known as the bottom of Ghoston Rd), to mark my exact 10K-Hound moment.  We each drank a beverage and Jerry and Byron took a few photos.
Me, Jerry; Byron snapped the photo.  ... ... I do have one comment here:  as we posed for the photo, Jerry had already "popped" his beverage open, I was still opening mine, and got the tell-tail sound of a carbonated beverage that wants to explode.  Jerry snickered, I looked down at the pop-top on the can to judge the disaster potential, then glanced up ... just as Byron took the photo!?  ... ... B -- couldn't you have waited 5 more seconds for me to re-compose myself?
I like this photo.  Some think I look tired.  I think I look rather smug (a negative thing) and determined (a positive thing).  But the thing I like about this photo is that the slope of the hill in the background shows what we are about to ride up.  Luckily, the road is engineered and the slope of the road is not quite as dramatic as that seen behind me.  ... ... One thing I don't like -- I look like a sloppy mess with the red (running) wind-vest and the reflective vest layered over the cycling jersey -- if there ever comes an occasion again when I'm being photographed, I'm removing the vests -- yes, I do care what I look like -- I just don't go quite as crazy about it as someone I could mention.
The ride was not over.  We had another 5.9-miles to cover.  Some of it was flat.  When I got to Mt Vernon Ch Rd, I looked at the official time-keeping device on my bike and concluded that a determined effort might still nab that sub-10-hour time.  I hit the pedals on the MVC downslope energetically -- I caught and passed Jerry.  He passed me back on the counter-slope (the incline); that was fine by me as I was doing my own "race".  I lost sight of Jerry long before the stop-sign at the top of the climb, but that was not my "race".  I worked the false-flat portion of MVC to Norwood Rd, made the turn, looked at the official time-piece, and relaxed slightly:  I had nearly 4-minutes to make the last 0.7-miles (and had done that section in only 2-minutes a few weeks before).  

9h58 for me.  Also for JP -- don't ask.  Byron finished about 2 minutes later. 

Cards signed and returned to the route owner.  Congratulations and thanks all around.  Jerry got in his car and headed home.  Byron remounted his steed and headed home.  I remounted my steed and did the same. 

Great bike ride!  Made so by great ride companions on a great day (for December) on a pretty dang good course (if I may be allowed to type that about my own route).  

One does not get to 10K-Hound without a little help, a lot of help, from friends.  

To Ricochet and IvaHawk and BikerBob and Mick and Dean and Ags and Jerry and Byron and R-squared and Gary and Ian and Mary and Tom and to each and every one of you, randonneur or Irregular or whatever, with whom I've ridden or chatted this year (and before), whose routes I've ridden (or didn't ride), who organized brevets and allowed me to volunteer or organized a Fleche, who picked me up when I was down, with moral support and more when I needed it:  thank-you! 


--> Egypt Mtn 210-km Perm --> ; 140.3 m.; guess of 9h02 in-motion; 15.5 mph; EM elapsed time:  9h58.  

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
Nov tot: __7 rides; __658.8 m; _43h07; 15.3 mph; __876 RUSA kms
Dec tot: __2 rides; __267.4 m; _17h23; 15.4 mph; __414 RUSA kms. 
YTD tot: 102 rides; 9,075.7 m; 608h02; 14.9 mph; 10009 RUSA kms

R-81 for Jerry.  
R-33 for Byron.  But I find Byron's R-series is more interesting than that.  He got to R-35, then was so ill one month that he didn't ride anything (except maybe a few commuter rides), and the next month started over.


  1. Nice smile in that one! I miss Ghoston Rd!! Rode our tandem up it many times, a favorite climb of mine. Congrats, Martin!

  2. Hey, Sara, thanks, and I didn't know that you and Gary were north-Raleigh-side cyclists. Anyone that refers to Ghoston as a favorite climb can't be all bad, but they can be crazy -- rando crazy.

    Hope to see you next year.