Monday, April 15, 2013

Apr-13: Ricochet's Ridge 205-km Perm

Last Fall, Ricochet Robert inquired if I could make a route that included "that ridge we rode that one time."  Yeah, with a description like that ... but I knew he meant the one we did on the Virginia Border Raid last June-16th.

Actually, I'd been thinking of the "ridge" finish we did for last year's Summer pre-Solstice ride since before doing the Irregular's Hurdle Mills 200k route in October 2009 -- which we did twice.  Well, actually, no one did the entire route twice:  I came up 10-miles short the first time and one week later Smitty came up about 55-miles short.

I was thinking of the "ridge" to Dabney to Green Hill Rd finish in 2009 because I had done US Bike Route #1 so many times that year that I was getting tired of it, or so I thought.  I've since done a "mountain" or a "flat" finish from Stovall quite a few times, and I didn't get tired of it in 2010 or 2011 (and, sadly, in 2012, the only times I rode to or through Stovall were on the pre- and post- Summer Solstice rides, so I haven't had a chance to get tired of US Bike Route #1, lately).  [BTW, fixed-gear aficionado, Super-Randonneur and PBP ancien Branson likes me to mention US Bike Route #1 as many times as I can -- whether legitimate references or not.]  

I even thought about turning the Irregular's route into a Permanent, possibly with the finish to take in "Ricochet's Ridge" and Dabney, etc. for the last "third" of the route.  However, I decided to keep the Hurdle Mills route as just an Irregular's route, thinking some of the crew would be interested in a 200k ride again some day.  So far, that has not happened.  We have, however, done the "100-mile bailout" version, in August-2010 with a simple modification, and in April-2011, with a bail-out of the "bailout"[hmmn, not sure I can use "we" in regards to that ride as I wasn't there.]

Some of crew think I got lost about 3/4 of the way through the simple modification in the Aug-2010 ride.  I admit that I didn't know exactly where I was, and I further admit that I was getting ready to turn the wrong direction, but I was never LOST.  I would have made it back home; the ride might have been more than 110-miles, and there might have been some grousing from some of the crew if that had happened, but I wasn't ... LOST.

Anyway, back to the supposed point of this blog post:  Riding the Ricochet's Ridge 205-km Permanent.

With two of the four "north Raleigh" perms (temporarily) off-the-board due to control stores closing and/or general tweaking, and a third endangered by some NC-DOT bridge replacement action, I was motivated to get this new route submitted and approved.  The only thing holding me up was creating the reversed cue sheet.  However, with all the dang road name changes, and with cues for controls and such just not "flowing" nicely (and I may have been trying to be too clever), I got frustrated with reversing the loop and decided to forgo filing the for the reversed -- I doubt I'll ever ride it reversed, anyway.  [If anyone wants to do it reversed, I'll make a deal:  pay triple, and take your chances on me submitting and Crista approving in time; if not approved in time, I keep the tripled fee, and you do the route the normal clock-wise direction.  Sounds fair to me.  :-) ]

So ... route submitted ... and approved.

Then, in course of the usual "what are you thinking of riding this coming weekend" discussion,
Ricochet notes that he might have to travel for business, and
The trip would extend over both the weekend of the 20th (the date of the local 300 brevet),
And the 27th, which would have been Robert's "insurance" weekend.

So ... two days after approval,
Ricochet Robert and I did the new "Ricochet's Ridge" 205-km Permanent,
For Robert's R-series "insurance" in case he has to skip the 300.
RWGPS map link:

About now, you're probably thinking:  "enough with overlong introduction -- get to the ride report!"

Some of the conversations on the day.
After crossing NC-57 (which is three miles after crossing NC-157 -- don't get confused), New Sharron Ch Rd changes its name to Holly Ridge Rd, and Ricochet comments:  "We made a mistake."  Me:  "Oh."  R:  "We should have invited Wilmington-Rick on this ride and then there would be a photo documentary of the scenery around here."  Me:  "Oh well; maybe next time."  Local cyclists (esp. those from Durham and Chapel Hill) will know that Schley and New Sharron Ch roads offer plenty of nice vistas and well-kept home-and-farmsteads.

Nearing Timberlake, Ricochet exclaimed, "there's Trixie's Hairstyling!"  (This new route re-intersects/joins Byron's Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville route near Timberlake for a few miles.)  Me:  "Oh, yeah."  [I'd never noticed the sign for "Trixie's."]

On Jim Latta Rd, after Ricochet had given up on convincing me to climb up to Mt. Tirzah to check on the status of Hollow Ridge Grocery, he asked, "when was the last time you were on these roads?"  Me:  "At least two years for most of them."  R:  "How much of this course is new roads for you?"  Me:  "About four miles."  R:  "Where?"  Me:  "Oh, we've done them already.  Today was the first time I've cycled on Hall Dairy and Gray roads, and that first bit on Dick Holeman Rd.  I did drive those in a car about five years ago, though."  R:  "Oh."  [Looking at the map, Robert would have ridden about 26 new miles; however, and Robert would admit this, I doubt he recalls having done another 19-miles of the route previously.  He did those early 19-miles on a ride when the current banner photo on this blog was taken.  Since I might change the banner photo some day, I insert here.]
That's Ricochet Robert in the blue Gerolsteiner jersey.  I happen to be in front in the orange jersey.  I'm only in front because I knew where I was going.  Well, this was on the ride mentioned above, where several of the Irregulars insist I was lost.

Road Quality.
I knew there was some chip-seal on this course, but there was more than I recalled.  After all, it had been at least two years since I'd ridden most of the course between mile markers 19 and 76.  Not much in the way of pot-holes or breaking surfaces to worry about. 

It goes down-and-up.  Some of it even goes up-and-down.  [If you don't understand the difference, come do the route:  you should catch on.]  Many pleasant vistas alongside or from atop ridge lines -- just don't expect anything comparable to mountains.  There are some flatter sections where one could recover from the climbing if needed.  [Didn't help me any, though, late in the ride.] 

Navigation difficulty.
I'm obviously not the best judge of this.  Ricochet did try to confuse himself once or twice, esp. at the control at Underwood Grocery.  To help him not get lost, I asked, "what does the cue sheet indicate?'  Robert tried to claim that he might turn left out of Underwood, reversing himself on the road he'd just ridden.  My comment:  "THAT is Schley Rd.  You just read to me that the cue sheet indicates to take New Sharron Ch Rd."  Robert acquiesced.  I have a hard time imagining that anyone would get lost there (it's only 33-miles into the ride), and with all the GPS devices and smart-phones, etc. ... .
Of course there were dogs -- this is North Carolina.  Only one came out into the road -- he gave the impression that he was just going to run alongside an be a happy dog, then he suddenly cut in front of me -- the yellow cur -- but he never made as if he wanted to get a taste of either of us.

One other dog came to the very edge of the road.

Three or four stopped in the ditch.  They had initially acted interested enough that Robert got his water bottle ready to spray water, or iced tea, at them.  I've got to add the water bottle thing to my bag of tricks -- I know of the trick, but it never pops into my mind.

No apparent dawg-problems worth worrying about. 

Underwood Grocery reminds me of Black Creek Grocery on MikeD's "Showdown in Black Creek" route.  More empty space than filled space.  Adequate / typical remote rando receipt options.  Don't expect a cash register receipt -- store also reminds me of the Skipwith control on MikeD's other north of Raleigh perm.  If you somehow manage to get a cash register receipt, expect it to have the wrong time on it.  Get the clerk to initial the card and write-in the correct time.
All photos complement of Ricochet Robert.  His photos came out better than mine.  At least that's my story.

Robert and I stopped at the gas station / c'store at US-501 for the Timberlake control.  Adequate / usual remote rando receipt options.  They can print a cash register receipt -- it seems to have the mostly correct time on it.  You might appreciate the bench in front of the store -- no indoor seating -- they have a grill with chicken and what not (except not on Sunday's, and timing on other days of the week may be important -- I didn't really check).

Robert thought the control question at / in Hicksboro was adequately specific.  I'll go with that question for awhile.  You'll have to do the route to find out the question.

The gas station / c'store near Dabney (the clerk mentioned that the store is in Henderson -- no, not IN Henderson, by a long shot -- and I suspect the clerk doesn't even know where Dabney-proper is located) is perhaps the best stocked of the controls.  They have a grill -- but I forgot to check what hours and days of operation (of the grill) might actually be.

Non-control stores, in particular Stovall. 
There are some non-control stores indicated on the cue sheet.  Most important of them is the gas station / c'store in Stovall.  They have a deli, and make pretty good sandwiches.  Robert and I split as 12-inch sub; it was a lot of food.  They also have the usual Hunt Bros. (?) hunk-a-pizza.  Some locals will know Stovall for the "Pizza in Stovall" rides.  Some should know it from MikeD's Kerr Lake Loop perm.  Some will recall and appreciate the gazebo across from the c'store.  Biker-Bob will likely mostly recall a hole into which his front wheel fell when trying to ride across the "lawn" to the gazebo.  Here's a suggestion:  walk your bike to the gazebo.  BTW, the gazebo in part of the church grounds there, so don't expect to be able to enjoy cooling breezes on a Sunday (esp. if you are a fast rider).

If you are looking for a route with food options at sit-down establishments, this will not be your route. 

Believe it or not, Ricochet and I each took some.  With luck, we'll figure out how to get them to a medium where I can insert them into this now way-too-long post.
I thought Robert said that he wanted to get pics of the llamas, so I rode on.  When he caught up to me, he explained he had always wanted to some pics of himself with the llamas.  Sorry, R, I was too tired to hear and think correctly.

One of the reasons I bowed to Ricochet's urging and submitted this route was because, as noted above, other routes are currently endangered from control store closures and bridge destruction/replacement.  Guess what Robert and I found at mile-71?  Yep, the bridge on Cornwall Rd over Mountain Creek, the bridge on the 150 yards of Cornwall Rd that is needed to connect Mountain Creek Rd to Little Mountain Creek Rd -- it is being demolished and replaced.  ... ...  Deep sigh.


However, I think I know the detour, and Davis Chapel Rd looks to be almost as sinuous and down-and-up as Little Mountain Creek Rd.
Overall conclusion.
I'm reserving final judgement until after I can do the route without struggling the last 45-miles.  I'd also like to understand how a nearly circular route managed to have a headwind the entire way.  Perhaps Mother Nature was repaying us (me) for the Irregulars Oct-10-2009 ride which was on a route very similar to this one.  

Something(s) about our specific first ride on this new permanent.
It was an absolutely fabulous day for a bike ride.  I had a great riding companion.  No mechanicals.  Dogs okay.  Roads okay.  I just wish I had had some oomph the last 45-miles. 

Oh, the actual name of the route, as on the RUSA Perm database:  "Road to Hicksboro"

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

(1) commute; 9.2 m.; 0h35 in-motion;  (2) The Road to Hicksboro 205-km perm;; 148.2 m.; 9h31 in-motion; 13.7 mph; 11h19 elapsed;  (3) commute; 9.2 m.; 0h43 in-motion; 12.7 mph [somebody was tired, esp. on any incline];  Total:  146.6 m.; 10h39 in-motion; 13.8 mph.
Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms. 
Apr tot: __2 rides; __287.3 m; _20h12; 14.2 mph; __405 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _13 rides; _1227.6 m; _84h54; 14.5 mph; _1680 RUSA kms

Gosh, I hope I have some legs for the 300 brevet on the 20th


  1. I most certainly must have quite tired when I typed this post -- soooooo many typos and grammar issues, and so many places where I changed the phrasing of something, but ended up with a convoluted combination.

    Oh, well -- as I often repeat: I don't really "write" these reports, I just "type" them, and whatever comes out is what comes out.


    1. Aargh, should be: "I most certainly must have been quite tired when I typed this post ..."

  2. Childish, but I laughed at the road named Dick Holeman!

    1. (1) I know how to fix you laughing at that -- ride Byron's L-L-L perm. '.That'll learn ya.

      (2) Be sure to ask Ian for name of his favorite road in Raleigh -- it is near the beginnng and the end of Mick's OakElmOak / HopeSpringsEternal / BunnWarmer route.

  3. 1. "Gosh, I hope I have some legs for the 300 brevet on the 20th."

    I think I may have found my legs during the 300. With luck, the next newest blog post should be about my ride on the 300 -- or at least about things from the 300.

    2. "the actual name of the route"

    During the 300 on the 20th, one person (who apparently pretends to never read this blog) told me that he thought I had named the new course "Ricochet's Ridge," until he got to the last line of the main text.

    I admit it, hearing that made me smile inside. A sort-of "mission accomplished" type-of-smile. The mission, or course, being the mis-direction about the name of the Permanent, and a small indication that sometimes I can write something, despite numerous typos and grammar hick-ups, that accomplishes multiple goals simultaneously.

    That may be "slapping myself on the back," but ...