Before this ride, I'd ridden the Bahama Beach route about 30 times; MickH recently informed me that he had ridden it 31 times; Ricochet Robert had ridden the route 15 times before May-25th. Each of us likes the route -- I think everyone that has ridden the route has liked it -- but there are excellent alternative, nearly parallel, roads that also make for good riding, maybe even preferable riding. And, as I had increased my randonneuring at the expense of club or JRA riding, I found I was missing the visits to some of the other roads. It seemed to me that morphing Bahama Beach into a 'free-route' would give me and others the ability to "wing-it" and do a little additional sight-seeing while rando-ing about, without the nuisance of creating and maintaining additional routes.
The verb-tense non-agreement in the previous bothers even me. Sheesh! Maybe I'll try to fix it -- at least some of it.
Anyway, on Saturday, five of us rode my 'Road to Hicksboro' route while Ricochet Robert was the first to ride 'Bahama Beach' under the free-route-wing-it regime. Even though BB is one of only two routes that Ricochet can ride sans cue sheet, he was eager to try winging-it on Saturday, and early in our rides, while the two courses are on the same roads, I suggested an easy-to-follow and quite nice variant to Ricochet. After I completed my Saturday ride, I found an e-mail from Ricochet in my inbox -- Saturday was the first time he could recall riding Hester Rd from end-to-end: he liked it.
When I had just over 20-kms still to ride on Saturday, Brad called -- I pulled over to answer. He informed that instead of being on duty at the NC State Vet Med School clinic, he had Sunday off, and wondered if he could join me on Bahama Beach on Sunday (as well as the previously planned Denny's Store Sortie on Monday). Absolutely.
So ... 8 am Sunday, Brad and I set off. This was Brad's second circuit of Bahama Beach, and a few things were a bit different:
- Brad was doing his first ever long ride on a fixed gear.
- Brad was in better cycling shape.
- It was warmer than it had been that first time.
- There were no RUSA "luminaries" on the ride.
- Bahama Beach was now a 'free-route," and Brad's ride partner intended to take a couple variants.
The first variant started at the 11.7-mile mark; we turned right and head toward Creech Rd instead of turning left toward Burton Rd. I planned to take Creech to Redwood to Geer and then get back on the standard route at Red Mill Rd. However, Brad had fresh legs, is young and was riding fixed whereas I am nearly 30-years-older than Brad, and was bit tired and stiff and sore from the previous day's ride -- we "enjoyed" young, whipper-snapper fixie dynamics versus old-man, tired, stiff and sore dynamics for much of the ride. I "sent" Brad up the road with the advice to stop when he got to the stop-sign. Surprise on me! There is no stop-sign on Redwood Rd where it intersects Geer St. -- the stop-sign is on Geer St. -- I thought I recalled that it was a 4-way-stop. So, ... as I approached the intended left onto Geer, I saw Brad rocketing a couple hundred yards ahead, having continued straight on Redwood. I thought about turning left anyway as the two roads come out at the same place (within about 20 yards), but figured I better follow in case Brad got concerned that he couldn't see me and stopped or circled back looking for me -- good thing I did go straight, because at the crest of the second unintended little hillock climb, Brad did exactly that.
Back together, we rode across Red Mill Rd together (or at least as best I can recall, we rode across there together). Then onto Old-75, headed toward, but not all the way to, the Federal Prison where, among others, currently resides one Bernie Madoff. "Avoiding" the prison by turning onto Stagville Rd, I quickly dropped fixie-Brad off my front wheel as he hammered up the slope while I made use of a small gear to slowly continue warming up. I "caught" Brad at the Info Control in Bahama; noting the answer to the info control question, I kept rolling whereas Brad had stopped and was eating or drinking or both.
I don't recall if Brad passed me while still on the Lake Michie Wall or while on Ellis Chapel Rd. I definitely do recall dropping him my front wheel while he charged up one of the inclines there while I spun my way up in a low gear, swiveling my head looking deep into the woods and enjoying the sites and sights and pleasant weather.
I next saw Brad when he again passed me on Robert's Chapel Rd. I wondered how he had gotten behind me. I found out later:
|Brad had stopped to get a photo of one of the self-propelled guns on Range Rd. [photo courtesy Bradley J. W.]|
Left onto Range Rd and ... surprise ... old-man legs are starting to come around while the young-fixie-man legs are starting to feel the toll of not-quite-in-shape and being on the longest, hilliest fixie excursion they'd been on. :-)
Little Mountain Rd, Old-75, into Stem. We took a long time in Stem -- mostly, I think, because I wanted to -- but, maybe, partly because Brad needed a bit of a break.
We zoomed down Brogden Rd -- definitely a geared-bike favorable road, Brad trailing. :-)
Just after crossing over I-85, at what would be the 39.7-mile mark of the standard route, we made the left turn onto Hester Rd. [Btw, if you've read about Hester Store Rd on Byron's Triple-L route on this or another blog -- that's a completely different road, probably 20 miles or more distant.] Hester Rd is always "essentially flat" in my mind -- people keep telling me that it is not -- my legs occasionally remind me that it is not -- but I ignore such input regarding the first half of Hester Rd because the last half is definitely geared-bike friendly -- Brad claimed it was not fixie-friendly as the "entire" road felt like a shallow incline, making him work hard. I waited for Brad at NC-56. :-)
56 into Wilton is mostly flat. I used to think there was a frickin' hill in the way. The same bump is still there. And maybe on another day it will feel like a frickin' hill, but 2 weeks after having ridden through the Uwharries on Alan's 400k brevet, not having a useful front derailleur and therefore being stuck in the 39T and also afraid to put any pressure on the pedals during the 400 because of cassette / chain slippage, that bump on 56 seemed flat. I waited in Wilson. :-)
The variant then continued on US Bike Route #1 [wonder if Branson will read this?] back onto the standard course. The best thing about the rest of the variant, and the rest of the standard route (except for Lawrence Rd and the closing Ghoston-Peed-MVC climbs)? Very friendly to bikes with gears, not so much to fixies. I.e., flat and fast. Brad was with me on Bruce Garner Rd every time I checked, except the last time. I kept going on BG --> New Light Rd, and went up Ghoston and waited in the shade on Peed Rd. :-)
When Brad got the shade on Peed Rd, he needed to eat some nibbles, and then we rode more or less together the last few miles. I must have started my warm-down and saving some legs for the next day because I see that Brad got credit for finishing before I did. ["Warm-down" is my story, and I'm sticking to it.]
It was a lot of fun. Brad completed his first ever 100k-plus on a fixie (on the climbingest 100k rando route in the area), preserved his P-12 quest and concluded that he had adequate legs to go for another 100+ kms the next day, on the Denny's Store Sortie. But, ... the DSS story is one for another day -- maybe tomorrow?
[In the above, I made a lot of the leap-frog dynamics, but there was a lot of riding WITH; all the ride was fun. There was also quite a bit of conversation about stuff -- as for what stuff -- you'll never know.]
--> Bahama Beach 103-km 'free-route' perm-pop (actual distance, 111-kms) -->; 89.6 m.; 5h57 in-motion; 15.0 mph; BB elapsed time: 6h05.
Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms.
Apr tot: __5 rides; __651.5 m; _45h02; 14.5 mph; __911 RUSA kms.
May tot: __6 rides; __730.0 m; _51h18; 14.2 mph; _1012 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _22 rides; _2321.8 m; 161h04; 14.4 mph; _3198 RUSA kms.
Place-holding in case I want to add anything later.