Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Apr-26: Perseverence 300

A pre-ride of the NCBC 300 km Brevet.

The Plan:
  1. Cycle 20-miles at a comfortable pace to the start.
  2. Have a fun 300k pre-ride, riding the middle 87-miles with my friend BobB, while (in the words of RBA "Uncle" Alan) confirming that the route is still rideable (Alan and I had truck-scouted the entire 400 km route in early April) and checking the closing time of the gas station / c-store in Snow Camp. 
  3. Cycle the 20-miles back home, being showered and in bed by 12:30 or 1:00 am Sunday morning. 

What Actually Transpired

Cycle to the Start 

I left home at approx 5:36 am, 11-minutes after I planned and 6-minutes after the latest "acceptable" time.  I rode easily through Raleigh, by and through the North Hills area, to and by Cameron Village, the northwest edge of NC State and then down Hillsborough Street and Chapel Hill Rd to Morrisville, arriving at the start at approx 6:56 am, with Alan and Dr. A., aka, "The Dentist" more-or-less waiting.  Even before I began to dismount, I proclaimed to Dr. A. and Alan, "I'm riding my pace -- not yours."  Dr. A. responded that he was riding with me. 

Prologue completed as planned.

The 300

We started a bit late -- a couple miles later, Dr. A. explained that he thought Alan was riding with us.  However, Alan is still in recovery / rehabilitation mode from a stint insertion.

Even before we got to the Green Hope roads, I was worried because the pace seemed a bit much.  At one point, I asked Steven how fast we were going (my cycle confuser is currently defunct, and has been for quite some time); he replied "17 mph."  I figured that was about right and that perhaps my legs were just whining because I haven't been doing much, er ANY, speed-work or even fast rides, lately.

Things seemed about right when we got the Jack Bennett climb, except that I looked at my watch and saw that was well over an hour since we had actually started.  The average pace had been slower than two weeks earlier during the opening miles of the 200, but my legs felt worse.

I was slow on the Jack Bennett climb, perhaps partly because I was trying to let my legs recover?  Already?

We rode Andrews Store and Parker Herndon roads more-or-less together, but Hamlet Chapel / Jones Ferry Rd was not-fun for me, and Steven was repeatedly lolly-gagging / waiting for me.  I announced that I was stopping at Frosty's to remove my knee warmers, etc.; Steven was in favor of stopping, too -- he wanted a chocolate milk or something (I recall that he had to settle for something else).

Back on the bikes, the climb on Chicken Bridge Rd toward NC-87 was TOUGH; I was not recovering on the bike; my legs were getting worse.  The detour and Castle Rock Farm / Old Switcheroo RD passed with nothing of note.  Lindley Mill Rd and Greensboro - Chapel Hill Rd, esp. the latter, were NOT fun for me.  Steven was lollygagging up ahead, I struggled on every one of the 5 climbs (into a headwind, BTW).

I actually considered turning around when I got to Snow Camp.  Dead legs and an increasing headwind all the way to the turn-around in Seagrove was not an enticing combination.  However, Bob was meeting me in Snow Camp, to ride the middle 87-miles with me; I didn't want to let him down.  I also did not want to wimp out of what is likely my only chance at a 300 brevet this year.

Steven and I arrived at the Snow Camp control at 10:57 -- a full 30 minutes later than I had figured.  Being that slow / late, Ian (who had started at 8 am) pulled in only seconds after us.  (I had earlier told Dr. A. that Ian would not catch us until at least Siler City.  I remain convinced that if I had had any legs, Ian would most likely have caught us on Coleridge Rd.)  Ian made some banter "insulting" comment; I was too tired to respond.

Ian and Dr. A. left within minutes -- certainly well before I emerged from the store with my card initialed and some cold drinks in my hands.  I knew that Ian and Steven were on a speed-demon mission, Ian on a fixie-speed-demon mission, but I was quite relieved to see that they had gone.

I sat on the store bench, drank my drinks, and told Bob that we were in for a long ride, not the enjoyable trek I had anticipated.  Bob is a good egg, and we have each dragged or waited for the other many times; he was still up for the ride.  After all, the roads between Siler City and Seagrove are Bob's favorite rando roads.

We headed for Siler City.  Bob leading; me trying to stay close enough to get a draft.  That's about all I can recall of the 12-miles to Siler City.

After Siler City is Coleridge Rd -- everyone's favorite road on Alan's route(s).  The pastures and lawns and trees and shrubs are in their finest greenery in early Spring; flowers are popping all around; from several places atop "the ridge" one can see far away to distant ridges -- ridges higher than Coleridge Rd..

After passing through the old mill town of Coleridge, located along the Deep River, the route continues onto increasing rollers, headed in a twisty way for Erect and then Seagrove.  [I mention Erect because there is a store there, and Alan told me that the route uses Erect Rd and goes through Erect simply because of the name.]  

Fork Creek Mill Rd was a labor -- for me, not Bob.  I climbed the mile up into Seagrove using my 30/23 -- the 30/25 seemed too easy -- I had some hope that perhaps my legs were recovering during the ride.

We took a LONG lunch break in Seagrove.  I ate the entire Big Bag Lunch and was playing for leg-recovery time.  We finally left the control and headed back toward Siler City.  Bob was riding easy.  It was all I could do to keep the pedals turning.

There was one bright spot for me -- on the last half-dozen miles on Snow Camp Rd, heading toward Snow Camp, I found cadence and zip and caught up to and passed Bob and led all the way to the control.  The mostly tailwind may have helped; the easy slopes certainly are always to my liking.

Bob and I chatted and ate and drank a bit at Snow Camp; then he headed for home (about 15 miles from Snow Camp) and I headed back along the route toward Morrisville.  I will now turn the story over to an email [with just a few edits] that I sent Bob (and Alan) a day or two after the ride.

Hey, Bob (& Alan) -- now for the rest of the story

I left Snow Camp @ 8:15.  The excellent cadence that I had managed the last six miles into Snow Camp did not re-emerge.  The steep rollers on the Old Greensboro Highway took care of that, and the following roads of the course are not as "Martin friendly" as Snow Camp Rd is.  

I had to keep stopping to check my tail-light.  I would stop at every stop sign to check to see if it was still on.  Mostly, it wasn't.  It is bright, but is prone to jiggling loose "inside;" an adjustment to the cover brings it back on, but ... .  Luckily. my secondary tail-light, combined with that EN-1150 visibility vest resulted in very respectful traffic all the way back.  I did finally get the main tail-light adjusted more or less perfectly as it stayed on continuously from Farrington Point to Alan's (and again from Alan's to north Raleigh).  

I don't know what time I got to Frosty's, but I stopped there to put on knee warmers, glove liners, and my shell.  I had been cold for quite some time.  The additional clothes helped.  I thought about swapping to the clean jersey, but I had so much stuff in the jersey pockets that I didn't want to have to deal with getting everything into place, so I stayed with the somewhat sweaty faded blaze orange jersey.  I left Frosty's thinking I might still finish at around 1 am. 

However, the wobbling about on the bike, which had been evident ever since Snow Camp, got much worse before I got to Farrington Point; therefore, I tried to take a 30-min "Martin nap" on the picnic table.  I doubt that I ever fell asleep as I could not get comfortable due to the slight, chilly breeze funneling between those two stores at Farrington. 

I left Farrington at approx 12:30 am, and had good vigor and cadence for about 100 yards.  Maybe I kept up a decent cadence all the way down to the lake to Martha's Chapel Rd.  The route from Farrington to Alan's is gentle slopes that I can usually do with little to no reduction in my speed; however, Saturday night (or Sunday morning, if you prefer), it was all I could do just to keep the pedals turning.  Hmmn, I did seem to be able to force some cadence  while on NC-55; I wanted to get that short mile DONE (even though there was not much traffic). 

I rolled up to Alan's and wrote "0152" on my card for my finish time.  I was writing in the closing time of the store in Snow Camp, or signing the card, I forget which (and I doubt I could have told you two minutes later which I was doing), when Dorothy opened the door, asked how I was doing, and then if I'd like to come in for a bit.  (I told D that I was very tired, and that going inside to sit "would be nice.")  Alan emerged a few minutes later; I think he had gone to bed; I think D has a tendency to stay up VERY LATE.  I chatted with Dorothy and mostly Alan for about 40 minutes, and then left their place at approx 2:35 am to climb up to Cary & Raleigh. 

I stopped on a business drive turn-out on Chapel Hill Rd, just before the Raleigh water tower west of NC State, I estimate about 8 miles after leaving Alan's, to slowly eat a Cliff Bar and wash it down with water.  That was the only time all day that I thought I might be getting "bonky." 
I noted that the time was 3:39 am when I rode past Hogan's house.  The cars looked to parked in exactly the same place as they had at 6:16 am Saturday morning.  

I had just turned onto Everett St (next to the Raleigh Little Theater) when this guy on a bike came whizzing around the corner and passed me on my right -- there was not a lot of extra room between me and the curb!  I yelped, and then the guy made a U-turn while saying that he was riding with me, and that was not a comforting thing.  He circled around behind me and was coming up alongside me, on my right, his breathe REEKED of alcohol as commented "peleton, now that's a French word."  The next moment he crashed, falling to his left; luckily I was just far enough ahead and going just fast enough that he did NOT fall into me!  Sprawled on the road, the drunk says "I'm not coming with you."  Thank goodness!! 

I was about a third of the way up the steep part of the climb on Lassiter Mill Rd when I decided it would be easier and safer to walk up the rest of the climb, so I did.  I then got back on my bike and continued the slow spin-slog home.  Once in Raleigh, I had chosen my route to eliminate any climbing other than Lassiter Mill Rd (which cannot be avoided unless one adds a LOT of other, nearly as tough climbs) -- my route was also the shortest route.  On major city streets.  NO traffic.  Some may wonder if I stopped for all the stop lights; let them wonder. 

I got to my front door-step at 4:35 am.  Four to 4.5 hours later than I had expected to get home.  I was worried I might fall over carrying the bike up the steps, but I did not fall.  Started the electric kettle, changed from my cycling togs into my house-robe, poured the HOT water into the mug with a tea bag, then sat down to chill out for a couple minutes while the tea cooled a bit.  The plan was to drink the tea and then shower.  That was a minutes or two before 5 am.  

Next thing I knew, it was 6:15.  I had fallen asleep sitting in the chair.  I drank the now tepid tea, took my shower, and got into bed at approx 6:30 am, having set the alarm on my watch for 10:30 so that I would have time to get dressed and get to work at 11:30.  I woke without the alarm at about 10 and got up. 

Cycle Home

See above.
I still had one more duty to perform:  A pre-ride report to the NC-rando-list-serve -- I sent the following email on Tuesday morning.

Since I had an EPIC adventure with many hours riding after it got dark, I'm concentrating on things that other dark-finishers might benefit from: 
  1. The traditional store at Snow Camp closes at 9 pm [Alan had given me an assignment to verify the store's closing time].  If you should get to Snow Camp after the store closes, but need some supplies, there is now a "Dollar General" just west of the traditional gas station / c-store, also on Greensboro - Chapel Hill Rd; the DG is on the north side of G - CH Rd.  However, because I was T-I-R-E-D, I did not check out the hours for the Dollar General. 
  2. The tiny bugs came out in force at about 8:15 pm, sorta' between Civil and Nautical Twilight.  But by 8:45 or 9:00 pm, the bug storm was over.  Adjust for the difference in daylight for the one-week difference  &  maybe the bug storm I experienced was a one-off thing. 
  3. About half-way between Snow Camp and the turn onto Lindley Mill Rd, a black dog suddenly appeared at my right side.  I did not hear it coming, and I certainly didn't see it until after it barked when only a foot or so away from me.  A few shouts and the dog stopped -- probably because I had left its territory. 
  4. Finding the detour routing onto Pete Thomas Rd (from Castle Rock Farm Rd) was easy.  Pete Thomas is the first left AFTER you get to the 'road work' / 'road closed' signs.  If you start to worry that you've missed the turn in the dark -- stop worrying -- you haven't.  I KNOW. 
  5. There was a "pack" of dogs at one residence on Pete Thomas Rd -- it would be on your left during the homeward bound leg -- I couldn't determine how many dogs, or if they were serious or not.  At least one of the dogs was black, blacker than the night; it seemed more like a shadow than anything else.  But it, and its pack mates, were real.  I never got around to hallucinating during the ride (I was physically tired all ride, not mentally tired). 
  6. Finding Bowman Bare Rd, the next turn in the detour, is also easy.  It is the ONLY right turn off Pete Thomas Rd, about 2-miles after getting onto Pete Thomas, and should be obvious a couple hundred yards before you get to it.  The road-signs showed up nicely in my head-lamp beam. 
  7. The turn from Bowman Bare onto NC-87 is obvious.  You cannot continue straight.  And if you turn left, well ... you may end up with a "story to tell." 
  8. The final turn of the detour routing ought to be rather easy to recognize -- Chicken Bridge Rd is the first left off NC-87.  If you are riding as late as I was, you'll be quite glad to see the signage, etc. for Chicken Bridge Rd.  Make sure you tail-light(s) are working when you get to NC-87  &  that you have good reflective clothing -- I will note that those wind-vests sometimes identified as EN-1150 compliant and which many obtained around the time of the 2011-PBP work great!!  My main tail-light was prone to going out as things jiggled-about, but either my secondary tail-light or my NC-Rando EN-1150 hi-visibility vest did the job!!  Everyone gave me the entire lane. 
  9. After the turn onto Chicken Bridge Rd, the detour is done. 
  10. BTW, Jones Ferry Rd was a lot easier to ride UP and down in the dark than I recalled from previous rides.  The resurfacing helps a LOT.  (Hamlet Chapel Rd, on the other hand, still has its holes and such.)   
EVERYTHING on the course was GREEN !!!! 
The vistas, etc. along Coleridge Rd looked great! 

There was "some" pollen in the air.  I saw it streaming past in my headlamp beam at night.  However, it was no where close the pollen-storm that some may recall from the 400 brevet in 2010. 

Eddington Cycling Number:
After this ride:  111.
Meaning that I have completed at least 111 different rides that were at least 111 miles long.

1 comment:

  1. Finishing at "0152" -- 1 hour, 8 minutes to spare. That's close enough to "Full Value" for my taste.