Saturday, May 31, 2014

May-09: Hicksboro 205

I had Friday off, decided to do the 'Road to Hicksboro,'
Advertised on the NC-rando-list-serve, expecting no responses.  Instead, got two: 
  1. TomD, with whom I had ridden about 300-kms of the 2013 NCBC 600 brevet, and 
  2. StevenB, who is a NC-2010-rando-rookie, but a person who I had never met. 
Also, eventually, Ricochet Robert decided to join the ride.

Tom indicated that he was looking for an easy ride.
If he stuck with me, he would get what would qualify as an easy ride (for him).

Steven indicated he was just looking for a ride.
Tall, thin, and I think he had shaved legs -- NOT a recipe for an easy Martin pace.

Ricochet Robert is in very good shape and getting faster, maybe is now nearly-fast.
I think I need to find a way to inflict a difficulty on him in order to slow him down.
I decided to use my "Lynn tactic" on them.
Get in the lead to slow them down.
It didn't work.
Especially when the climbs on St. Mary's Rd began.

The three drifted off my front wheel,
Leaving me alone to ride past the historical St. Mary's School, etc..

I arrived at the first control, Underwood Grocery, 33.2-miles into the ride, at 0911.
As we had left 3-minutes late and I had about 1-minute of "pausage" en route,
I had taken 2h07 in-motion --> an avg of 15.7-mph in-motion.
If I had had a working confuser, I might have been worried.
We left the control at 0919, and I used the downslope to get ahead of the guys again.
Again, to try to slow them down for a bit.
It didn't work, again.
They unceremoniously dropped me on the climb on New Sharon Ch Rd.
At least that left me on my own on the subsequent, mostly-Martin-friendly rollers.
I arrived at the Timberlake control, 46.1- miles (yes, those controls are rather close together),
Anyway, I arrived at 1010, with 50-minutes in motion --> avg 15.4 in-motion for that segment.

One nice thing about that segment:
That dang yellow dawg that was a nuisance every ride last year,
Did NOT make an appearance on this ride.
We left the Timberlake control at 1025 after a 15-minute stop.
We had picked up a SW tailwind, but the temps were climbing fast.
I grabbed the lead on the downslope out of Timberlake,
Hoping to stick with the guys for awhile.

Either I stuck with them, or they took it somewhat easy,
Until the first non-trivial climb on Jim Latta Rd.
If I recall correctly, I did not see the others until the non-control lunch stop in Stovall.

I guessed that Ricochet had told the other two that I would likely re-catch them on a downslope
After the bigger climbs.
Robert likely recalls that from previous rides, and
Especially from last year's NCBC 300 + 400 brevets,
Where I caught Robert and Byron on Coleridge Rd at the same spot on the two rides.

Robert may think I can catch people on downslopes, but
Robert is in the best (fastest) shape of his three-year cycling career,
Whereas I am decidedly NOT.
I can still ride fast downslope, but I labor upslope and the gaps become to big to bridge.

My "pausage" time in Stovall was 23-minutes.
Most of that time, no one was giving any indication of wanting to get going.

Leaving Stovall, again a downslope, and I got in front,
To again try to slow the guys and stick with them for awhile.
That worked for the 6 or so miles to the Hicksboro Info Control,
But soon thereafter, on "Ricochet's Ridge," the guys drifted off my front wheel, again.
I admit I was cussing the guys by this time.
Ride "with" -- ha.

I got to the Dabney control (89.3-miles) at 1336,
Just in time to get behind several lottery players.
I had cover the distance from Timberlake to Dabney at an avg 15.4 mph in-motion. 

Robert was anxious to leave the instant I got away from the cashier.
He apparently was feeling well rested from the extra time he had been there,
And failed to see the line of lottery players that had taken up my time at the control.
I "saluted" Robert's impatience with a possibly appropriate gesture.
Since the turn at the Hicksboro Info Control,
We had been riding head-on into the southerly headwind.
And it had been quite hot for the middle of May.
Several of us were showing some effects from the heat.

Leaving the Dabney control, I did NOT attempt to get in front to slow the guys.
I knew that after three miles of more-or-less flat roads,
We would have several miles of mostly downslope to creek.
I figured I could hang with the guys until the bridge, but
I knew I would lose them on the climb away from the creek.
Also, I needed to take a "natural break."

Therefore, I bid the guys adieu, and urged them to leave their cards with Robert.
I stopped for my pee, 1-minute, and could still see the three in the distance.
However, I had no intention of trying to catch them (or even hold the separation).

The heat had continued to build.
The headwind had also continued to build.
I thought the headwind a bigger issue.

I will note that the tar-snakes on Pokomoke Rd were a bit disconcerting.
The tar was hot enough that I felt my rear wheel slide sideways on the tar.
I may need to come up with a different 200+ Perm,
One that does NOT finish coming in on Pokomoke / Bruce Garner / New Light Rd.
[That road is also a bit of a problem in the winter, 
Because one is riding straight into the late-day setting sun. 
NOT a good thing.]

Anyway, I passed through Pokomoke and ...
As I approached the c-store at May Store Rd,
(BTW, said store is NOT noted on the cue sheet -- that store has been mostly-closed recently)
I saw Ricochet Robert, astride his steed, ready to leave the store.
I pulled in and learned (from Robert) that Tom and Steven were taking a bit of break,
But that Robert needed to finish the ride as quickly as possible.
I'll also note that Robert looked quite fresh.

Tom was looking the worse for wear, and
Steven indicated that he was "floating."
I concluded that neither minded waiting an additional 20+ min. for me at that non-control stop.
[Although the following photo did not exist at the time of our prolonged stop at the May Store, I imagine that each of Tom, Steven and I would have appreciated just a little bit of what this photo "hints" at.]
Photo credit to John Lee Ellis, Colorado RBA.  His back yard after a May-12 snow storm.

Upon leaving, I took the lead, not to slow the guys down, but to do an honest pull.
I led for about a mile-and-a-half (or maybe less), then rotated to the rear of the line.
Tom took the lead for perhaps two-and-a-half miles and rotated to the rear.
Steven took over and led then rest of the distance on BG / NL Rd.
It seemed that the pace slowly ramped up, Steven's legs ahead of me becoming a blur.

Tom and Steven may have expected me to drop them off my front wheel.
However, Bruce Garner / New Light is "my road."
Just ask any Irregular or Biker Bob.

I've done parts of that finish perhaps 600 or more times.
[There are only two safe ways across Falls Lake to north Raleigh.]
I know that stretch of road better than the back of my hand.
Tom had ridden it last Fall, and perhaps on other rides.
However, I'm reasonably confident that it was Steven's first time seeing that road.

I passed Steven twice:
The first time after the last bump before the lake.
The second time just as / after the turn off New Light Rd onto Ghoston Rd.
I know how to carry my speed around that corner and onto the first climb on Ghoston, and
I refused to give up my speed / momentum / cadence for anybody.
It only took Steven and Tom 50 or 100 yards to re-pass me.

I took it easy on Ghoston, Peed and MVC roads.
That's a familiar refrain from my rides and posts.

I arrived at the finish Bay Leaf Open Control at 1704,
Having averaged 13.4-mph in-motion since Dabney.
It had been hot, but I think the headwind had a bigger impact on me.

I didn't learn whether Tom and Steven had suffered more from the heat or the headwind.
All four of had ridden to the start / finish.
Robert and I had ridden from our respective homes.
Steven had stayed the previous night at Umstead park.
Tom had driven to Gorman, which is on the course, at approx the 15-mile point.
My guess is that, at the finish, he wished he had driven to the start,
Rather than force himself to do a 160-mile bike ride. 

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