Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Fortunate Day

Attention randonneurs:  this is the first post I've written in a LONG time that is mostly, maybe entirely, FOR the Irregulars.  As such, I won't explain certain things in detail.  However, if you know what happened in the rando world in Johnston County, North Carolina on Feb-20-2016, then you might appreciate the following, too. 

Looking back in my Excel logs, the first ride of what I would eventually come to call the Irregulars was Jul-22-2006.  Just Frank and me.
We met at PUE, and I truly mean MET, as in that was the first time we had met each other.  Frank had recently acquired a used road bike, but didn't know anyone to ride with or where to ride.  He had decided to ask a "superwoman" and the instructor in the Spin Class that he had been attending.  The "superwoman" was Lynn; the instructor was Lynn's friend Larissa.  As I recall the story, Larissa is the one that suggested Frank ride with me.  (Lynn and Larissa had been trying to hook me up with an existing group because they were concerned about me riding solo.  However, all the suggested groups had a at least one characteristic in common:  their rides didn't start until 8, or more probably 9 am, and I liked to be finishing by then.) 
Anyway, Frank and I met at PUE, probably at about 7 am, or maybe 6 -- Frank had a couple young children, so he wanted to finish his ride in time to get home and be a father.  We rode across Carpenter Pond to Olive Branch Rd (in those days, Doc Nichols Rd was in bad shape), then took NC-98 across to Kemp Rd so that we could ride up Virgil Rd.  And if I understand the cryptic notes in my Excel log, we also rode down Coley Rd to 98 and U-turned to ride back up to Carpenter Pond, from whence we returned to PUE completing our 31.0-mile ride.  (At an avg 15.6-mph while in-motion, it was the fastest ride I had ever done.)
You may be thinking that what was fortunate about the day Frank asked Lynn and Larissa regarding ride partners is that I got a ride partner out of it.  That is not what I am mean. 
The fortunate thing came from a long string of subsequent meetings, that is:
  • Frank soon brought his neighbor Sean,
  • who brought his co-worker Harvey, aka "Snapper," aka "Cheeta." 
  • who brought another co-worker Big-Wave-Dave, 
  • who brought his lifelong friend Bob, the "Duke," 
  • who brought Lt. Dave and IvaHawk and some others.
There were others that eventually came to Irregulars rides, but this is as far as I need go to explain "a fortunate day."
Fast forward nearly 10 years, and I received a call from Lynn last Friday night, about 7 pm.
Skipping the background details, could I help get a ramp built at her house by Tuesday? 
Skipping some hand wringing, I wracked my brain, who did I know that would know people that might be able to help.
The answer I came up with was Lt. Dave. 
I drove to Lynn's house so I would know first-hand the exact situation.
Then I drove to Dave's house.
Laurie, Dave, and Dave's dad, Lew, welcomed me into the house.
I came straight to the point:  did Dave have any ideas on how to get a ramp built by Tuesday.
I think Lew was the first to suggest "Bay Leaf Builders,"
A group of retirees at Dave and Laurie and Lew's church that build a ramp every Wednesday.

Skipping some more details, by 8:45 pm, Bay Leaf Builders had agreed to build Lynn's ramp on Wednesday, i.e., today.
The ramp was completed by about 2 pm earlier today, Mar-30.

The day Frank asked Lynn and Larissa for advice regarding whom to ride with,
That was definitely a Fortunate Day for me.
And for Lynn.
The ramp.
Ramp nearly invisible behind the bushes.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mar-09: Ambassador Tour 210

Actually, just my 'Warrenton + Egypt Mtn 210k perm' with my friend BobB.  (Hmmn, just noticed that the controls are not indicated on that RWGPS map -- maybe I'll edit it one of these days and include the icons for the controls.)

When we got to the first intermediate control at Epsom, approx mile 36.7, one of the regular customers, as we dismounted, asked if we were aware of four cyclists that had been recently hit down in Johnston County.

Bob and I responded simultaneously, "yes."

And since I recognized the regular from previous control visits, I continued, "all four of them are our friends, and I know that you've met the woman."

A shocked and sad face greeted those words.

We chatted for a bit.  I asked him to please pass on to his friends that he had met at least one of those four cyclists, the woman, and to please let those friends know that, from his experience, she was a nice person, and that the cyclists he had met seemed to be reasonable people, regular people.

He added, "you are regular people; the only difference being that you ride your bicycles a long way." 
Bob & I went in to get our respective receipts.  As I checked out, I mentioned the four cyclists to the clerk.  I knew that he, too, had met Lynn, even more times than the regular customer outside.  I was pretty sure he would recall Lynn.  He did.  Emotion was beginning to well-up in his eyes.  I asked him to pass on to his friends that cyclists were reasonable and regular people with family and jobs and all that; the only distinguishing thing being that we rode our bicycles long distances.


The next intermediate control, ignoring the info control in Drewry, was in Warrenton.  On this ride, we went to the Subway sandwich shop.

One of the behind-the-counter employees asked me where my wife was.  I corrected, ex-wife.  She expressed disappointment for me.  I explained that we had been divorced for several years, but we were still friends, as witnessed by our doing these long bike rides together.  [Or more likely, "together."  But I didn't explain the difference between together and "together" -- North Carolina randonneurs ought to understand.  Anyone that has ever looked up our respective results ought to understand.  Anyway, back to the story.]  

As there was a line forming behind me, I did not do a "please tell your friends" routine.


The afternoon non-info-control was again at Epsom.  The same regular customer was still there.  Actually, he indicated that he had left, done some errands, and then returned, claiming the c-store was the "Epsom Walmart" where everyone eventually came.  We chatted some more, including that one of the nearby neighbors, about aged 80, rode his three-wheeled bicycle around the area for about 7 or so miles every day, and if he came across cans or bottles along the way, he would pick them up and put them in the front basket.  [Although I could have referred to the three-wheeler as a tricycle, have you ever checked the general statutes in your state?  I expect that you'll find that, legally, tricycles are bicycles.]

There was a different clerk at the store.  Busy line of customers.  I did not do a "please tell your friends routine".  Besides, I didn't recognize the woman.  And that is mighty strange, because she asked me for my control card without prompting.  Maybe I need to pay better attention to the clerks. 

Bob and I left and finished our ride.


Uh-huh, a simple "finished our ride" to refer to the remaining 47 or so miles into that howling headwind.  Bob is training to do a x-continental Northern PAC Tour this summer; I therefore graciously allowed him to lead most of the second half of the ride.  Hey, I had magnanimously led the entire first 64 miles, where, in "Fixie Pixie" words, we had been feeling really good.  Others might say that we had had a howling tailwind for those outbound miles.

Eddington Cycling Number:
After this ride:  125.
Meaning that I have completed at least 125 different rides that were at least 125 miles long.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Mar-03: Oxford 104

Originally posted to Facebook, but this is more appropriate for the long-term, and it gives me a better opportunity to pontificate, if I so desire:

Today, Mar-03, Bob & I did my "Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf" 104k route - a route that Lynn has done 60 times. (I hadn't realized it was SO many times - its main attraction for Lynn is the convenience, and it is "mostly flat".)
Anyway, as [we] were leaving the turn-around, the clerk, out of the blue, asked, "how are Lynn and Mike doing?"

Need I write more? 

In context of the time, following shortly after events of Feb-20 just southeast of Raleigh, NC, I didn't need to write more to get the kernel thought across.

However, I do/did have some additional thoughts, some of which were captured by comments I made to the post.  Well, captured in an oblique way, because I wasn't blunt in my thoughts.  Here follows my comments, but I'll not copy the comments of others, which, by the way, were on-point.

Um, in contradiction to what is written immediately above, rando acquaintance Lin made a comment on the FB post, a comment that actually encapsulates everything:

"Wow.  Proving yet again that we live in webs of relationship.

My comments to/on the above referenced FB post:

Conversation revealed that the clerk only knew of Lynn from her many visits to that turn-around control. There is another clerk at that c-store whose main job is at Murdoch Center in Butner -- that clerk, whom mutually recognized Lynn from Lynn's MC days, met Mike on one of his 5 visits to that control, and refers to Mike as "Skipwtih."  [North Carolina randos that ever did Mike's 'Kerr Lake Loop'] should understand.  [Brother] Rob should likely understand the best. 

I've always thought that time spent interacting with store clerks and the community of customers is time well spent.   I'll gladly suffer a few extra minutes to chat with anyone at a store control that wants to chat.  --  In late October 2011, I did Byron's ['Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville'] three times in eleven days: my in-motion times got shorter, but the elapsed clock times got longer - because a local or two only had a word or two for me the first ride, but they wanted to talk more the second time and then even more the third ride.  [previous sentence edited in order to make more sense] 

Six months or so ago, there was a thread on the randon-google-list-serve and possibly also on BikeForums(dot)net where several randonneurs were urging, no, more like demanding that RUSA stop requiring paper proof of passage and allow, perhaps make that prefer, GPS tracks such as Strava or RWGPS or similar for proof of passage.  My thought at the time, which I did not "contribute" was along these lines: 

Great!  Let's further isolate ourselves from the larger world.  Let's further isolate ourselves from the people that are all around us, people that, for the most part, would stop and help if they saw us with a problem. 
The original FB post, reproduced at the top of this blog post, is just one reason to stay with the paper proof of passage.  In case you don't get it:  if we are reasonable human beings, we make friends or allies by simply interacting with people; those clerks and regulars, even those that might not appreciate cyclists, will usually come around to appreciating the individual cyclists they talk to; they might even pass on to their other friends that "them cyclists are NOT all weirdos, they are just people like us."  And that is a goal worth striving for.