Monday, June 19, 2017

Jun-17: A Penny For Your Thoughts 210

Harvey and I had jointly agreed to the ride on this date.
Although I've known and ridden with Harv for about 8 years, he joined RUSA only this year.
Due to Life and other cycling commitments, Harv would be re-starting his R-series.
Come the morning of the ride, Harv called at 5:10 am to bail.
I assumed it was because of the weather forecast.
[But after the ride, based on a comment from Harvey's wife,
I think he had "honey-do's" that needed attention.] 
Anyway, whatever, solo ride beginning at 6am for me.

I thought about doing a photo essay ride similar to my ride in May.
But decided to forego that in order to save time.
Time to beat as much of the forecast thunderstorms as possible.

The early miles felt mostly easy and went by rather quickly.
I go to the AM control in Epsom at 8:30.
2h30 -- that's much quicker than the last three or six EM rides.

An advantage of paper control cards is that randos have to interface with clerks,
And one can, over time, develop a relationship.
Came in handy on this ride as I negotiated the lower price of buying two instead of just one,
But leaving the second drink in the store refrigerator until I returned for the PM control.

Between Epsom and Middleburg,
I started wondering whether Jacksontown Rd would be flooded as it was on Memorial Day.
It had rained quite heavily in north Raleigh the night before,
And I could see that the soil in the fields was damp or wet,
Indicating that it had also rained along the course.
So, after thinking / wondering about it, I decided to contact the route owner, Myself,
To consider a detour around Jacksontown Rd.

I had checked the RWGPS map the night before, looking for a reasonable detour.
Myself had also checked the map the night before.

I was a bit concerned about the amount of traffic there might be on US-158,
Myself was also concerned on that front.
Neither Myself nor I had ever ridden or driven that section of US-158. 
In addition, neither Myself nor I had ever ridden Drewry-Manson Rd,
And the combination of those two roads made the detour to work around
A possibly future flooded Jacksontown Rd.

So, after the above conversation between I and Myself,
I rode the extra 2.7-miles on US-158 to Manson.
It had a bit more traffic than I prefer, but the road was basically flat.
Certainly nothing that I or Myself would consider a slowing incline.

I turned onto Drewry-Manson Rd,
Expecting to find the same kind of creek crossings as on Jacksontown Rd.
It was flat all the way to the intersection with Drewry-Ridgeway Rd.

There is an Info Control in Drewry at the turn off Jacksontown Rd onto D-R Rd,
So I rode the 0.2-miles to get to the Info Control location.
I decided to take a photo.
Drewry.  Where NC-Bike-Route-4 turns east while US-Bike-Route-1 continues north.  Those that have ridden the Egypt Mtn course might recognize that spot, or maybe not, as that scene is superfluous to making a safe turn and/or answering the Info Control question.  
I retraced the 0.2-miles to the split in the road and took Drewry-Ridgeway Rd.
I must have been riding well, or else distracted by thinking about who-knows-what-I-don't,
Because I don't recall the non-trivial creek crossing and climb on D-R Rd.

Getting off US-158, or is it US-1,
If it is US-1, then all the above references need to be edited.
Anyway, after turning off US-1/158 onto Ridgeway-Warrenton Rd,
I did notice the descent into the deep creek valley,
But I don't really recall climbing back up to the level of the plain.
The two subsequent declines and climbs also made no lasting impression.
A sign that I was riding well?

I arrived at the Hardee's on the west edge of Warrenton at 1041.
4h41 after the start.
It has been quite a while since I got to the lunch control that early.
That made me feel good.
Add to that there was no feeling of fatigue in my legs made good into very good.

Ordering, waiting for food, eating, and a natural break, took about 25 minutes.

I (and Myself) had decided to use the "No Bottom - Perry Town" detour
Around the bridge-out on the standard route leaving Warrenton.

On No Bottom Rd, nearing Perry Town, sprinkles and light rain made it first appearance.
Roughly 70-miles of no precipitation -- there had been a pretty good overcast, though.
At Perry Town and just after the turn there, the light rain became rain.
But that stopped after a mile or so.

Reaching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., it was proven that taking the detour had been a good idea.
The "Bridge Out" signs and barricades were still in place.
Eight months and counting on a supposed six month project.
Maybe more issues were found than expected. 

The Epsom PM control is actually too soon after the Warrenton lunch control.
The original plan was for the PM control to be at the Bobbitt Store,
Another 8-miles further into the course.
However, the second time anyone did the EM course,
We found that the Bobbitt Store was closed, permanently.
The Bobbitt Store has reopened, but is closed on Sundays, and is not all that well stocked.
So the route owner, Myself, has stuck with the PM control in Epsom.

Anyway, despite the 25 minute lunch stop,
I arrived at Epsom 2 hours and 10 minutes after arriving at the Hardee's.
When in shape and riding well, I once did the lunch and 18-miles in 2 hours and 1 minute.

I decided to take a little extra time at Epsom,
To eat an ice cream, retrieve the second drink referred to above,
And LUBE my chain (which has needed lubing for more time than I'd like to admit).
25 minutes for the PM Epsom control.

I noticed that the sign for Gooch Rd has again gone missing.
Probably been replaced two or three times or more since Myself created this route,
But most of the time, the sign is missing.
"Gooch Rd" -- maybe some think that's an interesting sign to steal?

The couple climbs up to Bobbitt passed without a struggle.
Usually, especially in the last couple years, whether hot or cold,
The climb up to Bobbitt has been a bit of a struggle.

The zip south on Dick Smith Rd was easy.
Probably at least partially because I was not trying to push the pace.
The steep climb on Dick Smith Rd was quite noticeable,
Four-and-a-half miles per hour, slow cadence in the granny 30/28,
But with an overcast and temps only in the 80's,
Not debilitating.

The next couple turns came quickly,
Or at least it seemed so.

Crossing US-1 to get onto Egypt Mtn Rd was perfectly timed.
No traffic coming from either direction.

Approaching the summit on EM Rd,
I noticed the dark, dark clouds off to the south/southwest.
Also there was thunder about, which of course meant there was lightning in the area.

I may have stopped at the Farm sign for any of several reasons, but ... who cares why?
Semi-tradition to stop and take a photo here.  I texted this to Harvey.  He texted back about rescuing me.  I addressed that in the beginning of this post.  However, additionally, I think Harvey may need new glasses -- he apparently thought that Polled Hereford was a Deer!!
The turn onto Charlie Grissom Rd is only three miles after the above sign.
Just before the turn, the bottom started falling out of the sky.
That was the start of roughly three miles of HEAVY rain, Gusty wind, and nearby lightning.
But it wasn't all that bad.
After the ride, I told Harvey that it didn't even make the podium of bad weather during a rando ride.

The podium?  you ask.
Maybe I'll address that another day.
Because this post has gotten WAAAYYYY too long.

After the three miles of rough weather,
There was light rain or sprinkles for another six or so miles.
But the last 20 miles of the ride were under clearing skies and on mostly dry roads.
The roads had obviously been wet, but the breeze and some sunlight had dried most of them.

I took one more break, about 15 miles from the finish.
I stopped at the May Store, hoping to find an orange juice.
No luck on that.  I had to settle for an Arizona tea.
It sufficed to get me home.

It turned out that my in-motion average speed was still under 14-mph,
But it had felt good all day.
The first time all year that a 200 has felt reasonably good.

Better shape?  Probably not.
Cooler temps than the last few 200-plus km rides?  Yep.
Cooling rain en route a help?  Yep.
Do I feel more confident about near future 200's?  Yep. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jun-07: Bunn Wash Caper 108

The course: 

NCBob, IvaHawk, Sridhar and I rode the "renewal" Bunn Wash Caper on an unexpected Spring day in the midst of early Summer.  Unlike the only time I had previously ridden this route, it was easy to tell the direction of the wind, which wind was bringing the Spring-like conditions to central NC from the Northeast.  The cooling NE headwind was in our faces for the first 40-miles, and by the time we made the howeward turn onto Dunn Rd, the wind had transformed into an ENE tailwind, making the last 26-miles or so an easier, faster ride. 

Early on, at the 9.6-mile mark in Hopkins, I had the idea to pay homage to a Nov-11-2011 group ride on the OakElmOak perm, or at least to the photo below: 
I took a test photo (selfie) with my flip-phone to see if my idea would work.
I concluded that we could line up in a straight row and get a pic of all of us pretending to be serious.
However, I didn't explain myself very well and the next thing I knew was the others were crowding in to get close to the camera. 
L to R:  me, Sridhar, IvaHawk, Bob.
That ended up being the last photo on the day.  Sad sigh.  
The reason?
Sridhar, despite multiple denials, must be training for SOMETHING.
He kept dragging the pace up at every opportunity.
[I'm all for riding faster than I have been, but I'd rather look around and enjoy the sights, etc..]

We got to "The Farmer's Kitchen" in Bunn too late for breakfast, and
Had to settle for lunch food.
Good it was, but I think each of us would have preferred to have gotten a country breakfast.
[May have to start this route at 6 am next time to ensure arriving in time for breakfast.]

The several dogs that plagued this route in 2014 all seem to have disappeared.
The first several miles were a bit trafficky.
But probably the traffic was such that cyclists from metropolitan areas would think there was no traffic.
Fowler Rd and Pilot-Riley Rd seemed to be lined with many well-kept homesteads.
And that creates a nice feeling when cycling by.

Frazier Rd and W. Old Spring Hope Rd give a taste of the flat-flat terrain to the east.
Interrupted by the easy crossing of the Tar River.

After a natural break and refueling stop in Spring Hope, we hit Seven Paths Road,
Which wiggles about and is a mild roller-coaster,
And the first half or two-thirds of 7-Paths was quite nice, but
The last third or half was less interesting.

The eight miles of Dunn and Mort Harris roads and NC-39 are nothing special,
But that may be an illusion as one might be trying to hurry along to Bunn
For breakfast or lunch.

The 18 miles after the ONE HOUR lunch stop went by quickly.
Perhaps I was too stuffed with food to think otherwise.

The above is pretty lame, but it is my story for the day, and I'll be sticking to it.
Except to add this:
If Bob and I weren't on a quest to accomplish a NC-P-12-Explorer-Challenge,
We might not have endeavored to renew the Bunn Wash Caper.
And that would have been sad, because
The BWC is quite a pleasant ride

Monday, June 5, 2017

Jun-04: Denny's Store 138

(Click here to open a new tab with a RWGPS map of the route.)
I usually say that this is my favorite among my routes.
I think that is true.
Corner of Range and Ellis Chapel Roads, after one has climbed the "Range Wall."  There are several photos of this demobilized self-propelled artillery piece on this blog, several with people posed on its flanks.  Seems there have been some plantings made fronting the gun - plantings that are maturing quickly, and if not kept trimmed, it might not be possible to take this photo in the near future.  Next time I do a photo essay of this route, I need to remember to skip this location, skip the next artillery piece at the Cassam Rd corner, and get a pic of the ack-ack gun further along Range Road.  Oh, since there might be some non-locals reading this, Range Road essentially encircles Camp Butner, a National Guard training facility, with a history more interesting than that.
This was the 28th time I've completed the rando Denny's Store Sortie.  I've also ridden essentially this same course pre-rando at least two or three times.  And I've done the non-rando Range Road Rover about 12 times.  In other words, I have ridden past this location at least 40, and perhaps 45, different times - yet, this was the first time I ever noticed this little cemetery on the west side of the western side of the Range Road loop.  Maybe I've never noticed this because there is a more attractive scene just before this; I almost stopped this day to photograph that prior scene but ... didn't.  This photo didn't come out very well because of the bright, bright sunshine making it impossible to read the words on that large headstone.  Those words indicate that this is a "Duke Cemetery" - which branch of the Dukes I do not know.
The gas station / c-store at Moriah.  I hadn't stopped here in slightly over seven years, but on this day, I decided I wanted a fresh COLD beverage.  I was delighted to find an "Arizona Sweet Tea" and a much more pleasant clerk than there was seven years ago.  They also have the usual fizzy drinks and a good array of Gatorade and similar.  They also have a large selection of beer, however I doubt they had a single beer that Mark Thomas would want to drink.  That thought came to me while searching for the Tea.  I took this photo and proceeded up the road, going south to north, before realizing that Mark had ridden past this store about a month earlier, going west to east on the first day of the Carolina Spring 1200, but he almost certainly did not stop here since there was a control in Timberlake only about 10 miles before.
I probably should discard this photo since it is SOOOO badly framed -- proof that, without my magnifiers, I can't really see what is in the camera viewer on my flip-phone.  However, I include this lousy photo because it is taken atop "Mt. Harmony" and I want to indicate that I keep thinking that someday I'll stop in that shady area in the background and have a picnic of sorts -- probably while doing the "Road to Hicksboro" 205k perm since this spot comes a bit too early on the Denny's Store route -- maybe a picnic here would make sense if I did Denny's Store reversed (which is approved, but has only been ridden reversed one time).  Maybe I'll better frame the photo next time.

I forgot to take a photo, probably of the "peep benches," at the Allensville control.
(Click here if you want to see those benches in action.)

Iconic location for photo for this route.  Since this ride consisted of only me and my steed, you get a photo of the sign, the top of my steed, the house across the road, all slightly off-kilter, and nothing else.

I took a photo at the Berea control, but I definitely do NOT like it.
Therefore, it went straight to the trash bin.

I thought about stopping at Culbreth to take a photo of the burned down house, etc.,
The bright sunshine and shade trees might have made for a nice pic,
If taken from the correct location,
But I decided to ride on.

It was an enjoyable break to stop in the shade and take this photo.  I finished off the last of the COLD beverage that I had gotten at the control in Berea before it became too hot.  I was looking forward to getting some COLD water at the Southern States in Creedmoor; I did refill my bottles there, but the water was tepid cold instead of the usual COLD.
I thought about taking a photo in Stem.
Of the location where we one cold February day found a BBQ sandwich vendor,
But I had just stopped in the shade to take the one at Shoofly, and decided to ride on.

The Denny's Store route is the one that was ridden when
My friend NCBob first attained K-Hound status.
It is also the route that was ridden, the only time ridden reversed,
When LynnL became the first NC female to get to Hound-and-a-Half.
We took a photo of Bob and company that ended up on Facebook,
And Lynn took a selfie that might be on the K-Hound blog.
I decided to stop and take a photo of the backdrop for both those photos:
See the ripples on the surface.  The not too bad headwind since leaving Allensville is pushing the surface of the lake against the current.  I started to get dizzy just after taking this photo because the moving water messed with my sense of equilibrium.
Ride done, steed secured to bike-rack, time to go home.
Placeholding in case I decide to add some stats here.
Don't hold your breath waiting.