Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jul-26: Black Creek 201

In June, a Facebook memory from 2-years prior popped up.
I had posted on FB about Bob and I bailing on doing BC when the high temp was forecast to be ~ 100.
When the memory thing popped up, I commented that I wouldn't do BC in June,
But maybe in July.

After the FB memory popped up, I had a couple good rides (consult previous posts), but
More importantly, the mostly stripped threads on the rear derailleur hanger gave out.

So, blah, blah, blah (see posts since July 9th), I'd be doing Black Creek on a loaner bike.
I decided I'd rather tackle the route solo than have to deal with others,
Probably not riding at the pace I'd need to ride,
Probably not wanting to pause for tweaks to the steed.

I had not done the Black Creek route since August-2014 -- that's 35 months.
Neither had anyone else done the route in that time-frame.
Partially because people prefer some of the newer routes,
Partially because of life and LIFE surrounding the route-owner.

Anyway, the route-owner and I arranged a paperwork exchange
And scheduled my solo adventure for a 6 am start on the 26th.

I didn't get the loaner bike back from my wrench until the day before the ride,
So there were still some tweaks I needed to make that night / the next morning.
One of those being getting the headlamp that had worked perfectly the night before
To work the morning of the ride.

So, as has often been the situation on this course, I started late.
Approximately 35 minutes late.

Forty-five or fifty minutes into the ride, approx 19 or 20 kms,
I was transiting Youngsville.

But I need to back up a bit.
The big traffic contributor between US-1 and Youngsville used to be
The huge church complex on Holden Rd.
However, now, or at least in the near future,
The main traffic originator is or will be the several housing developments
Already partially developed on Holden Rd.

Okay, back to transiting Youngsville,
I was surprised by the west-bound backed-up traffic in downtown Youngsville.
All the way from the light at US-1A to the light where NC-96 turns south.

The unexpected level of traffic continued for most of the next seven miles on Tarboro Rd.
The vast majority of the traffic was headed west whereas I was eastbound, but
The westbound traffic volume frequently / always affected
The ability of eastbound motor vehicle traffic to pass me.

All in all, I concluded that I can no longer recommend the Black Creek route
For a weekday 6 or 7 am start.
[Starting at 8 on weekdays has previously been a bit problematic 
Because of Wakefield High School located 1-km from the start.]

After Tarboro Rd and the two miles on NC-98, meaning after the turn onto Strickland Rd,
Traffic was in-line with what I recalled from the fourteen previous rides on this route.
After all, the route does pretty much go through "no where,"
With some nice-looking farms and homesteads,
But also some that have seen better days, and
Some that have been abandoned.

I may have mentioned above that I've never needed the cue sheet on this route,
Since the first time I rode it.
I know the roads and the turn when I get to them, but
I don't pay much attention to the name(s) of the road(s).

This ride, at approx the 60.5-mile-mark, about 2-miles before the turn-around,
I had to stop at the T-intersection and wait for traffic.
Only a few seconds, but for the first time that I can recall,
I actually noticed the name of the road onto which I was about to turn.
I decided to take a photo.
I never heard of, nor met, "Fixie Pixie" until 2013.  So, the only time I might have looked at the cue sheet for this turn, my first "Black Creek" ride in October-2010, the name of the road would not have popped-out at me.  But waiting for traffic, I noticed the name of the road and decided to take a photo -- hey, sometimes when riding solo, one doesn't need much of an excuse to pause and take a photo.  That Blalock family must have been quite prodigious -- there are Blalock Roads seemingly everywhere in central and eastern North Carolina.  To complete the vignette, the Mangums were also apparently prodigious as there are also Mangum Roads everywhere.  [Photo by me.] 

1.3-miles on the above-noted Blalock Rd, and a "zig" on US-117:   
Welcome to the Town of Black Creek, which has been around for quite awhile, by USA standards.  The town has seen better days economy-wise, and downtown (no pic) is pretty much a ghost-town these days.  (I think MikeD wrote about that once on "Research Trailer Park," or at least commented on it -- okay, I took a few minutes to search out a couple Black Creek ghost references -- click here for the other one, and skim the article, but definitely read the second comment to the blog post.)  [Photo by me.] 

Speaking of ghost towns and more or less abandoned storefronts:
Crappy, up-close photo of the door of the "business" previously known as "Black Creek Grocery."  The ownership has changed since MikeD created the route, the name of the store may have changed but I'm not sure 'cuz I didn't see any business name on the storefront.  Apparently the store is still in business, but was closed this day.  Also, looking through the window(s) at the insides, a dozen randonneurs might well completely clean this place out of merchandise.  I got my card signed at the City Hall -- the clerk told me that this store definitely seems to be on its last legs, but there is a Family Dollar store that is supposed to be coming to Black Creek the Fall.  Based on where the clerk indicated the Dollar store is supposedly to be located, the route might lose a half a kilometer each way, maybe a bit more, if one controlled there.  [Photo by me.] 

There had been no noticeable breeze the first three or more hours of my ride.
And after that, all the way to Black Creek, there may have been a very slight, mostly headwind.
I expected the breeze to pick up on the way back and to be a mostly tailwind.
The breeze did pick up, seemingly both variable and mostly a headwind.

I don't recall exactly where I encountered the immediately below, but 
Clearly, some folks were not having the best day.
Required turn appears to have been somewhat tighter than someone was expecting.  [Photo by me.]

The day was the least hot day in more than a week,
But even so, I may have become a bit over-warm,
Or maybe the loaner bike is a bit heavier and sluggish than my bike was,
And/or the fit needs some tweaking,
And/or I'm just not in good shape,
Perhaps aggravated by a breeze that was mostly in my face.

Anyway, my average in-motion pace slowly declined during the afternoon.

There is at least one new store on the route:
At US-401, there is a new(ish) Family Dollar store.
I stopped there on the return to get a cold drink.
Note that most gas-station / convenience stores are better stocked for rando purposes
Than are Family Dollar stores.

I finished the route, and if Mike approves the paperwork,
This ride will mark my renewed R-7.
I expect to complete my fourth R-12 in December.
IF I stay focused.
Which focus I lost in 2014 after getting to R-10 (after missing a month after R-41).

Since 2014, I haven't given much thought to maintaining the R-series.
I know I can get through them, even when in poor shape.
But I need to commit to getting back to where I rip off three or four R-rides in a month,
Including at least back-to-back 200's ("double-double" as JayJay referred to such).
(My work schedule is unlikely to allow a repeat of my 2011 "triple-double," but
I'd like to get to the point where I believe I could do a triple-double and
Still not be completely fatigued.)

I was certainly fatigued at the end of this Black Creek ride.
Locals may well understand:
There is a short but very steep ramp to get up to NC-98 at approx the 122-mile-mark.
On this ride, I took one look at that ramp, and
Dismounted and walked up it (I've done that before).

Well, I guess I should stop here, but not until after I type the following:
That's my story, and I'll be sticking to it.

1 comment:

  1. For those that don't know the course, here's the HTML code for the link to MikeD's RWGPS map of the Black Creek route: