On the drive from north Raleigh to Greensboro, Harvey commented that we were in for a tough ride,
As there was, according to RWGPS, slightly over 7000 feet of climbing on the route.
I responded that we were lucky that Tony had decided to use the "Natty Greene" route
Instead of the "Sedalia - Danbury" route.
Harvey refuted that!
He had the "Natty Greene" route loaded on his GPS device and
There was a lot more climbing than the previous 200-km brevets he had done, and
Also more climbing that any of the "200" km permanents he had done.
[Without checking the results to confirm:Although Harvey didn't accept my "analysis," I am glad that we were doing the "NG" route, even though I had never before ridden it, instead of the "Sedalia - Danbury" route as I did not want to contemplate Phillips Rd and its incline that reaches 18% at one point. Although RWGPS indicates that the "NG" route has slightly more climbing, nothing on the "NG" approaches Phillips Rd in the steepness category. [Some of the climbs on the "NG" were steep "enough" as it was / as we were about to experience.]
I recall that Harvey's previous 200-km brevets were:
And the "200" perms, while hilly enough, were much milder than the "NG":
- a very flat 200 out of Lumberton, NC in early 2017, and
- a hilly 200 out of Salisbury (but significantly less climbing than the "Natty Greene").
- "Road to Hicksboro," and
- "Warrenton and Egypt Mtn."]
Enough background. On with the story.
But first, the route map: a link to Tony's RWGPS map, click here to open in a new tab.
(I'm going to risk that Tony won't completely re-purpose that map in the future,
But as insurance, here follow "hard-copies" of the route map and elevation profile.)
The gathering point / start location was in downtown Greensboro, next to the RR station.
Mild temperatures for January 5th. The almanac indicates a morning low of approx 45F.
The high temp on the day was approximately 60F.
Sunny conditions all day.
But here is a strange thing about the unseasonally warm temps:
There was a strong wind out of the NW.
Look at the map: we'd ride into that wind for the first half of the ride.
It was particularly noticeable for the nine miles after the first intermediate control,
Which was just west of Madision, NC.
Let me try again to get to the strange point about the wind:
A wind from the NW during the winter does not usually accompany 60+ degree temperatures!!
[All the almanac stations indicate that the wind was out of the WSW.
To that, I reply, "bull hockey!"]
Being the first weekend of the ACP 2019 season
(in RUSA-land, other countries have season start / stop dates different than RUSA has),
Combined with the mild weather conditions,
There was a good turn-out for the brevet.
Official results indicate 30 riders, 28 of which finished.
I looked at the results:
- I know who the two DNF's were,
- I know, or have at least met, 18 of the 28 finishers,
- And I've heard of one other.
- I wouldn't know the other nine if I fell over them.
The plan for the day was Harvey, Bob, and me to ride together.
That worked well early on.
The entire crew was pretty much together through Greensboro, but
Things did start to sort out soon enough.
|Group still within Greensboro city limits. [photo by TonyG]|
The first intermediate control was about 31-miles into the ride, just west of Madison, NC.
Interestingly, if one looks at the brevet route description on the RUSA website,
One would see that the control is supposedly at Ellisboro, which is about 26.5-miles after the start.
Perhaps Tony has made a de minimus change to the route.
Or it could be that information on the RUSA website has always been a bit suspect.
[After all, brevet route #2356, "Badgett Sisters Parkway,"
Which was created to help deal with the December Permanents suspension,
Shows controls in Mebane and Hillsborough, but
The route gets no closer than 5-miles from HIllsborough, and
Doesn't come even that close to Mebane.
Maybe the Corbett control has a Mebane address.
The Underwood Grocery probably has a Hillsborough address, but
No local would refer to the Underwood location as being "in" Hillsborough.]
Anyway, there were at least ten of us, maybe twelve, that left that Madison control together,
As the Lantern Rouge group,
To start the 6-mile gentle incline, into the wind, on K Fork Rd,
Which would be followed by another 4-mile gentle incline on NC-772, into the wind,
Followed by 9 flattish miles on NC-704, maybe into the wind.
Byron and Ricochet were the first to get tired of waiting at the Madison control and started riding,
I was also thinking we were wasting time, and was eager to get going, so I followed Byron + Ricochet.
Bob got behind me, and Harvey was behind Bob.
Behind them, the group included MikeD, Joel, Kevin, Tommy, Doug, Greg, DaveG, and Devaul.
[At least I think that all of those were in the group.
I certainly know that first 6 were, but it is possible that DaveG and Devaul were well ahead,
But later drifted back to team up with MikeD, Joel, and Kevin.]
Bryon led for a mile or two, and then pulled out of the lead.
And surprise, but not really, Ricochet pulled out with Bryon instead of taking a turn at the front.
Just as well, I suppose, since Bryon + Ricochet together are not big enough to create a usable draft.
I led for about a mile [I'm guessing], and decided to pull out and
Take advantage of the draft that the big group would create.
I drifted back, leaving Bob in the lead, followed by Harvey.
But then, there was a huge hole that was being made by the immediately following riders.
So, I pulled in behind Harvey.
Bob is a dependable rider, but this day, at this location, it seemed that he picked up the pace.
After another mile or so, I couldn't hold the effort needed to stay on Harvey's wheel, and
Started to drift back.
The others started to come around, one by one, or maybe even two or three at a time.
I wasn't concerned; I would finally be able to take advantage of the big draft from the big group.
However, when the last of those still with the group,
Which was everyone mentioned above except for Greg, who apparently been popped off earlier,
Had gone around, I still couldn't hang on.
So I let the group go.
I wasn't worried.
I knew that I would eventually re-connect with Bob and Harvey, and
I had a cue sheet with me.
I can ride as far as needed by myself.
It would be no problem.
When K Fork Rd ended at NC-772, I couldn't see any of the others.
[I had been occasionally catching glimpses of either Bob or Harvey up the road.]
So I had to get the cue sheet out of my back pocket and figure out which way to turn.
As I was re-folding the cue sheet to put away until next needed,
Greg came riding by, apparently using his GPS for navigation, and
At that same moment, a GUST of wind blew the cue sheet from my hand and into the ditch.
Lucky for me, the cue sheet caught in the long grass of the ditch, else I would have been in trouble.
I retrieved the cue sheet, put it my pocket, remounted and started riding.
I could see Greg up ahead, and realized soon-enough that I was slowly catching him.
I did catch Greg and start to pass, thinking he might grab my wheel.
But Greg apparently wanted to chat for a bit, so we ended up riding side-by-side for awhile.
Finally, perhaps as the result of another gust of wind, or perhaps a slight tilt upward in the incline,
Greg was behind me, and I was slowly pulling ahead.
As noted in prologue, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and
I think I was enjoying my ride, wondering when I might re-connect with Bob and Harvey. and
Figuring that Greg with likely stay more-or-less within sight of me.
Then suddenly, there was Harvey pulled over into a church parking lot.
My recollection is that he had pulled over at approximately 42-miles into the ride.
That makes sense since Delta United Methodist Church is located at the 41.5-mile mark.
One thing though: the google-street-view is not correct -- I suspect the view is outdated.
Or perhaps my memory is not quite correct.
Anyway, Harvey had pulled into the church parking lot, so I turned into the lot and stopped next to him,
"What's up, Harv," I asked.
"I'm checking to find the shortest route back to Greensboro," he replied.
"Because I'm done and need to go back," Harvey replied.
"No, You are not done."
"Yes, I'm worn out, I can't continue."
"NO, you are NOT done. You are not turning around. You are not quitting."
"You are going to ride with me, and you are going to FINISH this ride!!"
I was adamant.
I recall that it took at least three or four "no, you are not done, you are finishing this ride"
Proclamations from me to convince Harvey.
Then Harvey started removing his jacket and perhaps a long-sleeve jersey
Because he was now over-dressed.
Somewhere in the midst of the above, Greg had pulled into the church parking lot to join us.
I urged, no, I instructed Greg to ride on.
That Harvey would ride my pace, which was a little faster than his,
So if Greg would leave now, we would catch him up in a few miles.
Greg, perhaps reluctantly, proceeded on.
Harvey had trouble getting the clothing he had removed into or strapped onto his pannier.
So the two us didn't leave the church parking lot for several minutes after Greg.
According to Harvey, we caught Greg about 9-miles later.
Harv seemed surprised that it had taken us that long to catch Greg, but
If you give someone a 4-minute lead, and ride each mile in one-half minute faster,
It will take eight miles to catch the "rabbit."
I recall that we caught Greg a bit before crossing into Virginia.
The state line was at the 50.3-mile mark.
So Harvey's recollection seems correct, at least in a gross magnitude estimate way.
From the Virginia line to the second intermediate control at Dry Pond, VA
Was ten-and-a- half miles of quite hilly stuff.
Every upslope, Harvey and Greg would drop behind as they continued their struggles.
[It was no picnic for me, but I can't say that I was struggling.]
The last one-third of a mile from Elk Creek up to Dry Pond
Was on a nice, wide, sunny road,
With, according to RWGPS, an incline that gets up to at least 5.4%.
That is definitely non-trivial in my book.
Harvey and Greg had dropped me off their front wheels, again, on that last climb.
I turned into the control, finding RBA Tony, newbie Tommy on his Moulton, and
Eight-time PBP finisher (I can't spell ancien) Doug at the control .
Usually, when you see Tony in the middle of the course,
Esp. if he is at or near the lantern rouge crew,
Tony is checking on the riders he doesn't know,
To see how they are doing.
I assumed that is what Tony was doing this day,
So taking a peek at where Harvey and Greg were,
I told Tony not to worry about Harvey -- I would get him to the finish.
I added that I could also get Greg to the finish -- unless his friend Tommy took on that mission.
Tony indicated that he was not at Dry Pond to check on the conditions of the lantern riders, but
I'm sticking with the thought I had when first I saw Tony in Dry Pond.
Harvey and I took half-an-hour at Dry Pond.
During that time Harvey finally ate and drank enough to get ahead or catch up
With possible slight-dehydration and slight-bonk conditions.
During that half-hour, Doug left, and then Tommy and Greg left.
We would catch-up to Greg and Tommy later, but
I never saw Doug again. Results show that Doug caught- up to some other riders.
And eight time ancien knows what he's doing.
Immediately upon leaving Dry Pond, we took a left turn onto Collinstown Rd, and
More importantly, the road tilted UP.
And Harvey, topped up with fluids and food, I couldn't keep up with him on any of the climbs
Between Dry Pond and Danbury, NC.
And in case you are wondering,
The twenty miles from Dry Pond to Danbury had more than its share of the climbing.
I labored / struggled on many climbs while Harvey sometimes seemed to be only soft pedaling.
Amazing what food and drink can accomplish.
We crossed the Dan River so many times that I lost count.
Every crossing had meant a decline to get to the river, followed by another steep climb.
Harvey took to referring to the river as Damn River -- that added some amusement.
The repeated climbing and descending did not stop even once inside the Danbury city limits.
I was beginning to think we would never get the control.
I was familiar with the control, and the first road after the control, but
I had never ridden (nor driven) on the road through Danbury to get to the control.
Every darn climb inside the city limits was more than I wanted to deal with.
Soft-soft pedaling did get me up every climb, but I was not enjoying the sensations.
A mile or two before the control, maybe less distance than that.
But there were still at least two more steep climbs, all within Danbury,
We say Greg sitting in a church parking lot off to the left of the inclining roadway.
I called out to him, "come on Greg, it's only a mile or so to the control. Come join us."
Greg responded that he was done.
His wife had traveled from the Raleigh area to Greensboro to surprise / congatulate
Him on completing the first on the way to Paris.
But now, she was coming to rescue Greg. He was to meet her at the Danbury control.
Tommy was still at the Danbury control when Harvey and I got there.
Greg arrived several minutes after we had.
Tommy chatted with Greg, and then Tommy took off, headed for the last intermediate control.
Harvey and I took another half-hour control stop, then we headed after Tommy.
Not that we were trying to catch him.
Not that we expected to catch him.
In fact, given our long stay at the Danbury control,
I figured that we would not see Tommy again.
Sheppard Mill Rd out of Danbury hits the legs hard.
Even RWGPS indicates that the incline gets up to 8%.
My recollection is that although I may have started up that incline ahead of Harvey,
He soon returned to climbing better than me.
After 2.2-miles on Sheppard Rd, we turned onto Pitzer Rd.
I had told Harvey that I was familiar with Sheppard Rd.
He thought I might be familiar with more of the roads ahead of us.
But the only portion of the route that I had seen previously was Sheppard Rd.
The tough rollers -- "rollers" -- Ha! -- after Danbury only last about 9-miles,
Then we were on the more-or-less continuous gentle decline to get back to Madison.
We may have also had a tailwind.
Harvey later reported that we covered the last 9-miles to the Madison control in less than 30-minutes.
While on that gentle decline, we caught Tommy.
He was no longer putting any real effort into pedaling.
We tried to get him to latch onto us, but no-go.
We got to the last intermediate control just west of Madison.
The same location as was the first intermediate control earlier in the ride.
We had only 31 more miles to cover.
Harvey wanted to get something approaching real food from the grill.
We ended up with another half-hour control stop.
While waiting for our food, Tommy arrived and joined us at the counter.
He ordered some food.
We tried to convince him to come with us -- that we would get him through the final 31-miles.
Tommy couldn't be budged from his decision to DNF.
He had contacted Greg and arranged that Greg and Greg's wife would collect Tommy at the control.
[ I next saw Tommy at the Raleigh Region 200 in April.
I apologized to Tommy for having been so adamant and hard on him on January 5th
When trying to get him to continue on.
I've done enough all-ride volunteering on Taste of Carolina 1200's,
Often shepherding lantern rouge groups,
To know that sometimes the thing to do is to virtually throw the rider back on their bike,
And also to know that sometimes gentle persuasion is the way to go.
And sometimes, if the rider is a super experienced 1200 rider, all one does is
Ask "are you sure?" And accept the DNF/
Anyway, Tommy indicated that afterwards he had concluded that he should have finished with us.]
It was getting dark when we left Madison.
But it must not have been completely dark because we stopped somewhere en route
For Harvey to put on his reflective gear.
I had worn mine all day, mostly unzipped, on top of my wind-breaker, also unzipped,
So all I had to do to fully reflector gear up was zip up.
For the first half of those last 31-miles, Harvey continued to be quicker up the climbs.
But the last 15 or so miles, that was reversed.
I don't know if fatigue had caught up with Harvey, or
Maybe the riding in the dark affected Harvey more than me.
I've done plenty of riding in the dark, but Harvey has not.
He was, and is, unnerved by the prospect of riding in the dark, actually riding in the dark.
The last couple miles were again in downtown Greensboro.
We caught every single stop-light on the red.
We were lucky when we got two or three blocks before having to stop again, and again, and again.
We arrived at the finish, finding RBA Tony there.
He took a photo.
He posted it on Facebook.
I may get around to "borrowing" it.
Harvey had a big smile -- he usually does.
I, as usual, looked as if I was Death, slightly warmed over.
However, as I noted to Tony, I felt better after a 200 than I had done in a long time.
Tony commented that I did appear to be slightly less done-in than I had recently.
Harvey insisted that we grab some dinner before heading back to Raleigh.
He also thanked me for not letting him quit early in the day.
A note of ... something to address my possible hubris:
I may have come off during the ride,
I may have come off in the above text,
As being awfully dang sure of myself during this ride.
Too dang sure of myself.
Perhaps reaching to the level of being a jerk.
Well, I knew I would finish the ride.
And Harvey wanted to go to PBP, and
He was not going to come up short on my watch, period !!
Also, I knew that Harvey had more in him than he thought he did.
I obviously also tried to get Greg and, to a greater extent, Tommy to finish this ride.
They also wanted to go to PBP.
But whereas I've known Harvey for ten years,
I only met Tommy and Greg in August 2018, and strictly speaking, they weren't "on my watch."