Two or three months ago, I asked, via e-mail, of Randonneur Branson if he and Randonneur MikeD had ever ridden Mountain Rd south out of Stovall. Branson replied “no, and Mike must not know about that road, or we certainly would have ridden it by now.”
Fast forward a couple months, and I told Mike, via e-mail, that I was currently “lighting challenged” and “yukky weather clothing challenged” and that I seemed to be in a bit of a slump, riding-wise, so a hilly Sauartown 200k ride did not seem a very good idea, but how about a ride to Stovall for pizza, and then we ride a mountain? That became a deal. Finding a time-window in Mike’s schedule was a bit tricky, but an 88-mile ride for someone who has ridden at least one 200k, one 400k and also made a one-way 115-mile trip earlier in November would likely seem a short warm-up.
The ride started out as likely to be only MikeD and me. With schedules and Thanksgiving and what-not, it seemed there would be little interest among the “irregulars” for the proposed ride. And at least three that did express interest had to later un-express said interest.
For a couple weeks, I thought the ride likely to be Smitty, MikeD and me. However, in the end, the Mallet got another all-day kitchen pass, Iva decided to skip golf (shudder) for yet another weekend, and Iva brought along his friend, John, for the second time in four days, so we ended up six lucky cyclists headed for Stovall in what would turn out to be fantastic riding conditions.
I present to you the following photo as evidence of what the group looked like on the road most of the day. At least that’s what it looks like in my dreams. This is such a great photo that I wouldn’t be surprised if it made multiple appearances in this blog. For example, any time Iva and / or I need or want an excuse as to why we were dropped off the back in the last miles, we bring forth this photo, with a caption “the fast dudes sandbagged again, making us do all the work until we were exhausted, and then they left us in the dust”.
|Me, Iva’s friend John, the Hawk, then MikeD, the Mallet and Smitty (taking the photo, so he is not shown). I am thinking Smitty would have had a harder time getting that photo if the sandbagger-in-chief, Snapper, had been along for the ride. ;-)|
We took the flat way to Stovall; in other words, it was the exact opposite of the finish of the first Hurdle Mills 200k and second Hurdle Mills 200k rides, will be the exact opposite of the finish of the Virginia Border Raid when next we do that ride, and was also the exact opposite of the finish of Mike’s Kerr Lake Loop 200k Permanent (except that his permanent can be ridden in reverse – I wonder if he will “change” that after he modifies his course?). Outbound on Harold O’Brien Rd, Iva comes up along me and says “you know, we are going faster than we did on the ‘time-trial’ on Thursday.” My response: “I know. If only I could get a course this flat and have a Mike, a Smitty, and a Mallet to take turns pulling, maybe I could finally finish a 100k-plus course averaging over 17 mph.” I checked my confuser when I got to the gazebo in Stovall. 17.0 mph.
Luckily, Mike had chosen the date for the ride really well. Pizza in Stovall, sitting in the gazebo, sunshine on backs or sides was great. (This made the fourth time this year for me doing “Pizza in Stovall”: but one time – the Jul-03 Irregulars Kerr Lake Loop – I didn’t get any pizza, and one time – the second Hurdle Mills 200k ride – it was too cold to sit in the gazebo so we ate our pizza that day standing around a stack of seed sacks, so this was only the second “pizza in the gazebo” this year for me. I think this made the third time for “Pizza in Stovall” for the Mallet. Several others max out at two times. I won’t even guess how many time Mike has ridden through Stovall this year, or if he and the rando guys/gals ever stop for pizza.) I do foresee a “Pizza in Stovall” stop next year during Lt. Dave’s 300k ride.
MikeD and the Gazebo
Research Trailer Park Stovall Mountain
And a Mountain. For those that have not yet ridden Mountain Rd south out of Stovall, I won’t spoil it for you. All I will note is that when we got to Chewning Rd, there was a glint in Mike’s eyes best described as gleeful, with a hint of sinister as he thought ahead to the day when the rando group gets to Mountain Rd at the 100-mile point of their 200k ride.
The above photo, you know, the one showing Iva and me in the lead section of three riders, was taken early on Belltown Rd after going over the mountain. Later, after the "delightful" headwind of a breeze and the net climbing to get to Stem slowed some of us, Iva managed to flat his rear tyre ... at the BOTTOM of the last creek valley on Belltown Rd. At least he only had to carry the bike 30 yards to get into sunshine. Iva is a gentleman, and when he went to remove his tyre from his rear wheel, he remained too much of a gentle man, so the human-GPS-unit ripped the tyre off. We found two nice holes in the tyre – actually it was a cut, but when looked at from the inside of the tyre, holding it towards the bright sky, two holes. A dollar bill made an excellent boot, and luckily the Mallet was back with trailing group when the flat occurred. Why lucky about the Mallet, you ask. Because he is a pretty fast tyre changer – much faster than me or Iva. (In honor of the Mallet’s services, in this paragraph, the Brit-speak “tyre” is used instead of the Ameri-speak “tire”.)
Aack! What happened to the rest of my outline!? Yeah, I actually bothered to outline the write-up for once. But I seem to have misplaced the ending. Oh, well, I’ll just have to “wing it”.
We zoomed down the hill from Stem to I-85 and on across to Creedmoor. Some of us zoomed up the two hill-things into Creedmoor, and some of us took those at a more leisurely pace. But gosh, it was hard work for such a leisurely pace. I had not breath with which to phrase a retort when Smitty asked some smart-a$$ question about which way to turn when we got to NC-56 on the edge of Creedmoor. Did I mention that before the ride started I asked, just for the sake of asking, I guess, who had a cue sheet with them? Hmmn, didn’t mention that, eh? Well, you get one guess how many cue sheets were among the six of us. You get one guess, and if you guess more than zero, you have not been paying attention to previous posts. At least John had an excuse, as I’d never heard of John when I sent out the cue sheets last week. But, on the other hand, there are advantages to the “fast dudes” not having a cue sheet and not being sure where they are: they have to wait for me, and I don’t have to worry about chasing them.
For those that were on the ride, we did NOT follow the cue-sheeted course through Creedmoor. I couldn’t bear to wait for that light at NC-56/US-15 to change. Winding our way through the by-ways of Creedmoor, I did not look back (yeah, they were all following, again) but did hear some near panicked shouting about holes and such. I hadn’t point them out because the holes and gravel seemed to be concentrated near the turns and my hands were busy steering. I suppose I could have shouted out warnings, but I figured no one was close enough to hear me, especially as it was taking all my energy just to breathe and I therefore wouldn't have been able to shour very loudly. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
We swooped up and down on Dove Rd.
I almost managed to snatch the last CL of the day, but – honestly – the Mallet realized I might be up to a trick before I even thought about the CL, and he went past me to get the CL in a manner reminiscent of Snapper a few months ago (that time I was trying to sneak the CL, and was so sure I had it, that I sat up). MikeD commented that the CL had been a peach ready for the plucking. (I had been so good earlier in the ride; I could have had the first CL of the day with just a few quick pedal strokes; but instead I just pedaled steadily, and let whomever it was that was outside me and about two inches ahead take the first CL of the day.) I will come clean and admit that by the time the Mallet rushed past, I had decided that if I managed to get to that last CL first, I was going to raise my arm and fist in victory – after he rushed past, I hurried up the beginning of the hill to admit to Paul that such was the case, but when I had made the turn onto Whitt, I was just looking to start a bit before the others because I knew I had nothing for that hill on Whitt. I will also admit that it certainly would have looked the same as the tactic I used to take a CL on Fairport Rd (see Fourth CL) about three months ago.
I’m still wondering why Smitty and the Mallet followed Iva and me up the climbs to New Light Rd. Oh, I forgot, look at that photo above: They mostly followed all day (when they weren't leading).
Great ride. Great companions. Great day!!! What more can a feller ask for?
Smitty provided a link to his Garmin data for this ride: http://connect.garmin.com/player/19818067
Some of the elevation data seems funky, but the map is good and we can check to see where Smitty was in distress.
PUE: flat route to Stovall-MtnRd-Oxford-BelltownRd-Stem-Creedmoor; w/ Mallet, IvaHawk, Smitty, JohnH and special guest MikeD on his fixie; 88.2 m.; est 3940 ft climbed --> effort index = 128; 5hrs, 34min; 15.8 mph.
1Qt tot: _20 rides; _755.3 m.; _47 hrs, 31 min; 15.9 mph.
2Qt tot: _43 rides; 2124.3 m.; 134 hrs, 59 min; 15.7 mph.
3Qt tot: _36 rides; 1947.2 m.; 121 hrs, 48 min; 16.0 mph.
Oct tot: __9 rides; _551.4 m.; _35 hrs, 41 min; 15.4 mph.
Nov tot: __8 rides; _372.3 m.; _23 hrs, 49 min; 15.7 mph.
YTD tot: 116 rides; 5750.7 m.; 363 hrs, 44 min; 15.8 mph.
Rolling 12-mos.: 123 rides; 6060.1 m.; 382 hrs, 24 min; 15.8 mph.