Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jul-31: Tour de Flat River, plus . . .

... A Break In the Heat Wave. 

Overcast, drizzling / sprinkling, about 75F.
Quite a difference from last Saturday's 101F record high set at Leasburg.

IvaHawk, Tito, Lt. Dave and I met at the Durham Tech campus on Snow Hill Rd for a genial and exploratory 100 km ride.  I borrowed Byron's routing from Bahama to Mt. Tirzah (which is tougher than my usual routing -- though I claim mine is more scenic) to set the proper "let's do some hills" tone. 

First crossing of the Flat River:  Lake Michie next to Bahama is fed by the Flat River.  So that long arm extending northwesterly from the lake is "actually" the Flat River.  Up the "Michie Wall" on Bahama Rd after crossing #1 of the Flat River.

Second crossing of the Flat River was on Red Mtn Rd after having completed the rollers on Hampton Rd, but before reaching Moores Mill Rd.  Nothing special at crossing #2 -- just a normal north-central NC creek valley crossing.

Third crossing of the Flat River was on Moores Mill Rd, just before the "Flat Wall".  Three crossings ... two walls.  What exactly is flat about the Flat River?

During a pause in Mt. Tirzah to collect some infomation for possible future use, LT struck up a conversation with a "rock blaster" that was sitting on the bench whiling away some time.  Turned out that they knew of each other, but had never met, and in fact their respective firms are currently working on some of the same projects.  (Injected note from the editor:  we were avg'ing about 14.3 mph when we got to the store at Mt. Tirzah.)

Down the "mountain" and thru Timberlake and on to the small rollers on Satterfield Rd heading toward Hurdle Mills.  Fourth crossing of the Flat River, and the only one with a sign proclaiming the name of the creek / river, was on Hurdle Mills Rd / NC-157 just after turning off Satterfield Rd.  Looking at a map, it appears that the source of the Flat River is only a mile or two upriver from that bridge ... and there appear to be no roads that traverse the Flat upriver from that Hurdle Mills bridge.

We planned a pause at Hurdle Mills to collect some information for possible future use.  There were already about 8 cyclists gathered near the store, and apparently about to head out.  As Tito pulled in, he called out to one of the unknown (to me) cyclists.  Tito has cycling friends scattered everywhere.  He knew at least one other rider in the other group.  IvaHawk also knew one or two riders in the other group -- the same triathletes that Tito knew.  (The other group was out of Chapel Hill, and FAST.)  We bid adios as the other group headed out. 

With all the extra fraternizing, there was some question as to whether we should do the planned 65-miler, or short the course by about 10 miles.  (LT had a tight back-end time constraint; IvaHawk had a tightish back-end time constraint.)  Although the "Tour de Flat River" section of the ride was behind us, we hated the idea of missing the flat roads northwest of Hurdle Mills; and certainly, the "we have no idea where we are" trio of LT, Hawk and Tito wouldn't have wanted to miss the "flat" stuff on Hester Store Rd; also, LT would not have wanted to miss the potential opportunity to repair the commode at the Hester Store Firestation -- turned out the station was closed, so he did not get the opportunity to investigate.  Also, would anyone have wanted to short the distance to be ridden in the drizzle / sprinkle?

I had informed the trio that the climbing was front-loaded (even though I was completely unfamiliar with Gordonton Rd ---> Wheelers Church Rd ---> Wilkerson Rd).  Well, I knew where the road with three names went ... I just didn't know if it would be flat or "flat" to get there.  I would now say:  "somewhere in between". 

The drizzle / sprinkle continued on Schley Rd ... so I forewent pausing to take informational notes at the VFW post at Schley, the store at Schley Rd / New Sharon Ch Rd, and at Schley Rd / St. Mary's Rd.  St. Mary's Rd was wet and much busier than all the previous roads put together.  And at least two of the automobile drivers were ... jerks.  The advantage of St. Mary's Rd ---> Mason Rd ---> Snow Hill Rd is that it was a net downslope riding east as we were.  I "pulled out the 50T chain ring" and in true IR style, did my best to hammer the homestretch.  LT and the Hawk played it smart and let me hammer ahead.  Tito repeatedly bridged from LT and Iva up to me whenever he felt like it -- without breathing hard even once.

We returned to the Durham Tech campus somewhat damp from the light rain a full 7 minutes before our goal of finishing by Noon.  The decision to ride the entire 65-miles had been validated.

DTCC:  Bahama-Mt.Tirzah-Timberlake-HurdleMills-HesterStore-Schley; 65.4 m.; 4 hrs, 8 min in-motion time; 15.8 mph; (total elapsed clock time: 4hh48mm). 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: 13 rides; __786.9 m.; _52 hrs, 36 min; 15.0 mph.
YTD tot: 60 rides; 3,988.4 m.; 264 hrs, 39 min; 15.1 mph. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

A different view for "Irregulars"

Recently, I went on a little ride with a friend, she took some photos that I decided to rip-off and display here because I am quite confident that they contain a view(s) that most "Irregulars" seldom see.  A similar comment could be made regarding NC rando-folk, too.


Later, Maria noticed my water bottle and asserted that it is "old".  Doesn't seem so old to me.
Sometimes, Blogger is a real pain when it comes to handling photos.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jul-24: Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville 200k Permanent

Thanks to BikerBob for being foolish enough to ride the L-L-L with me. 

Ian was also there -- for the start.
Then, being young and immortal and apparently immune to heat, he took off.
We saw him about 4 miles before the turn-around (or, from his perspective, after the turn-around).
He left us water in Leasburg.  Thanks, Ian.

Bob and I determined to take our time, hydrate, cool off, etc.,
And to take nearly all the allowed time if needed. 
It was needed.

Bob finished about 5 minutes before the time limit.
I believe he could have been an hour or two faster without me.
I finished about 18 minutes after the time limit.
The heat was brutal.  But worse was a poorly functioning front derailleur.

On the Friday test ride, everything was smooth as butta'.
On Saturday, by the time I reached Moores Mill Rd and the "Flat Wall" up to Mt. Tirzah, I could NOT get into the 30T chain ring.  I had to grind my way up in the 39. 

I tried to make a barrel adjustment on the fly.
The barrel felt as if someone had used some lock-tight on it.
I meant to use pliers if necessary when stopped at a control.
Never remembered the derailleur while at a control.
Water, food, and getting cool inside some of the controls seemed vastly more important.

Between us, Bob and I purchased more than 4 gallons of water.
I had four V-8's.  Bob had two.
We each had two Pepsis / Cokes during the course of the day.
For recreation and morale purposes more than hydration.

I do not climb well, but I do not shy away from climbs.  I always say I do the last hill just as fast as I do the first hill.  That wasn't quite true today.  The climbs on Kemp / Victory Ch Rd added insult to the injuries inflicted by the "main climbs" of the course. The climbs on Boxelder and Ray roads added indignanty and worse. 

By late in the ride, the chain was going into the 30T relatively on demand; I started to count on it going into the 30T like it is supposed to.  But no.  On Kemp, between Southview and Coley, instead of shifting to the 30T, the chain was thrown between the 30 and the frame -- and got stuck there.  I had to flip the bike over (I didn't have the strength to bend over all the way to fiddle with the chain if I hadn't flipped the bike), unstick the chain, and THEN use the "chain guide" trick to get the chain back on the rings.  Two minutes lost that I didn't have available to fritter away.  Actually, I knew before I turned onto Kemp that I could not achieve the required minimum avg pace to finish on time.  A much different dynamic than at Sauartown where the finish terrain was helping as I approached the end.

On Boxelder, at least the chain went to the 30.  But I was demoralized.  I walked the steep part of that annoying road.  Onto Ray Rd, and the chain refused to acknowledge that the 30T was available.  Grinding up climbs that wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already ridden 200k of very hill, hill, hill terrain on a brutally hot day.  Grinding with noodles where one usually has legs.

Good news of the day:  no cramps, no attempted cramps all day. 

Best part of the day:  ice cream at Ben and Jerry's with Bob after the ride.
Last week, Maria opined that Byron's L-L-L is much tougher than the Sauartown Perm.
I heartily agree.

I am swearing off the hilly Permanents until this ridiculous heat wave breaks.  I am swearing off any brevets or permanents (except for Alan's Aug-14 Brevet) until this ridiculous heat wave breaks. 

30-milers, 40-milers, 50-milers, or 0-milers will be just fine, thank-you-very-much.

Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville 200 km Permanent; 129.0 m.; 9 hrs, 33 min in-motion time; 13.5 mph; "rando time" 13hh48mm -- yep, DNF, again. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: 12 rides; __721.5 m.; _48 hrs, 27 min; 14.9 mph.
YTD tot: 59 rides; 3,923.0 m.; 260 hrs, 33 min; 15.1 mph. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jul-23: Testing

New 39T chain ring, 11-25 cassette, chain.

Everything worked well. 

Started about noon.  It was HOT. 
Rode from BJP to the Bicycle Chain to enter the "frame & prizes" sweepstakes.
Apparently there is a separate entry form for the frame drawing and the gift card.
The Bike Chain only had forms for the gift card.

Return trip to BJP was HOTTER !!
Anything coming close to pushing was very hard.
Having to stop at several stop-lights was debilitating.  No apparent breeze to counter the temperature.
96 F when I finished. 

Need to create some ice socks tonight.

BJP:  Bicycle Chain and back; 22.1 m.; 1 hrs, 27 min; 15.2 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: 11 rides; __592.5 m.; _38 hrs, 53 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: 58 rides; 3,794.0 m.; 251 hrs, 00 min; 15.1 mph. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jul-17: 'Twas the Morning After Sauartown

‘Twas the morning after Sauartown, when all along New Light
Barely a creature was stirring, nary more than a single cyclist. 

I should have been nestled all snug in my bed,
With visions of easy, nine-hour, 16 mph, 200 km Permanents dancing in my head. 

Then in the Purnell parking lot there arose a commotion,
I raised my tired head to see what was the action. 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a minature peloton of five tiny-bellied randondeer. 

I knew in a moment it must be the Kerr Lake Loop crew. 
More rapid than eagles, their course to chew. 

Now Jerry!
Now, Tim and John O.!
On, BikerBob! On RecumbentLin!

To the edge of the road!
To the crest of the hill!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all! 

PUE:  Grissom and back (while the "crew" did the Middleburg Century); 23.1 m.; 1 hrs, 44 min; 13.3 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: 10 rides; __570.4 m.; _37 hrs, 26 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: 57 rides; 3,771.9 m.; 249 hrs, 33 min; 15.1 mph.  

These post-hard ride, tired and sleepy recovery spin-outs and supposed rides are killing my avg pace.  But not me.

You might also expect that a math oriented person could properly copy the total rides, miles, time, and pace from an Excel log into blogger.  Apparently not.

Jul-16: Sauratown 200 km Permanent

The plan for the weekend:  the Sauratown 200 km Permanent on Friday w/ Maria, followed by a much, much easier 100-miler on Saturday with the Irregulars.  Certainly do-able -- even if I had to drop the entire Irregular crew off my front on Saturday.

Pleasant drive to High Point -- we beat the rush-hour traffic.
We need to talk to Joel before doing this ride again in order to get his thoughts on WHERE to park "outside the marina".  Maria parked at the CVS near the alternate Circle-K start/finish control, because there was a VERY good chance the marina would be closed and locked before we finished.  

I must have lost concentration putting stuff in my pockets and putting on socks, shoes, gloves, helmet, etc., because suddenly Maria was informing me that it was after 8 am.  I think there was a time-warp.

We started a few minutes late, and Maria must have been intent on making up the time in the first five miles.  More likely she is one of those instantly-warmed-up cyclists.  I decidedly am NOT.  30 or 40 miles to really get warmed up is the usual.  On occasion, 50 miles.  I'm not sure 40 or especially 50 miles would have worked quite so well today as we were in the mid-40's when we slid through the Taylor Rd / Sauratown Rd intersection.  I think I must have been pretty well warmed up by the time we left Walnut Cove, as I seemed to climb that LONG slope pretty well.  Of course, as certain Irregulars might note, "it was a Martin slope", not too steep.

Earlier, Maria had told me that she was making a special effort to keep her pace up on the downslopes because she had noticed from this blog that I do not like having to sit-up, catch-air, feather-the-brakes while coasting downslope / downhill.  I told her not to worry about it.  Eventually, I asked her to be sure she did NOT wear herself out trying to keep a pace to stay ahead of me on the downs -- I would just go around.  She could pass me on the return ups.

Very little climbing on Joel's route for the first ~ 50 km to Walnut Cove.  While at the control in Walnut Cove, Maria commented that Joel had noted that the climbing on the entire route was front-loaded, but statistically there didn't seem THAT much difference first-half versus last-half.  I replied that I thought most of the climbing for the entire route would be in the 10 or 15 miles after we left Walnut Cove. 

No stores except the controls are noted on Joel's cue sheet.  I knew of one store -- on NC-66 just before we would turn onto Taylor Rd.  I had gotten some VERY sweet tea there in mid-May ( see here ).  They didn't have any home-made sweet tea today.  We each had a root beer and maybe something else.  And we topped off our water bottles.

We left the store and turned onto Taylor.  Next time, Maria, continue straight on NC-66 for maybe half-a-mile, then turn around and go back and turn onto Taylor.  Very pretty and twisty fun on NC-66 just after Taylor.  (That is the extent of my pre-knowledge of Joel's Sauratown route.)

I pointed out Sauratown Rd as we passed.  Earlier, Maria had asked, based on reading an e-mail I had sent, if I wanted to ride to the top of Sauratown in the midst of the Permanent.  "No, while that would be 'epic', my legs would be trashed for no good reason; it would not be responsible of me."  I did comment that some of our more climbing-blessed and crazier rando-folk would likely take the diversion just for the fun of it -- the names of MikeD, Branson, Jerry escaped the lips.  Probably could have added a plethora of others including Tom and Mary F., Lynn and anyone else that did Tony's 400 km or 600 km Statesville - Little Switzerland jaunts.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that Lynn would not be interested in a side-climb unless it was "required"; she is, after all, in Sridhar's words "insane".  The others, however, are all just plain crazy.  But as I told some Irregular buddies recently, all randos are crazy -- even the randos know they are crazy -- but it is generally a good, or at least mostly harmless, kind of crazy.

NC-66 winds its way north (?) from Sauratown Mtn.  I am surprised that Lt. Dave doesn't go to Hanging Rock just to ride the winders on NC-66 north of Sauratown.  Definitely his idea of fun riding -- "the more the road twists up-and-down, and curves back-and-forth, the better the cycling".  NC-66 is certainly more fun than flat, flat, flat, flat, flat for ever and ever.  Of course, the flat stuff is easier.  Unless there is a ferocious headwind.

We made the first info control, and took a break.  Maria took a fair number of photos.  When she is recovered and etc., I hope to link or swipe some photos.

We found a "store" just before crossing the Dan River.  The surroundings were littered with "tractors".  We were doing quite well on time, so took a few extra minutes to eat some potato chips and have a cold drink.  We noticed the storm building just to the west.

We left the "store", and immediately descended to cross the Dan River.  As we were crossing the Dan, the rain began.  Within moments it was coming down in torrents.  Climbing back up to the plateau from the Dan, the rain got worse and Maria shouted ahead asking if I had seen any lightning.  Nope.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  I heard a tree breaking.  It couldn't have been more than 50 yards away.  A white light apparently simultaneous with the thunder had flashed, mostly on our right side.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  We've got to get out of this!  Maybe there is a church or some other building at the top of this climb!  Agreed! 

I crested the climb and saw a perhaps abandoned building with an overhang over the front door, and the east (?) side of building was at least in the lee.  I signaled a left turn and grabbed my brakes.  Darn little brakes.  Squeezing harder and harder as I start to roll down the other side of the crest.  One-two-three cars went around.  Each giving me space.  I got stopped.  Got off the bike.  Turned around. ... ... ... No Maria!

I made my way across the road and parked my bike under the overhang, and waited.  A couple minutes later, I saw Maria cresting the hill -- I went out to wave her down.  She joined me under the overhang.

"A big branch fell down and almost hit me", she said.  "I had to move it because it was blocking the whole road."  (At least that is my memory.)  I replied "that is much worse than my experience; my tough moment was almost being blown off the road as I got to this crest."  (Maria says I cannot write that she is tough or strong or anything like that, but she didn't say I couldn't write something like the following.)  I think Maria is mentally tougher than me.

Maria used her camera to make a movie.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!   I really hope it comes out.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!  (The movie did come out -- see below for a link to Maria's blog entry.)

We proceeded after at least 35 or 40 minutes.  We were sure that we'd likely be late for the info control at the Virginia State Line.  Certainly Joel will give a reprieve if we make the next control in time, and finish the route in time.  It was clearly unsafe to continue when we sought refuge.  16 minutes. 

If / when I do this route again, I will KNOW one thing -- that after that info control at the Virginia State Line, 704 East is a false flat downslope for miles and miles and miles.  For the rest of the ride (appox 56 miles), there was the occasional climb (and we did have to recross the Dan), and my speed up those climbs was SLOW (but I started having heat and lack of electrolyte issues, so I had a long period of SLOW, anyway), but the last short-half of the route is pretty flat.  Especially as compared to riding through the heart of the Sauatowns. 

Even though Maria slowed to match my snail's pace as I battled off cramps -- failed twice -- we reached Stokesbury with quite a bit of time in the bank.  Maria was talking about when "WE" would leave; I was talking when "SHE" would leave, and I'd follow after my legs felt better.  I really wish there was bench at that control.  I finally spotted a low cinder-block wall next door.  I insisted Maria leave to preserve her R-10.  I would leave when the legs had some life.  Maria finally agreed.

It is amazing what twenty minutes sitting on that cinder-block wall accomplished.  Somewhere, I have heard of the unwritten rule of randonneuring:  never stand when you can sit.  I called Smitty to ask if he would "lead" the Irregulars Middleburg Century on Saturday, as I certainly was not going to do the ride.  I left the control at 7:35. 

For more on Maria's epic adventure, and her take on the shared part of the adventure -- see her blog post.  ( Here.  )

As for my adventure, I did another 10 miles or so, probably averaging 10 mph, and called Maria from the corner of something and Market to let her know where I was, and that I was going to keep riding, and I'd look for her driving the course backward.  Then I got back on my steed and rode the 0.7 miles on Market with a little more gusto, and turned onto Sandy Plain or whatever Rd, and a miracle, another false flat downslope.  Cadence came from the slight downslope.  Cadence came from the falling darkness.  Speed, oh glorious speed, came from the cadence and slight downslope.  I still had to be careful to keep the legs, especially the left calf, very relaxed, to ward of cramping.  But speed, baby, speed.  19 +/- mph speed.  On tired, trying to cramp legs.

Maybe I can finish the course on time.  A small climb or two -- with cadence! -- with some speed!  Maybe I CAN complete this course with a minute or two to spare.  Maybe, just maybe.

That dang light on Johnson Street / Road / whatever -- where the cross street clearly has the priority.  Two minutes wasted waiting for the light to change.  I would have gone across on the red, but there was a Policeman just on the other side of the intersection assisting a motorist trying to "jump-start" his car.  Two minutes.  When I was trying to eak out a one minute victory.

Continuing on.  Still no Maria.  I wonder.  Has she had a problem.  Is she stubbornly waiting at the end for me to arrive.  That last doesn't sound like Maria.  Four-and-a-half miles (or so).  Sixteen minutes.  I think there are some small rollers on Oakview.  I'll never be able to average 16 mph unless I am willing to risk debilitating cramps.  Doesn't seem likely I can finish on time.  Maybe, just maybe, I can.

I see Maria.  She sees me and turns around.  I ride on for half a mile, and pull into the entrance of some church.  I'm secretly hoping she'll tell me "you can do it."  I look at my watch and figure the distance -- no, I can't.  I have enjoyed the ride.  It is 127 miles into the legs. 

Maria pulls into the church.  I can tell by the way she manoevers her car that my ride is over.  I said "Maria, you're supposed to say I can make it."  Hoping she would parrot me; then I could say say "no, I can't; let's load up and go."

But Maria is having none of my silly hopes.  She says flatly "they have had a major storm here.  Trees are down blocking the intersection at Oakview.  Trees are lying on top of cars and houses.  All the stoplights are out.  The electricity is out.  I barely got through, worried I'd find my car destroyed.  Let's load up and go." 

We load up and go.

On the Full Moon Kerr Lake Loop, Tom Florian told me that he didn't really care about getting credit for his rides, he knew what his legs had done.  I'm not sure I believe him about not really caring about the credit.

But, for the Sauratown 200 km Permanent, I don't care about credit for me.  I had an epic adventure with (what for me) was epic climbing, it was freaking hot, there were fun climbs and descents, a long, long flat section, I (mostly successfully) battled off cramps after getting behind on electrolytes, and I got in 127 miles, all but about 5 +/- miles on new roads. 

However, Joel, please give Maria a break on that intermediate info control.  We really did lose at least 35 minutes to that storm.  It was not safe to continue when we took unplanned refuge.  We did make the control in Stokesbury with plenty of time to spare.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!! 

Sauratown 200 km Permanent -- dnf for me; 127.9 m.; 9 hrs, 4 min in motion; 14.1 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _9 rides; __547.3 m.; _35 hrs, 41 min; 15.3 mph.
YTD tot: 56 rides; 3,748.8 m.; 247 hrs, 48 min; 15.1 mph. 
Monthly avg pace plummeted.  The YTD avg pace slipped back a click.
These hard climbing routes in the heat are killing me.  And my avg riding pace. 

I had had in mind a shorter, more "marathon" haiku-like entry in mind for this ride.  But I forgot the key elements.  So ... a long story.  Ssssccchhh-KA-POW!!   

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cassettes, Chains, Cables

This past Friday, the rear derailleur started to become uncooperative.  I thought it was likely a cable-stretch problem, or possibly a chain stretch problem.  By the end of the Friday ride, the rear derailleur cable had 4988 miles on it (having been newly installed immediately after my Sep-19-2009 crash).  By the end of the Friday ride, the chain had 1879 miles on it (having been newly installed on Apr-29-2010).

During my Saturday ride, the problem worsened considerably.  Gary and I thought it might be a sticky cable inside its housing issue -- although the cable had received relatively frequent cleaning and lubing to prevent cable stick issues.

Long story short, it turned out the problem was that the rear derailleur cable was fraying, essentially at the brifter.  About half the strands that made up the cable had already snapped. 

Solution:  new rear derailleur cable.  So, including the Saturday ride, I had gotten 5059 miles out of the cable.  I'm not sure if that is good or bad or normal type performance. 
Decided to also change the front derailleur cable.  The old one dated from Oct-22-2009 and had 4560 miles on it.
While looking over the drive system, it was obvious that my current cassette (dating from Nov-12-2008, with 10.322 miles on it) is beginning to show obvious signs of wear.  It is not skipping or anything, but teeth on the cogs most used are showing tell-tale signs.  (I'm on the fourth chain on this cassette.  I got 3168 miles from the first chain, 2594 from the second, 2609 from the third, and 1950 - as of Saturday- from this, the fourth, chain.) 

In looking at the current cassette, I learned that I had been improperly identifying it for the last year-and-a-half (and almost certainly mis-identifying the previous cassettes).  It is a 10-speed cassette.  I have been referring to it as a 12-25; but it is actually an 11-25 cassette.  I have slightly more "gear-inches" than I thought I had.  I guess I will have to completely rethink what my top-end speeds are. 
For kicks, I looked at the possibility of replacing the 11-25 cassette with an 11-28 next month.  Given the very few trips to the mountains that I make, the fact that I have plenty of gearing to handle north-central North Carolina (and even adequate gearing to handle the Uwharries with tired body and legs), and the price differential:  I'll stick with the 11-25. 
This post is made solely for the purpose of "tweeking" certain acquaintences / friends that think I am a numbers geek.  ;-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jul-11: Sleepy, and I Lost 2 Bananas

I didn't sleep well. 
A call confirming or cancelling a cycling appointment did not come.
I started from Findley Y just in case the big man-hunt was still in progress.
I had thought to time arrival at the rendezvous point of the non-confirmed / non-cancelled ride at between 6:30 and 6:45 and see what the situation was.

I sort of followed that plan.
The bike seemed almost to be pedaling itself.
Shifting was a dream after having both derailleur cables replaced after yesterday's ride.
But ... I was falling asleep on the bike.

It was almost as bad as the oh-dark-thirty sleepiness I had experienced on my failed 600 km brevet.
But not nearly as bad as the oh-dark-thirty sleepiness I had experienced on my successful 400 km brevet.

I reached Six Forks Rd at 6:48.  Took a big drink, and U-turned to head back to the car, and
To lie down and SLEEP.

I only saw one other cyclist this morning.
Twice.  On Pleasant Union Ch Rd. 
She e-mailed earlier asking if those were my bananas she saw on the road.
I had wondered where they had gone missing.
I hope someone enjoyed those bananas (if they were not too damaged).
I was too sleepy to go looking for them.

Oh.  I guessing the man-hunt was successful.
At least I didn't notice the obvious police type vehicle staking out that one particular location on PUC Rd as they have been doing all the last week. 

Findley Y:  a LOT of Carrington and Whitestone - or so it seemed; 14.1 m.; 1 hrs, 4 min; 13.1 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _8 rides; __419.4 m.; _26 hrs, 37 min; 15.8 mph.
YTD tot: 55 rides; 3,620.9 m.; 238 hrs, 44 min; 15.2 mph. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jul-10: Mother, May I ...

At a minute or two before 6 am, I asked Frank if he remembered when the ride was just him and me. 

Today ... 20. 

That's right ... twenty. 

As Robert said when he passed me about 53 miles into the ride:  "Hey, I haven't seen you all day."
The Cast:

Frank, "Water" (formerly "Iceman", but certainly he melted in June, don't ya' think),
IvaHawk, and his guest Suzanne, aka, his Wednesday morning "spin class instructor",
the Mallet, Smitty, Levi and his bro-in-law, Scott,
Norris, Lee, Tito, Aggs, Robert,
Gary + Wendy + 3 (Dennis, Richard, Mike),
YungFalbz, me.

The Setting (i.e., the Course):

The Action:

With 20 riders, we split the group into a front section and a back section, each with about half the riders, with a decided gap between the two sections, so that auto traffic could more easily pass us on New Light Rd.  Lee graciously allowed himself to be drafted and appointed Asst. Chief for the front section.  Why Lee?  Because his son, daughter-in-law, and most importantly, his grandbaby live in Louisburg, and Lee had previously ridden all the roads we traversed.  Why "Asst. Chief"?  To haunt him with a title from his past.

Hammers and hill-climbers in the front section.  The "Evil Smitty" fit the general description for the front section, but he was specifically "assigned" to the front section to assure that someone would challenge the Mallet for the CLs.  From reports, Smitty's seems to have lost some of his "Evil" power, or the Mallet has gotten into better cycling shape, because Smitty was unsuccessful in his attempts to take any of the CLs.  I suppose they had fun.

Non-hammers, non-climbers, and those with more common sense in the back section.  (You didn't expect me to give the better description to the front section when I was in the back section, did you?)

Lee and the rest of the front section waited for us at Pokomoke.  YungFalbz turned back and headed for home and a total ride of 30-miles, as had been her plan.  Several asked what happened to her / why did she turn back.  Obviously, they didn't read their e-mail the night before the ride.

The crew quickly re-split into two sections.  I think there were six of us in the back section.  That must mean there were thirteen hammering away in the front section.  Clever use of the not-so-secret short-cut in Franklinton allowed the tail of the back section to keep the front section under observation on West River Rd..  However, they paused not even a second at Mitchener's Xroads, where Iva and Suzanne were scheduled to turn around for a 50-mile ride. 

A couple of us talked Suzanne into trying the entire 71-miler (quite an increase over her previous long of 26 miles on the road).  Suzanne thought she could turn around in a few miles if the route started to prove too much.  We explained "not an out-and-back route -- this is a loop".  She decided to try the 71-mile loop.  Given the results, Iva and I probably should have turned back while Suzanne could have gone on to ride even further -- I don't think she ever had to breathe hard the entire ride.

I hope everyone enjoyed Dyking Rd; certainly no one complained during or after the ride. (Oh, I must insert that Norris tried to miss the turn to stay on Sims Bridge Rd that led to Dyking Rd.  His comment:  "Oh, a new direction?"  Actually, we had made that same turn to stay on Sims Bridge Rd when we did the Solstice / Middleburg Century last year -- however, last year we STAYED on Sims Bridge Rd instead of turning onto Dyking Rd.)

Arriving on the north edge of Louisburg, the reduced back section found the front section swarming about the gas station / convenience store at the corner of Dyking Rd and US-401.  A short / long refueling stop; Lee tried to tell everyone to keep their speed under control on the steep downhill through downtown Louisburg because of the several stoplights; no one seemed to pay him any attention -- a situation with which I am quite familiar -- try to give people a head-up, but they will mostly ignore you.

The back section was reduced to four (me, Gary, Suzanne, IvaHawk).  Mostly, I think, because of bad timing on our part dealing with the stop lights.  We found the enlarged front section gathered at the Gem Farm at the corner of Mays Crossroads Rd and Tarboro Rd.  I "suggested" that the better place to stop would have been the gas station / convenience store a mile-and-a-half closer to Youngsville.  The Gem Farm has tree-shaded picnic tables, but the store has ... food and drink.  I made my "suggestion" as a "teaching moment" kind of thing, hoping that some of the crew will remember next time we ride over that way.  We'll eventually see if anyone remembers.

We left the Gem Farm ... only to find most of the riders at the convenience store.  I recalled the Solstice ride from last year when the Mallet wondered what was going on when the group stopped for the third time in about 15 miles. Those stopped at the store waived the rest of us on.

I had hoped to maintain contact with the front section (meaning we would become one large group) from Youngsville all the way back to PUE.  However, two things stepped in to sabatoge that idea.  The first was the climbers not pedaling at the bottom of the first UP after Youngsville, which forced me to touch the brakes to keep from running over whomever was in front of -- that sent me backward with no momentum, and all 12 of the following riders passed me.  I could / can recover from that, and was doing so when the second incident raised its ugly head.

Starting on Friday, and repeated on Saturday, I had been having difficulty shifting among the cogs on the cassette.  I had timed the first creek bottom after crossing US-1 really well and had passed about a third of the total crew and had drawn even with Richard when, once again, the rear derailleur mis-performed, and the gearing was self-shifting apparently with a logic all its own, and not a logic of use to me.  I settled into middle gears on the cassette, and minimized the damage.

Most of the front section passed Grissom without notice.  A few were there when the back section arrived.  I decided I was treating myself to a "Root Beer".  After obtaining same, and sitting down at the picnic table, I encouraged all still there to ride on ... I would ride the last 11 miles (in peace and quiet) solo.  Lee shot at me "Mother, may I?" 

Trust me; it made sense in context of the e-mails that had preceded the ride.

PUE:  Dyking and Peach Orchard Loop; 71.5 m.; 4 hrs, 29 min; 15.9 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _7 rides; __405.3 m.; _25 hrs, 33 min; 15.9 mph.
YTD tot: 54 rides; 3,606.8 m.; 237 hrs, 40 min; 15.2 mph.  

Friday, July 9, 2010

Jul-09: 54 was the Goal

54, FAST, was the actual goal.
But heat and a wimpy rider led to the revised goal:
54, and enjoy it.

Mostly, I did.  Enjoy it, that is.
Significant cloud cover during much of the afternoon ride helped.

At the 39-mile mark, on Virgil, approaching Carpenter Pond for the second time,
I lost cadence, and it seemed I had lost my energy.
I decided I'd head straight for barn and settle for 49.5.

But once on Carpenter Pond, it was easier going,
and I only needed a 4.5-mile side trip on Coley.
So I rode down Coley until I got to the 42-mile mark;
then I turned around, and headed for the barn. 

Typical slow start -- 14.7 mph avg pace after 9.3 miles.
I didn't keep careful track, but the avg pace slowly climbed upward the entire ride.

Enjoyable ride, at a reasonable "almost spinning them out" mental pace.
The IR ride tomorrow may be tough. 

BJP:  Coley-(DocN-Bapview-Virgil)-(DocN-Kemp-Virgil)- 2/3 of Coley; 54.1 m.; 3 hrs, 24 min; 15.9 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _6 rides; __333.8 m.; _21 hrs, 04 min; 15.8 mph.
YTD tot: 53 rides; 3,535.3 m.; 233 hrs, 11 min; 15.2 mph. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jul-07: Spin out the legs

I really needed it.

Legs still are tight -- or is that tired?  I may have to "spin out" on Friday instead of riding 54 miles, or riding fast, or riding 54 fast miles. 

BJP:  DocN-Bapview-Virgil; 33.1 m.; 2 hrs, 2 min; 16.2 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _5 rides; __279.7 m.; _17 hrs, 37 min; 15.8 mph.
YTD tot: 52 rides; 3,481.2 m.; 229 hrs, 45 min; 15.2 mph. 
The YTD avg pace went up another tick!  Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The "Crew"

Currently Active "Crew":  name, "number", "sponsor":

sponsor rider name ___nickname

_____0 ____1 _Martin
_____3 ____4 _Harvey _Snapper, Cheeta', Cheetah
_____4 ____5 _Dave#1 _BigWaveDave, BWD, bwd, Dave-the-Wave, Wave, Stew
_____5 ____6 _Bob#1 __the Duke, Duke
_____1 ___10 _Bob#2 __BobH 
_____1 ___11 _Norris
_____6 ___13 _Iva ____Hawk, IvaHawk, SpeedyIvaHawk
_____6 ___14 _Dave#2 _Dave-not-the-Wave, DntW, Lt. Dave, LT
_____4 ___18 _Paul#2 _the Mallet, Mallet
____20 ___21 _Levi
____13 ___22 _"Tito" _Tito
_____4 ___24 _Paul#3 _Smitty
____14 ___25 _Lee 
____13 ___27 _John#1 _JohnH 
_____4 ___28 _Ivan ___IvaN
_____4 ___29 _John#2 _Aggs
____25 ___30 _Robert
_____1 ___31 _Gary
_____1 ___32 _Wendy 

Currently Semi-Active "Crew": 

_____0 ____2 _Frank  
_____6 ____7 _Barry __Ba-room!, Baroom
_____1 ____9 _Paul#1 _Iceman
____14 ___20 _Phil ___Dr. Phil
____21 ___23 _Steve 
_____1 ___26 _Karen __Wolfpack, Wolfie

Retired, Moved, Removed or just plain "Gone":

_____2 ____3 _Sean ___Gone 
_____6 ____8 _JoelS 
_____4 ___12 _Heath __Mt. Rushmore, Rushmore
_____1 ___15 _Jessica Jessi, Little Jessi, "cue sheet mooch"
_____1 ___16 _Melissa Mel
_____4 ___17 _Peter __Rabbit, Jack Rabbit
_____1 ___19 _Jason

Jul-05: "Let's do some new roads"

The cast:  Duke, Lt. Dave, Smitty, Aggs, Robert, Levi, ScottS, me.

Carpool to VGCC.  Security waved to us -- so it seems likely it is okay to park there (in small numbers).

Route:  NC BR #1 to Drewry; NC BR #4 to Warrenton; southwest to Vicksboro, Epsom, Bobbitt, Gill, Bearpond; Lynnbank and Community House and Old Watkins roads back to VGCC.  

Map not entirely correct as we turned south at Vicksboro, not a long mile later.

"Let's do some new roads" -- the "battle cry" of Lt. Dave.  (Well, that, AND "let's do some mountains".)
The road from VGCC to Drewry, on NC BR #1, we knew.
The roads from Drewry to Warrenton, on NC BR #4, I had driven a few years ago.
Tower Rd -- came highly recommended by Iceman.
Largo and Shepard roads I'd driven a couple years ago.  I was pretty sure there would be a couple nice valleys to cross.
From Vicksboro back to VGCC, we'd be on previously ridden roads, but some / many of us would not have ridden them, and some (most ?) of those that had probably wouldn't recognze that they'd been there before (at least partially because we'd be riding the opposite direction).
The connection on MLK, Jr. Drive and Stagecoach Rd was grabbed from looking at the map.  Those were the only true "risks" of the route.

Well, Smitty found the only true risk of the route -- the pea gravel at the turn off Tower Rd onto Largo from the chip-sealing of Largo Rd some time (probably months) previous was rather deep, esp. given that it was not visible.  Normally, one would think that a heaping line that deep would cast a shadow or something, but Smitty's rear wheel sliding sideways was our first hint.  The "Evil One" must have been practicing his handling skills, though, because he never seemed to be in any danger.  The rest of us followed, coasting through the loose pile. 

LT had spent the weekend on firehouse duty, and had gone out on a midnight call.  I suspect that he may have been a bit more tired and/or dehydrated than he realized. 
My legs were feeling the previous three days. 
The "children" (Levi and Scott) seemed completely fresh.  Scott in particular, seemed eager during early miles to push the pace -- also during the middle miles -- and I lost track of him during the very late miles -- he was probably still pushing.
Robert is in too good a condition to be phased by the little riding he'd done on Saturday -- he didn't seemed phased from whatever running he had done between the rides, either.
The Duke appeared to do better than usual on the "don't burn it all up too early front."
I think Aggs has plenty of "go", even though he tries to pretend he doesn't.
Smitty, "the Evil One", can go and go and go.  I'm not sure he has really tested his limit since remounting a bicycle after his 10-year hiatus. 

What did the above translate to?
I was slow and off the back, hoping my legs would loosen up.
Lt. Dave rotated between being near the front and coming back to check on me.
Levi did some of the same.  I suspect that he still remembers Johnson Mill Rd from last year.
"The Evil Smitty" also did some rotating between being on the front and coming to far back.  Perhaps serving penance for all the CL sprints he would take.

I thought the Warren CL was BEFORE Drewry, so, when I thought I recognized the right stretch of road, I forced the tired and not-yet-loose legs to push me off the front of the group, trying to sneak the CL.  It didn't work -- but only because the CL was not there.  Ugh.  (Note to self:  the Warren CL on BR #1 is north of Drewry.)

Prior to the above attack for the non-existant CL, I had gotten to the front when we reached Anderson Creek Rd -- I think because the "crew" was uncertain which way to go -- the cue sheet -- such as it was -- had instruction only to follow BR #1 to Drewry -- it is easy to follow the signs to Drewry, but the "crew" seemed uncertain a couple times.  Or maybe they were being diligent regarding Rule #3.  Anyway, I was in front with Aggs after we turned onto Anderson Creek Rd; I knew the first down led to a short, poppable up, followed by another down, and a more serious, unpoppable up.  As we transitioned from the down/flat to the first up, I hit the pedals hard, and for my effort was rewarded with a chuckle.  Aggs was slipping backward as I maintained 28 (and then 25) mph upslope, and I heard John comment "There is that extra gear I've been hearing about."  Sometimes, 30 seconds of deeper pain is much better than 3 minutes of regular pain -- "irregular" pain?

We made the turn at Drewry, and Levi being first in line, was first to learn that the CL was only 50 yards or so after the turn.  He picked up his pace slightly and took the only CL that the "Evil Smitty" did not get all day.  (Note to self:  the Warren CL on BR #4 is immediately after the turn at Drewry.)

I particularly liked the part of Drewry-Ridgeway Rd that stayed atop the ridge.  LT liked the parts where the road dipped down to a creek and then climbed back up to the ridge, or a new ridge.  What did the others prefer?  I have no idea, because (other than the Duke, or was it Smitty?) they were too far ahead to see. 

Soon the front-runners had developed a new pattern.  Get way ahead, then find some shade, and wait.  I was feeling fine, just the legs were not yet warmed up.  I had predicted at least 40 miles for that, and perhaps influenced by my mental state, that was coming true.  I checked my average pace before reaching Warrenton:  15.4 mph. 

After Warrenton, we cut back southwest on MLK, Jr. Blvd. and Stagecoach Rd.  The hastily hand-scribbled cue sheets (the front-runners had two of the three copies) managed to confuse the front-runners sufficiently at the corner of Stagecoach / US-401 / Tower Rd that they were astride their bikes in the bright sunshine, debating whether to continue straight on US-401 or take the immediate right (the cue sheets indicated 0.1 miles on US-401 before turning onto Tower).  No shade.  As we approached the corner, LT whispered to me to "pretend there is a CL just after making that turn".  We (mostly he) zipped past, made the turn, and faux celebrated.  Most chuckled -- it takes so little to amuse us as we get older.  Those that didn't laugh were to busy trying to find the CL sign to chuckle, I think.

Did we ever figure out why Tower Rd is so named?

Largo Rd -- loose pea gravel at the turn, and a nice, deepish valley to cross.  (See Smitty's garmin link in the comments.)

Shepard Rd -- another nice, deepish valley to cross.

Turn at Vicksboro.  Turn before reaching the CL sign only yards away.  Levi tried to claim a CL credit by missing the turn.  Green jersey points subtracted.  I believe I heard that Smitty took the actual CL on Cross Creek Rd.

We must have crossed another CL into Franklin County, because the gas station / convenience store in Epsom was clearly in Franklin County.  No idea where the CL was / is -- perhaps it is in a non-contestable location.

The entire crew was ready to roll from Epsom before I even had my helmet back on.  I suspect that they may have been beginning to feel the distance and heat.  I was finally mostly warmed up, and enjoying the few moments sitting on the bench.  I asked them to ride slowly until I caught them since "I don't even have my hat on yet."  Leaving Epsom on Epsom-RockyFord Rd is a flat and slightly downslope affair.  With legs feeling better, I got into a good cadence, then slowly changed to a "harder"/ faster gear.  I didn't intend what happened, but ... what the heck.  I was doing 21+ when I passed the first sub-group; I kept going and blasted past the lead sub-group doing 21-23 mph, just in time to make the turn onto Gooch Rd with the lead.  I was hoping that the entire crew would be slow to speed up.  No luck.  I worked the downslope and poppable upslope to reach the crest first, made a grand gesture as if I was a showman presenting the valley vista for their enjoyment, and hit the pedals hard.  I have nearly popped the the next upslope, or at least the part to get up to the Vance CL.  However, as I started up from the bottom, thinking to use "that gear" that Aggs had mentioned earlier, I realized that the entire crew was hooked on, with the "Evil Smitty" on my wheel.  I did the smart thing.  I sat up.  Made Smitty do his own upslope work. 

Some more flattish stuff with LT, Duke and I bring up the rear.  A nice little creek valley before Bobbitt.  The crew did not know which way to go -- therefore I got in the lead again, headed toward Gill, but I did not push my pace.  I was soon back at the back, again with LT and the Duke.  A nice gentle slow rise it is from Bobbitt to Gill -- a place to enjoy being on the bike. 

We weren't far behind when we got to Gill, but apparently were just far enough behind that the front-runners had had time to huddle in the shade of a building at Gill.  I could smell the barn -- or at least Community House Rd -- and saw no reason to stop.  I did pick it up slightly on the the mile run on Raleigh Rd (US-1-Bus.) up to Bearpond.  I think everyone was back together by the end of that mile.  If not, surely they were back on as we waited for the stoplight to change.  Smitty and Robert and I took good pulls across Lynnbank Rd.  When I was in front, I had a flashback to the Kerr Lake Loop from Jul-03 last year.  I called back to those behind me asking if we were all together, was everyone with us, I think I had to use a third way of asking the question before I got an answer.  The answer:  we are all here.  I pulled out leaving the lead to Aggs (must have been his one and only pull of the day from the razzing he was taking from the front-runners), told him it was a short mile to Community House Rd, and started drifting to the back of the line -- counting cyclists.  There should have been seven -- there were only FIVE.  Aargh!!

I immediately went to soft-pedaling.  I had been looking forward to the reactions of the others when we turned onto Community House Rd -- I had also been looking forward to bombing down to Ruin Creek.  Some things are more important.  I pulled over into the shade at the corner (Floytan Crossroads, btw).  Levi and Scott had slowed some before the turn, and when they realized I had stopped and gotten off my bike back at the corner, they turned around and rode back UP to meet me.  Good thing, too (read on for why). 

Just as Levi and Scott got to me, I spied the Duke coming on Lynnbank Rd.  Then came Lt. Dave.  Dave had apparently started bonking near Bobbitt, and the ensuing 5 or 6 miles had not been fun for him.  Levi had various kinds of "cyclist food", and pushed a fair range of stuff onto Dave, who readily accepted and ate.  After a few minutes, Dave remounted and pushed off, followed by Levi and Scott, then the Duke, then me. 

Levi, Scott and Dave were out of sight almost immediately.  They pulled further ahead on the climb back out of the valley -- the bottom part of that climb is rather steep, but it doesn't last very long.  After the climb shallowed out, I slowly closed up to the Duke and we rode on enjoying the mostly flat terrain now presenting itself on Community House Rd, and the even flatter stuff on Old Watkins Rd.  I checked my avg pace when I got to Old Watkins -- 15.5 mph.  I was ready to go "all out" the last few miles to try to get to 15.6 mph.  

But then Bob and I realized that we were slowly -- then not-so-slowly -- catching Dave; we made a plan to sandwich him and try to help him on the last few flat miles to VGCC.  14 was too fast -- 12 was too fast -- maybe 10 was too fast part of the time.  I tried to convince Dave that it was flat the rest of the way, but he was convinced we were approaching VGCC from the north, not the south, and was convinced there was another tough climb to negotiate.  As Dave will say, after 35 years of riding, he knows what he needs to do to finish, but in this case he was over-estimating the challenge of the terrain.  It was probably just as well he was over-estimating the terrain because he had a dizzy and chilly spell just after turning onto Poplar Creek.  Dave might kick my butt for writing the above, but it was clearly the turn for Bob and I to help him home; he has certainly helped each of us home often enough.  (Not to mention driving 70+ miles to fetch me from the midst of my "Chuck Berry" episode on my failed 600k some six weeks ago.)

Watermelon must have super recuperative powers.  Soon after arriving at VGCC, Dave cleaned up a bit and brought a water melon out of his ice cold cooler, and a knife, and soon served each of us a nice, cold, wet piece of watermelon.

I had been wondering what a "watermelon ride" was. 

VGCC: Dabney-Drewry-Warrenton-Vicksboro-Epsom-Bobbitt-Bearpond-CommunityHouseRd; 73.0 m.; 4hrs, 43min; 15.4 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _4 rides; __246.6 m.; _15 hrs, 35 min; 15.8 mph.
YTD tot: 51 rides; 3,448.1 m.; 227 hrs, 43 min; 15.1 mph. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jul-04: Sometimes, It Is Almost Still My Solo Ride

I probably shouldn't post the following. 
But I'm tired of having essentially the same conversation every few months.
Today, it probably would have been better if I'd been riding solo.

The group ride was great.
The post-ride ultimatum -- there is no other word for a declarative demand -- the post-ride ultimatum was not.
Although this is essentially similar to previous "issues", this is the first time I was told point-blank what I could-not do. 
A sample of previous complaints:

We ride too early.
We don't ride early enough.

The rides are too long.
The rides are not long enough.

The rides are too slow.
The rides are too fast (sometimes / frequently, my opinion, btw).

We ride the same-old-same-old routes.
We ride too many different routes.

Almost all the above have been resolved in the same manner ... I make ME happy.
Now I have been told I can't use New Light Rd.
It was not even phrased in the form of a suggestion, a query, or a question.

In response, I expect that the following are the type routes we'll be riding in the weeks to come: 

Middleburg 100-miler (I don't have a map -- but may make one -- it shares a point with the following).
Stagecoach Express
Denny's Store Rd
Shoofly Don't Bother Me
BR1-Dabney-Watkins-GrayRock 'n FlatRock Rds
Dyking 'n Peach Orchard Rds
A "Long Mill" Ride, i.e., The "Bonk" Route
LT's Short Hill Fun

The Assault on Flat Rock,
the 12-CLs in 32-miles route,

and routes built on the following:
Youngsville-LizardLick 'n more
Rambling NorthEast of Youngsville
Yes, New Light Rd has a lot of issues.
So does Kemp.
And Olive Branch between Carpenter Pond and Doc Nichols.
Doc Nichols is quite rough and is rapidly developing issues.
Virgil is rough AND has a lot of bad places on the verge of becoming really bad.
Carpenter Pond has quite a few poorly patched potholes and rough spots, and holes.

Yes, New Light is currently worse than any of the others.
But take away all the roads with obnoxious pot-holes and rough spots, and ...
There is virtually nothing left to ride.
As I have said and written before:
No one HAS to ride with me.
If you don't like when or where I'm going ... ride elsewhere.
It is no skin off my nose.

But don't EVER spring "support of my children", or any other "I'm special", on me.
Other people have children, and are special, too.
And I might be a major support for just as many or more, and younger, children.
They might not be my offspring, but blood of my siblings is my blood.

I am a nice guy, as was my father, but I am my father's son.
And he had a real temper when roused, and a long memory.
Don't piss me off.  I don't like me when I'm pissed off.  You probably won't, either.
If you want to form your own group, and ride where you want, when you want, with whom you want, even poaching some or all the "Irregulars", please do.

But don't rain on my happy recreation time.

PUE: Patterson-Creedmoor-Stem-LittleMtnRd-Hester-Wilton-Grissom; 64.0 m.; 4hrs, 10min; 15.3 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _3 rides; __173.6 m.; _10 hrs, 52 min; 15.9 mph.
YTD tot: 50 rides; 3,375.1 m.; 223 hrs, 00 min; 15.1 mph.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jul-03: "The Dragon"

0530.  What is that damn noise?  Crap!  It is the alarm on my watch.  I'm late!  Very late.
0535.  En route.  No breakfast.  No bananas.  No apples.  No nothing eaten or to be eaten.
0549.  Arrival at PUE.  Smitty asks "what's the hurry?  Gary won't be here until 5 after."  My response, "well, I'm going to be on the road by then."
0554.  Gary and Wendy arrive.
0556.  Eight ounces of chocolate milk will have to suffice for breakfast and pre-ride energy drink.
0559.  Helmet and everything in place.
0600.  "Hey, Smitty, not bad, eh, 30 minutes from sound asleep to ready to ride."
0600, and 10 seconds.  "Oops, I better put some chamois butt'r in some crucial places."
0605.  "Hey, Smitty, not bad, eh, 35 minutes from sound asleep to ready to ride."

Introductions at a fast pace.  No one probably picked up on any names of people they didn't already know.  Remember, "I start slowly; especially today."  Ride safely!  Let's go.

0607 or 08.  Into the cool, approx 60F morning.  It did feel more than chilly on the MVC downslope.
0609.  Crap!  I forgot to put the money in the saddle bag.  I stop on the downslope.  Several tell me "I got money." 
0610.  At the bottom of MVC, the crew throws away much momentum.  I, being a fat-gutted non-cliimber, do not, and shoot around everyone just after crossing the creek.  Everyone probably thought that was my move to re-establish early control of the pace.  Possibly true; but more the result of adrenaline.

No one tries to take the lead on the MVC climb, or the flat, or on Carpenter Pond -- at least for a while.  Eventually, some come around and take the lead on Carpenter Pond or DocNichols or ... somewhere.  Dennis comes up along side and says "the early pace is more reasonable this week with you here."  I did not respond "I yell louder than Iva."  I should have -- that would have been more humorous than whatever lame comment I made -- probably something about they pay more attention because I make the cue sheets, and perhaps worry that one day, if irked, I might take them into unknown territory, drop them off my front, and make a sudden turn and get-away. 

Some parts of DocNichols were smack into the blinding morning sun.  The crew did a good job of spreading out and giving each other LOTS of room; everyone did a good job of riding a straight line.

East onto NC-98.  More blinding sun.  Everyone using one hand as a visor to block the sun from shining directly into their eyes.  Everyone safely off NC-98 onto Baptist.  (Well, not everyone.  At the pause at the DocN / OliveBranch corner, Norris, Robert and Tito left early to ride ahead to water their favorite fauna.  Apparently no one paid attention to the cue sheet Robert had with him.  That three some never saw Baptist Rd or Southview Rd or Kemp Rd; they did get more than their fair share of Patterson, though.)

Baptist Rd, heading for Southview.  More blinding sun -- but at least the angles were not as blinding as earlier.  We turned onto the blinding sun induced mirage of Southview Rd -- oh, good, it is not a mirage.  Since Southview was paved for its entire distance several months ago, it makes an excellent part of any ride.  I wonder what the people that live on it think. 

A couple short climbs on Kemp, then we zoom west on NC-98 to Patterson.  A word on the stoplight at NC-98 / Patterson:  always remember that there is a Durham Sheriff's office next to Neal School and I have seen cyclists pulled over for running the light there -- therefore, always stop.  Bap-view Circle done. 

Patterson / Cheek.  No recollections.  Wait.  Norris pulled the fast crew ahead.  Smitty used the lead-out to take the CL at the "bridge-proper".  Right turn after the "lake" crossing.  No slowing by the fast crew.  They didn't even miss the turn onto Boyce Rd -- I always enjoy it when they ride straight for the boat launch area instead of making that turn.  Across Boyce -- no slowing by the fast crew.  However, Smitty had stopped to examine the flora, and that likely helped Robert catch the entire fast crew unawares (Robert told me some miles later that he had managed to "take" a CL -- I asked if he "snuck away" for it, out-sprinted the rest, or if they weren't paying attention -- his response "oh, good grief, I wouldn't be able to outsprint them; they just weren't paying attention.")

The whole crew was assembled at Will Suitt / US-15, apparently debating which way to go.  As Wendy and I reached the corner, I manouevered to slide by onto US-15 on the inside.  Lee called out "do you want to go straight?"  I called back "I want to go this way."  I did not look back.  I didn't slow either.  The pattern had been set; I knew the fast crew would catch and pass; the only thing saving me would be that they might not be sure of where to go.

Northside loop done.  Immediately onto Strawberry loop.  A couple nice little, semi-tough climbs.  This time, upon reaching US-15, there was no confusion.  Darn.  Strawberry loop done.

Onto Northside Rd for the run into Creedmoor.  Apparently people do look at the cue sheet(s) enough to figure out the Refueling Stops.  Hmmn.

De-watered.  Re-watered.  Onward.

Robert and I were first onto Dove Rd.  I think this is where Robert told me about collecting the CL.  We rode on for about a mile or more, everyone tacked on.  Then I said to Robert "let's have some fun", and picked up the pace.  "County Line" asked Robert?  "Nope.  Poppers."  Some day I hope to pop, or at least climb at pace, that last long climb on Dove before Whitt.

I tried to time my catching the group so that I could zoom by on the inside of the turn onto Whitt and steal the CL.  I did not have the timing right.  Plus, both Tito and Dennis were too lazy to make the turn properly into the far lane; thus I was cut off, anyway.  Onto Old Weaver.  Creedmoor-Dove loop done.

Silliest comment of the day occurred on Old Weaver as we crossed the lake headed for Beaver Dam Rd.  Gary relayed Dennis's comment that, with only 41 miles so far, there was no way we could get 64+ miles out of the route.  I told Gary to tell Dennis that I could easily get another 40 out of the route without missing a beat.  Wendy piped up that she and Gary had told Dennis "you don't know Martin."

Up Beaver Dam.  The fast crew disappeared again.  Was there a fire somewhere?  I assured Dennis and Wendy that they would most likely be waiting at the church at the top of Rock Springs Ch Rd.  They were. 

I relayed the concern that Dennis had expressed, and asked if anyone wanted to do Bold Run Hill Rd, and then circle back and still do Mangum Dairy, from a dead stop, without replicating any roads.  No takers.  Dennis allowed as how he was now willing to acknowledge that the route could easily be 64+ miles. 

Bold Run Hill Rd and circle back for Mangum Dairy.  Hmmn.  A parital routing for a "Shadow Ride" one day. 

Smitty clearly wanted to sprint for the CL where Lawrence Rd becomes Mangum Dairy.  I gave him a little faux competiton.  Then we both zoomed down the rest of the downslope become downhill.  First bump -- nothing to write home about.  Around a corner, and in Robert's words "oh, that's why everyone slowed down."  Except that, now from the lantern rouge position, the only one that seemed to slow, and be "Draggin' his butt" up the climb was Norris. 

On to Purnell.  Norris terrain on the run across to Woodlief.  Except that Tito and Norris again appeared to ignore Robert's cue sheet -- Robert seemed to ignore it also.  Hey, the climb on Woodlief is at least as "interesting" as the climb on Purnell, and with a whole lot LESS traffic.  Gary went up to have fun with the fast crew, leaving Wendy to find her own pace up; I slowed slightly to make sure I could see Wendy in my mirror, or over my shoulder, so that she would not feel totally abandoned.  The crew reassembled at New Light.  I commented that it looked as if I would have to increase the length of the rides to attempt to slow some of the fast crew.  :-o  "The Milk Run" loop done.

NOW, it was my turn to use the after-burners.  In the early days of the Irregulars, Frank used to dread the section from Grissom to the bottom of Ghoston.  I determined to give a good go at reproducing.  At the first "bump-up" before Holly Point, Smitty, Robert, Tito and Levi came around -- and instantly were not taking advantage of the "bump-down" before the last "bump-up".  I yelled, quite assertively "do NOT slow down."  More than once, I yelled, as I was boxed in.  Somehow, maybe because Lee had not quite closed up, I was able to get to the double-yellow lines, and ... fun-time-of-fun-time ... at 25 mph up that last "bump-up", I put Lee, Levi, Robert, Tito and Smitty behind me.  I couldn't hold them off all the way to the bottom of Ghoston, but ... the fat-gut that did those brevets soft-pedaling, can, at selected times, make the bike "GO!"  What fun!

I took it easy on Ghoston -- Dennis caught me and mentioned that he had tried to catch us all on New Light, but been unable to do so.  Then he motored on ahead looking for the fast crew.  I waited for Gary and Wendy at the turn onto Peed for about a minute, and then decided that they had probably taken the wimpy way (New Light to Six Forks), so I went on.  (When Gary showed at PUE without Wendy, I knew that she had decided to get in an additional 10 miles or so by riding home.)

I was done with my ride by 1045.  Lee, who rode from home, probably was done a few minutes after that.  Everyone from the fast crew was probably done by about 1035 or 1040.  VERY nice to get in a good, pretty long ride, and be done BEFORE 1100. 
The cast today was:  Norris, Smitty, Levi, Lee, Tito, Robert, Gary, Wendy, Dennis, me.

PUE:  "The Dragon" (see the map roll to the right); 64.7 m.; 4hrs, 1min; 16.1 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _2 rides; __109.6 m.; __6 hrs, 42 min; 16.3 mph.
YTD tot: 49 rides; 3,311.1 m.; 218 hrs, 50 min; 15.1 mph. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jul-02: The Glorious 2nd of July

I don't know what the temperatures were this morning, but it was glorious.
I don't know what the humidity was this morning, but is was glorious.
There was just the right amount of sunshine, and it was glorious.
I know where three guys rode, and how fast, and how much they enjoyed the morning,
And there is only one phrase to describe it all:
It was glorious.

The Mallet, Aggs and I met at BJP for an 0800 wheels-away.  Well, Aggs arrived at 0801, mentioning that some advantages of an 0600 wheels-away were that no neighbors were up that early to talk to him and that there was no traffic from house to ride at the earlier hour.  We were wheels-away at 0807, by my watch.  (We had expected two more, but I later found an e-mail with a Thursday night time-stamp of 11:43 pm, informing they were "out".  Must be taking lessons from the Duke, who has been known to send me e-mails time stamped at 2 or 3 a.m. changing his status from "in" to "out".)

The weather was fantastic, er, glorious!  Did I mention that? 

The Mallet, having ridden about 9 miles to the ride, was warmed up.  Neither Aggs nor I were warmed up.  Aggs claimed to be suffering from "tennis legs" from late the night before.  I was suffering from my usual "I take forever to warm up" combined with "I rode pretty hard on Wednesday" (not that I'd want to mention that on Wednesday I rode faster than I had EVER done before for a ride of more than 19 miles). 

I eventually mostly warmed up; but I had forced my pace prior to feeling mostly warmed up.  Aggs's legs eventually came around, I think; but he was the smarter one and made good use of either me or the Mallet or both to lead the way the entire ride.  I was not always so smart as to make the Mallet do all the work.

We had a great ride in great conditions.  We got chased by no dogs.  We saw at least two deer cross the road not far ahead of us.  We only saw about five other cyclists during our ride -- one was Jim W. (a non-IR with whom I've ridden a few times) who found us in the BJP parking lot after our ride; Jim was tooling about on his fixie.  Either Paul or John appreciated the pond on Coley just after turning off Carpenter Pond; it does make a nice sight on a non-humid and slightly cooler morning.  The farmsteads on lower Coley looked particularly nice in the non-humid, slightly cooler conditions.  That obnoxious little black dog that lives on lower Coley never showed himself, despite the fact that we rode past his house four times. 

The only disappointment flora / fauna-wise was that on Wednesday I had seen a large mother turkey and her one (no longer quite a) chick in tow on ___ (redacted so that the hunters have to find the turks all on their own), but today, no turks.

I am looking forward to tomorrow's ride.  The conditions are supposed to be about the same as they were this morning.
The title of this entry is appropriate given the conditions this morning, etc..  But also, one of our threesome does not celebrate "Independence Day".  However, he should recognize that the title of this entry is based on a particular incident in the semi-recent (a little over 200 years ago) history of his native land.  If he doesn't, they may be revoking his birth certificate.

BJP: Norwood-OldCreedmoor-Coley-DocN-Kemp-Virgil-Coley; 44.9 m.; 2hrs, 41min; 16.7 mph. 

Q-1 tot: 16 rides; __938.2 m.; _60 hrs, 39 min; 15.5 mph.
Q-2 tot: 31 rides; 2,263.3 m.; 151 hrs, 29 min; 14.9 mph.
Ju1 tot: _1 rides; ___44.9 m.; __2 hrs, 41 min; 16.7 mph.
YTD tot: 48 rides; 3,246.4 m.; 214 hrs, 49 min; 15.1 mph.