Thursday, March 31, 2011

John 6951

The third Irregular to actually join RUSA learned his # yesterday.  6951.  He signed up for three years ... and he hasn't even done a single "sample" brevet or anything ... that indicates more optimism than even Ricochet.  I never would have guessed THAT.  

In approximately 50 weeks (using my # as the base), 733 people have joined RUSA.  I wonder how many are still members.  (It is possible to determine that from certain files one can access from the RUSA website ... but I haven't endeavored to determine.)

I predict that John will become known in NC rando circles as "JohnA" ... there is already a JohnO and a JohnP that I know (or know of). 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mar-29: Showdown in Black Creek 204 km Permanent

Another One Bites The Dust

Also C-13.
M-25 was earlier in the month.
Still P-0, though.
Quite foggy near the Neuse River, Wakefield and the start of the "Showdown in Black Creek" Permanent.  I decided to hold off starting to let some of the fog burn off.  Got a receipt from the McD's at 8:15, but held off actually starting until 8:35.  However, after covering (mostly climbing) the mile or so to get to Falls of the Neuse Rd next to the high school, I found the fog was still quite THICK.  Despite having two rear blinkies (one continuous, one blinking), I was wondering if the overtaking traffic would / could see me.  Only one fool gave the double-yellow more respect than s/he gave me; everyone else gave me plenty of room.  I wondered how long this fog would last.  Suddenly, as I cleared the golf course, it was as if I had gone through a door into a different room; there was only bright sunshine. 

Just east of Youngsville, I temporarily lost the bright sunshine as a thin overcast moved in from the south.  When the sunshine disappeared, it instantly felt about 5 or 10 degrees cooler.  I looked around at the sky and what appeared to be an increasing overcast, and thought, "great, there goes my pleasant, sunny day."  However, thirty minutes later I was back in the bright sunshine, which lasted all the rest of the day.  In fact, at one point during the return, I looked around the entire sky and to each horizon ... there was not even a hint of a cloud in sight.

Between Youngsville and Wilson, there seemed to be fewer cars on the road on this Tuesday than there usually seems on a Saturday or a Sunday.  Whether that is because of commuting and traveling patterns, or because of the increasing price of gas, I can't guess.

On the other hand, there were more dogs loose and taking an interest in me than I recall from Saturday and Sunday rides on the "Showdown".  Approaching "Jim Ray X-Rds" [I assure the non-locals that the official green NC DOT sign for the "town", "village", "community", "cross-roads", whatever actually "says" "Jim Ray X-Rds"], there was one dog following behind and beside, making quite a racket, and there were two dogs standing on the road between me and the stop sign at "Jim Ray X-Rds"; then the two ahead of me came running my way ... one of them a pit bull ... needless to write, I would not want to get bitten by a pit bull!!  (At least the pit wasn't a real fighter ... it had a full length tail.)  However, the two dogs that had come running toward me moved off into the ditch as the distance between us closed, and they never showed any inclination to chase or get close to me on the road. 

I wondered what would happen when I got to Frazier Rd and the dog that I had kicked in the head in mid-February.  I needn't have worried outbound -- the animal was busy with its family alongside the house.  However, homeward bound was another story.  I had forgotten about the dog as I was enjoying a bit of a following breeze, when suddenly, the large, long-haired menace was running directly at me, only about 20 or 25 degrees off from coming straight at me; my first thought upon seeing the large menace racing directly toward me was ... bleep; but that was followed instantaneously with anger and "I'm going to knock your block off!"  (I have found that since Aug-08 last year (see the paragraphs after the first break) I get suddenly and uncharacteristically angry and ready to be aggressive when menaced by a dog.)  I'm not sure what happened, but I never had to unclip to prepare to kick, and I was past the dog.

I arrived at Black Creek Grocery at 12:50.  I was pleased.  4h, 1m of in-motion time in only 4h, 15m of actual elapsed clock time.  I had been 9 minutes at the Kwik Pik control, and the other 6 minutes had been eaten by various stop-lights -- particularly the lights at NC-98, US-1, in Youngsville near the police station,  the light at US-401, and the couple lights "sliding" past the west edge of Wilson.  I'm getting better about not wasting time at controls.  Actually, I have always made quick stops when riding solo.  It is when I'm with others, either Irregulars or randos, that the-pause-to-refresh sometimes becomes the stop-and-chat-and-chat-and-chat.  Don't get me wrong ... I enjoy a slightly prolonged stop in a heated store when its freezing outside as much as anybody ... maybe more.

Anyway, I noted the time when I arrived at Black Creek Grocery, removed gloves, helmet, unzipped, and went to the door.  Surprise!  Mickey had taped a note to the door:  "Store will open at 3 today.  Mickey."  MikeD had anticipated that BryanR and I might encounter a similar situation when we had done this route in February, and that time he'd told us to note the name and address of the business next door; that is what Bryan and I had done.  So ... that's what I did again.  But I had been looking forward to a nice refreshing, energy drink ("Pepsi") for quite a few miles.  Instead, I ate a couple sandwiches I had packed and drank the rest of my first bottle of fluids, maybe a bit more.  (I had two large bottles and two small bottles with me; you may be interested to know that I finished all four bottles just before getting back to the finish ... i.e., my fluid intake increased on the homeward leg.)

The breeze / wind was confusing me on Boswell, Quaker/Lamm roads on the return leg.  Sometimes I clearly had a following (southerly) breeze, and other times the building breeze was clearly in my face.  [Boswell and Quaker/Lamm run essentially true north/south, and on the return leg, one is headed north.]  Just before reaching Hornes Ch Rd (NC Bike Route #2) for the turn to the west, I went past a flag proudly indicating a pretty good breeze coming from the southwest.  At Hornes Church, the house just north of the intersection was flyng a flag, and it indicated a paltry breeze from the northeast.  A few miles up the road, I went past someone burning leaves; the smoke clearly indicated I had a mostly following breeze.  A few mile further along, I think I bid adieu to any more following breezes and dealt with breezes slowly building into a slight wind from the southwest, i.e., not the helpful east (following) breezes that had been forecast for the entire afternoon. 

I did another quick 8 or 9 minute stop at the Kwik Pik control.  But ~ 12 miles later, I stopped in Pine Ridge (or atop Pine Ridge, if you prefer) to mix up more "koolaid", eat a little, and stretch / rest my lower back.  A building pain in my lower back / tailbone area is always a sure sign that I'm pushing my pace a bit.  7 minutes in Pine Ridge ... I felt refreshed for the next 16-18 miles to Youngsville and the final 13 miles from Youngsville to the finish. 

I was never cold on the bike the entire day (after the first few miles / probably after turning off Jackson onto Holden Road -- those that have done the route will understand), but I never felt warm on the bike, either (except when climbing on Holden Rd, late in the ride, up to the turn onto Jackson ... I was in direct sunshine, and the hill and the trees completely blocked the breeze).  I would say that I felt "cool" all day when riding.  It was warm enough, though, that although I never produced any real sweat, my tops were beyond damp when I finished.

It was nice to finish a 200k ride with some panache.  I reached the McD's at 5:32 pm ... so my actual elapsed clock time was 8h,57m (8h,4m in-motion).  I got a receipt and my control card signed at 5:34 ... official elapsed clock time was therefore 9h,34m.  That squeezes out last November's "Dean 10k KLL" (also click here for some more photos from that ride) for my second fastest ever "200k".  (Maybe several weeks away from rando 200k rides has been good for me.)
The sub-title "Another One Bites the Dust" ... is because that is what was playing loudly enough on the radio inside Black Creek Grocery that I could easily hear it while eating my lunch seated outside the store.  (I found a you-tube video of the song, but ... decided to leave musical postings to MikeD over on Research Trailer Park (that's my story ... and I'm sticking to it).)
Before I conclude with my usual "numbers" bit, here are some other interesting numbers from my cycling stats so far this year:

Fast rides:
 ____date___miles _hrs _avg mph

max _Mar 29 127.0 _8.1 __15.7
_2 __Mar 26 _55.7 _3.5 __15.7
_3 __Mar 20 _73.7 _4.7 __15.7
_4 __Mar 25 _78.0 _5.0 __15.6

If you are thinking that the above indicates that this "Showdown" ride is my fastest in-motion moving avg ride so far this year ... then you are understanding the above.

If you are also thinking that my next three fastest in-motion rides so far this year are the three rides immediately preceding this "Showdown" ... then you are completely understanding the above.

Showdown in Black Creek 204 km Permanent; 127.0 m.; 8 hrs, 4 min in-motion; 15.7 mph; official rando time:  9 hrs, 34 min. elapsed clock time.

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
YTD tot: _23 rides; _1822.2 m.; 123 hrs, 03 min; 14.8 mph.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mar-26: An Astronomical Phenomenon

It was supposed to start raining today around 11 am or noon.  Therefore, we "went short", doing one of the old Irregular basic routes that we used to do quite a bit:  Creedmoor-Grissom 47-miler.
Smitty called me at 7:30 or 7:35 to tell me that his car battery was dead, and that he wished he had just decided to ride his bike to the ride start.  I told him that I thought that instead of doing the Creedmoor-Grissom route that we might stay closer to PUE by doing Carpenter Pond road and "loops" off of it; so that if decided to ride out that way, or drive out that way, he could probably find us.  As I write this, I don't know what he decided to do, but I hope he didn't waste any time searching for us on Carpenter Pond Rd because I was unanimously outvoted when I suggested the idea.  (So much for my hope to concentrate on "cadence, cadence, cadence" after LT had reduced my legs to rubble the day before.)

We're going to have to institute a "Snapper-like teaching moment" on Tito.  By which I mean that Snapper used to always be the one to be late, until we started riding one day on time and he wasn't ready; since then, Snapper, when he shows, is always ready on time.  Seems time to implement the same strategy on Tito.

Richochet was there, receiving congratulations from many on completing a 600 km brevet last weekend.  The Mallet greeted me, referring to me as "Dr. Frankenstein" because of the "monster" we have created.  Approaching Creedmoor later in the ride, BobH told me that, when he saw the article on Richochet's 600, he was convinced we had gotten the distance wrong.  As Bob said, "200k, okay, not that much more than 100-miles; 300k, okay, he could see that; but 400 or 600 k ... that's just crazy."

Despite Smitty essentially being a no-show, we were still 10-strong today (I think, I never took a head-count; not a very good "leadership" there; but as I told one person earlier in the week, The Irregulars don't really need a "leader", and most of the crew today certainly seemed to be of that mind because "Rule #3" was respected by a bare few, at most).  It got worse after the Mallet turned off to go short.  Btw, thanks to Lee for being sure I knew that Paul was shorting the route.

Ricochet decided to stir up the action while going across Falls Lake headed for the CL.  The Mallet and I were leading, having a nice conversation.  Ricochet and Tito were behind us, and they had been having a nice conversation, but Ricochet decided to stir the pot, pick up the pace, and act like he was going to try to sneak off for the CL.  He elbowed his way between the Mallet and me (actually, he announced his intention to come through, so we (mostly Paul) created room), then the Mallet and Tito took positions 2 and 3 in line; I took fourth.  However, I decided to show-off a little bit, and show Ricochet what it might take to zoom ahead for that CL, so I picked up the cadence and went around all three, and when I pulled in front of Robert, intending to keep the pace at that even higher plateau, around came Paul and then Tito, and inexplicably Robert; I decided to let them go.  If true to usual form, Paul "the Mallet" should have taken the CL in front of Tito -- Paul is better placed on the timeline, btw, by 24 years. 

I caught up to Robert to have a quiet discussion with him, suggesting how to take the next CL.  However, I suspect that Ags could hear.  I also thought that Lee could hear, but he later told me that he had not overheard the strategy session.  Part of the strategy that I didn't get to explain to Robert was that it is necessary to get the faster guys mixed in with the slower guys, all enmeshed in deep conversation, so that they do not notice the "sneak away."  Instead, Robert took off up the hill and ... got all the fast guys "on their toes" so-to-speak.  I thought we still had a chance to pull off a sneak-away CL for Robert, but just after I told him to "go like hell" (about 100 yards before the CL), around came Ags like he was shot out of a cannon.  Foiled.

I was dropped by the group on the approach to Creedmoor.  Actually, BobH was also sort of dropped, sort of decided to just ride into Creedmoor with me.  I hadn't figured we needed a stop on a 47-mile route when temps were below 50 F, and there was a chilly wind ... but there was most of the crew, milling about at the BP station.  BobH and I joined them (somehow IvaHawk had ended up with Bob and me despite the fact that he'd been 1/2 a mile up the road with the hammers (?)); but Tito and Norris and Bob and Norris guest John were missing. Okay, so we're stopped, and then certain muscles begin to relax, and ... I needed to visit the throne.  I knew it would be several minutes; plus, with bibs on, I practically had to disrobe. 

When I re-appeared, four of the crew had already left, and the remaining five were impatient.  Robert was the only one that waited until I was actually on my bike.  Then Ricochet was anxious to instantly re-attach to the wheels of the other four.  I wasn't going to waste any "re-warming energy" on the up-and-down bumps within the limits of Creedmoor because there was a good mile-and-a-half downslope upon which to catch the impatient ones.  Robert commented, "I know you aren't worried, but I don't have a downslope advantage."  Ricochet immediately re-attached to the impatient four.  I took my time and cautiously wound up the flywheel -- and a third of a mile before the bottom of the downslope, I went around all five as if they were barely moving.  They recaught me and passed on the immediately following UP -- just as I knew they would.

The lead two of the impatient five re-attached to the up-the-road four, and ... the next upslope on Brassfield Rd, leading up to Pope Rd, is my kind of slope.  I didn't go up it as quickly as last time, but I wound-up my momentum to build to re-catch of the entire crew.  I caught the three closest and went around, and continued to increase the flywheel momentum ... catching the leading six before the bottom of the downslope on Horseshoe Rd and flying past them at 30 mph.  Lee started laughing. 

The next immediate UP is the little brother of the UP on Lawrence Rd; I knew they would all pass me again: they did.  I couldn't regather enough flywheel momentum to recatch before Lawrence Rd.  The entire crew was waiting there, and I rolled cautiously through and past, hearing Robert call out to the rest, "you were right."  I chuckled. 

I let the big-mo build on the downslope on Lawrence, and conserved it as best I could once the steep UP started, but everyone immediately passed me.  Some semi-waited at Bruce Garner, but I was alone as I started building flywheel momentum for the 6.6-mile "traditional TT" to the bottom of Ghoston.  As I passed IvaHawk, I said "let's go get 'em."  He attached to me.  We slowly reeled in Bob and Norris's guest John, encouraging him to attach.  We were still gaining ground on the lead seven.

However, by the time we got to the last CL of the day (where Bruce Garner goes in to Wake County and becomes New Light Rd), I knew we were not going to catch them -- too many fresh, fast legs working together (at PUE, Tito opined "that everyone was in a hurry so we could be sure to beat the rain").  And ... slowly ... the lead seven exhibited a "red shift" effect ... and ... then ... they were out of sight.  John and Iva gave me a moment or two respite; but BG / NL is "my road", and although extremely doubtful we would catch them, I kept the pressure on the pedals.  Norris was waiting for us opposite the church; we went past at 31 mph, but soon Norris went past me -- he had John in tow. 

We four took it relatively easy on Ghoston and Peed and MVC.  (I took it the easiest.)

Arriving at PUE, Lee had headed straight for home (he had ridden to the ride), but everyone else was milliing about, packing up to head for home.  Robert explained that Ags is joining RUSA -- I can't take any credit for that -- all credit to Robert and Ags -- Ags is sending in his RUSA membership application today.  Also, Tito may be doing the Morrisville brevet next weekend.  Four Irregulars at the brevet next week; three may be RUSA members by then (two for sure).
Ricochet Robert provided a link to his Garmin stats.

--> PUE:  Creedmoor-Grissom -->; 55.7 m.; 3 hrs, 32 min in-motion; 15.7 mph.
(I finished the "core route" with an avg of 16.0 mph; G-P-MVC having knocked 0.3 mph off the avg.  First ride of the month that was less than 100k.  Still no 200k rides this month.)

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __7 rides; __417.8 m.; _27 hrs, 02 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _21 rides; _1695.2 m.; 114 hrs, 59 min; 14.7 mph.
Btw, as I finish the edits on this post, it is 3:45 pm, and it has still not begun to rain.  So much for the "weather liars".

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mar-25: LT and the Long Mill Bonk Route

Background story

Lt. Dave, heading to the (expected to be very rainy) western NC mountains this weekend for family business, wanted to get in a ride on Friday in order to minimize the potential "lost weekends" leading up to his Hanging Rock festival and the Raven Rock Ramble 100-miler.  After much agonizing over potential courses (not really), we chose the route indicated in the map above.

I arrived upon my steed at LT's at 0700; we enjoyed an excellent breakfast prepared by Laurie (thanks, Laurie) and started our "Bonk Ride" at 0745. 

Traffic northbound on Six Forks / New Light / Bruce Garner was light, and only one a-hole made an appearance on that stretch.  I would refer to her as a jerk, but honking her horn at us to express her displeasure (and apparently expecting us to drive into the ditch) combined with giving us a one-finger salute ... that is beyond "jerk".

The valley of Bold Run Hill Rd was nice, but chilly.  The deer carcass cemetery that was Green Rd a couple months ago has been cleaned up ... whether by vultures, dogs, coyotes or humans (or a combination of all) we could not guess.  We noted Bert Winston Rd as we sped past on Long Mill Rd ... and gave a quick glance at the easily seen llamas at the Llama House at Pokomoke Rd.  Dave noticed that it appears that very nice pasture across from the llama house is about to become a housing development ... the loss of that very nice sloping pasture will be a shame. 

Across NC-56 and onto Mt. Olivet Ch Rd, it was still completely overcast and chilly.  We agreed that we each had thought that we were undertaking an early spring ride, with slowly rising temperatures under at least partially sunny skies, but we were experiencing a late winter ride with stagnant temps and overcast.  (Apologies to any readers from further north -- I am originally from NW Illinois, and if I were still there, today's north-central NC weather would have seemed very enjoyable -- but ... the azaleas are blooming and the oak trees are leafing ... it should have been warmer than 45 F for the entire ride.

Green Hill Rd --> Charlie Grissom Rd, and we again did not sprint for a CL, but simply rode through (a pattern that occured at all 7 CL's:  1) Wake into Granville, 2) into Wake, 3) into Granville again, 4) into Franklin, 5) into Vance, 6) into Granville again, and finally 7) into Wake.  Turn onto Fairport Rd, again not CL action; then a pause in a church parking lot in Fairport to eat a quick bite, then on again.

Onto Bike Route #1 on Cannady Mill Rd, across the Tar River and climb up to Philo White Rd.  Turn left; immediately down-and-up, then across to Flat Rock Rd.  Left onto Flat Rock, across Grove Hill Rd, down 1.4 miles into a headwind down into the valley, then up (but I decided to back-off the effort) 1.4 miles out of the valley to Grove Hill Rd, again.  Turn right, cross NC-56, zig-zag, past the Western Wear store, then up Wayside Farm Rd to Bruce Garner Rd.

A stop on BG; LT tossed a lost Christmas tree off the road and into the ditch.  Resume the quick pace set by LT.  After the Wake CL, I took over the pace-setting on New Light (I had inadequate legs to give it the usual "homeward-bound pace").  "Ghoston or straight", I asked.  "Ghoston", replied Dave. 

Up Ghoston with some panache for me; Dave rode my pace.  Across to and down Peed; UP the steep, across the slightly more than a false flat; left onto MVC, zoom down to the bottom, take it easy going up.  Turn right and finish somewhat easy, somewhat pushing it to LT's. 

70 miles in 4 hours, 35 minutes elapsed time.  I thought I'd get bonus points for getting Dave home early.  Instead I lost bonus points for getting Dave home "too early".  Laurie had just put lunch in the oven and it wouldn't be ready for another half-hour.  Oh, well.

Lunch.  Thank-you, again, Laurie. 

Then I headed "home".

Chilly, overcast day.  Great ride, though.

--> LT's --> Long Mill "Bonk: Route -->; 78.0 m.; 4 hrs, 59 min in-motion; 15.6 mph. 

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __5 rides; __362.1 m.; _23 hrs, 30 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _21 rides; _1639.5 m.; 111 hrs, 27 min; 14.7 mph.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ricochet Robert Rides 600 km

For background on Robert, use the "Search This Blog" at the top of the right-hand side-bar.
On my 600k ride ...  
There was much concern about attempting almost a 400 mile ride when my longest ever was only about 200 miles.  The pluses were good weather was predicted, the flat route, and I have been riding consistently for about 1 year.  The minuses were double the longest distance and wondering if legs would recover in time after having ridden Mt Mitchell the Sunday before. 
The ride was well organized with about 60 of us leaving Lumberton at 730am Sat, going four different distances with about 20 doing the 600K.  We split from the last group doing 400k about mile 60. 
I rode a few miles with Biker Bob and Rico Rob at the start.  Then solo until I joined a group of Paul, Phil and Doug as they were about to leave a control just as I arrived.  It was a quick stop for me.  We rode on and off together and later I rode many enjoyable miles on my own at night.  And the moon ... it was just wonderful -- sometimes my lights were not needed.  I now understand about riding your own pace alone is sometimes better than riding with a group.  Also, my position on riding alone has changed.
Eating and drinking all the time paid big dividends as I only got a little fatigued, never bonked and had legs to help pull the group the last 15 to 20 miles.  My weight when arriving at home was 1 pound more than when I left, so mission accomplished.
There were no sleep problems like some of the others had as I never felt sleepy during the ride.  We did stop for about 2 to 3 hours where I showered, sleep 1.5 hrs and refueled.  The light / reflector situation is now working well but I need to work on the bag / carrying stuff on the bike.  I did manage to add a few bonus miles so ended with 385.
One lesson learned - fully test everything prior to major ride.  I tested the new bag under my saddle during the week prior to ride, however it was not fully loaded.  Only 30 miles into the ride, I was told my bag was dragging down on my wheel; fixing that required me to stop twice and loose two different groups.  Not the way to start a long ride.  A bungy cord purchased at the next control provided the solution.
I was very pleased to complete the adventure in about 36 hours, finish with dignity and make many new friends.  Thanks to everyone that addressed all my prior questions for my planning and those that supported me during the ride.
[edit(s)]  In another take on the 600 km brevet, "bryanphoto" makes "Ricochet Robert" the universally known and accepted nom de cycle of a certain Irregular "Robert". 

Mar-20: JRA With Serendipitous Meetings


I was unable to effectuate the paperwork exchange to do a rando Kerr Lake Loop on Sunday.  Saturday afternoon / evening and Sunday morning, that seemed like a REALLY GOOD THING as my legs were tired, and my brain was tired, and I guess the best description is ... I was just plain tired. 
[It seems to me that "Logue" ought to be legitimate, but I can find no stand-alone English useage.]

When I finally threw a leg-over, it was already after 11 a.m..  I headed toward BJP to transact some business.  After transacting said business, I thought I'd ride north on Six Forks -> New Light Rd, but the front wheel of the bike went straight and the rest of the bike and I followed onto Pleasant Union Church Rd.  I realized that I must be subconsciously headed out on the "Time-Trial" route; if I threw in a couple down-and-ups on Coley Rd (down into the wind; up with a tailwind), the ride had potential; if I threw in a trip down-and-up Baptist Rd, the ride had even more potential.  That is what I set out to do.

But barely more than a quarter-mile across PUCh Rd, there was a 4-person group, including a long-time acquaintance, headed the other direction; clearly 3 were going to BJP to complete their ride; I knew the 4th would be riding more.  I turned around and just as the stop sign for Six Forks Rd came into sight, I also saw the 4th (the long-time acquaintance) headed in my direction.  I turned around and picked up my pace a little; I suspect that she may have reduced her pace a little.  Blah, blah, blah, she had ridden Tony's 300 km brevet the day before ... 300+k in eleven-and-one-half hours!  It takes me ten or ten-and-a-half hours to complete 200k.  Norwood Rd.  Six Forks Rd.  She continued south toward the end of her ride.  I turned onto MVC Rd, again headed for Coley and Baptist roads.

Two down-and-ups on MVC (the second being part of the "TT" course).  Then southwest bound on Carpenter Pond to Coley Rd.  Down Coley; the downslope more than making up for the headwind.  U-turn at the highway.  Up Coley; the tailwind not-quite counter-balancing up for the upslope.  Half-way up, approaching Kemp Rd, I saw two cyclists pass right-to-left on Kemp, but I did not recognize either.  Then, another two riders right-to-left, but I recognized the guy in the white jersey ... not from the jersey, although that may have helped ... but I recognized him from his position on the bike.  Thinking that riding with someone(s) for a bit might be more fun than riding solo for a bit, I decided to catch them; that was made easier because I was pretty sure that Gary and Wendy were riding with a couple that they had met the previous Sunday, and that Gary had told me about the day before.  If the couple was the couple I thought they might be, then the couple would be finishing their ride in another 4 or 5 miles, but Gary and Wendy would be riding another 12+ miles beyond that, and I could easily ride 10 of those miles with them without getting too far astray. 

I caught up to Gary and Doug, and soon learned that Gary was riding with Wendy's damaged front tyre.  W had managed to get a cut that went from the rim to nearly the road-contacting "rubber".  G had booted with a multi-folded $20 bill, but clearly the tyre was slowly bulging more and more.  I rode with the foursome to Doug and Karen's house, and then spent some social time before again leaving for the now twice-aborted "TT" route.

Melvin Arnold to Old Creedmoor to Carpenter Pond to down Coley again.  Again into the headwind.  U-turn at the highway again.  Up Coley with the tailwind; this time all the way to CP.  Across CP to Leesville to Panoramic Rd to U-turn and a pause to eat a sandwich and share conversation with the guy clearing out his culvert. 

Deciding to skip DocNichols, OliveBranch and Virgil roads, I headed back across Leesville Rd toward CP.  There were 2 cyclists paused at the DocNichols / Leesville corner ... I had a feeling they would soon be catching me.  ...  I was correct; but I decided to pick up my pace and suck their wheels.  The second cyclist, the one in the red jersey, appeared to not appreciate my tacking on ... he picked up his pace and pulled ahead.  The first cyclist, wearing the Nortel jersey, was clearly not able to pull away from me with his cycling partner.  Following them onto Coley (again), I pulled up alongside Nortel jersey and asked if he knew BruceB and PaulN.  He did.  I told Kim (that was the name of the cyclist in the Nortel jersey) that I had seen Bruce earlier, but Bruce wouldn't know who I was; I also told Kim that Paul and I often rode together.  After having gained approx two miles of increased pace, the red jersey and Kim turned off Coley onto Kemp to complete their 40-mile ride. 

I continued down Coley to the highway, U-turned again, and rode up Coley, again.  This time as I approached Kemp, two cyclist were going left-to-right.  I slowed so that they would be clear of the intersection as I approached the stop-sign.  However, they turned onto Coley, going the same direction I was going.  I decided to try and suck their wheels up Coley. 

Luckily for me, they were doing an easy ride.  Because they were shaved-leg cyclists, and from their conversation about some riders doing "work" and others not, I knew these guys were either crit or road-race participants.  Up Coley, across CP and MVC to Creedmoor Rd, I was carried along at a nice pace ... but I did have to work ... especially when the guy in front of me would suddenly stand-up and his bike would appear to push-back at me and I would suddenly have to ... react.  At the stop light at Creedmoor Rd, I asked what teams they were on.  One was All-Star; the other was Revolution.  I thanked them for the pull, knowing that they would drop me like an lead weight  in just over a mile when the road went seriously UP for the first time since I had latched onto them.  In 5.6 miles, my avg pace had been dragged from about 15.3 mph after ~51.9 miles to 15.7 mph after ~64.5 miles.  Hmmn, that suggests 21.7 avg mph for those 5.6 miles.  [Too bad Lt. Dave won't read this ... he hates it when I do numbers as in the previous sentence.]

I finished up my ride, the pace varying from quick to slow depending on the slope of the road and direction of the wind.  I felt much better at the end of the ride (~ 4:38 pm) than I did before I started the ride. 

Later on Sunday, as I was falling asleep, I realized that my left shoulder, elbow and forearm were not in pain ... for the first time in nearly two weeks.  A miracle from cycling? 
Second Epilogue

I got an e-mail from Lt. Dave Monday morning.  He and Lee had done a mini Kerr Lake Loop (starting at VCGG between Oxford and Henderson) on Sunday.  The following is an excerpt from his e-mail:
We did the Kerr Lake Loop.  I forgot about the Spring high water issue that plagues that area.  We made it across Nutbush with 6” of freeboard.  It was high enough that the road was damp from blowing spray. 
I thought it would be an easy day with winds predicted from the E/NE at 5 to 10.  Instead we got pounded by wind.  I checked when we got back and it was 15 to 20 up there (a front came through).  When the front came through the temperature took a nose dive. 
We had one dog chase us all the way down Poplar Creek, then down Dabney and onto bike route 1.  He was not trying to get us, just wanting to run with us.  I measured the chase on my computer and it was 3 miles at 16 to 17 mph.  Amazing!  I hope he got home OK. 
Overall it was a great ride, despite the wind.  That is such a beautiful route.  We went for 45 minutes without a car at one point.  The Spring flowers were all in bloom.  We finished at only 16.2 to 16.3 mph for a total of 81 to 82 miles.  The wind beat down our speed.
I think that Dave has done mini-KLL three times now, and Lee twice.  I guess I'm going to have to throw down the guantlet to get those guys to be sure to include "Stovall Mountain" the next time they do that ride ... they skipped the mountain last May and again on Sunday. 

--> JRA -->; 73.7 m.; 4 hrs, 42 min in-motion; 15.7 mph.

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __4 rides; __284.1 m.; _18 hrs, 30 min; 15.3 mph.
YTD tot: _20 rides; _1561.5 m.; 106 hrs, 27 min; 14.7 mph.

Monday, March 21, 2011

EVERY Time I Make a Plan

... AND Publish It ... It NEVER Works Out

This came to mind because, so far, the rides indicated in the "coming attractions" have not materialized.  Well ... come to think of it ... one ride did ... and it has been removed from the "coming attractions" ... I think that ride was the Blustery Ride of "The Dragon" on Feb-19th.  This also came to mind because I did a search of the blog for previous "Range Road" references.  One of the search results was this post.

Reproducing the text (all the dates are from 2009): 
Sat, Mar-21: modified 50-mile "Assault on Flat Rock", possibly more to make a 70-miler if anyone else is interested (given the list of likely suspects, er, riding partners, the 50 seems more likely).

Sun, Mar-22: 66-mile Range Road Rover w/ DntW & possibly Iceman.
Sat, Mar-28: "Eaton Rd Ramble". Base course is ~ 56 miles. Possibly with "bonus" miles.
Sat, Apr-4: 68-mile "bonk route". Possibly with "bonus" miles.
Sat, Apr-11: no plan, yet.
Sat, Apr-18: 78-mile Stem-LakeDevin-Oxford-BR #1. "Bonus" miles?
Sat, Apr-25: no plan, yet.
Sat, May-2: 74-mile Mt Tirzah.
Sat, May-9: no plan, yet.
Sat, May-16: Dave-ntW's "Three Hump Ride"
 So ... the inquiring mind asks "what actually happened?"  (I'll mostly skip the "no plan" dates.
Mar-21:  I had a head and chest cold.  (Given dynamics at the time, I doubt the The Irregulars did a group ride.)
Mar-22:  Obviously, I would still have had a head and chest cold.  I don't know what LT and Iceman did.
Mar-28:  I did not ride.  My log notes a lot of rain on Mar-27th.
Mar-29:  LT and I did a convoluted "Shadow Ride" hiding behind hills and trees.  (Note to Andy:  this ride was "epic".)
Apr-04:  We did a Snapper Recon Mission for his upcoming Beaver Dam Triathlon.
Apr-18:  We did the 68-mile Bonk Route, but somehow it was nearly 73 miles?
Apr-25:  No one showed for the "group ride."  I had an enjoyable solo ride.
May-02:  The Duke, the Mallet and I finally did the "Eaton Rd Ramble", which had been planned for Mar-28.
May-09:  We did the Mt. Tirzah Tour, which had originally been planned for May-02. 
May-16:  I did a convoluted course with Heath since he was the only to show up.
May-23:  We did LT's mini-3-hump tour and Picnic one week later than originally planned.  (Hmmn:  first year the ride was delayed one week; second year the ride was delayed two weeks; I hope that is not a pattern.)
 Conclusion:  My published plans NEVER come off as published, or planned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mar-19: Range Road Rover

+ a Little Mountain Road

I couldn't interest anyone in an Equinox Century, nor even the shorter 80-mile Allensville - Dennys Store, so we did the 64-mile Range Road Rover + a Little Mountain Rd.  Everyone (BobH, Norris, IvaHawk, Mallet, Gary, Wendy and me) had done the route more than once previously, so there was no "pulling the wool over someone's eyes" regarding Little Mountain Rd (unlike the ride three months ago). 

Ride was scheduled for wheels-away from PUE at 8:00 a.m. EDT.  At 7:25, just as I was to begin my ride to the ride, a series of chilly gusts from the northwest made me wonder if the expected cold front had arrived early.  I grabbed arm and knee warmers and stuffed them in the handle-bar bag; I also grabbed a wind-vest and ... since the easiest place to "carry" it was to wear it, I put it on. 

Now it was 7:30, maybe 7:31 or 7:32.  With the wind against me, and the probable need to stop at a couple red lights, I would have to push hard to arrive on time.  Two lights were red; two were green.  I arrived with my watch still indicating it was 8:00 plus a few seconds. 

People were milling about.  The Mallet was taking off one above-the-waist layer (he later told me that the shift or increase in the wind had also "caught him out" just as he was starting his ride to the ride -- he had to push hard also); BobH and Norris were sitting on the asphault by the back end of Bob's truck -- I'm not sure what Bob was doing but Norris was putting on his socks with individual toes (sort of like the fingers on a pair of gloves); Wendy seemed ready; IvaHawk seemed ready; actually, I think Gary was still fiddling with either Wendy's or Iva's bike; Gary was still in bare feet and his bike was still in his van; I think Gary may also have been talking to Hans (my riding partner from Aug-08 last year ... the ride on which I got bitten by a dog); Hans was on a tight back-end time constraint, and on a "speed" mission, so he set off on his solo journey to the Ruin Wall and Kittrell.

Iva drew my attention to Norris.  I'm not sure if he did that because it was Norris's first appearance since surgery in November (with subsequent medicine complications) or because Norris was putting on socks with individual "toes" or because Bob and Norris were not ready by wheels-away time (they are ALWAYS ready before time). 

At 8:08, I suggested we start, "taking" Wendy with us, and reminding Gary of the starting roads and noting that he would easily catch us.  We started with an easy pace, letting Norris slowly get back into it (that continued for quite a while - and the payoff was that Norris did the full 65-mile RRR instead of shorting to 35 or 50 miles).  Gary caught us before we had gotten two miles; I had figured we'd make at least four or five.

There was a LOT of conversation between everyone today.  Subject matter was all over the map.  I know I talked at least once with everyone.  Everyone seemed to talk with everyone else during the ride in a constant mixing of the social ride order.  Especially during the first half of the ride into the northwesterly wind; we did let Gary and Paul do most of the work ... figuring that letting the strongest / fastest amoung us do more of the work improved the pace and the quality of workout for everyone (at least ... that is our story and we are sticking to it).  The ever-changing-chat-partner conversations continued once we made the double-turns at the north end of Range Road headed for Little Mountain Road and Stem.  Smooth pavement, smooooth pavement, and a tailwind, and nice rollers -- what more could one ask for.

Sunshine and warm temps is what one could ask for.  And we had gotten just that well before the half-way point.  The sunshine had been forecast, but when those 7:25 wind gusts blew through, the sky was quite overcast, and looking as if the overcast was going to increase.  Luckily, the sun seemed to "burn off" the overcast the way it often "burns off" an early morning fog.

So ... sunshine, warm temps, excellent rolling roads, a tailwind, and constant chat.  What more could one ask for?  I can't think of anything.

After Stem, more like during and after Brogden Road, those with tighter back-end time constraints that were capable of picking up the pace, did so.  The Mallet headed straight for home; BobH and Norris were gone by the time Iva, Gary, Wendy and I reached PUE.  Actually, Iva got there before the other three of us; but he decided to ride down and back up Nipper Rd (looking for all the climbing training he can get ahead of AoMM in two months).

I suppose I could go into more about the various conversations, and I how I pulled a "Jerry P"-like move on the Mallet at the county line from Person back into Granville county, but ... today ... what happened on the ride ... will stay on the ride ... otherwise, this post could get very long.

Map of Range Road Rover + a Little Mtn Rd:



--> PUE: Range Road Rover + a Little Mtn Rd -->; 79.0 m.; 5 hrs, 10 min in-motion; 15.3 mph. 

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __3 rides; __210.4 m.; _13 hrs, 48 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: _19 rides; _1487.8 m.; 101 hrs, 45 min; 14.6 mph.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mar-12: No Norris Today

Irregular cycling partner Norris was planning to get back on his bike for at least a few miles today as part of his continuing recovery from recent surgery, etc..  However, he had a "rough night" last night, so he did a smarter thing, and post-poned his return to bicycling.  Hope to see you soon, Norris.

We ended up with BobH, Gary, Wendy and me for a Creedmoor - Grissom 47-mile loop, with a slight diversion.  (Gary wondered what Leesville Rd did / looked like if one continued west beyond Doc Nichols Rd ... so I showed him.  About 1/3 of a mile past Doc Nichols, Gary commented "nice country road with rolling pastures."  I agreed that it was pastoral, but suggested he reserve judgement.  Why?  Because Leesville Rd ends at a stop sign at US-70 / Glenwood Ave -- at least two busy lanes in each direction connecting Raleigh and Durham.  Some charity rides used to come from around Cary up Page Rd to US-70, then traverse a half-mile or so on 70, then turn onto Leesville Rd to head farther north -- perhaps some groups still do that -- I don't know.  However, even with police protection, US-70 has gotten awfully busy through that section.  Oh, the people from large metro areas may not think it is busy, but it is busy by Raleigh-Durham standards; and the traffic is fast; and there is no shoulder to speak of.  And there is at least one better way to get across US-70 ... a couple miles closer to Raleigh.)  We continued our planned course.

En route, there were several occasions when one or more of us shed a piece of clothing or two, changed from long-fingered gloves to short fingers, partially rolled down arm-warmers.  From a low of around 34 F this morning, it was 68 F as I began to write this.  Sunny conditions.  No breeze to speak of early.  A bit of South to SW wind building by the time we finished our ride.

Sometimes we were slow.  Other times, some of us seemed to be doing a bit of interval training. 

Things are greening-up.  Horses were abundant, grazing in their respective fields.  We even saw one house, that appeared to be still under construction, where the sign out by the edge of the road indicated "Horse Property."  None of us realized that Horses owned any property.

See you on the road ...

--> PUE:  Creedmoor-Grissom -->; 64.5 m.; 4 hrs, 18 min in-motion; 15.0 mph. 

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph.
Mar tot: __2 rides; __131.4 m.; __8 hrs, 38 min; 15.2 mph.
YTD tot: _18 rides; _1408.8 m.; _96 hrs, 35 min; 14.6 mph. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mar-05 - IR AoMM Crew Goes A-Humpin'

The IR crew was split on Saturday, some of us stayed "home", while others took a road trip.  I lobbied for Ricochet to write the report since it would be his first trip to mountains, and I figured that he would provide a report similar to his previous wide-eyed report.  Alternatively, I hoped for a Snapper report because of his often twisted take on things.  Instead, they elected the natural leader, Mr. Very Straight Nice Guy, to do a report.  Here is his untwisted, straightforward report:
The day started well.  Tito and I met Harvey Snapper, Rapid Robert the RR, Ivan the Giant, and hard working Smitty at Timberlyn shopping center in Chapel Hill about 6:15 AM.  Everyone was on time which was an auspicious start to the day.  We all piled into Harvey's roomy Suburban.  Harvey's new six bike roof mount worked flawlessly.
We arrived atop Hanging Rock at 8:30 AM to find the park office and restrooms closed (opens at 9 AM for future reference).  The weather was a light misting sprinkle with the temp about 45 to 50.  The roads were wet.  This caused some concern for most of us, but especially for first time Three Humper, RRtheRR.  His eyes darted back and forth from one Irregular to another each assuring him he would be fine; the prediction turned out to be more than true.
On the way to Pilot and looking to the west, we can see an ominous dark cloud completely covering the top of the mountain.  Arriving at the park office, we continued towards the top without stopping.  Having never even tried Pilot before, I had no idea what awaited.  Harvey had a new compact crank.  This was its first real test.  He took it easy.  This caused him and me to ride together towards the top.  We soon entered the cloud.  It was raining inside the cloud.  Visibility was about 15 feet at most.  Unbelievably, there was traffic on the road.  I don't know what they expected to see at the top.  Thanks to Gary Smith's (TLC_4_Bikes) excellent work on my bike with the new gearing and bottom bracket and some back and forth crisscrossing, I made it to the top!  Yay!  First time for me!  IvanN was a horse all day.  Tito rode well with the leaders.  And, RRtheRR, not surprisingly, found all this climbing to his liking and never appeared fatigued.  The others were waiting in the fog.  You literally could not see more than 10 feet in front of you.  Of course, there was no view [the street-view ends before getting to anything "panoramic"].  Descending Pilot Mt in the rain is something to be done carefully.  We got hot and sweaty going up and froze on the way down.  We all made it down intact and took a break at the park office.  Lots of skulls of dead animals and photos of the original owners of Pilot Mt before being sold to the state.
It was raining hard now.  We all were miserable despite our elation of having conquered Pilot.  Harvey said he was "Sour on Sauar".  I said "yeah, me too."  We rode on towards Sauartown.  Just as with Pilot, there was a cloud hanging on the top of the mountain.  By the time we got there, the rain had stopped and our spirits lifted.  We decided to ride up to the switch back [click here for a street-view from the second "sharp curve -- the editor cannot trick himself into calling either of the sharp curves a "switchback"].  About half way there, I said, "Tell you what - let's ride all the way to the top but leave out Mickey on the return home".  I had started to look at the clock.  I had to leave my house for the Duke game at 5:30 PM.  Again, we rode up into the cloud where it was raining again.  Harvey found the new gearing to his liking and sailed up the slope.  This time Smitty deigned to ride in the back with me.  He even dismounted just after the steep switch back with quad cramps.  But, he got back on and caught me before the top.  The others were waiting appearing like apparitions out of the fog once we were within a few yards of them [click here for "panoramic" street-view from the very end of the paved road atop Sauartown -- hehe].  Down we go!  Careful on the switch back [click here for street-view from the lower sharp curve] and then let it go on the straightway seeing 36 mph on my computer.
On back to home base.  We salute Mickey but keep going.  The others were way in front of me now.  I could see Smitty far ahead.  The others were even more ahead than that.  Neither my computer nor my cadence often got into double digits on the return trip.
I passed Hall Rd and then saw the welcome sight of the park entrance.  Up and up I go.  There is one killer pitch up in the middle that required the crisscross, but I remained on the bike.  I could see Smitty up ahead slowly, slowly turning the cranks.  Finally, I see the even more welcome sight of the parking lot and Tito's friendly face on his bike as he was just beginning to wonder if I was ok.  I suppose he was going to ride about three-tenths of a mile back down the hill to get me.  Haha.  Inside joke with Martin [see 6 paragraphs before the end].      
Back to Raleigh in the Suburban.  The time is really starting to squeeze me now.  A quick call to the home front reveals an unhappy wife.  My return time estimate coincides with the time we need to leave to go to dinner.  Snapper's call home revealed another concerned wife.  They need to leave for friend's house at 6:00 for dinner and the game.  Smitty calls his work to tell them he will be an hour late.  Robert and Ivan are afraid of the fate that may await them.  Only Tito is relaxed knowing that Kim will welcome him despite his arrival time.  Thanks to Snapper for taking Tito back home which put even more pressure on his time.  Tracy, my wife, had recovered her normal good spirits by the time I met her at the restaurant.  The UNC victory ended a great day.  No shower or shave before the game caused some sideways looks from my fellow fans.
It was a great ride with great company!  First time I've done all three humps!  Next time, we'll throw in Mickey.
Ricochet Robert sent a link to his Garmin stats:  Robert's 3-hump Garmin stats

(I actually received Robert's Garmin stats prior to receiving Iva's report.  I would bet that Iva actually wrote his report after I received the garmin stats and sent a message to the whole mountain crew noting that they had skipped Mickey Rd.  That would explain Iva's detailed explanation of why they skipped said road.)
A couple comments from certain sages within the IRs:
I am certainly glad that I was NOT tempted to go to Pilot, etc..  Other than seven not fitting into Harvey's conveyence, I would NOT have cared to ride mountains in the rain, descending through rainy, foggy clouds with my vision cut down to only "feet", with wet rims and wet brake pads. 
Congrats.  More balls or guts than I have for the rain, or ... less sense.
Clearly ... less sense! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mar-05: "Assault on Flat Rock", modified, with some extra(s)

With price of gasoline increasing, riding to the start seems a better and better idea every week.  I rode 7.1 miles to the ride start today.  Gary + Wendy rode about 10 miles to the ride start; Gary sent me an e-mail at 10:07 pm Friday informing of their plan to ride to the ride; I don't do e-mail that late ... half the time, I'm asleep by that time, or trying to fall asleep.

Gary called me at 8:10 this morning to let me know that he + Wendy were going to about 10 minutes late, and ask if the rest of us would ride toward them.  I got the message at about 6 pm this evening (or at least that is when I noticed I had a message).  Luckily, Gary also called Levi to let the group (including me) know that they'd be about 10 minutes late.  Unluckily, Gary did NOT mention that they were riding to the ride ... so we all assumed they were driving. 

At 8:30, wheels-away time, Levi called Gary to let him know that we were going to ride back-and-forth between PUE and BJP.  One problem, Levi actually said "we're going to ride back-and-forth on Mt. Vernon Ch Road."  Since I thought G + W were driving, I didn't bother to intervene and correct the statement (click here for street-view of the MVC - PUCh Rd split).  We actually rode back-and-forth on Pleasant Union Ch Road.  But ... no one anticipated a problem. 

We rode the 4-mile flat "loop" on PUCh Rd, and upon returning to PUE, found no sign of G + W.  To shorten this prologue a bit ... G + W were riding on Mt. Vernon Ch Road.  Sigh. 

Each sub-group agreed to ride toward Peed Rd, thus modifying the AFR route by starting MVC-Peed-Ghoston (instead of PUChRd-SixForks.  However, Cathryn decided that riding the first 4 miles, plus riding 7 miles back home would be enough for her as she hasn't been riding very much since December -- our loss. 
So ... BigWaveDave, BobH, Levi, Gary + Wendy, guest Sean (pronounced "Shane", as in "Come back, Shane!") and I were finally underway ... not so much late as having already ridden extra. 

After crossing Falls Lake on New Light Rd, the crew drifted apart on the climb(s) up to Old Weaver Trail, but the tail sub-crew picked up the pace when the slope lessened and the front sub-crew (Sean and Levi) slowed.  They slowed too much, really ... and I, having gotten the flywheel fully wound up, was not of a mind to throw away the momentum, and since the road was continuing to flatten, I went around and kept going, expecting the line to come with me.  They didn't.
Back-tracking a bit, near Old Weaver Trail, Wendy pointed out to Gary and me the evidence of the large brush fire that had occurred on the west side of New Light Rd.  (I later found out that the fire had been two or three days previous.  There was smoke still rising from some smoldering spots.) 
Returning to the main story ... no one had followed.  What should I do?  In the past, the crew leader has had to chastise me for dragging up the pace of the group beyond a sensible pace for all (usually, it is someone else that drags up the pace -- but on a couple occassions, the culprit has been me).  I decided to keep going and deal with reprecussions from the "crew leader" later.  As I neared the Granville County Line, I unclipped my left foot and coasted across the line, then stopped and waited for the group. 

No chastisement from the crew leader resulted; however, as the lead riders of the crew passed me, Levi commented "it shouldn't count if you have to stop to catch your breath afterwards."  I thought "we'll see, Levi, we'll see."

I dropped to the back of the crew to chat with BigWave Dave.  There was actually much chatting amoungst the crew today -- everyone chatted with whomever was next to them (or just ahead or behind) -- that made for a pretty good dynamic.  After chatting with Dave for a bit, I moved up to talk with Levi.  We were having a good chat, following Sean and Gary as they led the "double-pace-line".  Suddenly, however, S + G pulled out of the lead, complaining that Levi and I were sucking all the air out of the line, and therefore, we should go to the front to make sure that we had a continuing supply of fresh air. 

As we approached and passed the May Store, I was figuring out my strategy for the Franklin County Line.  I decided to wait as long as I could, and stay in an easy gear, before jumping at the last possible moment.  However, the road tilts down after the May Store and I was induced to change to one size smaller on the cassette -- mistake, and Levi knew where the CL was located -- rats!  Just as I was about to downshift back to the gear I wanted to be in, Levi says to me "don't even think about it", and he jumped.  Half-a-second later, I jumped.  I spent the whole "sprint" with the front edge of my front tyre even with the back edge of Levi's rear tyre.   

Re-sorting after transiting Pokomoke, I asked Wendy if she was interested in adding a couple extra climbs to the ride.  "Absolutely."  So ... I made sure to be in the lead at the turn off Pokomoke Rd onto Gordon Moore Rd, and increased my pace a bit to lead us "off course" and onto Suitts Rd (not "Suitts Store Rd"), which would become Evans Rd after a mile or so.  Wink, wink.

Since Suitts Rd was a nice downslope, an increasing downslope, I kept increasing my pace -- later, I claimed that I wasn't sure where the Granville County Line actually was, and that I wanted to check out the lay of the land (that was actually a truthful claim in that I didn't know EXACTLY where the CL was).  So, I again rolled through a county line well in advance of the crew -- but I don't really think I should get full credit for a CL "victory". 

Sean caught me on the upslope after the creek (which is where the CL was located).  He got to the stop sign first, but Levi was just behind.  Levi voiced that changing the course to add CLs that others did not know about did not seem fair.  After confirming that it was Levi approaching the stop sign, I hit the pedals hell-bent on the new increasingly downslope run to the next CL (Franklin County, again) only 100 yards (maybe less) from the turn.  I was sure to point out the sign to Levi ... after all, I certainly want him to know where the county lines are next time we go out that way.  Btw, Levi, I think the crew needs to revisit the "12 County Lines in 32 miles" route -- no cue sheet -- too many turns for that -- maybe ... reverse the course compared to last year.

We climbed back up to Gordon Moore Rd, and after a stop to water some of the flora, we continued, now back on route.  I made sure that Levi and Sean and others knew where the next county line was.  (Levi already knew -- he loves the "Assault on Flat Rock" route.)  I had no intention of mixing it up for the next CL -- after all, all the guys climb faster than I do, and the CL is at the top of a considerable climb.  Levi provided the details of what happened on Wes Sandling Rd.:
I definitely was giving it all I had at the top to try and hold off Shane/Sean?  That is my favorite climb with county line finish.  (Boyce Mill is 2nd favorite).  Gary and Shane stalked/wheel sucked me the whole way after the turn on Wes Sandling and let me do all the pulling until the very last 30 yds.  We were probably doing in the 20's up until the last part of the last climb?  I could see the shadow of Shanes head/helmet bobbing around near my crank the whole way.  I tried to quietly shift into higher gears as we approached the hilltop since Shane didn't know where the line was, but about the same time I saw the stop sign ahead sign I heard the tell-tale click click click click click from behind me signaling the attack.  I did the same and Shane caught and passed me right at the last moment.  Luckily for both of us, I learned that Gary popped out of his cleat he was trying to sprint so hard up the hill so he was immediately out of contention at the end.  Or maybe he was just scared of the amateurs swerving around him.
We regrouped at the stop sign just after the Granville County Line, and continued straight onto Grove Hill Rd.  We did NOT turn left onto Grove Hill Rd.  Strange ... I don't recall the descent on Grove Hill, nor the sharpish curve at the bottom of the descent, nor do I recall crossing the bridge.  I do recall climbing back up the other side with Wave; and then turning around to go back looking for Gary + Wendy ... I didn't go more than 100 or so yards.

Gary, Wendy and I rode across Grove Hill Rd, Gary and Wendy recalling some tractors from a recent ride out that way.  We found Sean, Levi, BobH and Wave at the corner with Flat Rock Rd.  Levi was apparently dealing with sore leg issues and Sean was trying to convince him of he value of "Sports Legs".  Gary produced a small packet from a back pocket; BobH decided to resume riding so that the ride did not become a "stop-fest"; I urged Wendy to start riding with me following after Bob (since we were the two slowest climbers); I thought Wendy was following me, but when I checked my mirror ... no Wendy.  Almost immediately on the initial downslope on Flat Rock, I thought, "oh, a headwind; I don't think any of those five still behind me have ever done this road into a headwind; I wonder if Levi will still love this route quite so much after he experiences the 1.4 mile climb into a head wind?"

Regrouping at the corner of Flat Rock and Grove Hill (not Grove Hill and Flat Rock, which was now 2.8 miles behind us), Levi acknowledged he hadn't ever ridden Flat Rock into a headwind until today.  I urged him to try it some time with a STRONG southerly wind.

We rode the intervening roads across to Bruce Garner Rd, and headed for "home".  Levi asked me if I was going to go into "homeward bound pace"; I told him "no, I've got a bit of a strain working behind my right knee; I can maintain this 17 mph pace, but I'm not going to push any harder than this."  After a bit, Levi came around and picked up the pace to 20 mph; then he commented that it was hard work into the headwind.  I told him "well, I was going 17; you're going 20."  When Levi started to flag on a little bump-up, Gary came to the front to return the pace to 16-17 mph.

Since the headwind was quartering in from the left-front, Gary drifted out from the fog line toward the middle of the lane to allow Levi and the rest of us some chance to "eschelon" off his right-rear-quarter.  It was interesting watching Levi experiement, moving around, from directly behind Gary, etc., until he finally found the sweeter spot, slightly escheloned off Gary.  Gary seemed to move over a bit further toward the center-line, allowing more of us inexperienced riders to eschelon, but as we approached the Wake County Line, I had a clear path on the right of Levi and Gary, and concerned that any amount of wavering about by either Gary or Levi would close the door, I hit the pedals.  I expected Levi to respond ... he didn't ... guess he really was feeling the after-effects of the previous CL and "King-of-the-Mountain" contests.  However, I was not to collect the last green jersey points of the day ... that honor fell to Sean, who had no trouble closing up and passing.  I should have remembered the line that Raleigh Area RBA Alan used on me last October, and modified accordingly:  "you have 19 years on me, Sean."  (I only have 13 years on Alan.)

Sean continued to lead, followed by Gary and Levi, until that bump-up just before Stony Hill Fire Station opposite Purnell Rd.  They were not carrying enough speed into the bottom of that bump-up to suit me, so I went around and went quickly up the bump, instead of slogging up. 

Sean re-took the lead (he is a pretty strong rider, certainly compared to most of the Irregulars).  On the downslope that goes past New Light Baptist Church, I told (I have to admit that I didn't ask) Sean to use the downslope to build speed to help get up the ensuing bump-up.  Sean replied that he was not good at descending quickly, and moved over to let me build speed ... and the front of the crew went over that first bump-up in excess of 20 mph.  Build up speed on the swoop-down and start the immediately following larger bump-up (just before Holly Point State Recreation Area) at 25 mph and top it at 15+ mph.  Then swoop down to the lake. 

Just before the turn onto Ghoston, I called back to the rider immediately behind me, "Sean, when we turn onto Ghoston, you'll go around me like I was standing still."  The rider behind me responded, "it's Levi, but message received."  Levi, Sean, BobH and Wave all went around in nothing flat.  Gary and Wendy were close enough that Gary called ahead to me, "Wendy managed to hang on to the group on that long downslope run."  I called back, "that's great!", but turned my attention to the task at hand ... getting into the proper gear and cadence to climb Ghoston.

And then ... IMHO ... the best part of the entire ride occurred:

On that second steep bit of Ghoston, I realized I was catching Wave, Levi and BobH.  I had found the right gear and cadence!  On the third bit of steep, I went around Wave as he called out one of his nick-names for me.  I went around Levi and started to go around Bob.  However, Bob picked it up a smidge, and held me off.  I dropped behind Bob and I said, "Bob, you are not Norris; he would not have been able to hold me off."  Bob chuckled.  And then, when the slope relaxed a bit, I went around Bob.  (Sean rode the entire climb off our collective front, as if lolly-gagging up the climb.  Where are the Mallet and Tito and Smitty to provide a little competition?  (One had family obligations, two were off playing on some mountains.) 

Across NC-98 to Peed Rd and another swoop downhill.  I climbed the steep on Peed pretty well, but BobH got his revenge on me for having had the audacity to pass him on Ghoston.  Levi also passed me near the top of the Peed steep.  Then we discussed that the more insulting part of Peed Rd is the nearly mile-long false flat from the sharp curve to MVC Rd. 

Down on MVC road, then the final climb back up to PUE.  Sean and Bob arrived before Levi and me; Wave finished another minute or two later.  The five of us were milling about in the parking lot, chatting, when Bob waved over our shoulders ... Gary had waved from the corner of MVC and PUChRd ... he and Wendy had another 10 hilly miles to ride home. 

I wonder ... if I knew I was going to do those particular extra 10 hilly miles ... would I have worked as hard as I did on Ghoston and Peed?

Levi sent a link to his Garmin stats.  Or, as he put it, his new toy.  Thanks, Levi. 
I stopped by the Bayleaf Fire Station and chatted with Lt. Dave and 37-years-as-a-volunteer-fireman Bob.  When the alarm for Bayleaf to respond went off, the chat ended PRONTO, as it always does.  I watched Dave's crew suit up, load up, and leave the station.  I followed and rode back "home" into a stiff southerly wind that crushed my avg speed for the day.

Good day.  Good people.  Good ride.
You'd never guess, after reading the above, that I intended a poetry-like post for today's ride.  Essentially one line for each of the above paragraphs.  But somehow, "wordy guy" overcame "less is more guy".

--> PUE:  modified "Assault on Flat Rock" -->; 66.9 m.; 4 hrs, 20 min in-motion; 15.3 mph. 

Jan tot: __9 rides; __671.4 m.; _46 hrs, 38 min; 14.4 mph.
Feb tot: __7 rides; __606.0 m.; _41 hrs, 18 min; 14.7 mph. 
Mar tot: __1 rides; ___66.9 m.; __4 hrs, 20 min; 15.3 mph.
YTD tot: _17 rides; _1344.4 m.; _92 hrs, 17 min; 14.6 mph.
Did I mention that I passed Wave, Levi and BobH on Ghoston?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert asked ...

Before starting this post, I was surfing through the previous posts looking for the prior "Robert asked ..." posts -- then it hit me -- I put that "Google-Search" function at the top of the right-hand side-bar for exactly this kind of situation -- to find similar prior posts.  Sheesh!
Ricochet Robert is joining about 5 other Irregulars tomorrow, Mar-05, for a trip to Hanging Rock (HR) State Park north of Winston-Salem, NC.  Once at HR, they will ride down the 2-mile 600-foot descent and then ride 19 miles across to Pilot Mt., go up and down it, then ride a dozen miles to the bottom of the Sauartown Mtn climb, go up and down it, then ride another dozen miles to the bottom of the HR climb, and climb back up to the parking lot.  (Click here for a map.)

That will be Robert's first mountain ride.

Robert's adult riding career began Apr-24th last year at 61-years-young.  He admits to being 62 now, and he rode a 300 km brevet recently (most of it solo).  He is rapidly becoming a veteran, but he likes to try to be COMPLETELY prepared before undertaking a new challenge (how boring).  As such, he sent me an e-mail earlier today and I took a few minutes to share my limited advice (mostly developed en route the Blue Ridge Parkway last September).  Robert e-mailed back suggesting I use the e-mails to create another "Robert asked ..." post.  I think he gets a kick out of it; maybe he figures it is a cheap way to keep advice handy.  Anyway, enough justification:
Martin, ... [h]opefully the guys will give me a few pointers on [mountain] riding on the way there tomorrow.  ...  .
I couldn't resist (even though I know, and everyone that rides with me ought to know, I don't really know what I'm writing about):
advice - descending is where advice is most likely to be useful
if you can't see the bottom and the road is not straight, scrub speed.
if you can't see around the curve, scrub speed.
if you can't see where the road is going, scrub speed.
if the road has a lot of loose gravel, pea-gravel or sand, carefully scrub speed.
Lee apparently carried too much speed into the curve.  
to scrub some speed, SIT UP, make your chest as big as you can, spread your shoulders wide, and catch air ... but keep your hands near the hoods and brake levers.
 _(even a small body such as yours can create a significant air-brake.)
to scrub a lot of speed, squeeze the brakes pretty hard (not toooo hard), significantly reduce speed, then get off the brakes.
 _(if you regain too much speed, repeat the "get-in-get-out" ... you MUST allow the rims time to cool)
 _ _("Paul of Norwood" probably over-heated his rims.) 
try to alternate using front and rear brakes (to give the rims time to cool down).
use the front brake to slow when the road is straight.
use the rear brake to slow when going around a curve. 
if it feels too fast, slow down. 
do NOT constantly apply "just a little brake" -- that will heat up your rims. 
if you smell your brake pads, you have probably been applying the brakes inappropriately,
if you smell your brake pads, your rims are over-heating. 
knee up on the inside of the turn.
you don't have to steer the bike to turn when descending,
you don't really have to consciously lean the bike to turn when descending.
a little extra pressure on one side of the handlebar is enough make the bike to turn in that direction. 
Sometimes the guys tease Iva about being sooo careful, but that seems a good approach to me.
On the first descent (down Hanging Rock), stay behind Iva, and practice alternating the use of your brakes.
But do NOT overdo the brake testing and overheat your pads or rims. 
If, on that first two miles going down from Hanging Rock, you have butterflies in your stomach ... welcome to the club.
You'll get over them, but ALWAYS remain highly alert on the downhills. 
Btw, I have successfully climbed Sauartown (and Hanging Rock).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"sag" asked ...

A couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail from fellow North Carolina randonneur "sagittandy".  Text follows:
Sent: Fri, Feb 18, 2011 7:27 pm
Your cycling audience might enjoy reading a blog report explaining how you keep records about your rides. An electronic spreadsheet?  paper ledger?  text file?  a diary?  or a pile of scribbled napkins?
I often marvel at your ability to recount minutia about rides from years ago.  While I also scoff and make fun (ha!), it is impressive how you have done it for so many years.  You must have an efficient way.  Do share the "Skiff Method", so that others so inclined might emulate the master.

Although he insists that he is not, I still suspect that he's "taking a Mickey"; however, here is my response:
"sag" -
Audience?  You think I have an audience? 

They're coming to take you away, ha-haaa.
They're coming to take you away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa.
To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time and you'll be happy
to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they're coming
to take you away, ha-haaa!!!

I have given the matter some thought, and here is what I've concluded:
  • Yes, I have an Excel log in which I record every ride, the date, the course, with whom I rode, perhaps a very short comment, the distance, the time-in-motion.
  • Yes, since February-2009, I have a blog where I have written sometimes very, very short reports, and other times the reports are quite long.
  • Yes, even before I started the blog, I would do write-ups of rides with the "Irregulars".  
  • Yes, sometimes I scribble a few notes immediately upon completion of the ride -- but those are never more than distance and time-in-motion, a cryptic description of the course, and with whom I rode.
  • And yes, I think I have a good memory. 
But, in the end, none of that really explains how or why how I can sometimes recall minutia of previous rides.
In the last couple weeks since you inquired, I have looked over my old Excel entries and also over previous blog entries.  I found that sometimes I cannot remember that a particular ride even occurred, let alone details from the ride; sometimes rides that fall into that category are as recent as April-2010 -- perhaps even more recent than that.  I have re-read blog posts of rides I had completely forgotten; some I don't recall even after reading the blog entry AND looking at the Excel log. 
Other rides, even before locating the entry in the Excel log or on the blog, I remember vividly.  Some memories are only of a few moments during the ride; others are of almost the entire ride.   What do I think accounts for the difference? 
Epic-ness.  That's what accounts for the minutia being recalled for some rides.  If the ride was "epic" (based on ability and experience to-date at the time), there is a memory.  If not epic, but just "another standard ride", no memory.  Rides from 2004, 2005, 2006 are easier to recall than rides from 2008, 2009, 2010.  In earlier period, there were many fewer rides than in 2009-10; almost every ride in the earlier years could qualify as "epic".  Few rides count as "epic", anymore; something quite bad or very, very nice has to happen for the ride to be "epic" now. 
Two flats in the frickin' cold this last January doing "Get 'Er Dunn" with Dean and Janis would count as "epic"; I'd never previously had two flats in any ride.  That ride would stick in my mind anyway, since it is the only ride to-date that I have done with Janis.  I suspect that successful and enjoyable Permanents where the ridership consisted of only one or two others and me shall likely remain in the memory -- esp. if that was the first REAL time I rode with said person (e.g., Ricochet's first Perm this past January with BikerBob and me, with Bryan(photo) this immediately past February, with ChrisW one week later, with Dean and Sridhar last Sep-04th  -- oh, that's the "I kicked Roscoe" ride, with JohnO last October, with BikerBob last July -- oh, that one is already really, really "EPIC" anyway). 
My "Irregular" cycling friend Lt. Dave bonking last Jul-05th ... that was another kind of "epic"; something that involved someone else rather than me.  I can recall rides where others struggled and I did not (a rarety, I assure you).
All six brevets that I started last year seem "epic" to me, in one way or another.  However, I am not sure I can recall all the successful Permanents since October-2010.  On the other hand, I suspect that it will be quite some time before the three failed Permanents in June and July fade from memory -- those were "EPIC". 
Yes, I have convinced myself, that I mostly recall minutia from rides that were "epic" at the time. 
I'd wager that it is the same for everyone.   
It's just that (perhaps) I write about it (the past) more than others. 
See you on the road ... 
[Lyrics borrowed and modified, ha-haaa, from here.]