Friday, April 29, 2011

Apr-29: To Spin-Out the Legs

Sometimes I wonder if I should put up a post for EVERY ride. 
But then I remember:  that's the schtick.

JRA, including dropping by TLC-4-Bikes; 14.6 m.; 0h,58m 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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __6 rides; __544.6 m.; _35 hrs, 20 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _29 rides; _2366.8 m.; 158 hrs, 26 min; 14.9 mph.

Lon on Route 66 Cafes and Motels

Lon Haldeman cracks me up.  But then, being also from northern Illinois and about the same age, I appreciate very much that dry, dry, dry mid-western farmer humor.


Monday, April 25, 2011

I thought there were seven

I thought there were seven of us – seven 2010 NC rando rookies.  That was the number that stuck in my head – seven.  Even though, if I thought about it, I knew there were at least nine of us – seven was the number indelibly etched in my gray matter. 

During the Morrisville 300 km brevet, between Seagrove and Siler City, I met Denis R, and learned he was also a 2010 NC rookie.  Okay – eight. 

In Seagrove, chatting with Ian (one of the “seven”), he pointed out that he had recruited Moshe, who had joined RUSA in 2010 – that would make nine.  I began to wonder how many 2010 NC rando rookies there actually were.  While riding the second half of the 300k brevet, I hatched a plan to find out.  It didn’t take much to “hatch” the plan – I already knew where I could (mostly) find the information:  the RUSA website

Hidden in the bowels of the RUSA website – I won’t tell you where and spoil your investigative fun by doing so – there is a list of all RUSA members since “the beginning of time” -- "RUSA-time", that is.  A little sorting and culling out the non-NC members, and viola, a list of all NC randos, by RUSA number.  A glance at the new preliminary “database” I was constructing informed me that I should have never thought that “seven” was the magic number – there were the names of Cole and Isaac right in front of me.  I knew that they had joined RUSA and had done quite a few RUSA rides, but my mind had never readjusted from “seven” to “nine”.  [Nine would also have been incorrect, as discussed above.] 

Then came the tricky part.  There does not appear to be information on the RUSA website that indicates when someone first joined RUSA.  Therefore, I had to employ some personal knowledge and make a decision or two. 

The main decision to be made:  if someone joins up to be a RUSA member in year X, but does so late in year X-1, that person gets three “free” months of membership late in year X-1.  I decided that if someone’s membership became effective in that “free” period, I would count them as being part of the rookie class for year X, i.e., the first full year.  [The prior sentences make perfect sense to me, even if they don’t make sense to you.  But, after all, I am an actuary, and we study things where referring to year X-1, year X, year X+1, etc. makes perfect sense, and helps to clarify meaning as well as shorten the references.  It is the same as why the Arabs invented algebra with symbols, etc., instead of writing everything out in long, difficult to follow sentences.] 

That still didn’t help me determine whether certain people were year X-1, year X, or year X+1 rookies.  This is where the personal knowledge came in.  I knew that LynnL had joined RUSA in Apr-2009.  I knew that JohnO and Maria (two more of the "seven") had joined RUSA in late 2009, and fit into that “three-month window” mentioned above.  That left three people “in between”.  (It is hard to imagine that only three North Carolinians joined RUSA between Apr-2009 and Oct-2009; but that is what the data indicates.)  I looked up the results for each on the RUSA website:  two first got credit for a RUSA event in Feb-2010; the third first got credit for a RUSA event in Nov-2010.  (… “two first” and “third first” … and a certain former President thought he was clever with “… is is.”)  Rightly or wrongly, I decided to assume that the three were actually 2009 rookies.  [I initially decided to put the three with the 2010 class because I couldn’t imagine anyone joining a cycling group, and then waiting months, or even a whole year, before riding.  Later findings regarding some that were clearly 2010 rookies have opened my eyes on that point.] 

The above describes how I “defined” the first members of the 2010 NC rando rookie class.  I still had to define the last members of the class, or, if you prefer, define the first members of the 2011 class. 

I knew from meeting ChrisW last October, and riding with him in February, that he had joined RUSA and gotten the “three free months” at the end of 2010 for his 2011 membership.  Therefore, I knew he was 2011.  Moshe’s first credited ride was the same as Chris’s; Moshe’s RUSA number is only 4 less than Chris’s; it was an obvious decision that they should be recognized as two entrants in the 2011 NC rando rookie class [as it would turn out, the first two entrants].  Having met and ridden 200k with Denis, I knew he would be one of the last entrants in the 2010 rookie class.  I looked at the NC data I had previously prepared, and lo-and-behold, there was Denis, in the middle of three consecutive RUSA numbers.  I had to assume that DonH had assigned all three numbers in the same working session, and therefore, despite anything that first RUSA credit ride might suggest, all three belonged in the same rookie class. 

I had now “defined” the 2010 NC rando rookie class.  How many were there?  Thirty-four. 

The thirty-four of us: 
  • accounted for 1,808 RUSA credit kms in 2009, 
  • 49,859 credit kms in 2010, and, as of when I looked up results, 
  • 24,373 credit kms so far in 2011. 
  • Eight attained SR status in 2010. (One doubled up and completed two series-es in 2010.) 
  • Three completed 1000 km brevets. 
Interesting tid-bits:
  • The top three NC rookie credit kms hounds ended up first second, second third and fourth fifth among all RUSA rookie credit kms hounds in 2010.
  • At least four of the class already have their 2011 SR status in hand.
  • One has duplicated his 1000 km feat already in 2011.
  • Five have completed an R-12.
  • Memberships of seventeen of the thirty-four expired at the end of 2010.
  • Seven of the thirty-four never completed (got credit) for any RUSA event.  (One of those seven is still a RUSA member.)  [I was quite surprised to find that people “joined-up”, but never rode – or at least, never got credit for completing a RUSA event.  On the other hand, have you ever looked up the results for RUSA #1?] 
I had thought there were seven in the 2010 NC rando rookie class, even though I should have realized that there were at least nine.  Now I know that there were actually thirty-four.
Edit, Nov-07-2011:  

"The Seven" that I knew of were / are (in no particular order): 

  • JohnO, 
  • Maria, 
  • Biker Bob, 
  • BryanR,
  • TimL, 
  • Ian, and 
  • me. 


Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 23 -- Three Hump: I'll be Dog Gone

This is my first direct post to Irregular Adventures after Martin's gracious offer asking me to become a guest contributor. Thanks to him. I hope you enjoy it.

Tito, Ags, and Iva left Chapel Hill about 5:45 AM enroute to Hanging Rock State Park for the Three Hump. Leaving about an hour or so later were Lt Dave, Mallet, and Lee D “The Red Rocket”. After some minor detours along the way, we arrived about 8:00 AM. We were the only ones in the parking lot. Then we saw a BMW speeding along the upper deck. To our surprise, Mallet emerged. He was going to do a Four Hump. That is, he rode with us to the bottom and then a few more downhill miles and then turned around and went back up to meet LtD and LeeD for the standard Three Hump. We left the parking lot at 8:35 AM. Weather was cool (53 degrees), cloudy, and gray. I had in my mind that this was going to be a sunny 75 type day. I was glad I brought my sleeves and leggings.

We used LtD’s new route that features an almost immediate (8 miles out) climb up Sauertown. Kudos to the Lieutenant for this design. I immediately started worrying about doing Pilot with Sauertown in my legs. Like last time, we ascended into the clouds close to the summit. As was the theme of the day, which none of the readers will find surprising, I lagged far behind Tito and Ags. Of course, they were entirely gracious about it. I’ll say right now, I’m pleased and proud of my performance on this ride. And, I thank them for hanging around with me. I know with no doubt they could have finished an hour earlier.

On to Pilot. Lots of riders and cars on the mountain. Why in the world are cars interested in going up that hill when the visibility at the top is about 20 feet ! I like cars when I’m in them, but not when they’re disturbing me on a ride. Getting up Pilot, as I suspected, with Sauertown already in my legs was challenging. At the steepest part, I could literally feel my heart pounding in my chest. I’m sure one could have seen my rib cage pulsing. Finally, I got to the top groping in the fog to find Ags and Tito who were relaxing in the overlook. We saw many riders looping through the parking lot and on back down without stopping. Nothing to see anyway. There were some highly accomplished riders on the slope – a mixture of roadies and triathletes. At the bottom, we saw one guy who was young, in shape, and an experienced rider loop through the bottom parking lot, zip up his jersey, and take off towards the summit again. Serious training.

At the bottom, we saw team 2: Mallet, LtD, and RR (red rocket, not rapid Robert). They had made up significant time on us (i.e. me). I was disappointed for LtD that there were only three of them. I had thought that this was one of his big rides with 20 people. But, he said they all bailed. Had I known that the team was so small, I would have suggested an earlier start time. As it turned out, they got the later start time and were still able to finish when I did. So it all worked out.

This route had many, many hills. Up and down. Up and down. We turned right on Mickey (what a climb that is) when I got to Hall, I didn’t know if Tito and Ags had turned or not. I yelled at a passing van. I said if you guys see two cat 2 riders up ahead, tell them they missed the turn on Hall. I went on up Hall. I didn’t know where Mickey came out. It comes out on Moore Springs I found out. The van found them and delivered my message. A spirited debate occurred between Ags and Tito. Tito said let’s turn around and go back up this steep hill we just came down to get back on route. Ags would have none of that. He said this was a trick Iva was playing on them trying to beat them up Hanging Rock. Ags’s reasoning won out. Thankfully Mickey came out on Moore Springs.

I did beat them to the base of Hanging Rock, but about ¼ of the way up, Alberto and Andreas passed me. What a hello of a climb that is as all my readers know. But, I made it with no dismount and a reasonable amount of pizzazz. I felt good about having completed this ride basking in the “admiration” of all the tourists in the parking lot. This is only the second time I’ve done all three humps.

The top of Hanging Rock was packed with cars and their passengers. And, apparently, all the male occupants decided to gather in the bathroom. And, again apparently, many of them must have had bad aim because the place stunk to high heavens. We took turns changing while one guarded the car.

As we finished packing, here comes Mallet. He (and I assume Lt and LeeD as well though we didn’t see them) made it back to the lot before we left. After a few brief words, my impatience to get on the road won out over Ags’s desire to hang out like a normal social person would do. I got back to my house at 5:15 PM. That night I enjoyed two Red Oak draughts and a giant plate of spaghetti with my lovely wife and step daughter.

Thanks for LtD for his cue sheet and motivation, and to my fellow riders for their companionship. Great ride !

PS: One other comment. This is where the title comes from. The residents along the route aren't exactly big customers of Invisible Fence. Dogs were out in full force. Aggressive, big dogs. One particular entertaining bit looked like it came out of Animal Planet showing jaguars running down wildebeasts. Four dogs came out. The lead dog was barking like crazy running 20 mph. His rear legs extended beyond his head in full stride. His duty was to distract us. Next came two more running just as fast silently. These were the closers. They got very, very close. Finally, the take down artist came out. They cut out the oldest and sickest (i.e. me) from the herd. Thankfully, I was robust enough to escape.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Apr-23: "Irregulars" Cedar Creek Cruise

BobH, Norris, JohnD, Phil (returning after a long abscence), Ricochet Robert, Gary + Wendy and I were scheduled to depart PUE at 7:45 am for a 50-ish mile cruise. 

G + W, having gotten spritzed upon while walking their dogs, decided it seemed too likely for the skies to open up and deliver a deluge -- they scratched.  The rest of us decided to ride even though the roads at 7-ish were quite wet.  Everyone except me was on time.  I was delayed by an inquisitive soul that was also in my way while I was trying to do the last bits of bike-prep; I finally got away, certain in the knowledge that if rode at a pace equal to that of the quickest I've ever done getting to the ride, I would still be a minute or two late.  Then, with only a-mile-and-a-half to PUE, my rear was flat.  Hoping it was just a slow leak, I pumped up and continued to PUE. 

At PUE, I asked if anyone had a floor pump with them.  Luckily, Phil had driven to the ride and had his floor pump with him.  He and I pumped up my rear to full pressure.  We set off, starting somewhat late.

Two miles later, at the corner of Pleasant Union Ch Rd and Six Forks Rd, I pulled over, checked the rear tyre, and then went into flat-changing mode.  It went pretty smoothly.  No problem with the rim or the tyre.  While I was installing the new (actually an old, already once-patched) tube, BobH announced that it appeared to him that the patch on the now dead tube had failed.  Oh, well, I had gotten an entire 300k brevet out of that patch.

We restarted the ride.  No further problems were encountered.

The farther north and east we traveled, the drier we found the roads.  Near Franklinton, the roads were completely dry.  The new Franklinton High School, located on Cedar Creek Rd, has been completed, or nearly so.  I think it ruins the "Horse Farm" atmosphere of Cedar Creek Rd.  I wonder what moving the high schoolers (and teachers and administrators) out of the middle of Franklinton will do the small businesses remaining in downtown Franklinton.  Most already look as if they have been struggling to hang on.  I also wonder what will be done with the huge school buildings and lots.  I hope they do not remain in place, looming over everything, casting an unwelcome shadow.  (Franklinton finally managed to get the remains of the old Burlington (?) textile factory torn down and removed only a few years ago.  That helped the scene coming into town from the east.  Will the old high school be the new eye-sore for the next half-decade or more?)

We had an excellent ride.  Robert pulled over opposite the "Llama House", and pointed to the llamas checking him out across the ditch and width of the road.  I caught up to JohnD -- on only his third (?) Irregulars ride -- to suggest he count the llamas.  That caught him off-guard for a moment or two; who expects to be urged to count llamas in the middle of central North Carolina?

After passing into Granville County, Robert asked me guess what major milestone in his cycling career he had just accomplished.  I was quite slow on the uptake / thought process.  I guessed miles ridden in his career, miles ridden in 2011, miles ridden April, number of rides in his career.  I temporarily gave up.  A mile or more later, it finally dawned on me:  today marked 52-weeks exactly since his first bicycle ride as an adult (tomorrow will be the actual anniversary).  What a monster we have created in just one year!

We zipped along to finish our ride.  Robert had earlier in the ride been quite impressed with the brevity of the cue sheet -- only 10 lines really.  He was also impressed with the 10-mile run with no turns early in the ride, and the 18-mile run with no turns late in the ride.  I acknowledged that when I had created the cue sheet about 4 years ago, I had done the 18-mile run just to show that such a thing could be done in North Carolina; but I was planning to complete the ride using the Ghoston-Peed-MVC finish which would knock 2.7 miles off the "finishing no-turns run" -- same distance, more climbing, and we all know the turns even without a cue sheet.

The four other guys that had cycled to the ride waited for me at the corner of MVC and PUCh roads.  After chatting for just a minute, they all took off for their respective homes.  I went into PUE to chat with Phil since I hadn't seen him in nearly two years.  While chatting, I noticed my cycle-confuser indicated that it was 12:00 Noon. 

Phil told me that his cycle confuser had indicated an avg pace of 16.2 mph for the 50-ish mile ride.  Not fast, but not slow, either.

-->  PUE:  Cedar Creek Cruise  -->; 64.3 m.; 4h,6m 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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __5 rides; __530.0 m.; _34 hrs, 22 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _28 rides; _2352.2 m.; 157 hrs, 28 min; 14.9 mph.
Finally, a shorter report.  Of course, it doesn't tell much.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog Evolution Continues

In the beginning, this blog was entirely for me and mostly numbers.  However, it quickly came to also be for the rest of the Irregulars, but was mostly for me and mostly numbers. 

Eventually, the words became more important than the numbers -- but I will always keep the numbers summary after my rides / my posts about the rides in which I participated.

When I took up randonneuring, many of the rest of the Irregulars still wanted to keep a written record of the rides, even when I wasn't there.  Actually, come to think of it, that practice started when I was sidelined after my Sep-2009 crash.  Being a bit of a control freak, I was reticent, er, extremely reticent, to give up absolute control.  Others would write reports, I would edit them, sometimes putting in wayyy too many [editorial comments] within the body of the report, and I would publish the report.  At least I always gave credit to the actual author.

Several Irregulars have made contributions.  Each with their own "twist" on telling a tale.  But I must note that it has been like pulling hen's teeth to get some IRs to submit or contribute to the word-smithing.  So, eventually, almost all the "guest" blog posts were coming from the same source:  Mr. Incredibly Straight-laced Nice Guy, aka, "IvaHawk". 

Eventually, came the hardest part to-date:  could I give up some control over the blog and invite other(s) to "author privileges"?  It has only taken me a year, even with the excellent example of the grand-daddy of all NC rando blogs (Research Trailer Park) at hand, to get over the control phobia thing, and to fully realize that although I "own" the blog, and control it, it isn't really "just mine" anymore.

With trepidation, I broached the subject to IvaHawk.  He demurred, but eventually agreed. 

So ... now ... I am proud to announce that IvaHawk has agreed to be a direct contributor / author on this blog.  (He even made a "test post" just to make sure we had everything worked out.  That post has since been deleted.  I think that threw Andy's RUSA Blogs a bit, and I'm thinking that a fair number of randos tuned in to find ... nothing new.) 

I am looking forward to discovering his first real post in a few days when he will report on the several Irregulars heading up to the Hanging Rock - Pilot Mtn area for a min-3-hump ride.  I will also be looking forward to his report, in just over three weeks, on this year's AoMM. 

However, a word to the other Irregulars, esp. those doing the mini-3-hump and AoMM this year:  I expect each of you to offer contributions / assistance to IvaHawk if he asks you.  The decision to request words from each of you is his; but just remember, some of you have trembled at the thought of having to face "the wrath of Martin".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apr-17: Morrisville 300 km Brevet

BikerBob and I Deemed Experts

This ride was originally scheduled for Saturday, Apr-16.  MikeD documented why it was postponed one day better than I could ever hope to explain or document.

On Sunday, we started "21-strong" as opposed to the ~ 40 that had registered for the brevet (the "21" includes Vance that appears to have started late, and also turned around early).  Those not there were a cross-section of the various paces, but the back-half-of-the-pack was again quite thin.  The front of the pack may also have been a bit thin, but with Annette and Chris K, Tom and Mary F, and Kim, there looked to be at least some of the serious speed.  I looked around to see who among the not-nearly-so-insanely-fast might be there that would also start at a reasonable pace that I could hang on to until the serious climb on Jack Bennett Rd.  TimL was there -- that would be enough.

It turned out to be THE MOST CIVILIZED START for one of Alan's brevets that I have experienced (admittedly, I've only been to 8 of Alan's brevets).  Perhaps it was unfamiliarity with the new start that slowed some -- we all still managed to miss the turn off Green Level Ch Rd onto Morrisville Pkwy.  Perhaps those leading the pack were all in delayed warm-up mode.  Maybe the leaders were all enjoying more conversation than usual.  Whatever the reason, the entire pack stayed together (see esp. the second video clip) until Jack Bennett Rd (I thought we had all stayed together until the climb started, but one person informed me he was dropped a half-mile before the climb).  I looked at my confuser:  18.3 miles; the time was 8:03 am -- so the start was about 1 to 2 mph slower for that "warm-up" section than it had been for the 200k fifteen days before.

Only one semi-uncivilized act occurred during those first 18 miles:  approaching the Chatham CL, BryanR (not "fast Bryan" -- I hate to think how fast "fast Bryan" must be) was next to me and I commented, "there's the county line, but without Jerry here, it doesn't look as if anyone will make a mad dash out of the pack to get there first."  About a three-count later, Bryan took off -- I thought he had left it too late -- I was wrong.  Bryan then took advantage of being in the front to get out his camera and shoot his signature drifting-back video (see above link for "the entire pack stayed together" -- count 'em -- including Bryan taking the video:  20 cyclists). 

I traded a few snippets of conversation with recumbent rider LinO on part of the Jack Bennett climb.  The 300 was his first hilly ride on his new bent with its "big front wheel."  At some point, Lin had commented "I'm a big wheel rider, now."  Funny, Lin.

Next notable thing was me slowly catching Lin on Castle Rock Farm / Old Switchboro Rd.  I wondered if perhaps Lin was not quite as recovered from his recent bout with the flu / sinus-infection / whatever as he had hoped.  When I passed Lin on the rollers of Old Greensboro Hwy, and more so when he didn't zoom past me on downslopes of said rollers, I wondered if maybe he would turn-around at Snow Camp for a century, or maybe turn-around at Siler City for a "fun" 200k. 

I was inside the Snow Camp store when Lin and a couple of his friends (that had gotten to Snow Camp several minutes earlier) left for Siler City.  I emerged from the store after having taken care of natural business and took off for Siler City.  I like the section between Snow Camp and Siler City -- unless there is a tough wind, it always seems to me to be a net downslope both directions.  I arrived at the control in Siler City only 5 minutes later than I had arrived two weeks earlier during the 200 -- not bad considering there had been no natural business needs on the 200. 

My hopes for a 9 pm finish, and expectations of a 10 pm finish, started to disintegrate at that Siler City control.  I allowed myself to enjoy too much conversation with LinO as he was describing why he was turning around.  Isn't that terrible!  Enjoying conversation at the control and wasting time.  Sometimes it can be; but usually it is not. 

I left Siler City with LinO's friends Paul and Denis, but not before promising LinO that I would mention him in my blog as being a "wimp" for abandoning.  I only tease friends and/or those that I appreciate and/or respect.

I thought that LinO, Paul and Denis all knew each other prior to the brevet.  It was true that Lin and Paul knew each other from wayyy back, but as Denis later pointed out to me, Denis met Paul only 30 miles before he met me.

It seems almost sac religious (given the chaos, destruction and deaths experienced in North Carolina on Saturday (and since) because of that Saturday storm) to write the following, but Old Coleridge Rd between Siler City and the near-ghost town of Coleridge was BEAUTIFUL.  Rolling, green pastures, many covered in small yellow flowers.  Several herds of dairy cows.  Horses.  Houses set upon hilltops.  Higher hills in the distance, seemingly in all directions.  (I don't carry a camera; apparently MikeD took no photos; I hope that Bryan or Geof took some.)

Paul, Denis and I enjoyed the wonderful day and conversation.  I was really enjoying my ride:  a good cadence, decent pace, conversation.  We saw the lead group of 5 (Tom and Mary F, the two Kamms, Kim) on the first leg of Fork Creek Mill Rd.  Other groups (usually of two) were scattered along the two legs of Fork Creek Mill Rd; I can only recall a couple of the groupings:  Geof and TimL; MikeD and JohnM (being chased by Bryan -- but I doubt Mike and John knew they were being chased, nor that Bryan knew he was chasing -- from Mike's RTP blog, I gather the three of them teamed up for much of the ride back to Morrisville).  Back to our group:  Paul was struggling a bit, and we lost him on the later set of rollers on Fork Creek Mill Rd and / or on the final climb into Seagrove.

Ian and Mary were manning the control in Seagrove.  As I approached the turn into the control, I could see Ian's legs sticking out from the passenger side rear door -- I called out "wake up, Ian, customers!"  He may not have been asleep, but he was certainly supine across the back seat.  Mary was sitting in the front passenger seat, apparently studying.  They both greated us warmly and introduced us to the good supply of food and drink they had.  One thing though:  they only had one cookie, and Denis repayed me for navigating and pulling us most of the way from Siler City to Seagrove by scarfing that last cookie.  Can you believe it!  He claimed it was Alan's or Ian's fault for not having enough cookies.  I don't know about that.

Paul arrived and he and Denis went in to the Hardees for "real food."  I continued to munch on PBJ and peanut butter and honey sandwiches, a banana, a Coke or two (for morale purposes); but mostly I talked to Ian; I think I finally bored him nearly to tears.  As I was about to leave, Denis appeared and noted that Paul was also about ready to leave, so we all left together.  Nine pm, and maybe ten pm, were now goals of the past -- who cared?

I like the first few miles heading back toward Erect from Seagrove, esp. in daylight.  One can bomb the downslopes, and with a little "Jerry-impersonation" on just a couple upslopes, pop almost every UP all the way to where Fork Creek Mill Rd makes that right turn (don't miss it, because straight is NOT the correct road; also don't turn half-a-mile too early on that other road, because that is NOT the correct road, either).  I must have really been enjoying myself.  Denis was with me, but Paul was nowhere to be seen -- even after waiting for two minutes at the correct turn to head to Erect.  After about two minutes, I decided to ride on, with or without Denis, figuring that Paul would work thru his struggles and could team up with BikerBob and / or Chloe that were behind us.  As we pushed off, I commented to Denis that I hoped it was not my karmic destiny to "blow up" 10 or 20 miles down the road.  Denis chuckled.

We stopped at the corner of Riverside Dr and NC-22 just outside Coleridge to get a good drink, nibble a bit, and so that I could admire the flora.  We may also have stretched a bit.  We remounted, pushed off, and before I could settle in ... pop ... I had flatted my front.  Karma? 

Off the bike.  Tire tools retreived from saddle bag (turned out I didn't need them).  Spare tube and spare tire retrieved from the handlebar bag (I decided to replace both since I suspected that a particular weak spot - with a weak boot - on the tire had given out).  Mini-pump snapped from the side of the frame. 

The tire came off easily.  I folded up the damaged tube and tire separately and stuck into separate back pockets -- so I could examine them later -- and not "litter."  Ian drove by showing Mary the course on their way back to Raleigh; he stopped to make sure we were okay; he also noted that he was not allowed to provide help.  Paul rode up and on -- I'm confident that he expected we would re-catch him -- I figured we would likely re-catch him.  Replacement tire on, and starting to pump up.  Ian commented that I was a lot quicker than him -- I credited Gary for a lesson or two.  Just as I said that, and Ian prepared to leave, BikerBob pulled up, asked if I wanted a full size pump, and also commented that this made my third flat in two weekends.  Since I had just gotten to 105+ lbs. pressure in the tire, I didn't take Bob up on his full size frame pump offer. 

We were now three:  Denis, BikerBob, me.  Coleridge Rd was still beautiful, but it seems a lot longer coming back than going out.  Old US-64 into Siler City also seems a lot longer coming back than going out.  Joel was manning the Siler City control.  Bob and I and Joel started making Denis nervous because we were talking and eating and talking and eating and talking at the control instead of riding.  The food was good; so was the Coke (for morale purposes).  My legs appreciated the rest period -- even though Joel had forgotten his "camp chairs" and we had to stand instead of sit.  After nearly 40 minutes, we headed out for Snow Camp.

I enjoyed the ride from Siler City to Snow Camp.  In a "zone," I pretty much forgot about the two guys following me.  It took 40 minutes to cover the 12.5 miles to Snow Camp.  I was figuring a "5 minute" stop in Snow Camp since we had spent so much time in Siler City, but Bob bought another feast.  We sat on the bench in front of the store while Bob sat and feasted.  25 minutes.

As Bob had mentioned that he only lived 14 miles from Snow Camp and that the rollers on the Old Greensboro Hwy never seemed to bother him, we put him in the lead, hoping they wouldn't bother us, either.  Well, I can't vouch for what Denis may have thought. 

Bob descends more slowly than I do -- even though I have "lost" 20 pounds in recent months.  And approaching about the third UP -- a short but steep one -- I "knew" that if I didn't carry enough momentum onto that sucker ... it would hurt.  I did the obvious thing:  I hit the pedals on the downslope and went around Bob, and then did another "Jerry-impersonation" to perfection ... that steep UP was over in nothing flat and seemingly almost without effort.  Another, slightly longer UP followed; I tried the same trick; I was in the wrong gear to dance-up-while-standing-on-the-pedals; I managed to make it over the top. 

On Lindley Mill Rd, my left calf notified my brain that it thought it would be a good idea to cramp.  My brain and the rest of my body disagreed.  I did ask Bob and Denis to get in front of me just in case I suddenly did something stupid on the bike.  I slowly drifted back from Bob and Denis as I soft-pedaled through convincing the calf that cramping would be a bad idea.  An extra half-bottle of E-load'd water (with a Zim tablet thrown in) probably also helped.  And maybe the "third helping" of "Sports Legs" that I'd swallowed back in Snow Camp kicked in. 

We paused just before Old Switchboro Rd became Castle Rock Farm Rd to seriously light-up and reflector-clothing-up.  We put Bob on the front with his bright headlamp and because he knew where he would be going.  We put Denis in the middle because of his bright headlamp and failing taillight.  I got on the rear because of my dim headlamp and decent taillight. 

As darkness descended, so did our pace.  However, while on Hamlet Chpl Rd it finally dawned on me that Bob's slowing pace was not because of the darkness ... he was seriously bonking.  Now I understood the reason behind the extra feast back in Snow Camp.  We decided to stop at Andrews Store.  I got a good look at Bob.  I'd never seen him looking so poorly.  I had, however, felt as poorly as Bob now looked (click here to be bored even further; I thought Bob had also written a report on that ride, but nope).

Andrews Store was out of most everything that could almost pass as "real food."  Bob finally found some "Spaghettios", and made that the center-piece of another feast.  While Bob was eating, I tried to explain "soft-pedaling" to Denis (I had earlier told him I would do the 400 less aggressively, and would likely soft-pedal the 400); Bob cut in with a more appropriate definition:  "you know, 'soft-pedaling,' what you've been doing the last 20 miles."  Bob is mostly quiet, but he can come up with some zingers.

After 25 minutes at Andrews Store, we set out for the finish.  I took the lead, Denis second, Bob the rear.  Bob would drop off the first 10 miles or so, but then his feast seemed to have kicked in.  We made it to the finish with our only additional blemish being that we rode past the turn on to Green Hope School Rd; but we only rode another 100 yards or so before checking the cue sheet.

We finished with what appeared to be pizzaz.  Alan came out to greet us and effectuate the paperwork.  He also offered some home-brew.  All three of us replied with an eager "yes!"

As Alan went to get some homebrew for each us and we sat down in three of Alan's "lawn chairs," Denis called his wife to let her know that he was safe in Morrisville and had successfully completed the 300k.  I overheard him say to his wife that he had been guided in by two experts.

I leaned over to Bob and chortled, "with all of two years combined experience between us, we're experts."

Bob chuckled, "yeah, that's right, two years total combined ... experts."  He chuckled again


Morrisville 300 km Brevet; 189.2 m.; 12h,31m in-motion; 15.1 mph (incl. the 1/4-mile ride back to the start); official rando time:  16h,25m 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.
Apr tot: __4 rides; __465.7 m.; _30 hrs, 16 min; 15.4 mph.
YTD tot: _27 rides; _2287.9 m.; 153 hrs, 22 min; 14.9 mph.
Must write shorter reports.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Apr-16 -- A Goat, a Beaver, and a Mayor

The Morrisville 300 km brevet was postponed from today (Apr-16) to tomorrow (Apr-17) because of the powerful storm taking aim at North Carolina after already causing havoc, devastation and death from Arkansas to Georgia in the southern tier of states, and also causing at least havoc and destruction in the northern tier of states.  Since the brevet was postponed, I intended to join some of the Irregulars for a short ride (to beat the approaching storm) this morning, but I overslept (perhaps on purpose?).  The following is the report from one of those that did not oversleep.
This was an odd ride today.  Nice, but odd.  First, the weatherman bamboozled all of us causing actions ranging from cancellations to route alterations. 

Tito, Ags, BobH, IvaHawk met at PUE at 7:00 AM.  We set out all the while thinking we must not stray far from home.  Bob assured us the rain wouldn’t start until noon.  It felt like it would start anytime.  It turns out that I’m writing this at 3:00 PM and it still hasn’t rained. 

We decided to ride around the lake via Doc Nichols, Patterson to the town of Creedmoor.  From the beginning, BobH dropped the hammer.  The rest of us were taking it easy.  Bob got so far ahead we had no idea where he was.  Eventually, on Patterson, Tito got tired of the slower pace, and he took off.  Ags and I soldiered on.  Later we learned that Tito did catch Bob.  We saw neither of them again until Peed Rd. 

They went on to Creedmoor as planned.  I neglected to turn off Old Weaver and kept going.  When we got to hwy 50, we ran into the Beaver Dam triathlon bikers.  (I bet the swim was fun - NOT).  Ags and I turned left on Beaver Dam / Rock Springs Ch Rd to Bruce Garner and then headed "home."  Bob and Tito caught us going up Peed.  It turned out that we all had about the same mileage – 42 approximately.  We got back to PUE a little after 10:00 AM. 

One funny thing:  Ags and I passed an old deserted house on Patterson.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a goat peering at me from the second floor window.  We decided to turn around and sure enough by this time, he was standing on the roof.  I snapped his picture.  But, alas, my memory was full and I failed to capture the moment.  Not realizing I was out of memory, I tried to get a closer picture.  But, when I advanced, he jumped back through the window.  We heard him kicking and rattling around inside. 
Embiggen to see the goat in front of that open window.

Funny thing two:  While in Creedmoor at the BP station, where Tito and Bob were waiting for the two of us that never arrived, the mayor of Creedmoor approached them.  He told them they “looked like trouble” and gave them his card.  Maybe Tito will take a pic of it and send it to us. 

I’m sorry the forecast was overly pessimistic.  You guys could have done your brevet after all.  And, we could have done our century. 


Friday, April 15, 2011

Lystra, "Stovall Mountain," and JP

About 10 months ago, I joined three others on Jerry's "Howling Grits" Permanent Populaire.  I thought my not-yet-warmed-up leg muscles were going to be ripped off my bones during the "assault on Lystra."  Barely knowing Jerry, but having learned that each of us was a "retired" Tarheel Hash House Harrier and that we had a lot of running acquaintances / friends in common, I "ripped" on Jerry:
Jerry CLAIMS that he designed this course with newbie randos in mind. HA !! 

After 2.2 miles coasting almost continuously downslope, we came to the bottom of a little hill sometimes locally known as "Col de Lystra".  2.2 miles coasting downslope, then UP!  Neither of my legs were warmed up.  The lower groin area of each complained vigorously during the entire climb.  I would rather ride 150 miles and encounter Flint Hill Rd., even with the possibility of cramps, than encounter the Lystra climb after 2.2 miles of non-warm-up. 

Showing MikeD the "Stovall Mtn", which Mike has now included on his Kerr Lake Permanent, which Jerry rides occasionally (including this past Saturday), is not sufficient "revenge".  Is there another "mountain" that can be incorporated into a local Permanent?  I'm on the look-out.
Last November, I had the honor of joining the "Three Hounds KLL" and riding with Dean and Jerry, et al.  Amongst the things learned during that ride was:  
Jerry doesn't want me to suggest any more alternative routings for the KLL, esp. if there are climbs involved. 
So ... for the reasons mentioned above AND for my own inclinations, I've been trying to figure out how to include all the "mountain roads" that I know about and that are within cycling distance of north Raleigh in a single ride of approximately 200k.  I finally had to settle for including five of the six:

I don't know that the above route would ever pass "Permanista" vetting, but it certainly qualifies Irregularly.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Atop Mt. Mitchell

I received a pic from a couple of The Irregulars.
 Tito and IvaHawk.
 See the comment section on the previous post for the back-story.

Apr-09: Dennys Store 80-miler

The name of the blog is Irregular Velo Adventures.

Most times, the ride(s) are just rides.  However, sometimes, they are adventures.  Today was a small adventure compared to some previous escapades (e.g., Apr 2, 2010; July 16, 2010; July 24, 2010; Jan 8, 2011; Jan 9, 2011).

What were the ingredients of today's adventure?
  • The weather-liars totally missed the forecast.  We were expecting overcast early, but giving way to partly to mostly sunny skies by 11, with the temperature reaching 59 F by noon.  It was completely overcast all ride, with temperatures that never seemed to increase.  (Okay, the weather-liars did get one thing right:  the winds, make that breezes, were light all ride.  Our apparent wind overpowered the scant breeze and it felt as if we had headwinds at almost every point of the compass.)
  • People dressed for the ride based on the forecast.  Lee, in particular was dressed for warmer conditions.  Regular shorts, one layer on top, short-fingered gloves -- I think he had on arm-warmers.  Several people had on only shorts; half of us had either knee or full length leg-warmers.  I think everyone except Lee had a second layer on top.  My second layer was a wind vest; I was probably a bit over-dressed as I did accumulate a fair bit of sweat under the vest and jersey.
  • We skipped the stores in Butner (too early) and the Moriah (we were riding well and a couple guys had taken nature breaks when we stopped to regroup at Robert's Chapel Rd after climbing the "Range Wall," and -- of course -- as soon as we stopped, some started in feasting -- since most had just been eating, I saw no reason to stop again so soon), and headed for Surl and the store there.
  • I had never stopped at the store in Surl previously.  I now have.  It appears to still be in operation, but was closed when we were there.  Richochet Robert saw some newspaper(s) and suggested to Lee that he could use the "rando trick" of stuffing newspaper under his jersey.  I thought Lee was demurring on that front, but (perhaps when he thought no one was looking) he grabbed an inside section of the N&O from atop the garbage can and stuffed it under his jersey.  He may not have been trying to be surreptitious because he later commented that the top half of his body was certainly warmer with the newspaper stuffed under the jersey.
  • Before leaving Surl, Robert offered his glove liners to Lee, but Lee refused because he was concerned that then Robert would have cold hands.  But Lee did remark that if we went by a country store, he would like to stop and purchase some cotton gloves to put on over his short-finger cycling gloves because he felt as if he were freezing, esp. his hands.  Approaching the cross-roads community of Allensville, I asked Lee if he still wanted to stop at a store and get some gloves.  He replied, "I think the answer should be yes."
  • The Allensville Store is about a mile (maybe more) to the west of the Allensville cross-roads.  We diverted from our planned route to go to the store.  Upon arriving, Lee went inside looking for gloves.  Most everyone else started feasting again.  (See "Breakfast with Tito".)  Some locals sitting on the bench outside the Allensville gas station / store were impressed that we had ridden from Raleigh.  Lee now being full-fingered gloved, we set out for Dennys Store Rd -- a piece of road that I'd been wanting to ride again since last time I'd been on it (April 17,2010 [gosh, that search function at the top of the right side-bar is useful]).
  • After only about a mile on Dennys Store Rd, we encountered "road closed" signs.  I was leading and called out, "I say we ride past the barricades and find out if it is REALLY closed."  Robert, from the back of the line responded, "absolutely!"  Gotta' love that rando spirit!
  • We got to the road closure:  Robert and I were in favor of trudging through the mud to get around the caterpillar-type ditch-digging heavy equipment that was blocking the way to the partially re-constructed bridge.  (Rando spirit.)  The other four (Lee, BobH, Smitty, guest JohnD -- none randos) were opposed to our craziness.  Oh, well -- they were most likely right.
  • We retraced about a mile to get back to the de tour and turned south on whatever-road.  I was last in line, enjoying the full benefit of being towed by the five in front of me.  Suddenly, I started having trouble holding Lee's wheel.  "What the heck is going on?" I asked myself.  I checked what gear I was in and ... bump, bump, bump ... "what the heck is that?"  I looked down ... my rear was going flat ... fast.  I looked up ... I had gotten too far behind for my voice to carry into the south breeze.  "Oh, well," I thought, "I have the equipment and the know-how.  Pull over and fix the flat."
  • I had the pump and spare tube and tyre-tools neatly on the ground, and was removing the tyre when Robert and Smitty rode up.  After a moment or two of consultation, Smitty rode back to Lee, BobH, JohnD to tell them what was going on, and to suggest that maybe Lee (and others) should keep riding to keep from getting cold.
  • I am not the fastest tyre-changer; but I am not the slowest, either.  Robert helped me by staying with me and sharing some non-distracting conversation about changing flats.  I pumped up the rear tyre as best I could at that time, figuring to put some air in when we stopped at Berea.
  • Robert and I rejoined the rest of the crew and in a few more minutes were directed by the Detour sign to head eastbound on Lonnie Gentry Rd.  After a mile or so, the Detour signs indicated turning north on whatever-no.2-road; I called out, "let's just ride straight."  Someone asked, "do you know where this road goes?"  I responded, "no, but the name of the blog is Irregular Velo Adventures; it's time for an adventure!" 
  • Robert thought I should provide a better rationale than that.  I told him, "this road is paralleling Dennys Store Rd, and Dennys Store Rd makes a sweeping right-hand curve to the south and becomes Old Roxboro Rd.  With luck, this road will intersect Dennys Store Rd.  If not, we will make our way alternately south and east ... in which case we'll get to Dennys Store / Old Roxboro Rd, or we'll end up on US-158.  There isn't that much traffic on 158 in these parts ... especially on a yukky day and gas approaching $4 a gallon."  Robert and the rest of the crew followed (we'd been riding as I explained), but I wasn't sure that they were convinced.  I embellished, "besides, I checked the map yesterday, and I think this is one of the roads that branches off Dennys Store Rd ... and I've been wanting to check out some of these other roads, anyway."  They followed.
  • Another mile or two, and someone called out, "there's a stop sign ahead."  And someone with sharper eyes then called out, "and look, it is Dennys Store Rd."  [Who needs GPS?]
  • The only sad part of coming out on Dennys Store Rd instead Old Roxboro Rd was that the evil Smitty was sharp-eyed enough and had the mental fortitude and energy to surge ahead for the county line as we passed from Person County back in to Granville County.  Sigh.
  • That was the end of the adventure during the "ride-proper."  Oh, people were still chilly, and some of us, especially me, had legs getting stiff while stopped in Stem (we skipped the stop in Berea and rode on to Stem -- which meant a further 8 or 9 miles for me on an under-inflated rear, which I tried to adjust for on most upslopes by doing my "Jerry impersonation").  But everything was essentially hunky-dory to the end of the ride.
  • However, on my ride back from the "ride-proper," I got my second flat of the day.  On Six Forks Rd while crossing over I-540 ... NOT the most propitious place to get a flat and definitely NOT a place to stop.  I rode the flat front tyre up (slight upslope) to the corner with Lead Mine Rd and proceeded, for the second time on the day, to fix a flat.  The odometer on my cycle confuser showed 99.79 or 99.97 miles (I can't recall which).  One good thing about stopping to fix that flat -- REST period.  My legs felt a LOT better the last 3+ miles than they had the 4+ miles from PUE to there.
Other fun things and conversation happened on the ride.  But I decided to only write about those things that made the ride an "adventure."
Intended route:

Actual route:  Smitty provided a link to his Garmin, which will show the actual route we rode.  [Maybe I should get "bryanphoto" to provide step-by-step information on how he embeds his Garmin info in his blog.]

--> PUE:  Dennys Store 80-miler -->; 103.3 m.; 6h,38m 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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __3 rides; __276.7 m.; _17 hrs, 44 min; 15.6 mph.
YTD tot: _26 rides; _2098.7 m.; 140 hrs, 49 min; 14.9 mph.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Apr-03: Recovery Ride

OR, My "Schtick" is:  I Blog Every Ride

Fifty-one weeks ago, the day after the April Morrisville 200 km Brevet, I figured I'd do an easy "spin-out-the-legs" 30-miler.  Instead, I serendipitously ended up doing something else.  
Some of the back-story behind that year-ago ride / post ended up in the editor's waste-basket ... a sort of "leave some things from the ride on the road, don't put them in the blog" kind of thing.  A question I'm asking myself is whether it would be safe ... now ... to pick those items out of the waste-basket.  Hmmn. 

Here is a safe piece from the waste-basket:  I was quite tired after the 200 brevet a year ago ... I had no legs for helping anyone ... let alone someone as fast on the bike as Lynn (who was training for the PacTour Elite Tour).  

Not as safe:  (1) Lynn had ridden the 200k the day before really hard because:  (a) she needed to ride hard, and  (b) she was expecting some quality help for at least some of her scheduled 170-mile training ride the next day.  (2) However, her expected quality help had ridden the 200k hard enough that he didn't think he would be of much help to Lynn, or perhaps his legs were begging for a shorter, easier ride ... i.e., a recovery ride.

And ... one or two pieces stay in the waste-basket.
So ... this year I had excellent legs upon completing the brevet, and all night long, and excellent legs when I went to have some fun on the bike, and I made no on-the-road serendipitous encounters that changed my plan.  [This now concludes the comparison of last year and this year that was a main theme of my 200 km brevet post.]

I did, however, get passed by two young female cyclists / triathletes while I was southwest-bound on Carpenter Pond Rd.  I asked if it was okay if I latched onto their wheels, and upon getting a "sure, but we're taking it easy" and they wondered aloud about slowing me down, I latched on and explained that I too was doing "easy" since I had done 125-miles the day before.  Gosh, it was nice to have someone else block the wind.

I was headed southeastward on Kemp Rd when I decided that my chain and cassette and chain rings needed a good cleaning.  Not having a "work-station" or other decent alternative to hold the bike up-off-the-ground, I knew I'd be in for a serious session of bending over.  So ... I stopped and called a particular bike-shop owner / mechanic to find out if he was going into his shop on Sunday, and if so, could I use one of his work-stations to make cleaning my drive system easier.  Gary usually avoids his shop on Sunday, but he had a customer that was coming by to transact some business, so he gave me the go-ahead to come by ... but he was still riding and it would be awhile before he got to his shop. 

That was more than okay by me; I wanted to stop by the Bayleaf Fire Station and find out from LT how the 100-miler Irregular crew ride had gone the previous day.  (That story has been covered elsewhere.)  LT and his crew, and a Captain (but not Capt. Tom) were doing a training exercise on the side of the fire station -- when I sauntered around the corner, the Fire Capt. asked if he could help me -- I said "oh, I'm just here to harass Lt. Dave; didn't mean to interrupt."  The Captain responded "it is always good to harass Lt. Dave."

So Dave and I chatted about our respective rides the day before while the Captain continued to supervise a ladder-raising exercise.  After several minutes, maybe more than several, I bid adieu and headed for Gary's.

I got to Gary's shop before he did ... so I waited in the warm sunshine (and mostly out of the wind).  After Gary arrived and he brought some stuff from his van into the shop, and I had brought my bike in ... Gary looked at my drive-system and gave me a disparaging look, shaking his head at the state I'd let things get into.  Gosh, it had only been two weeks since Gary had last seen my bike, albeit on the road during a ride ... and I'd only ridden about 400-miles since then ... in completely dry conditions. 

The upshot was that I got a couple excellent hands-on lessons in removing my chain (it had a "missing link", so that was not a big issue), cleaning and lubing everything including the derailleur cables, and putting the chain back on.  Net result:  a much quieter and much sweeter shifting bike.

I rode on home.  Recovery ride completed.
I must have been really, really slowly that 7 or 8 miles after leaving Gary's shop.  I was averaging nearly 15 mph when I arrived there. 

JRA Recovery Ride; 47.9 m.; 3h,20m in-motion; 14.3 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: __7 rides; __544.8 m.; _35 hrs, 06 min; 15.5 mph.
Apr tot: __2 rides; __173.4 m.; _11 hrs, 06 min; 15.6 mph.
YTD tot: _25 rides; _1995.4 m.; 134 hrs, 11 min; 14.9 mph.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Apr-02: Morrisville 200 km Brevet

Before reading this Irregular (and long) post, I urge you to check out some other views of the brevet:
 _ click here for an extremely short POV from Doc-on-a-Bike Keith,
 _ click here for Andy's usual short POV; check out his photos, esp. the one of Frosty's;
 _ click here for MikeD's POV, including some photos that I really like.
Eight months ago, with a little help from "my guys" (actually, a lot of help from "my guys"), we put together a multi-voice ride report that was well received.  With three Irregulars now RUSA members, I thought we might be able to give the volleying multi-voice report another shot.  However, either three voices are not enough, or the first post worked because it was new to four of us (and the fifth still wasn't convinced he could complete the ride "in style"), or (most likely) you can't go home again.

However, prior to the ride (and with a follow-up post-ride request), I did urge that Ricochet and JohnA send me a ride report from their individual points of view.  After reading their reports, but before starting to write mine (but having some ideas of what I want to cover), I've concluded that ... this time ... three separate stand-alone reports.  First JohnA, because this was his first RUSA ride of any sort and I received his report first.  Second Ricochet, because he's already provided his write-up.  Third me, thus taking on the anchor burden.

You'll probably come to the same conclusion I did -- in future, either I do a report OR I hornswaggle someone else into doing a guest post, but I do NOT try to do both. 
JohnA, aka, "Ags":  I wasn't in North Raleigh any more ...  

We started out 40 strong at a strip mall in Morrisville.  I lost Martin and Robert immediately [i.e., John was behind Ricochet and Martin].  It was when I found myself behind a recumbent and flanked by a tandem that I realized I wasn't in North Raleigh any more ... .

Excellent riding today with excellent people.  With 40 wheels to suck on to, I didn't mind a little breeze during the Trek [inside Irregulars joke -- Ags seems to never pull].  I found Ricochet and Martin somewhere in the group and hung on till the big hill at Mile Post 17.  Robert went about the task of introducing me to all his buddies from past Blog Entries: "Hardy Singh" Steve.  I lost them as the group got strung out and unfortunately had found my way to a group with woolen jerseys, some shaved legs and Campy parts (read: the lead group).  At the first control 50 miles out, I watched the hot riders disappear in the horizon and waited for Ricochet.

[Ed.:  To understand the next paragraph, it helps to know that in my post-ride e-mail requesting write-ups from Ags and Ricochet, I had noted that upon realizing that the two of them were in a 6-person line led by TomF that I knew Ags would be able to pull off his usual "never pull" move.   See, I started the "smack talk", and I admit it.]

We [Robert and John] teamed up with Tom and Leigh Anne who were representing Robeson Co. admirably.  Martin was dead on regarding Tom, he blocked and pulled for 10 miles to the turnaround where I met Chris and Brian.  Tom pulled for more miles and was spelled by Asheville Chris and Woody Fendered Brian [probably Jerry].

Eventually [Tom, LeeAnn, Chris, Jerry, Robert and I] caught Kim and Danny from Chapel Hill.  Somehow [Kim, Danny and I] got separated from everyone; we took it the remaining 35 miles to Alan's house, where I had the best tomato sandwich of my life.  It was awesome.  Elapsed time in the 7:30 range and averaged 18.0 mph in the "calm with the occasional breeze at my back" riding conditions.

Smack talk [for the "Irregulars"]:  While the mutual admiration society was pulling into PUE, I was already home sipping on a Dale's Pale Ale.  Congrats little Turtles! 

[Ed.:  Being the owner / editor of this blog does give me some prerogatives.  This time, I've decided to allow the other Irregulars to respond to the immediately preceding "smack talk" in their own ways.  Martin  ;-) ]
Ricochet Robert:   eating ice cream

Martin, John and I headed out on our non-IR adventure from Morrisville.  Since doing a few of these RUSA rides, I now recognize some of the faces…

As always on these brevets, there is a front group that takes it out and over time riders/groups drop off the back.  My decision process is "make good time holding on without damaging my overall objective of finishing with some spirit".  I hung with the fast group as John and I rode together about 40 miles and I needed to take a short break.  I lost the first and second train in a matter of a minute and rode solo 10 miles to the 50 mile control.  It was good seeing John's smiling face.... I had a feeling he would enjoy this experience plus help him prep for his AoMM. 

My stop was quick in rando fashion and I left with John, Tom and Lee Ann.  Tom stated he could pull if someone would navigate.  Such a deal John and I could not refuse ... I could see another smile on John's face [almost certainly from that "never pull" thing].  Tom pulled into the heavy wind until we hit the turn around ... Tom, thanks again!  A quick stamp, bite, drink, conversation off we go.  It was great seeing Martin heading into the control … an advantage to an out and back course.

It was no time and we were at the penultimate Snow Camp control, and upon leaving we joined a larger group seems like about a dozen.  It was so much fun to be riding with that many people so late (50 miles to go) in the ride.  As the group split, I was with Jerry, Bryan, Chris, Chris and Barclay off-and-on the rest of the ride.  Jerry suggested we stop at Frosty’s and I was all over that…. brilliant idea!  We spent 15 to 20 mins eating ice cream and having a soda sitting at the table in the back.  Frosty’s now is very biker friendly from the bike rack, biker food/drink and big smile from the young lady working there.

Special thanks for Jerry and Bryan as I leeched on them the last 50 miles.  I did not pull as I was concerned I was over my head, riding with people I have never been able to keep up with late in a ride.  Unvoiced questions came in into my head numerous times on how fast am I currently going and will I have legs at the end, these questions always happen when pushing to the limit. 

This was my best 200k:  1) my fastest with 17.2 ave mph and about 7h,10m on the bike with 7h,57m elapsed time total;  2) rode with good groups all but 10 miles when I was solo;  3) only had to read cue sheets for 20 miles.  Now complete are the 200, 300 and 600 with only the 400k left for my first SR and qualifying for PBP.  This all made for a very rewarding day. 
My Story:  I'm-on-a-mission 

I arrived at approx 6:05 am.  Unlike last year, I was not the first rando on-site.  This year, Alan and Dorothy were there and set-up before I arrived. 

Last year, when I went to sign in, none of Alan's pens seemed to work; Dorothy exclaimed, "I'm always after him to get rid of the ones that don't work, but he never does."  I gave Alan two pens.  I always looked for one of those pens whenever I signed in for one of Alan's brevets last year.  This year, I didn't see either of "my" pens from last year but there were several pens nicely laid out and each had the appearance of a pen that would work.  I made a comment along those lines; Alan and Dorothy each chuckled.

Last year, I knew no one.  That isn't exactly correct -- I knew LynnL and had met and ridden once with MikeD, had once fleetingly met Sridhar and had exchanged e-mails with Branson (but had never met him).  I did recognize a few faces from photos I had seen on the grand-daddy of NC rando blogs:  Research Trailer Park.  This year, I recognized many faces and knew the names to go with them (some of those faces actually appeared to greet me warmly -- they've probably been taking fake rando smile lessons from Andy).  There were and still are, many faces and names that I do not know.

Last year, I had no idea what was going on or what to expect, but I made sure to be ready to ride on time.  This year, I still had no idea what was going on pre-ride, but the guy parked next to me was Ags, and he probably thought I knew what I was doing. 

Last year, mucking about before the ride, I actually met Branson (I think).  This year, I not only saw and shared "hello's" with Branson, but Branson introduced me to his son Aubrey.  Aubrey seemed to want to be shy and snuggle into his dad's shoulder -- that seems like a really good thing for a youngster Aubrey's age to do.

As noted, last year, I didn't know hardly anyone.  This year, I saw and exchanged hello's with several randos I hadn't seen in a while, including Byron, the aforementioned Branson, MikeO, BikerBob, Andy, Tim, MikeD, JohnO, and perhaps others.  There were some missing faces that I expected (or half-expected) to see; among those "missing" were Dean, Sridhar, BobO, recumbent-Ron, Vance, Maria -- all back-half-of-the-packers.  Three other back-halfers were also not there:  Al P because he is mostly laid-up, and Sara and Gary because they moved to Maine.

Alan rang his cowbell and we were off.  I saw JayJay waiting for the rush to pass ... I called out a hello to her.  Between where I saw JayJay and the edge of Morrisville-Carpenter Rd, I felt a change come over my disposition; I am sure the look on my face changed and also the set of my jaw.  "Happy-go-lucky" was replaced with "I'm-on-a-mission," because last year I learned a thing or two about the starts and also because ... whereas last year I was concerned about finishing, this year I wanted a time to validate the Permanent I had done on Tuesday, just four days before.

Last year, I was mentally prepared to ride the entire 200k solo, soft-pedaling.  Last year, not knowing what to expect out-of-the-chute, I was dropped by the lead pack (about 3/4 of the riders) by the time we got to the half-mile point.  Last year, by the time of the August 200 km brevet, I had finally figured out how to start.  This year, that mask of "I'm-on-a-mission" that came over me meant I was determined to grab the lead-pack, or at least those that I knew were faster than me but whom I could hold onto until the climb on Jack Bennett began.  I was behind Ricochet, he was losing the wheel in front of him; I said, "Robert, catch that wheel."  More space opened in front of Robert.  I went around him; this was no time to be fooling around.  (Irregular readers will realize just how unusual it is for Ricochet to NOT grab the wheel in front of him.  Probably even more unusual for me to grab a fast-wheel at the start of a ride.)

Robert asked if I knew where John was.  I answered, "No, and I'm not going to look for him, either."

I settled in and checked who I was near.  Tim, JohnO, Jerry were among the crowd in which I was zooming along.  "Good," I thought, "I know I can stick with these guys until Jack Bennett; they'll ride intelligently and not waste their energy; if I stick with them, I may gain as much as 15 minutes."  I relaxed a little.  Said hello to Tim, chatted with JohnO and probably some I'm forgetting.  It felt good.

I never met Chet and/or Cindy last year (they were always wayyyy ahead of me on their tandem), but the week before this brevet, I traded several e-mails with Chet in response to a request I had made for information regarding NC Bike Route #4 information east of Warrenton.  In the course of those e-mails, Chet had informed me that he was not in good shape this year.  Saturday, I "met" Chet and Cindy while going upslope on the little dipsy-doodle on Yates Store Rd.  I was going backwards compared to 97% of the lead pack.  Suddenly, there was a tandem going backward even faster than me.  I shouted out, "Hey, Chet!  It's Martin."  Possibly not the best timing to meet Chet and Cindy.

I was on the fog-line and suddenly a woman I'd never met was riding next to me.  We introduced ourselves.  She said her name was LeeAnne (I probably ought to check that spelling); I said, "oh, you ride with Mary and Tom."  She said that she tried to.  I explained that I didn't really belong up in the lead pack, that I was just sucking the draft for the first 17 or 18 miles, and that the only time I had ever ridden with Mary and Tom was because Mary was still tired from a 24-hour race the week before.  In a re-shuffle of the pack, I lost my place next to LeeAnne and ...

Found I was next to TomF.  I told him I'd just met LeeAnne and had explained to her the only time I'd ever ridden with him and Mary was because ... see above.  That reminded Tom of something.  "Hey," he said, "I proved you wrong!"  He had remembered that I had foolishly commented that it seemed, from looking at several of his 24-hour race TT results, that maybe 400 miles in 24 hours was just a hair beyond him.  He had taken that as a challenge when I had mentioned that during the Full Moon KLL last June, and had kept it as an incentive to keep going at Sebring.  Tom told me a bit about the end of his TT.  He also told me about LeeAnne's performance at Sebring.  I know he would have mentioned Mary's performance, but another shuffling of the pack and I was beside BryanR (who says he is targeting riding a bit slower than last year, but JohnP opined that Bryan is faster this year than last) and then JohnO.  I'm glad Tom got his 400+ miles; and glad to have provided him a little extra incentive.

At the turn off Lystra onto Jack Bennett, I found I was beside Jerry, so ... making a little extra effort, I told Jerry that I was going to edge ahead of him just so I could say I had been ahead of him at one point during this brevet.  Jerry said that doing that would be easy, because Beth was supposed to be at the Big Woods corner, and he was going to stop and hand off his jacket.  It didn't seem that getting ahead because he stopped was quite right, so I made sure to slide ahead before Beth came into view, telling Jerry that I was confident that he would catch me before we got up to US-15/501.

The Jack Bennett climb started.  Those ahead of me moved off; I waved those behind me to come around.  A voice said, "I'm with you."  I asked, "Is that you, John?"  The voice answered, "Yes."  I was thinking Ags.  But suddenly, Ags was beside me following Ricochet up the hill.  I knew the "John" that was behind me was still there, and could see that in addition to not being JohnA, it was also not JohnO.  I asked, "Which John?"  The answer came back, "JohnP."  (Except that he actually spoke his last name.)  I knew of JohnP from last year, but had never met him -- he was always ahead of me.  I asked if he was sure he didn't want to come around.  The mass of the lead pack being gone, JohnP came up alongside me and explained he was not in as good a condition as last year, and he was just wanting to stick with me.

I introduced myself as "Martin"; he asked if I was the "skiffun blog".  Well, he did ask that, but you don't think I actually remember the exact chronology, do you?  JohnP and I rode up Jack Bennett together.  Jerry caught and passed us just before the stop light at US-15/501.  Jerry got through on green.  JohnP and I got caught by a red light.  An unknown (to me) recumbent rider joined us at the light.

After the Jack Bennett climb (which seemed to me to take very little energy) John and I rode Andrews Store, Parker Herndon, Hamlet Chapel / Jones Ferry, Crawford Dairy and Chicken Bridge roads together.  The unknown recumbent would pass on the downhills and we would pass him on the uphills.  It was good riding company.  I swear it was taking no energy.  We were all three trying to get as far as we could before the expected WEST WIND started blowing.  We were Chicken Bridge Rd, I noted 9:14 am, when the first real hints of the wind made their presence known. 

We turned on to NC-87 to zip down to Castle Rock Rd.  I recalled that last October, Irregular Tito had missed the turn off NC-87, IvaHawk had ditched because he thought he was going to get run over by a truck, the-yet-to-be-named-Ricochet dropped his chain just as he turned off 87.  I was determined to NOT miss the turn, and to get off the highway as quickly as I could.  With that in mind, on that last little almost-nothing of a bump on 87 up to Castle Rock, I did my best Jerry impression -- meaning I suddenly stood and danced my way up that little rise.  Doing that apparently opened a gap between JohnP and myself.  After I'd made the turn, but John was still on 87, I called back that I would wait for him.  But when I turned back around on my saddle, the wind immediately dictated that I get in the proper cadence and stay there, regardless of whether I had company or not.  As a result, I did approximately the last 90 miles solo.
JohnP sent me a note (actually, he sent it to the entire NC rando list-serve); since it is clearly self-serving to do so, I reproduce the key sentence here:  "Martin, I tried to chase you to Snow Camp and then to Siler City. You just kept pulling away!  Cheers, JohnP."
The westbound rollers of the Old Greensboro Highway, aided by the increasing west wind, were not going to allow me "pop" them on Saturday.  I spun up most of them in a tiny gear and at a small pace.  However, I did do my "Jerry impression" again on one or two of them.  (I never used to stand up for any climb -- except a short, sharp one just after a turn or other reason that had reduced my speed to practically nil -- but after having completed the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway last September, I sometimes find that I'm up-out-of-the-saddle without realizing that I ever stood up.)

I arrived at the Snow Camp control to find three or five others there (two may have come in just behind me).  I was taking off my helmet when someone called someone else "Keith."  I asked, "Keith S?"  (I actually used his last name.)  An answer came from the guy about four feet away, "Yes."  "Hi, Keith, it's Martin," I said, "I didn't recognize you without your red Surly."  Keith chuckled, and assured me that the red Surly Long-Haul Trucker was doing him great service as his commuter bike.  Saturday was the first time I was ever at the same control at the same time as Keith.  Doc-on-a-bike Keith and his posse (altogether numbering five) left about the same time as JohnP and the unknown recumbent arrived.

The recumbent rider was Justin, from the DC randonneurs, doing his first ever "Alan brevet."  Having met Justin, and figuring that JohnP would soon be catching up to me despite his claiming he was not in good shape, I took off for Siler City.  Chet and Cindy arrived at Snow Camp before I left; I think JoAnn had also arrived before I left.

I think I was more than half-way to Siler City from Snow Camp when I encountered the first two returning randos.  That put me only about 12 miles behind.  The second two returning randos were Wes and one more rider I did not recognize / know.  I think the next was 2010-NC-rando-rookie-of-the-year Tim (that ought to embarrass him slightly -- he is so quiet and shy, and nice, but absolutely determined).  I don't recall the order after that, but I soon saw JohnO solo with his usual smile and wave (he later assured me that he rode most of the return in a group) and then, at about my 58-mile point, a line of six being led by TomF.  I didn't recognize anyone else in the line at the time -- I think I was "distracted" by a vehicle that was about to overtake the six and I was paying attention to where that vehicle was on the road relative to me.  I did hear someone shout out my name.  A mile or two later I realized it had been Ricochet.  I figured that Ags was also in that line and that John and Robert had stayed together the entire ride until then.  Obviously, from above, I have since learned that they had not stayed together the whole time; but luckily John had backed off staying with the leaders (or more likely was caught unprepared for the "three minute control stop") and had wisely waited for Robert.

The wind while on Siler City - Snow Camp Rd was quite "interesting."  Mostly a side-wind, partially a head-wind, but occasionally a tailwind.  There was no such confusion while on Harold Andrews Rd -- it was head-on into the building wind.

I arrived at the Siler City control to see the welcome sight of Joel with much food and drink.  I must have been a bit tired -- I made use of his truck's tailgate as a seat.  Joel told me it was 11:22 -- 4h,22m from Morrisville to Siler City -- I was pleased -- the first half of my "mission" was accomplished on target -- even with the building headwind.  I started thinking about a revised "mission."  I filled up the water bottle(s), mixed up another bottle of E-load, ate some pretzels, chips, part of an orange and some other goodies including at least two Rice Krispie treats.  Chet and Cindy, JohnP, Justin and JoAnn (in some order, almost certainly different from that just listed) arrived at the control.  I could have stayed, eating Krispie treats for quite a while, but I set out for the return to Snow Camp at 11:32.

The wind was a definite plus on Harold Andrews Rd.  I saw Mike O'C riding solo on H.A.Rd. -- he looked like he was HATING the wind, and maybe the bike -- I tried to call out something encouraging.  I saw BikerBob near the Harold Andrews corner with S.C.-S.C.Rd -- I think we shouted encouragement to each other.  I saw Chloe a bit further on, but didn't realize who it was until after we'd passed each other -- I hope I called out something encouraging.  Chloe was the last rando I saw until I met JayJay leading Andy, about three miles south of Snow Camp.  I slowed and yelled a specific encouragement to them.  I continued zooming on to Snow Camp.

I quickly got my card stamped and bought a very important energy drink -- a small Coke -- it was cheaper than a Pepsi.  I sat on the bench, munching on four of those round chocolate PowerBall things (150 calories), drinking the Coke (190 calories and who knows how much sugar-type stuff), refilling one bottle from the jugs left behind by faster randos, and contemplated how things have changed in 51 weeks.  A year ago, I would have sat on that bench, wondering and worried about whether I would / could finish the ride.  Saturday, I sat on that bench, KNOWING I was going to finish, and unless there was some disaster, I would finish with a personal record time and with gusto and energy.  God, it felt good.

JoAnn arrived just before I left.  I recognized JoAnn as one the numerous randos that has always been ahead of me, but I did not know her name.  We introduced ourselves.  I thought for one milli-second about waiting for JoAnn and riding the last 50 miles together.  But then remembered that I was on a "mission," so I did not bring up the subject, and I lit out for Morrisville.

I don't recall very much from those last 50 miles.  I do recall the wonderful tailwind on the Old Greensboro Highway -- I did most of that 4.66-mile stretch in my big chain ring instead of the middle chain ring (augmented on the several steeps by the small chain ring).  I even went over the top of a couple of those rollers in the big chain ring.  Then, I was caught by the seemingly endless "Iron Butt" parade of Harleys.  I thought the "parade" was never going to end ... probably less than a mile long, but it seemed longer ... and every single one of those motorcycles and its "muffler" system was tuned to be LOUD or LOUDER.  I thought of Vance's comments about certain types in pick-up trucks ... I swear EVERY single one of those motorcycles "gunned" their engine as they passed me ... certainly proving that something they had was bigger (or at least noisier) than something I had.
I reached out to JoAnn via the NC-rando-list-serve, asking if she was engulfed by the "Iron Butts".  She responded, "I sure did get passed by the 4 minutes of cycles. I agree that they seemed to gun it right in my ear, but lots were also giving me two fingers up - the first and fourth. I figured that was a friendly hi, but have not seen that before."
JohnP also sent a note:  "I was sitting at Snow Camp eating some mustard on my pretzels when that line of bikes went by.  It was irritating."
There was quite a bit of additional discussion on the NC-rando-list-serve following my inquiry.  I won't repeat it here.  But I will comment that while on the Blue Ridge Parkway trip last September, when climbing, one would hear the Harleys coming from several miles back, the noise echo-ing up the mountainsides.  The BMW touring motorcycles, and some other brands, were so quiet that sometimes I didn't hear them until they were within a 100 yards or even closer.  One set just described was annoying and sometimes nerve-wracking.  The other set was neither.
After the "Iron Butt" parade was past, Lindley Mill and Old Switchboard / Castle Rock Farm roads passed without incident.  The only things I recall are that  (1) sometimes, the west wind was not as helpful as one would wish,  (2) I had to remind myself on several occasions, sometimes within seconds of the previous reminder, "don't push the pace, just keep a good cadence, that will be faster in the long-run," and  (3) I was quite pleased to see the chip-seal portion of Castle Rock give way to the smooth portion.

I next recall the winds slamming me about while crossing the Chicken Bridge.  And the next thing I recall was "waking up" and thinking, "hey, you need to be alert for Parker Herndon Rd" just moments before I reached the turn for said Parker Herndon Rd.  I know there are downs-and-ups on Chicken Bridge Rd, Crawford Dairy, and Jones Ferry / Hamlet Chapel, but I must have been in some alternate universe -- because I recall none of it.

Parker Herndon Rd seemed much rougher than last year.

I paused at the Andrews Store Rd / US-15/501 corner, across from the store, in the sunshine, to munch some nabs and take a good drink (you have to take a good drink after eating those crackers).  I saw that there were several bicycles leaning up against the store, but I figured that they had to be non-randos because I knew that there was no way I could ever have closed the gap on Doc-on-a-Bike Keith and his posse.  (Turned out I was wrong.)

I shoved off for an enjoyable rush down Jack Bennett Rd, and whoosh, next thing I knew I was turning on to Church St. in oldtown Morrisville.  Seeing Alan, I shouted out the finish time as per the clock on my cycle confuser ... "three thirty-one, Alan!" 

8h,31m elapsed clock time -- 29 minutes faster than the original mission -- 1 minute slower than the revised "mission."  8h,31m.  A full 90 minutes faster than I did the April Morrisville 200 km brevet last year.  A full 29 or 30 minutes faster than my record time for a 200k, set last October on this same Morrisville brevet course. 

7h,46m in-motion for the 125.3 miles that my confuser recorded.  My fastest ride, of any sort or any length, so far this year. 
While waiting for MikeO and BikerBob (I had expected I would do much / most of the ride with those two gentlemen -- I didn't really think I could do a 9h,0m 200-km ride just four days after having done a similar effort), Alan showed me his new computer / RBA-central room -- very nice.
I enjoyed every minute of post-ride socializing; I hope I didn't bore too many people to tears.

I particularly liked the quote Ian gave me from a certain Mark Thomas:  "The secret of doing these rides is to start easy, and then back off."  (I probably mangled the quote.)

Morrisville 200 km brevet; 125.3 m.; 7h,46m in-motion; 16.1 mph; official rando time: 8h,31m 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.
Apr tot: __1 rides; __125.3 m.; __7 hrs, 46 min; 16.1 mph.
YTD tot: _24 rides; _1947.5 m.; 130 hrs, 51 min; 14.9 mph.
Addendum Apr-07:  Bryan put up his "Miles to Go" POV after I published.  Includes two "drift-back-thru-the-pack" videos.