Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Lumpy 600k from Mars Hill and the Girl in the Red Dress - July 27, 2013

Mars Hill 600k - this was Bryon's kind of ride --we did have about 6 miles of flatness down by the river.  All 4 distances started together - 200, 300, 400 and 600k with 4, 4, 1 and 3 riders respectively. 

The 600k (373 miles) consisted of a 400k loop and another 200k loop all starting and finishing in Mars Hill.  Luke, Joel and I were the 600k riders.   

Many of us went back to our college days by spending Friday night in a Mars Hill College dorm - thanks for Tony for arranging this and putting on the ride.  
Off we go at 6am Sat - It rained early in the ride and I was wet but warm for a long time.  There were 2 or 3 basic groups early in the ride with the 200 turning off about 35 miles and 300 off at first control 78 miles.  I was dropped once when the leaders took a wrong turn and sprinted to catch up.  Then a short stop at the next stop to connect with the group.  
Everyone feeling good at first control - Shady Valley, Tn at 79 miles
At the start, Tony had suggested I travel light and to pace myself, so plenty of sit down, gear down.    I was doing ok staying with Ian from GA, Luke and Joel on the hilly sections then found myself struggling to do so when hills became smaller.  I said goodbye to the group about 90 miles and rode solo back to Mars Hill at 250 miles seeing them at Bristol, VA and Newport, TN controls as I was 30 to 45 minutes behind. 

The dense fog and foggy glasses made it difficult and slowed the pace the last 50 miles Sunday morning before sunrise crossing back over the mountains in to Mars Hill as I had to ride my brakes down all the steep hills. 

Mars Hill arrival was 450am Sunday about 40 minutes after the group.  Then eating, shower, 2 hour sleep and eating, I was on the bike a little after 8am Sunday, leaving before Joel and Luke as I needed less beauty sleep.  The 52 miles to Waynesville, NC took over 5 hours due to climbing, heat and an extra stop.  I saw the guys coming in as I left.  I was concerned about meeting the time limit as my schedule was to finish with one hour to spare and I was then running 30 minutes late. 

The signs in Tenn and Western Carolina were lacking.  I took a wrong turn, did not consult by phone app. so added 7 bonus miles.  Needless to say my pace quickened.  Luke and Joel were in the Marshall control when I arrived.  The 3 of us rode the last 30 miles together with Tony joining us with about 10 miles to go...completing the 600k in 39.5 hours with 30 minutes to spare.  
Mars Hill 600 -- complete
  • lots of climbing.... some wide and some narrow roads.   Some long grinding climbs and some very steep ones.  Good to have the switch backs so you do not see the entire climb at once.
  • great scenery in the mountains
  • I still had good climbing legs at the end so training must be working.
  • the picture in my head of the sweet young thing in her red dress at Woodfin control eyeing over Luke and Joel from behind then noticing I caught her in the act.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jul-27: IvaHawk + Me on Denny's Store Sortie

  • IvaHawk is planning to do the "Blue Ridge Brutal," one of those audaciously named mountain centuries that abound here in North Carolina, on Aug-10th.  (The most famous one is the "Assault on Mt. Mitchell.")  
  • Iva, Ricochet, Biker-Bob and I did the Denny's Store ride two weeks ago so Iva could get an 85-mile ride in his legs.  
  • Last week, Iva did a sprint triathlon.  I'm not entirely sure why.  Maybe he did the tri because our friend Tito was out of town, and that would make it easier for Iva to podium in his age-group.  :-O 
  • But this week, Iva was interested in building up to the Brutal ride, again.  
  • I agreed to do an 85-miler with him; he agreed to do Denny's Store so I could collect the 138-kms RUSA credit on offer. 
  • We picked an 0645 start time to shoe-horn the expected six-and-a-half hour ride between early morning constraints and Iva's tight back end constraint. 
  • Everything went swimmingly on a beautiful day (partly cloudy all ride, with high temp in the mid-to-upper 80's, and a breeze in our face the entire second half of the ride). 
  • So swimmingly were things going early on, that I after I realized that I had ridden the first 19-miles (to Butner) without a single gear change, I decided to do the entire route faux-single-speed, in 39/15 gearing.  
  • The most serious test of that decision comes shortly after Butner, when the route goes UP the "Range Wall."  (Many people from many places would laugh at referring to that incline as a "wall," but ... .)  I had to stand the entire climb, not "dancing" mind you, and it took some serious heavy breathing and sweat was popping out of every pore, but I got to the top of the wall without changing gears.  (The rest of the route would be a cake-walk.  Not really.  But there is nothing else nearly as tough as that incline on Range Rd.)
  • We "attacked" almost every upslope so that Iva would get in extra climbing work -- at least that was my excuse. 
  • Iva is like the Energizer Bunny -- he just keeps coming and coming and coming. 
  • Between such "attacks," we had several conversations going simultaneously.  I can't recall what some of them were.  Some I can recall, but they shall remain "in the ride."  
  • We stopped at the Denny's Store sign.  Supposedly so that Iva could show me the results of the "elevation app" on his I-phone.  I didn't have any reading glasses with me, so that was a waste of a moment or two.  However, I think Iva's real reason was to snap a photo of me at the sign.  I suppose he'll forward same tomorrow or ... whenever.  
  • Bad friend that I am, I didn't offer to snap a photo of Iva.  :-O 

According to IvaHawk and his I-phone elevation app, 577 ft above sea level.  [I'm going to keep trying different angles for others -- maybe we'll find the best angle and background one day.  Also, I need to stand up straight when someone is snapping a pic, and straighten my jersey beforehand, and do a better job on the color coordination.] 

  • Between Denny's Store and Berea, Iva noticed a "rubbing sound" come from his bike.  After he asked me what I thought it was, we each made the logical guesses:  brake rubbing against a rim being the preferred choice. 
  • When we prepared to leave Berea, Iva discovered the problem:  his rear had gone partially flat. 
  • Thinking it a slow leak because there was still a non-trivial amount of air in the tire, we pumped it up, hoping to get at least 15-miles of the remaining 30 before needing to address the issue again.  
  • We got about 100 yards.  And the tire was decidedly FLAT.
  • A more careful inspection showed a bulge in the tire, centered on the middle of the tire, where the rubber meets the road.  Iva was definitely disappointed as he only had about 500 miles on that tire (and the same on his new wheel-set).
  • A replacement tire seemed the best idea, er, the ONLY solution.  
  • Luckily, Iva was riding with someone that always carries a spare tire.  I hadn't needed to use my spare for me since the 600k in 2011.  I had, however, loaned a spare to our friend JohnA, in late September-2011, on the Kerr Lake Loop 208-km perm.  Since then, my spare had ridden along nicely in my handlebar bag for 22 months and more than 15-thousand miles, warding off the need for its use. 
  • After a bit of a struggle, during which I joked about putting a 698-tire on a 702-rim, we got the spare on Iva's rim, inserted a new tube, and continued our ride. 
  • The spare, a tire that many might have discarded long ago, because it has a rather flat profile where the rubber meets the road, and because there was actually a patch on the inside of the tire, did an excellent job the last 30-miles of the ride, and more, as Iva had commuted from his house to the ride start / finish (another 2.1 miles). 
  • One other interesting thing was noted while we were in Berea: 
  • The destruction and replacement of the bridge over the Tar River on Culbreth Rd, that was scheduled to begin in May, was finally begun in the last two weeks. 
  • We had to take the detour, on roads I'd never ridden.  Turned out to be nice roads.  Only 2-kms added to the route.  
  • I now have a trifecta on my perms.  Denny's Store has a 2-km detour because of a bridge out.  Egypt Mtn has a 3-km detour because of a bridge out.  The Road to Hicksboro has a 5-km detour because of a bridge out. 
  • My only route that doesn't currently have a bridge out is the standard route for Bahama Beach.  However, even that route is somewhat effected by a bridge being out.  There is a detour from a "parallel" road bridge out that is routed onto the standard BB route. 
  • Quadfecta? 
  • Iva and I finished about 45 minutes after we had hoped / planned. 
  • However, he had made a couple phone calls to implement a plan-B, so all was good. 
It was a great day to have gone for a bike ride.

--> Denny's Store Sortie 138-km Perm-Pop + detour -->; 108.6 m.;  7h12 in-motion; 15.1 mph.  
 ____ pre-ride commute: _9.0 m.; 0h32 in-motion; 16.9 mph. 
 ____ Denny's Store Sortie:  87.0 m.; 5h48 in-motion; 15.0 mph; elapsed time:  7h14. 
 ____ post-ride commute:  12.6 m.; 0h52 in-motion; 14.4 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms.
Q-2 tot: _18 rides; _2293.9 m; 158h18; 14.5 mph; _3142 RUSA kms.
Jul tot: __6 rides; __643.3 m; _42h25; 15.2 mph; __694 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _35 rides; _3877.5 m; 265h26; 14.6 mph; _5111 RUSA kms.

I decided not to mention that I did the "Irregulars' Ghoston-Peed-MVC end-of-ride time-trial" in 18'12".  That may be the fastest time I have ever done that 4.6-miles with the three climbs; however, my time pales in comparison to the 14' or 14'30" that several of the "Irregular climbers" have recorded.  (And those time would likely pale in comparison to the times some people could set -- unless they encountered significant traffic on NC-98 -- that happens sometimes -- in fact, I had to let up while on 98 to let traffic pass so I could get into the turn lane, and then I had to let up again to let the oncoming traffic clear.) 

I did decide to mention the following:
Eddington Cycling Number: 
After this ride:  106
Meaning that I have completed at least 106 different rides that were at least 106 miles long.

During our ride, Iva theorized on what it would take to get to an Eddington Cycling Number of 200 if one started with no rides, but had a commitment to get to ECN = 200.  One 200-miler a week --> 4 years.  One 200-miler a month --> nearly 17 years.  I recall that Iva concluded anyone targeting ECN = 200 was crazy.  (No one I know is targeting any "ECN level."  The best thing about his theorizing?  It filled a few miles with semi-humorous chat. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jul-21: Hope Springs Etermal

I hadn't done the 'Hope Springs Eternal' perm-pop since some time last year.
Luckily, Mick was able to accommodate a rather late request, and I did HSE on Sunday.

I thought I was making good progress,
Meaning I thought I was maintaining a decent average pace, and
Maybe I was, but
I don't really know since the battery in my cycle-confuser-sensor died, and
I haven't got around to replacing it yet.

I left the 69+ km turn-around control at precisely 10 am (3h00 after starting),
After having spent only about 6-minutes at the control in Spring Hope,
Thinking to myself, "wow, I might finish in about 6-hours total."

I had forgotten that a breeze had finally woken at about 9:40 am.
And said breeze would be in my face all the way back to Raleigh.
It wasn't ever strong enough to refer to it as a headwind, but
There was that ever-present small amount of pressure in my face.

I had also forgotten that the route is net upslope inbound.
I had forgotten that Fowler Rd, in particular, can be troublesome upslope into a breeze.
[BTW, it appears that Fowler Rd has been recently infested with tar-snakes. 
At least I don't recall Fowler Rd being particularly tar-snaky last year. 
It certainly is now.  --  And there are no tar smiley faces.]  

I hadn't made any stops on the outbound leg,
Even catching all the stop-lights (save one) on green!
But inbound I made an extra stop at the Hopkins Fire Station
For a pee and to top up a couple water bottles.
5 or 6 minutes.

I must have lost focus at the Mitchell Mill Rd intermediate control,
As the stop took 9 minutes instead of the intended 6.
I thought I was still making a good average pace when I left the control, but
As indicated above, I don't really know.

The last 15+ miles from the Mitchell Mill control to the finish
Always takes longer than an hour.
The result of the combination of surprisingly tougher than expected rollers getting into town, and
The stop-lights.

Outbound, as noted above, the stop-lights had been good to me.
Outbound, there had been no traffic in downtown Raleigh, and
Virtually no traffic anywhere.
Well ... come to think of it, there was one ... jerk ... on Fowler Rd, outbound.

Inbound, as you might guess, the traffic volume increased as I approached Raleigh, and
Although not a lot of downtown traffic, there was more than literally none.
Inbound, as you might guess, I caught all the stop-lights on red.

Outbound, the sky had been overcast with the clouds helping to keep a "civilized" temperature.
Inbound, the overcast slowly disappeared,
So that by the time I was stopped at the lights in downtown,
The sun was making its presence felt.

[Admittedly, the sun wasn't really "all that" during the ride. 
However, on the post-ride commute, 'El Sol' came out in full force 
While I was going up the climb on Lassiter Mill Rd. 
I could feel the sweat-beads forming on my scalp, 
At the base of the few hairs I still have on top. 
Sweat beads forming under the head-sweats cover. 
At least the head-cover keeps the sweat from running into my eyes, and 
Keeps me from getting sumburned up top.]

Anyway, I finished the ride in 6h31.
Fastest time I've ever done the Hope Springs Eternal.
First time I've ever done the route without a prolonged lunch-stop.
[That's neither a complaint nor the opposite -- just a fact.]  

--> Hope Springs Eternal 140-km Perm-Pop -->; 98.0 m.;  6h49 in-motion; 14.4 mph.  
 ____ pre-ride commute: _5.1 m.; 0h22 in-motion. 
 ____ Hope Springs Eternal +:  87.8 m.; 6h03 in-motion; elapsed time:  6h31. 
 ____ post-ride commute:  5.1 m.; 0h24 in-motion. 

Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms.
Q-2 tot: _18 rides; _2293.9 m; 158h18; 14.5 mph; _3142 RUSA kms.
Jul tot: __5 rides; __534.7 m; _35h12; 15.2 mph; __556 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _34 rides; _3768.9 m; 258h14; 14.6 mph; _4973 RUSA kms.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jul-20: And His Third Ride Was P-B-P

Having opened the month doing one of Tony's Bicycle For Life mountain-ish 400's. and
Having skipped riding on the 13th because of the prospect of poor weather,
The weather turn out be great, btw -- but it does depend on the def'n of "great," and
Family obligations knocking the 27th off the calendar,
Bob needed a populaire on the 20th to keep his run at the P-12 going.

Ricochet has been working on getting his long-time running friend, DanP,
To come over to the dark side and start bicycling around a bit.
Not that bicycling is the dark side, but randonneuring might be.

Dan's defenses finally fell and he got a bike and has done a few rides.
Twenty milers.
Just before the start, Ricochet allowed that he might be asking a bit much of Dan,
As he could have picked an easier populaire.

Putting thoughts of Egypt Mtn last July from my mind,
And also thoughts of Black Creek from last September,
And even squelching certain recollections from February earlier this year,

Hoping, instead, for a repeat from 2010,
I noted, "Well, Robert's first ride was 35-miles, and his second ride was 70-miles."
Bob interjected, "And his third ride was P-B-P."
Guffaws from Robert and me (and maybe Bob, too).
As noted in the prior post, there are some reasonable variants of the Bahama Beach course;
I wanted to do the "Hall Rd variant" because I had never ridden Hall Rd.
I had told Bob I wanted to do "Hall Rd" even before Ricochet and Dan signed on to the ride.

With Dan on the ride, and not having many miles in his legs,
The Hall Rd variant made even more sense:
One-half mile longer, but flatter.
[Hmmn, RWGPS indicates almost exactly the same climbing, 
But Hall Rd certainly seemed much flatter. (?) ] 

Ricochet was anxious to leave the control in Stem, but
I was playing for a few extra minutes,
Thinking that Dan's legs might appreciate an extra 5-minutes rest.

That's always problematic.
Is a little more rest the better option?
Or getting back on the bike before anything has a chance to tighten up?

I'd forgotten that the previous time Robert and I had done BB together,
That I'd led us across Hester Rd.
That may have been Robert's introduction to Hester Rd.

Anyway, I haven't made a RWGPS map of the Hester Store variant, but
I guess I'll need to:
Ricochet Robert has fallen in love with Hester Rd.

Quiet and relatively flat -- that was his description to Dan.
An apt description.
I can't recall even a single person who has ever disliked Hester Rd, cycling-wise.

The strange thing about Ricochet liking Hester Rd, partially because of its relative flat,
Is that he LOVES Byron's Leesville-Leasburg-Leesville Permanent route
Precisely because it is decidedly NOT flat.
[And that L-L-L starts less than 2-miles from his house.] 

There are at least a couple interesting houses on Hester Rd.
My favorite is the seven-gables-house at the corner with NC-56.
[Sorry, no photo.]

Dan's legs started to show serious indications of weariness approaching Wilton.
By the time we reached Grissom, Robert was orchestrating an extra stop at the picnic table.
And sharing electrolytes and what-not, trying to fight off cramps and such.

Bob and I drifted off the front of Dan and Robert on the run-in on Bruce Garner / New Light Rd.
Robert got Dan up the triumverant of finishing climbs:
Ghoston, Peed and Mt. Vernon Church roads.
Recalling the completion of the aforementioned Feburary ride.

Robert is hoping Dan might be ready for Alan's NCBC picnic brevet in mid-August.
I'm going to suggest that Robert scale back his hopes to the picnic Populaire.
And for Dan's first 200 -- I'm going to suggest Dean's LOMBD.

P-1 for Dan.  But I wouldn't recommend that he start counting at this point.
P-9 for Bob.  And he is counting.
Robert appears to have picked up P-11 earlier in the month.
He seems to be keeping that quiet.  Oops! 

--> Bahama Beach-km Perm-Pop (w/ variants) -->; 91.6 m.;  6h05 in-motion; 15.0 mph.  
 ____ pre-ride commute: _9.0 m.; 0h32 in-motion; 16.9 mph. 
 ____ Bahama Beach + :  66.9 m.; 4h28 in-motion; 15.0 mph; elapsed time:  5h07. 
 ____ post-ride commute:  15.8 m.; 1h05 in-motion; 14.6 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms.
Q-2 tot: _18 rides; _2293.9 m; 158h18; 14.5 mph; _3142 RUSA kms.
Jul tot: __4 rides; __436.7 m; _28h23; 15.4 mph; __416 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _33 rides; _3670.9 m; 251h24; 14.6 mph; _4833 RUSA kms.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bahama Beach -- Some 'Free-Route' Variants

Bahama Beach -- Some 'Free-Route' Variants   
From the RUSA website, Permanents page
"Free-Route Permanents - A Free-Route Permanent is like a normal Permanent except that only the total creditable distance, the start and finish locations, and a number of intermediate controls are pre-defined; the exact route to be taken between controls is by agreement between the rider and organizer. Go to the Free-Route Permanents regulations to see how they are run." 

The Free-Route regulations seem to be getting longer and longer, but ... .
To me, the key sentence in the regulations is this one:
"Riding Route Variants - The rider may plan out a route variant in advance, or "wing it" as he/she goes along, or vary from a pre-planned route at will." 

When I morphed Bahama Beach into a 'Free-Route,' I filed a few variants via a RWGPS map to prove that there were logical alternatives, but I have since re-purposed that RWGPS map.

Lately, I've been thinking about reasonable (and maybe not-so-reasonable) variants that I might like to ride instead of doing the standard course every time (I did the standard course 20-times in 2012, and twice did it reversed -- I've done the course 7-times so far this year; five times on the standard-course and twice with some "winging-it."

The following is a chart of some the mostly-reasonable variants.  The links embedded in the chart are to appropriate RWGPS maps; on each map, the red-line(s) indicate where the course follows the standard route and the green-line(s) indicate where the variant diverges from the standard route.  The "RWGPS" column indicates the climbing (in feet) that RWGPS reports; the "ft/m" column is the average RWGPS feet-climbed per mile.  

Route Name start location miles RWGPS ft/m
Bahama Beach Bay Leaf, NC 64.6 3,587 55.5
Bahama Beach - "Wave at Bernie" Bay Leaf, NC 68.0 3,771 55.5
Bahama Beach - "Taste of Johnson Mill Rd" Bay Leaf, NC 71.1 4,215 59.3
Bahama Beach - "Hall Rd" Bay Leaf, NC 65.1 3,583 55.0
Bahama Beach - "Mt. Tabor / Hampton Rd" Bay Leaf, NC 66.1 3,644 55.1
Bahama Beach - "3 Hayes" Bay Leaf, NC 65.9 3,690 56.0
Bahama Beach - "Mangum Dairy" Bay Leaf, NC 69.8 4,017 57.6
Bahama Beach - "Bold Run + Mangum Dairy" Bay Leaf, NC 72.2 4,205 58.2
Bahama Beach - JM + 3 + MD Bay Leaf, NC 77.6 4,748 61.2
Bahama Beach - JM + 3 + BRMD Bay Leaf, NC 80.0 4,936 61.7
  • According to RWGPS climbing estimates, the Bahama Beach standard route is already the hilliest permanent-populaire in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area (aka, the Triangle); essentially tied with the Howling Grits route -- Jerry clearly "low-balled" that HG climbing estimate when he filed -- not complaining as I low-balled the BB estimate when I originally filed it. 
  • Every variant indicated above (except "Hall Rd" and "Hampton Rd") results in sufficient additional climbing that the variants are at least as "hilly" per mile, or more so, than the standard route. 
  • Here in central North Carolina (the Triangle, anyway), when we want to do some hill-work without driving to the mountains (or to Siler City for the Siler City Express), we do the L-L-L perm.  Now, if someone were to ask me about doing a hilly route, but they didn't have the time available to do Triple-L, I would suggest Bahama Beach with the "Taste of JM" and/or also "Mangum Dairy" variants tacked on.  That wouldn't be as much climbing per mile as Triple-L, but it also wouldn't take as long.
  • The "Wave at Bernie" variant may warrant an additional comment.  It strays significantly from the standard route at the start to go through Butner and then proceed past the Federal Prison.  One of the incarcerated is none other than Bernie Madoff.  Thus "Wave at Bernie." 
  • It is my opinion that each of the variants above will make for a nice and / or interesting ride.  (Although I've ridden all the roads involved, except for a couple short segments, I've never ridden any of the combinations indicated above.)
  • I look forward to doing each variant listed above -- and some others.  
Enjoy the ride.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jul-13: Solo + WET, with Lightning on Egypt Mtn

I could have done L-L-L with Robert & Byron, but: 
I hadn't done my "Egypt Mtn" perm since January.
I hadn't seen the bridge-out detour for myself.
[I did have reliable eye-witness reports and the NC-DOT website describes the detour.]  
I wanted some peaceful, contemplation time.
I wanted to get in my July R-ride.
The results?

I did advertise on the NC-rando-list-serve, but no one responded.
These Curious Critters aren't part of Clyde's menagerie, nor are they even in Chatham County, but their location was on my Cycling Circuit twice on the day.  [Click-here for information on Clyde's Curious Critter Chatham County Cycling Circuit.]  The llamas (alpacas) were at least as interested in me @ 0809 as I was in them.  [This turned out to be my ONLY non-control stop all day.]
Roads were dry when I started, promptly at 0700, but were not expected to stay that way.
And they certainly didn't.  The first sprinkles started about the same time I got to the Sims Bridge.

The detour is just after the Sims Bridge.
It adds approximately 3-kms to the course (I already knew that).
And one rejoins the proper course too late to enjoy one of my favorite road vistas.

By the time I got to the first control in Epsom, at 0924,
I had decided to put my 20-year-old, running, wind-vest on as a rain-vest.
The vest prevents cold raindrops from penetrating straight through my jersey onto me.
It also provides a wind barrier and helps hold body heat in.

I got a little lucky while inside at Epsom.
A 3-minute heavy rain came and went while I was inside.
It was raining harder when I left than when I arrived, though.

I recall that it was still raining or sprinkling when I got to the house with the "busy brickwork," but
It was not raining or sprinkling as I transited Middleburg.
Actually, the falling water started and stopped so many times,
With the zippers on the jersey and the vest going up or down so many times,
That I'm not sure if there was water falling from the sky in Middleburg or not.

I have a better recollection of Jacksontown Rd, upon which part of U.S. Bike Route #1 rolls.
It was definitely NOT raining when I rode across the bridge over Mill Creek.  
However, any thoughts about anyone possibly doing ye' ol' Kerr Lake Loop
Were put to rest when I crossed the Mill Creek bridge on Jacksontown Rd.
The smooth-surface of the backed-up water from Kerr Lake was only a foot below the bridge.
That would certainly indicate that the bridge on Nutbush Rd would be flooded by several feet,
And that the bridge on Anderson Creek Rd might also be under water.

If this pattern of rain keeps up, I can imagine having to detour around Jacksontown Rd
In order to ride the Egypt Mtn route.

It was sprinkling or raining most of the 10-miles from Drewry to Warrenton,
Drabbing out my favorite vistas on the route.
I did see the largest heard of dairy cows just below the crest of distant ridge:
Almost all were lying down rather than roaming about, eating grass.

I arrived at the Warrenton Hardee's at 1125.
They're usually a bit slow in getting the food out to one, and they were on this occasion, too.
I took my time eating and stretching (left ankle to right knee / right ankle to left knee), and
Needed some time for a natural reason.
Combined, that made lucky again -- as a 5-to-7 minute downpour spent itself while I was inside.

The sun was shining as I transited Warrenton.
It was still shining while I did the first half of the climb on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd..
Sun shining and steamy.
I found myself thinking that the overcast and the sprinkle or rain was a better option.

I didn't have to wait long for conditions to change.
By the time I reached the crest where Jerry had had his flat, it was raining (not sprinkling).
By the time (1308) I arrived at Epsom for the "afternoon" store control, it was raining hard.

Whether I started laughing about the amount of rain I was experiencing
Before or after the pm-Epsom control, I cannot recall, but
I know was laughing out-loud, enjoying the silliness of it all, while on the climb up to Bobbitt.
I smiled a lot, and laughed a lot, after that.
I mean, what the heck else was there to do?
And, I admit, I was ENJOYING the ride.

Climbing in the rain was easy.  I only recall noticing three inclines after the pm-Epsom-control.
The one on Dick Smith Rd, the one on Green Hill Rd after crossing the Tar River, and
Of course, the first climb on Egypt Mtn Rd.
(I had been sure to save something for Egypt Mtn Rd..)

About 21-miles from the end, on Mt. Olivet Ch Rd just before reaching NC-56,
When I heard something that made me think "oh, Lord!"
The sound?
HARD, HEAVY DOWNPOUR coming my way (or me into it).

The downpour should readjust all the previous descriptions of heavy rains, but
I have left them as heavy or hard, because that it what I thought at those times.

This downpour certainly takes place of order as the heaviest rain I've experienced while on a bike.
I'm assigning it second place for all rains I've ever been caught out in.
I recall a running club race in Umstead Park where the rain and the lightning was TREMENDOUS.
Running on a gravel double-track through woods all around,
With lightning making the hair on one's neck stand up,
Not a good idea.

A thunder-shower that Maria and I rode thru in 2010 on the Sauartown perm was no bargain.
[I wish Maria had not deleted her blog.] 
If a branch had fallen from a tree in front of me, instead of in front of Maria,
I might put that 2010 experience ahead of this ride, but ...

It seemed the best thing to do was to just keep pedaling.
When I turned off Long Mill Rd onto Pokomoke Rd, I had a new experience:
The rain came slamming into my left side, and INTO my left ear-hole.

The lightning was very close and the thunder quite loud as I transited Pokomoke,
Wondering if I should consider stopping at the seemingly abandoned store a mile up the road.

By the time I got that short mile beyond Pokomoke ... the falling water was just a sprinkle.
Another mile and there was no water falling from the sky.
Another couple miles, and the roads were drying out, and in some places, dry.

I finished the ride at 1626.
It wasn't raining.
It did rain on me for almost my entire post-ride commute.

How to summarize this ride?
I didn't get much, if any, peaceful contemplation time, but
It must have been a great day to ride a bicycle, 
Because I sure had FUN !!! 


--> Egypt Mtn 210-km Perm (+ detour) -->; 154.1 m.;  9h51 in-motion; 15.6 mph.  
 ____ pre-ride commute: _9.0 m.; 0h31 in-motion; 17.4 mph. 
 ____ Egypt Mtn + detour:  132.5 m.; 8h28 in-motion; 15.6 mph; elapsed time:  9h26. 
 ____ post-ride commute:  12.6 m.; 0h52 in-motion; 14.5 mph. 

Q-1 tot: _11 rides; __940.3 m; _64h42; 14.5 mph; _1275 RUSA kms.
Q-2 tot: _18 rides; _2293.9 m; 158h18; 14.5 mph; _3142 RUSA kms.
Jul tot: __3 rides; __345.1 m; _23h17; 15.5 mph; __313 RUSA kms.
YTD tot: _32 rides; _3579.3 m; 245h18; 14.6 mph; _4730 RUSA kms.
This R-ride wasn't just any ol' R-ride -- it was my R-36.
Not long compared to a lot of folks in NC, but it is MY streak, and I quietly celebrate here.

One might notice the timing of the store control arrivals + finish time:
  1. Epsom, am control -- 0924, 
  2. Warrenton, "lunch" -- 1125, 
  3. Epsom, pm control -- 1308, 
  4. Bay Leaf, at finish --  1626. 
One of those times does not fit the pattern. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Denny's Store Sortie -- a Photo Montage

My rando friend Brad -- who happens to be a RUSA rookie this year, and is pursuing the RUSA P-12 award in the few spare moments available during his fourth year of Veterinary Med School (at NC State) -- and is 32 years younger than me! -- put together the following "photo montage."

It shows all five people that have done the RUSA Denny's Store Sortie 138-km Permanent Populaire.

Top to bottom:  me, Brad, Ricochet, BikerBob + IvaHawk.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Feral Pigs, Floodwaters, Low-Riders and "Five Boys on Bikes, Goin All the Way!"

NC randonneuse, all-round excellent cyclist and top-notch human being MaryF published the following on the NC-rando-list-serve.   It is a nice story about a North Carolina 1000-km adventure.  Later, perhaps I'll try to augment Mary's text with some of the pics that were posted on Facebook -- though almost certainly not the ones Mary mentions. [Mary's report follows the embed of Tony Goodnight's RWGPS map.]
  Tom and I completed the 2013 July 4 weekend RUSA/ACP 1,000K brevet Saturday night.  It was quite an epic and fun ride.  Distance total was 632 miles after a 4 mile detour was added. 23.000 feet climbing mainly in the form of rolling terrain, no "true" mountains.  My report begins in Greensboro, NC and I'll describe things that happened along the way. 
  6 am Thursday morning:  9 riders for the 1,000K brevet plus 6 or 7 riders for the 200K, 300K and 400K brevets all started together from the Best Western Airport Inn at Greensboro.  All were guys mostly in their 40s and 50s except for me.  I'll be glad to see more women get into this venue of riding.  It's a lot of fun and you have all sorts of adventures along the way. Riders are usually very nice, will talk to you and are not "cut-throat".  Brevets and the longer "Randonnees" are "Pass-Fail" timed events.  You must complete the unsupported ride within the time limit or you officially fail or "DNF".  Going off course, getting lost and having mechanical problems or injuries are the most common causes of DNFs.  Riders often have speed goals or personal records they aim for, but trophies are not given out and there is no podium.  Entry fees are very low compared with fees for racing or for charity rides. (no prize money, no marked courses, no trophies, no SAG support=low overhead!). 
  The first mandatory "Control" checkpoint was at Salem Fork, NC at mile 62.  Terrain was rolling, weather overcast and cool.  Most of the riders stayed together in a large group in this section.  Bikes included lightweight carbon road bikes like mine, steel or titanium frames, one strong rider of the 300K named George rode a fixed gear bike with aerobars.  His feet were a blur on the descents!  I'm sure his cadence was well over 200 RPM at times. Ken from Indiana rode a recumbent.  The majority of men's saddles were Brooks leather.  We had to carry plenty of gear for on the road repairs, weather events, lights and reflective gear for night riding, so we were all pretty loaded down.  Each rider was allowed one "drop bag", which ride organizer Tony Goodnight carried for us to a hotel in Laurinburg.  For navigation I had my new Garmin 800 with the route loaded on it and a set of paper cue sheets mounted on my aerobars. 
  From Salem Fork back to Greensboro, (mile 126) the group fragmented more.  The skies darkened and started looking ominous as we left Greensboro and headed towards Troy (mile 150) in the Uwharries.  I wanted to catch up with John, Ken and Joel, who had rolled out ahead of us.  When we got into the forested, rolling hills on Flint Hill Road the sky opened up and we were deluged with hard, pelting rain and some hail.  There wasn't much point in stopping, though, because there was no good shelter in sight and you sure don't want to get beneath a tree, which could blow down!  After the rain stopped we caught up with Ken, who said we had passed him, John and Joel while they were under a carport during the rain!  Later we all hooked back up and the 6 of us rode together for the rest of day one and day 2. 
   Ellerbe, NC at mile 215 was our next "control".  We arrived at about 11:30 pm.  This gas station was obviously THE PLACE to be in Ellerbe late at night on July 4, even though we had to go out back to pee.  The local people were real friendly and curious about us and seemed very impressed or amazed at how far we had ridden and were planning to ride.  One real nice lady brought me a flattened paper bag.  She asked for my autograph and the autographs of all of us!  Then she got the reluctant riders (visualize trying to herd cats) to pose together with her and had her husband take a group photo!  I wish I'd asked her name, as I have no doubt we are on her FB page.  Next stop was Laurinburg @ mile 250, where Tony had some hot pizza for us in his room.  A nice warm bath felt good and I was glad to have dry clothes to change into.  Although I had been wearing 2 pair of chamois cycling shorts with chamois butter and talcum powder, the heavy rain had turned it all into a soggy mess and I had gotten some chafing of the skin, which worried me.  Tom and I slept in the room next to Tony's for 3 or 4 hours while Ed slept propped up in a chair in our room.  The next morning I put on 2 clean dry pairs of shorts and dumped about half a can of talcum powder down my pants in hopes it would prevent more skin abrasion. 
  Day 2: Sunny with Floods and Feral Pigs--- Ed, John, Ken, Joel, Tom and I left the hotel at 6:30 am, ate at Burger King and headed towards Rowland, NC (mile 270).  Not far from Rowland, in Robeson County, there was a group of 3 feral pigs rooting around on the shoulder of the road.  One was large, dirty white with black markings.  Two others were smaller.  They didn't move or run away until we got close and the front rider yelled at them.  The pigs moved very quickly and quietly down into the high grass of the ditch and were out of sight immediately.  I have heard there are a lot of feral pigs in NC but they are not often seen, kind of like bears.  We have so many bears in Eastern NC that we have a bear hunting season.  I've never seen one, but my friend Ian saw a bear near a road in eastern NC in the middle of the night during a long brevet.  We rode across the Lumber River bridge at Fair Bluff (mile 293) and the river was so high it was almost up to the bridge.  This was the highest I've seen the river here, and I used to do a lot of kayaking in this area.  River was out of its banks and was swiftly running through the swamp for miles.  Not a safe day to kayak down the Lumber River!  Next stop was Tabor City, SC at mile 310.  Weather was beautiful and sunny between Fair Bluff and Tabor City.  All was going well until we came to an unexpected "Road Closed" barricade across NC 904!  There was not even a detour sign.  904 is pretty much the only way to get to Tabor City from where we were.  What to do?  We saw some trucks which had gone around the barricade and drivers yelled to us that the road was flooded.  Well, they had obviously gotten through, so we went down to check it out.  There was a long flat area with a low dip.  River water was rushing over the road.  Regular size cars were getting through, but the water was up to their doors and they made wakes.  Tom just kept on riding.  The rest of us watched, expecting him to fall but he didn't.  No way I was going to do that to my bike--get the cable housing and everything else all cruddy with dirty water.  I put my bike on my shoulder and started walking through.  It wasn't all that bad, as the footing was firm and not slippery and you could see the pavement.  Ed, Ken, John and I carried our bikes.  I heard a truck coming up behind, about to pass on our left.  Someone was yelling from it and I thought, "Oh, great, NOW we'll get harassed by REDNECKS!"  As the truck passed, I saw Joel and his bike in the back of the truck, riding high and dry and looking like a king, smiling and drinking from his water bottle.  Turns out HE was the one yelling from the truck!  There was a second flooded section which was not as deep. 
  Sunset Beach (mile 345) was the next control.  We ate at McDonald's after crossing the bridge, going to the pier and returning over the bridge again.  This bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway is very high.  The former bridge was a low pivoting wooden single lane drawbridge.  We used to have to stop, wait for the bridge to turn and then for the light to turn green for us to cross.  I sort of miss that old bridge, as we could see boats pass very close, some of them very nice.  Now the boats are so far below we don't even notice them. 
  On the way back to Tabor City (mile 380) we crossed the flooded parts of NC 904 again, only this time the water was a few inches higher.  When vehicles approached, their wakes came well above my knees.  Again, Tom rode his bike through and Joel hitched another ride in a pick up truck,this time its occupants were women.  Joel is very good at getting picked up.  I bet the ladies would have taken him on down to Myrtle Beach if he'd asked. 
  "5 Boys on Bikes, Goin' all the Way!!"  After getting past the flood waters again, we passed by a house with a nice yard and lawn furniture on our left.  An elderly lady was sitting there.  As we passed, she jumped up, smiled, walked toward the road, waved and urged us on, sort of like fans do on the Tour de France.  Then she yelled out, "5 Boys on Bikes, Goin' all the Way!!"  I thought, "Isn't that nice, we have another fan!"  Then I counted noses and realized Ken was not riding with us, as he had stopped at a pharmacy for sunscreen and we had gotten split from him there.  Hmm, that meant there were only 5 of us.  Hey, that gal called me a "Boy!"  Well, I won't fault her for that little mistake----she LOVED us, that's what counts, right? 
  Friday night stop at Rowland (mile 420):  Our group of 6 got back together again for pizza and refreshments at the BP Station, which is very nice and has booths where you can sit.  One very friendly local man who had possibly had a bit too much wine to drink enthusiastically admired Ken's recumbent bike.  He said, "Now, That's a mighty fine Low-Rider you've got there!" So, our entourage was made more cool by including Ken on his "Low-Rider!" 
  We rode on through Red Springs and on to Hope Mills (mile461), where our control was at the Kangaroo Station with a Subway on Chickenfoot Road.  It was maybe midnight.  The 6 of us were sweaty, disheveled and dirty, wearing reflective belts and vests as we sat eating our food like hungry dogs.  A young man with a nice physique, resembling Eric Estrada in his youth, approached our table.  He had the style I might think of as "Off Duty, Reno 911"-- tight jeans, tight gray tee shirt with black official looking writing of on it, black leather belt with a utility pouch or holster hanging from it.  I thought, "Uh, oh, he's going to tell us we have to leave because we are breaking some rule about stinking too much or something".  But I was wrong!  He said he was from Florida and was passing through and was curious about our ride.  One rider told him we'd ridden 460 miles since Thursday morning (this was Friday night) and would complete 632 miles by Saturday night.  We had a new fan! The  man immediately took out his camera phone and asked if he could take our picture. I asked "Why?" but he had already aimed and shot our "group portrait."  I mean, this fellow looked like a movie star and he was taking OUR picture!  Oh, my, I can only imagine who all has seen that post and whatever comments may have been made about us! 
  Rode on to Laurinburg (mile 501) and got 4 or 5 hours sleep.  Saturday we only had 200K (actually 131 miles) to the finish in Greensboro but it was a pretty hard ride with lots of hills.  From Laurinburg we passed by the Rockingham Speedway, ate pizza at Mama Nois in Ellerbe (mile 533), went to Troy (mile 559), and back to Sea Grove (mile 576).  There is a Hardees in the Shell Station there, and we all ordered food.  When I went to sit down I noticed Tom was sitting and holding court with about 10 very nice retired people who live in the area. Every time I have ever stopped at that store some of them have been present and I usually talk with them.  I suspect they may have gone to high school together.  One of the men is quite friendly and jocular.  He told off color jokes and the ladies would giggle.  I took my food to a different table, away from the happy, talkative group, propped up my legs and ate my sandwich and milkshake in peace.  Ed did the same thing, only at a different booth.  It was really sort of funny, thinking how we must have behaved like a dysfunctional family.  We all were obviously together, yet we sat separately and didn't talk with each other during our meal! 
  Only 56 more miles to go!  I like to think of Sea Grove as a high point and of Greensboro as a lower point, so the riding will be mostly downhill the rest of the way, right?  Well, I am not sure what the elevation is at each place, but I can tell you that we rode up and over every single rolling hill there was between Sea Grove and Greensboro!  25 miles from the end of the ride, our RBA Tony Goodnight showed up on his bike!  He had ridden out from Greensboro to meet us and ride in with us.  Having him with us for that last section was very nice.--he added some pleasant energy to our group, caught us up of what the other riders were doing, where they were, what times he projected they would finish, etc.. 
  The Finish!---Yeah!  Tom, Ed and I finished the 632 mile ride at 10:45 Saturday night.  We bathed and changed clothes at the Best Western, where we had a room for the night.  Then Ed drove the 4 of us over to Ruby Tuesday in his nice, comfortable Lincoln with leather seats.  It was raining hard and it felt quite luxurious to ride inside a car for the short distance across the road to the restaurant! 
  The riders who were still on the course finished Sunday morning, well within the 75 hour limit.  Several of us ate breakfast in the lobby around 10 am and recounted the adventures.  Excitement was not over, however!  A boiled egg exploded in the microwave, making the door fly open and egg mush fly all around.  The woman who did it was pretty embarrassed, but the staff was accustomed to that drama, as they said it happens often. 
  Well, that's a lot more than I intended to write and I'm sure it was more than you intended to read!  A lot of fun with good folks, (riders and non-riders).  Not one flat tire amongst all the riders.  Only one crash, a low speed fall by a rider who hit a pothole at night but was not injured and didn't have to fix his bike.  The skin chafing I got the first day after the hard rain actually improved as the ride went on.  After the first day I bought talcum powder at convenience stores (3 cans in all!) and generously used it every time I went to the restroom.  Used up all 3 cans of it by the end of the ride but it saved my skin.           
Mary Florian 

Usually, I say or write something similar to the following:  "who, upon first meeting Tom & Mary would think that Tom is the less crazy of the two?"  However, after reading about Tom riding through the floods, I may have to reconsider.