Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Copying my Nov-17 email to the NC-rando-list-serve so that it will be easier to find in the future.

Yesterday, while riding Bob's Ala-Orange Populaire for only my 2nd time, an idea came to me. 
Many of us get in the habit, maybe rut, of riding the same few routes over and over, with the same few ride partners.  That may be good for the "comfort zone" feelings, but how about something to encourage us to mix it up, route wise?  And maybe also ride partner wise, and promote additional camaraderie throughout the peloton? 
Here's the idea, hopefully explained well-enough to be understandable:
  • Each month in a P-12 series would include a unique populaire that starts in North Carolina.
  • You could ride that same populaire multiple times in a month,
  • You could ride that same populaire in multiple months, but
  • A given route would only count as the designated unique route in one month of the P-12 series.
Here's an example:  suppose I ride my Bahama Beach, Oxford and Denny's Store routes every month; I could count BB for January, my Oxford route for February, Denny's Store for March, but I'd need to branch out after that.  Suppose Alan's 7-Cs in April (in addition to whatever other populaires I might ride); Tim's Whirligig in May; Bob's Ala-Orange in June; Jerry's Saxapahaw in July; Alan's picnic brevet-populaire in August; one of Cyndy's routes in September; etc.. 
One extra rule:  Luke (who owns 13 perm-pops) has to have at least two months where the designated unique route would not be one that he or Ende owns.  Make that applicable to anyone that comes to own 12 or more pops, but still call it the "Luke rule." 
I picked Populaires instead of 200+ km routes because Pops only take half a day, instead of all day.  And for camaraderie and making new friends, I have to believe that even the fastest rider in the peloton would be willing to ride with the slower riders for a 5 hour tour, but maybe / probably not for an 11 or 12 hour marathon. 
I think it would be a good thing if people advertised the rides (Perm-Pops) on this list-serve and on the NC Facebook group.  (However, keep in mind that not everyone is on Facebook, and although it might not apply to any NC randonneurs, there are RUSA members that, because of their employment situation, are not allowed to be on Facebook.) 
In 2010, when I started rando (along with several other, more prominent, members), most, maybe all the Perm rides were advertised on this list-serve.  It was relatively easy for new members to find and join rides, with veterans to show them the ropes.  However, in the last several years, almost no rides get advertised (either here or on FB); it has become harder for new members to integrate into the fold.  I add that it has become almost impossible for a new middle-to-back-of-the-pack rider to join the fold.  It would be nice if we had a way to encourage new members to join and to ride.  Advertising via a medium that is not restricted to those already in the fold seems a good idea to me. 
This would be an informal kind of challenge / award for North Carolina, maybe with a paper certificate of completion, with mention made at year end parties, if there is one next year (I assume there is no plan for a year-end party this year). 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sep-17: Salisbury-Hoffman 300k Brevet

[I'm violating all "my rules" about timeliness of blog posts, however ... ]

“If I never see NC-73 again, it will be too soon.”
That’s what I told RBA Tony Goodnight at the end,
But that is getting ahead of the story.  LOL.  

I had not done a 300 since April 26, 2014,

Without looking to verify,
I had previously done 300’s in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and the above-mentioned 2014.
All had been the same Raleigh Region 300. 
Same, except that most every year there has been a detour
Caused by bridge re-destruction on the route. 

I didn’t do the Raleigh Region 300 in 2015,
Even though I had helped car-scout the route with RBA Alan. 
Instead, on the day of the Raleigh 300, I did my 103k ‘free-route’ perm-pop,
Bahama Beach, reversed, with the popular “3-Hayes” variant,
With my friend Lynn. 

Lynn didn’t want to do Alan’s 300, claiming she didn’t want to do that much climbing.
I didn’t want to do Alan’s 300 because, at the time,
A couple recent 200 perms had decidedly been NOT fun. 

In the event, Lynn and I were quite glad we did a 100 instead of the 300,
As we had gotten more than wet enough by the finish of the 100. 
In particular, it felt as if I were on the edge of going hypothermic.
A result of a poor choice of jersey and jacket. 

Good thing I didn’t do the 300 ‘cuz the kit I would have worn for the 300,
Which turned out to be a rainfest, would have been the one I wore for the 100.
If I had almost gone hypothermic by the end of the 100,
Can you imagine what might have happened on the 300? 
I shudder at the thought.

Anyway, although I had hosted some Highpoint Region 300’s for RBA TonyG,
I had never ridden one of Tony’s 300's.   

This year, 2016, has been a difficult one. 
In 2015, my friend Lynn and I did 36 perm rides together. 
Most were 100's (plus) routes that we started at 6 am (during the warm months), 
And perhaps we started a bit later than that during the chillier months.  

We also did a short non-rando route one morning when we expected rain by 10:30 am. 
It didn't start raining until about 5 pm. 

And I also wimped out on riding at least twice, and 
Lynn rode the intended rando perm-pop solo.  
Riding solo was something Lynn no longer liked doing, 
Because she's lost strength in her hands and arms / shoulders, 
[Read that the loss has been concentrated in her right hand and arm / shoulder,]  
And usually cannot manage to change a flat tyre (should she get one).  

Anyway, the usual readers, or informed RUSA members, are likely to know 
That on Feb-20 of this year (2016), Lynn and three others were plowed into by ___ --  
I'll fill that blank by typing "a woman driving a car." 

Since that Feb-20th afternoon, Lynn has not done a single rando ride. 
Many mornings, instead of leaping out of bed to go ride a 6 am perm-pop, 
I just rolled over and went back to sleep, 
Using low temperatures, or hot and humid weather, or just no reason at all, 
As an excuse to not ride solo. 

Stupid, really. 
I enjoy solo rides. 
At whatever pace they pass. 

I guess one could say that I was a "bit" unmotivated.  
Having a regular ride partner would have overcome the lack of motivation.  
But the only dependable rando ride partner was Bob Bingham, 
And Bob lives 45 or so miles from me. 

Bob kept me going, doing at least one populaire and one 200 a month, 
Until a very sore achilles led to me NOT doing a 200 in July.  

Mostly I did not ride the first half of July, and 
During the second half of the month, I mostly did much shorter rides.  
I did an easy populaire on July 31st, but 
That isn't enough to approach regaining cycling shape. 

You get the idea:  I have not been in good rando cycling shape this year.  

My friend, Bob, on the other hand, 
Has been in good, no, make that great cycling shape for over two years.  
The result of getting in shape to do a 1000, a 1200, and 
From mid-July through mid-August of this year, he rode the PacTour Northern Tour.  

Doing those rides isn't what has gotten or kept Bob in shape.  
Well, Bob would tell you that he did get in better shape during the Northern Tour.  
But those rides aren't what has gotten and kept him shape; 
The training rides to prepare for those rides have been what got and kept him in shape.  

By mid-September, Bob claimed that he could tell that he was losing some of the 
Finely tuned shape that he had by the end of the Northern Tour. 
However, if one were to ask me, I couldn't tell that he had lost anything.  

So, with all that background, and me thinking I should ride at least one 300 this year, 
And maybe, if the 300 went well, there was a bit of a long-shot "plan" 
To ride a late season 400 and a late season 600, 
To complete, er, struggle through an SR.  

Anyway, I talked Bob into doing the captioned 300 with me. 
For a link to a RWGPS map of the route, click here, or look at the embed immed. below.  
[Note:  that is Tony's map; I copied it into my RWGPS routes 
To guard against Tony possibly re-purposing his map.]  

The ride started at 6 am.
I stayed at my place in Raleigh the night before.
Because I didn't get off work until 7 pm, and was tired and dirty,
As I knew I would be when I turned down an offer to stay in Salisbury the night before the brevet.

When about 20 minutes from the start location,
I texted Bob and RBA Tony that my ETA was 5:45.
I hit that on the nose.

Tony rushed over with the waiver, cue sheet, and control card.
Everyone else was already signed in, and their bikes were ready to roll.
I finished putting my bike together,
Putting on cycling shoes, gloves, helmet, hi-vis vest, etc. while Tony gave last minute instructions.
I was easily ready to roll out with the group.

I knew almost everyone there for the two brevets (300 and also a 400).
However, in the dark, there were one or two I didn't recognize.
One person I had never met was there, from Pennsylvania.

Amusing aside, though some may not think so.
Said Pennsylvanian was leading the combined peloton (only 2 were doing the 400),
He had a GPS unit of some sort.
But he missed one turn after 3 or 4 miles.
We traveled less than 100 yards before others caught the miss.

More on this humor front.
Somewhere in the next 6 miles or so,
There was a left and then a quick right,
The 400 rider on a bent had made the correct turns as he started to drift off our front,
But Pennsylvania was intent on turning right at the aforementioned left.

Bob had done the 300 route a few years before,
And began shouting from the rear of the group, "wrong way."
It took several shouts, and more, to get the whole crew on the correct route.

Around the 10 1/2 mile mark, while going up a nothing incline,
I decided, or perhaps, my legs decided, it was time to let the group go.
From there on, except for getting to the first control at the same time as Joel,
Who had arrived late and had started late, (that's a re-occurring theme with Joel),
Bob and I were without other rando company.

To complete the amusing aside:
While at that first control,
We saw the aforementioned Pennsylvanian rapidly returning to the five point corner
Where that first control was located,
And just as rapidly getting back on to the correct course.
He had apparently left the control and taken the sharp left instead of the second, slight left.
We gathered that he had either left before the rest of the crew,
Or left the control after the rest of the crew.
We thought the former the more likely, though I can't recall ever confirming that with anyone.

Anyway, to completely complete the amusing aside:
Said Pennsylvanian was a candidate for the late in 2016 election for RUSA board members.
I thought about sending him a note
To the effect that I wasn't sure of his leadership abilities,
Because the only time I had ever "ridden" with him,
He had tried to lead the entire rando crew astray.
Three times.

I never did send the note, or mention to anyone other than Bob.
Until now.

After that first control, the route skirts the southern edge of the Uwharries. 
A hilly remnant of an ancient, ancient mountain chain. 
RBA Tony does not agree with that description, 
But I'm sticking with that description / story. 

We must have gone through Mt. Pleasant in daylight, 
But I have no recollection. 
Maybe that was where the first control was located. 
[You don't expect me to check out the cue sheet, do you?]  

I recall making a comment to Bob when we transited Red Cross. 
White Cross is about half-way between Raleigh and where Bob lives. 

I recall passing through Mt. Gilead. 
We made a wrong turn and had to back-track half-a-mile or maybe more. 
Back on the course, we stopped at a small store for some extra snacks and drinks. 
Bob might not have needed to, but I certainly did. 
Yep, 58-miles into a 188-mile course, and I was already nearly toast. 

Then we left Mt. Gilead, heading southeast on NC-73, on those dang rollers! 
A couple of those rollers might have been as much as a 300 foot climb, 
And the steepness seemed the same as the Blue Ridge Parkway climbs. 
I could not apply pressure to the pedals in a biggish gear, 
Nor could I maintain a decent cadence in a smallish gear. 
So I climbed a lot in my granny gear, 
SLOWER than I climbed the BRP climbs in 2010.  
SLOW enough that I would occasionally be unable to hold my line. 
If the PBP officials had been there, they might well have pulled me from the ride. 

Bob graciously waited at the top of every climb. 
Well, not every climb. 
I recall a couple times when I pulled over at the summit, 
Leaned hard on the handlebars, and breathed very heavily for half-a-minute, 
A whole minute, 
Maybe more. 

I thought NC-73 was never going to end. 

It did finally end. 
Actually, the course turned off NC-73 to go through Ellerbe. 
First time I had ever been in Ellerbe. 
Which might seem strange to you if I let you know that 
One of the brevet-couplets I hosted for Tony, that started/ended in Lumberton, 
Transited Ellerbe. 
AND, I actually own a permanent route, a 200+ km route, 
That starts/ends in Lumberton, and turns around in Ellerbe. 
How can I own such a route, and never have been in Ellerbe? 
I adopted the route after the original owner no longer had interest, and 
I just haven't been able to make it down to Lumberton to ride the route. 
[See above for why I didn't make it to that route this year (2016).]  

After Ellerbe, my recollection is that the course flattened out a bit, but 
Looking at the RWGPS profile, that is not the case. 

I'd like to put in that I received a text while at the 89-mile "turn-around," 
That a friend had completed 60-miles solo that morning, 
But I probably shouldn't. 
So I'll just note that I sent a return text that I had completed 89-miles so far, 
That I was TOAST, and  
Had another 99-mile to cover. 

I struggled back to Ellerbe, Bob still being patient. 
I struggled to the 115-mile point, Bob still patient. 
I was grateful for the flat stuff between the 115 and 130 mile marks, Bob patient. 
[Yes, I'm looking at the RWGPS map for these mile marks.] 

There was a control in Oakboro. 
We chatted with some locals. 
Oh, how I wanted to quit.  
We continued. 

Although the inclines got less severe, I could barely make the bike get up anything. 
There were many, many pauses at the side of the road, to try to catch my breath. 
Sometimes Bob stopped at the same place, to wait. 
Sometimes, he would realize that I was no longer visible behind him, and then he would stop. 

There was another control. 
I don't recall where [and I'm not looking at the cue sheet to figure it out]
I drank quite a bit of extra fluids, and took a lot more time than Bob wanted to take. 
But he was patient and waited. 

Then, just as we were leaving, Tony called or texted to check on us. 
At least that is my recollection.  
It was hard getting the bike going again, again. 

Somehow, we trudged toward the finish. 
Bob patiently reading the cue sheet. 

We finished at 1:01 am, for an elapsed time of 19h01. 
Record slow time for a 300 for each of us. 
Bob could have finished HOURS earlier.  

After the ride, Bob, Tony, and I had "breakfast" at the Salisbury Waffle house. 
Then Bob did the hour or so drive home, 
While I followed Tony to his place where I collapsed 
And Tony returned to the finish to wait for the two 400 riders. 

Next morning, before I left for home, 
I helped Tony review the entire upcoming Taste of Carolina 1200 course, 
Checking the NCDOT website for possible road closures. 
And ... I ultimately agreed to drive one portion of said course where a detour was required. 
At least, I think that is why Tony wanted me to check it out. 

Oh, if you didn't know, Hurricane Matthew cancelled the 2016 Taste of Carolina 1200.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Strava Heat Map -- An Experiement

I saw, on Facebook, a link to Dan Diehn's blog write-up of his recent Great Southern Randonnee adventure.  That led to a couple things, but the one important to this post is that I looked at my friend Sag's blog ("sagittandy") and stumbled across one of Sag's more recent posts.  Haha -- Sag used to post rather frequently, at least once a month, after completing his R-ride, but when Sag and his pedalpal, Jayjay, reached R-60, they deemed "enough" and retired from randonneuring.

Reading the above-linked "recent" post from "sagittandy," I looked at the Strava Heat Map embedded there.  That made me interested in looking at the heat map for certain north of Raleigh permanent routes (mine).

I traced the path of the "Egypt Mtn" course.  If one can discern Epsom on the heat map, and zooms in, one can see a very faint trace into the store at Epsom.  Continuing on, the most interesting thing I saw was that almost no Strava user has ridden Dick Smith Rd which, just west of Bobbitt, makes a big southern loop down to the flood plain of the Tar River and then connects to another road which the "Egypt Mtn" course uses to head back toward Kittrell.  I was rather pleased to see that few Strava users ride that on Dick Smith Road -- on the  other hand, people are missing a fun road.  (If this works, this will be a link to the Strava Heat Map centered on Dick Smith Road.  If you get the map from this link, Toggle Labels to see road and town names.)  

Dick Smith Rd is part of the "Egypt Mtn" course because I personally do NOT like Kittrell Rd between Bobbitt and Kittrell.  I rode it once or twice several years pre-rando; at the time, the trees were quite close to the road and there was NO sight line at the bottom of at least one of the two creek crossings.  I was almost clipped by a passing vehicle that suddenly had to squeeze over toward me because of the appearance of oncoming traffic.  I recall that the trees have been cleared back to make a decent sight line, but I prefer the lesser traffic on Dick Smith Rd.  Apparently, not all cyclists are quite so safety conscious; the heat map shows quite a bit of bicycle traffic on Kittrell Road. 

[Note:  I would embed the Strava heat map, but I can't figure out HOW to do that.  Maybe one needs to be a Strava user to embed the map?] 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nov-05: In NC During Summer, Expect Bridge Re-destruction

Okay, so November 5th isn't Summer.
But newbie DaveG and I encountered two bridges undergoing re-destruction.

The title of this post is rather an homage to another North Carolinian's blog post from a few years ago. 
If you don't know the author of the above linked blog post, let me just note this:
He writes quite well; I once noted that one of his posts looks like prose, but read like poetry.
(The third paragraph in the post linked-to above was prescient regarding this 210k perm ride.) 

Bridges being out on the "Egypt Mtn" 210k perm route is nothing new.
The first ever transit of EM, March-2012, went quite well.
But the second transit, April 29, 2012, revealed a major bridge outage situation.

In 2013, there was a set of two or three little creek bridges that were replaced;
Those were/are only a couple miles after the Sims Bridge over the Tar River,
But, apparently, I never blogged about those bridges.
Nor did I ever make a RWGPS map of the route used to go around those outages.

In 2014, third year of the existence of the "Egypt Mtn" perm, third year with bridge re-destruction

2015, no bridges on the EM route underwent re-destruction.
Seems rather odd.  LOL.

Prior to this early November ride, there had been no bridge outages on EM this year.
Actually, no bridge outages on any of my Raleigh perms and/or perm-pops. 
(Oops, make that until late in the year.)
The "Road to Hicksboro" had an important bridge-out in its first year.
The "Denny's Store Sortie" has had at least one bridge-out during its existence.
The "Bahama Beach" and my "Oxford" routes have a bridge out as I type this.  (Same bridge.)

The Lawrence Rd bridge affecting BB and "Oxford" was a planned replacement.
The MAIN bridge-out encountered on the Nov-05 EM ride seems to be
The result of too much rain resulting from the passage of Hurricane Matthew.
[I've heard of some additional bridges near Raleigh that were put out because of Matthew; 
I hadn't realized that we had had enough rain near Raleigh from Matthew to cause problems. 
And however one might look at the issue, it is the folks that live in or near 
Lumberton that are living, every day, perhaps every minute of every day, 
The difficult results of Matthew.]  


Well, that certainly is a long introduction / background essay.
Especially as I don't have that much to write type regarding the actual ride.

DaveG, RUSA #11611, contacted me out of the blue to ride my "Egypt Mtn" route,
On a Saturday that I had off from work, so
We arranged to ride together.

Dave lives on the southeast side of Raleigh,
And most cyclists from down there tend to ride further south and east,
In order to get to flatter and flatter terrain.

I inquired of Dave's cycling history.
He had taken up cycling in early 2015,
And had ridden five (5) centuries.
One on the Outer Banks, i.e., FLAT (but possibly with headwinds for half the ride).
Two had been back-to-back MS-150 centuries centered on New Bern, NC;
I.e., FLAT.
One had been the Heritage Century that starts/ends in Hillsborough, NC.
That one might have been hillier than "Egypt Mtn."

Based on Dave's reported avg pace while in-motion on those centuries,
I was confident he was faster than me,
And that he'd have no difficulties doing Egypt Mtn. 

We met at the start, exchanged some paperwork, and started (perhaps a few minutes late).

The ride was rather non-descript for the first 45 or so miles.
I don't even recall passing the "Llama House."
I usually count the number of visible llamas / alpacas.
And I almost certainly point the out to anyone new to the course.
But I think I may well have neglected that route-owner "duty" on this ride. 
I was faster on declines; Dave was faster on inclines.

The owner-clerk was not on duty at the Epsom control.
The bench outside was not occupied.
But the inside had several locals, most of whom seemed wary of us cyclists.
I rather concluded that they were regulars, but not regulars used to seeing us cyclists.
There are regulars at Epsom that greet us, and
At least one that inquires about Lynn every time he sees us.
But these guys did not fit that category of Epsom regulars.
I decided to act as if they did recognize and welcome us,
Engaging in some conversation, well, chatting would be a better description.
I'm not sure if they came around to thinking of us as regular people,
That are distinguished only by riding our bicycles on overly long rides,
Or not.
The did urge us to be careful as we left.
It is my opinion, and I'll be sticking to it, that "be careful" is the first step
Toward general acceptance.
Ambassador duty fulfilled.

Anyway, the first 45 or so miles were otherwise non-descript.
Then, at the turn at Middleburg,
Road Closed
Bridge Out
It's only half or three-quarters of a flat mile to the bridge,
Let's go see if it is really OUT, or only out for cars.
If it is OUT, we'll have to use US-1 / 158 until we can cut over on another road.
[I wasn't sure how far we'd have to ride on US-1 / 158, 
I don't use a GPS unit, nor do I have a smart-dumb-phone. 
Dave had a smart phone; 
But I wouldn't have bothered to look at it.

I would have had us go north on US-1 / 158. 
Map investigation subsequent to the ride revealed that going south is a better detour.]  

The work on the bridge over I-85 appeared to be nearly complete.
Needing only the smooth finish layers of the surface.
We walked our bikes and ourselves across, and continued on course.

It must have been an overcast day,
As I do not recall mentioning to Dave that my favorite part of the course
Is the ten miles from Drewry to Warrenton.

I do recall some conversation regarding the color of the house for the Info Control.
Maybe that distracted me from mentioning "my favorite section."

Lunch at the Subway in Warrenton was nothing special.
I prefer eating at the Subway to eating at the Hardee's,
But the reaction from the Hardee's customers is preferable.
Someone or ones are sure to be amazed at our goal for the day,
Not so much at the Subway.

Returning to the course from the Subway, we were greeted with
Road Closed 
Bridge Out 
Well, it has to be the bridge over the creek,
The bridge between the long decline and long incline.
It's only a couple miles
The bridge will likely be okay for us.

It wasn't.
Not so much "Bridge Closed" as BRIDGE GONE !!  [Thanks to Dave for this photo.  The two I snapped with my flip-phone did not come out nearly as well.]
Well, says I, we have to go all the way back up to Warrenton,
Then take US-401 S until we get to Tower Road,
Where we'll be back on course.

This seems a good place to insert the link to the RWGPS map for the intended course.
The link to the RWGPS map for the course we actually rode.
And, most interestingly, the link to Dave's Strava, with a Google-Earth-like presentation.
[I hope that last link works.]

A couple comments regarding Dave's Strava and info contained thereon:

After we got back on course, nothing much special happened.
Dave may have different thoughts on that,
After all it was his first rando ride.

[As previously noted on FB, Dave would have finished much earlier if not for me.]