Sunday, July 29, 2018

Apr-22: Pre-Ride of Apr-28 Raleigh Region 300

To the best of my recollection -- I suppose I could examine official records, or even my Excel log, to confirm, but I'm not going to do that -- this marked the third time I undertook a pre-ride of this 300.

I've also ridden this course on the day of Brevet-proper several times:
  • 2010.  (My first year of randonneuring.)   
  • 2011.  
  • 2013.  

And last year, 2017, I was DNF on this course / brevet.
  • That DNF "report" is extremely short. 
  • I'll add some useful information: 
  • As I approached the Seagrove turn-around, I could no longer keep up with the guys with whom I was riding, and looking at the clock, and figuring that I would probably be able to complete the course before 3 am Sunday, but not much before, and recognizing that I'd likely get back home around 4 am, combined with needing to be at work at 6 am Sunday, I concluded that finishing the ride in 2017 was not the wise choice.  (And when I announced that at the turn-around, I learned that my friend Harvey had already called for a rescue ride.  That made no sense to me until I learned that one of his shoes had completely fallen apart, and attempts to put it back together with duct-tape had failed -- oh, my!) 

Commute Ride to the Start

My plan for the entire brevet, morning bike ride commute and the post-brevet evening late night oh-dark-thirty early morning bike ride commute, was to soft pedal everything.  No energy on any pedal stroke, esp. no "attacking" any climb.

I set off for the almost 20-mile ride from the north side of Raleigh to the brevet start in Morrisville (which is on the southwest side of Raleigh) a few minutes later than I intended, but I would still likely arrive at the start on-time or maybe a few minutes late.  Soft pedaling the mostly flat commute route, except that Lassiter Mill Rd dives down to one of the creeks that criss-cross town, and at the bottom of that valley, the road changes name to St. Mary's Rd which becomes flattish after first climbing the other side of that creek valley.  The climb on St. Mary's is not trivial, but is easier than climbing the Lassiter Mill side (which I would have to do on the post-brevet commute ride).   

[Often when climbing the St. Mary's Rd side, which is an easier climb than the Lassiter Mill side, I recall a recreational ride that RUSA #5519 and I did a few years before either of us started this rando madness when we rode the greenway and then climbed St. Mary's -- what / where we rode after that climb that day I cannot recall:  the memory of that St. Mary's climb is a good memory, but also a bit sad because #5519 put at least two minutes into me on that climb -- I'm sure many local randos and non-rando cyclists have similar memories.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I get courage or the opposite from that memory; maybe I assure myself that "it could be worse".]  

After getting to the top of the St. Mary's climb, I zig-zag on Glenwood Ave to stay on St. Mary's to Colonial, which is only one block long and connects St. Mary's to Oberlin Drive at their closest point.  Just after turning onto Oberlin, uh-oh, lots of flashing lights just ahead   Electric utility crew were dealing with a line-down situation; a Raleigh police squad car was blocking the roadway.  I confirmed with the officer sitting in the squad car that a line was down and the road was closed.  She didn't insist / demand that I not ride further along, but did highly recommend that I not.

I returned to Colonial and then St. Mary's, hoping that I could take Craig Street (Drive, Road, whatever it is) a further one or two hundred yards along the road; Craig is about one-and-a-half blocks long where it connects St. Mary's to Oberlin.  Upon reaching the St. Mary's / Craig corner, I looked up toward Oberlin and saw that unfortunately the utility crew(s) were parked at the Craig / Oberlin corner.  I would have to continue my detour along St. Mary's. 

Just a few pedal strokes later, I recalled that there wasn't another direct connection until I would get to nearly Peace Street, about a mile from where I was.  And at that point, St. Mary's and Oberlin would be nearly a mile apart.  Seems weird to someone that grew up in an area where roads were laid out in compliance with the Northwest Territories Acts of 1785 and 1787 that "parallel" roads could go from almost touching to being nearly a mile apart that quickly, but that is the case.

Despite what is described just above, I figured that there ought to be a sinuous way through the neighborhood(s) between St. Mary's and Oberlin.  The slightly shortened end to this anecdote is this:  there is no road/street-way thru those neighborhoods, but there is a LOT of steep up and down; not long steep inclines, but steep just the same, and I was wanting to just soft-pedal everything.  Sigh.  ...  I found what seemed a promising street heading to the west (toward Oberlin, but that street, which had obviously once gone thru, was blocked by two or three large large boulders, not huge ones, but large enough to block any vehicle from trying what I did with my bike.

Beyond the boulders was a fence and then a STEEP incline (no road, just weeds) that was obviously man-made.  Above the STEEP, there appeared to be an open space.  I was convinced that Oberlin Rd would be on the other side of that clearing.  So, I lifted the bike over the boulder(s), shimmied myself over or around the boulder(s), then lifted the bike over the short fence and slow motion scissored myself over the fence; then I hefted the bike onto my shoulder and scaled the STEEP.  [I have wished that I had taken a photo, but I was losing time on getting to Morrisville, and stopping to take a photo was not going to help me get to Morrisville.]  The open field at the top of the STEEP was a man-made very level lot, covered with weeds and vines that tried to trap my feet.  I carried the bike across the lot to the road on the other side:  it was not Oberlin Rd.  Sigh.  ...  However, I quickly figured out how to continue my ride toward Cameron Village and then on toward NC State University and then the NC State Fairgrounds, heading toward Cary and Morrisville.

Somewhere after passing through most of Cary, I pulled over to call RBA Alan to let him know I would be about 10 minutes or bit more late arriving for the scheduled start of the pre-ride.  Alan responded that that was okay as the other two pre-riders (RUSA #1609 and #1484, except Alan used their names, but I'm leaving that detective work to the readers) were going to be at least 15 minutes late.  That was the first I heard that others were pre-riding.  However, that made no difference to me because I knew I would not be able to keep up with the two others and had no intention of doing so.

Finally, I zoomed down the decline on NC-54 from Cary to Morrisville, and then to Alan's house, which is where the pre-ride was starting from (the proper starts of the scheduled brevets are about a quarter mile from Alan's; starting from Alan's would add that insignificant distance to the brevet).  Number 1609 and 1484 were already at Alan's when I arrived, but they appeared to still be putting the final touches on getting their bikes, kit, and themselves ready for the ride.  I didn't check my watch when we left, but #1484 indicated in his blog report that we started nearly 30 minutes late -- I'll accept that estimate as fact.

The Brevet (and post-brevet commute)

Before we started riding, Mike asked if I was riding the brevet with them.  I guffawed and said that I would be dropping them off my front wheel at the first reasonable opportunity.

Luckily for me, the Cap'n did all the work leading in the early miles, and I mostly followed behind him and Mike.  One slightly humorous moment:  about 4-miles into the route, as the Cap'n started to prepare to make a left turn onto NC-55, Mike and I each corrected John, "we're going straight across."  The Cap'n commented that Alan needed to change the RWGPS route link on his website.  I responded, "... [Alan] didn't tell his map-maker guy about the route change until about 20 minutes ago."  That appeared to slightly amuse the Cap'n and was taken as an acceptable reason why the RWGPS had not been updated for 2018.

Anyway, as I was typing, luckily the Cap'n set a pace that was good for me, around 15-mph, from the start until the bottom of the Jack Bennett climb, approx 17 miles into the route.  I stuck with the other two until that climb, and then slowly dropped them off my front wheel.  They were still within eyesight when they turned onto US-15/501, about 50 seconds before I got to that intersection.  I had to wait a bit for traffic and/or the stop-light, and I was about 75 seconds behind when the other two turned off US-15/501 a short mile later.  The distance / time between them and me slowly increased on the rollers of Parker Herndon and Hamlet Chapel / Jones Ferry roads.  Further good luck for me, I caught my last glimpse of the other two somewhere on Jones Ferry Rd, and I was glad that by the time I got to "Frosty's" that they were out of sight; lucky for me because if I couldn't see them, there would be no chance that I would be tempted to try to chase across the divide to them.  In other words, before I reached the 30-mile mark there were no longer any temptations to possibly violate my soft-pedal all the time / put no energy into any single pedal stroke plan for riding the brevet.

I should have noted prior to this that I was decidedly not in shape to ride a 300 with any kind of panache.  I actually wasn't in shape to be doing a 300, period.  I had only done nine, count 'em, nine, bike rides since November 18th, the longest of which was only 104-miles.  Nine rides in five months totalling only 693-miles.  Um, yeah, I had no business riding a 300 km brevet.  

Except that I knew the course like the back of my hand.  I knew the friendly places and the tough climbs.  I was completely at mental peace with what I needed to do complete the ride.  It turned out I would never consult the cue sheet (even though, as insurance, I did carry a cue sheet with me). 

I'm typing this and the above on July 29th -- three and a half months after the ride I'm supposedly documenting.  I didn't realize just how little riding I had done prior to this 300 pre-ride.  Good grief!  No wonder it took more than three days for my legs to stop aching.

Anyway, I now recall almost no details from the brevet.  I am quite confident that I didn't recall any details even the day after completing the brevet (nor even as the ride occurred).  Things I do recall:
  • crossing paths with the Cap'n and Mike some 8 to 12 miles before I got to the turn-around in Seagrove, 
  • taking a LONG, calm time to eat "lunch" at the Seagrove control, 
  • the c'store crew at Snow Camp was in shutting-'er-down mode almost as soon as I reached that penultimate control, and 
  • leaving Snow Camp later than I've ever left that control on the 300 course, heading into the gathering darkness (or was it already completely dark?). 

Lest a reader think that I was riding way-out-there with no rescue plan, well, I didn't have a rescue plan.  Having one might have been a sign that I thought I might fail, and I had no intention of failing.  And after all, when used to go on the BikeForums (dot) net Rando, etc. sub-forum (no comments from people that I didn't use the correct Latin term), I used to post / comment "don't TRY to do the brevet, just do it," so having a bail-out plan might have seemed hypocritical.

However, I'm not a complete idiot:  I did keep several people informed of my progress through the brevet.  I sent texts at each control indicating where I was, when I had gotten there, how long it had taken in-motion between controls -- the latter for myself since I record in-motion and elapsed in my Excel ride log (though I'm not rigorous on the elapsed time in my Excel log -- after all, the RUSA website shows the total elapsed time for each rando rodeo).  So, here is a summary of the controls, distances, times-in-motion, and avg in-motion pace between each control (note that the distances are taken from the official cue sheet, except the commute segments are obviously not):

 Segment  Miles
 commute to Morrisville 20.7 1.30
to Frosty's 29.1 1.60
to Snow Camp 21.3 1.42
to Siler City 12.0 0.58
to Seagrove 31.9 2.39
to Siler City 31.7 2.37
to Snow Camp 12.0 0.55
to Finish 51.1 4.27
commute back "home" 19.7 1.56

As can be seen in the chart above, except for the early section of the brevet ("to Frosty's") when I was mostly following the Cap'n for the first 17+ generally downslope miles to Jordan Lake, I basically averaged 12 to 13 mph while in-motion all day (and night).  I obviously started getting tired late in the brevet, averaging 11.5-mph for the last 51-miles of the brevet -- or maybe that was just the usual slowing when riding in darkness.  The "commute back 'home'" was just a matter of keeping the pedals going around.  [One thing I noticed on that post-ride commute is this:  there was not a single outdoors soda vending machine anywhere along the route.  There used to be gas stations and even a grocery store or two that had outdoor soda vending machines.  I'm thinking that an era has passed.]

I mentioned the climb on Lassiter Mill Rd in the pre-brevet commute:  Lassiter Mill was a RAPID decline on the pre-brevet commute; it was (as always) a tough climb on the post-brevet commute.  I may have walked up part of that incline -- better to walk at 2-mph than ride at 3-mph-and-fall-over.  

I had left my residence at approx 5:30 am Sunday morning.  I got home at 3:40 am Monday.  I went in to work as scheduled at 3:00 pm Monday.  And as hinted above, the ache in my legs didn't stop until about 10 am Thursday.

The total 229-miles proved to me that I could do the Raleigh Region 400-km brevet which was a month after the above described 300 pre-ride.  However, as the date for the 400 approached, I didn't want to go through another three to four or more days of deep aches in my legs, and wimped out on doing the 400.

Eddington Cycling Number:
After this ride:  126. 
Meaning that I have completed at least 126 different rides that were at least 126 miles long.