Saturday, July 13, 2019

Apr-06: Raleigh Region 200 km Brevet


Unlike two weeks earlier, when I had not gotten off from work until 9 pm Friday night,
My work shift was completed at 1 pm early Friday afternoon.
That gave me eight additional hours of recovery time.
And those hours might make the difference between tired, achy legs, and fresher-feeling legs.

I had not done a 200 in March.
As I told Bob near the end of the 7-Cs ride two weeks earlier:
He has a significant R-series to "protect."
I don't.
And although I have gotten to R-10 and R-11 since giving up my "original" R-series after 41,
December weather and work have gotten in the way, and
More importantly, I don't "worry" about it anymore.
[I still USUALLY try to keep the P-series going. 
After all, populaires only take half a day and can be completed if not really in shape.] 

This year, 2019, although having no grand randonnee aspirations,
I did have the goal of completing the Raleigh Region Super Randonneur Series.
Something I've only accomplished twice.

My recent 200's, brevets and/or permanents, had been tough slogs.
Or, even when not slogs, had been quite slow.
  • January, the High Point Natty Greene 200, had taken 12h40.  I had, however, not felt as badly at the finish as I had typically felt throughout 2018, probably because of taking three 30-minute control stops with Harvey. 
  • February, the "Egypt Mtn" 210-km permanent, had taken 12h39. 
I was expecting another 12 hour slog.

Cycling Commute to the Brevet

Usual commute ride to Morrisville, via
  1. North Hills Mall
  2. Cameron Village
  3. NC State
  4. the NC State Fairgrounds, (that is more  interesting at 6 am on a Saturday morning, as vendors are lining up to get into the Fairgrounds for the (almost) every Saturday Flea Market), and 
  5. through Cary
Sorta' nearly flat (by north Raleigh standards), with only one climb of note:  St. Mary's Rd after descending to Beaverdam Creek on Lassiter Mill Rd (the road / street changes name when it crosses the creek, or quite near the crossing, anyway).  Two things about that commute route:  (a) only do that EARLY in the morning or LATE at night, and (b) there is a nice zipping decline from Cary to Morrisville to complete the commute (except for the half-to-three-quarters-of-a-mile from NC-54 to the brevet ride start).
A comment on that "zipping decline" -- a few or several years ago, after passing Weston Parkway, there were almost no buildings on the north side of NC54 until crossing Crabtree Creek; it felt as if one was in the middle of a rural area; however, nowadays, there are buildings, with businesses, most of way down that decline.  It was more mentally relaxing when it felt rural.  However, I've now done this commute ride enough times that I now realize that my pre-ride commute is almost done, and I've managed to adjust mentally to that positive thought.  I'd still rather have the calm mental feeling that I got from the seeming rural decline.

I did not press the pace and completed the 19.9-mile commute in 1h24 in-motion.
That works out to an average of 14.1-mph.
Calm enough.  Not much unnecessary expenditure of energy.
And I recall I arrived half-an-hour before the ride start.

The Brevet Itself

First, an embed of the RWGPS course map:

Although we ride the same 200k brevet course every year, almost every year there is a new detour around bridges being re-destructed or (one year) a sink-hole!  I happen to know that the guy that makes the maps for Alan's brevets likes to maintain the integrity of the maps for each year.  However, this year, the route was virtually the same as in (?) 2012, and when the map-guy went to save the map for 2019, he goofed up and forgot to click "save as NEW," so the maps embedded or linked in previous posts for 2012 and 2013 now are not entirely correct.  Oh, well.  Guess I need to have a talk with the map-maker guy.  [Should be easy enough "conversation" -- after all, I am the map-maker guy.  Sigh.] 
Before the start of the ride, I had chatted with TommyB #12772, so I knew that his friend Greg had been injured and would not be riding, and I also knew that Tommy wanted to ride with me.  Okay.  Someone to ride with.

I also thought that Ricochet #6628 would be a likely ride partner.

Somehow I knew that AmyG #12124 was also doing the brevet.  (I recall that Amy had responded to Alan via the NC-rando-list-serve, so I'm pretty sure that is how I knew she was riding.)  I had looked up her previous results and figured that she might also be a ride partner.  
I dropped the fast-crew off my front wheel just after two miles.
Tommy was with me.
Amy was riding with the fast-crew. 
Ricochet was riding with the fast crew.

I recall a time when Ricochet chastised me for sticking with the fast-crew too long. 

Hmmn, I thought I had typed something similar to the following, but I apparently skated over it: 

At about 25 or 26 miles into the ride, Ricochet came up alongside me, and asked, rather sardonically, "so, we're riding with the big guys now?"  I replied that I wanted to have a quick chat with Joel, and after that we would drop back to a more sustainable pace.  Then when I was chatting with Joel, something I had never done because I had never been close enough during a ride to chat with him -- and I have never been close enough again since that moment back in 2011, I saw Lynn just ahead, with no one riding next to her, so I said to Joel, "well, I'm gonna' go chat with Lynn for a moment; that ought to confuse about half the group."  (The reason it would confuse some in the group is that Lynn and I were divorced from each other, and had been for a couple years.) No idea if anyone in the group was confused. 

[I do know that at the year-end 2011 party, talking to GeofS, he was describing riding with Lynn, and I would say "yes, I know" after each of his observations.  The confusion on Geof's face because he did not understand how I could possibly know about Lynn's characteristics (since she was a much faster cyclist than me) became more and more obvious.  Finally, I asked Geof, "you do know that Lynn and I used to be married to each other, don't you?"  He didn't.  So, certainly, six months before the party, during that 2011 six-hundred-brevet, he would not have known that there might be a reason to be confused by me riding next to Lynn and engaging in something akin to a conversation.]

Anyway, back to this year's 200 instead of the 600 from eight years ago.

Tommy and I continued riding letting the fast-crew go.
Tommy lives right on the course, just after 20+ miles,
And he made a quick side-trip into his house to pick up some fresh cold fluids
While I soft-pedaled on.

I figured I would be near the turn off Parker Herndon Rd onto Hamlets Chapel Rd.
At approx the 23-mile mark before Tommy caught me up.
Instead, he was back with me before the turn onto Parker Herndon,
Less than a mile after his detour at his abode.
That informed me that Tommy had a lot more in the speed-tank than I did.

Somewhere near Parker Herndon Rd, Ricochet "caught" us.
He had let the fast-crew go and drifted back, waiting for us.
Looked like it would be three together for the final 100-miles.

Ricochet and Tommy got ahead of me on the repeating down-and-ups
Of Hamlets Chapel / Jones Ferry Rd.
But not so far that I had let them go.
I figured I'd regroup with them, repeatedly, on the downhill sections.

However, at Frosty's, just before the 29-mile mark, Ami was in the Frosty's parking lot.
Apparently waiting for us.
Ricochet called out to Ami to join us.

Next thing I knew, just a quarter or half-a-mile later,
I realized that Ricochet, Tommy, and Ami were riding just that pedal-stroke faster than I wanted to do.
So I let them go.
Perhaps I thought I might eventually catch them.
I'm not sure.

But a nice thing for me happened after I decided to let them go.
I was now riding IN MY PACE, and not in somebody else's slightly faster pace.
I settled in, making decent progress.

To keep this post to a reasonable length, I'm going to copy in the text of an email that I sent to HH when trying to convince him to ride the 300 brevet so that he could continue some advancement toward riding a Series and ultimately PBP (now HH is targeting 2023 instead of 2019 as was his original plan).  
Backing off the pace, soft-pedaling the whole way, averaging about 13-mph, gets the job done.  I averaged approx 13.3-mph while in motion last week on the 200, yet I finished in 10h21, the lowest elapsed time for a 200 brevet or a "200" perm since October 2015.  

How did I do that?  I kept the control stops to reasonably short times.  10-minutes at Snow Camp outbound (which is pretty amazing given that there were 20+ riders there at the same time from some Gran Fondo); 14-minutes at Snow Camp inbound (as I agonized for a minute or more about what to get to eat, what ice cream treat to get, and then sat on the bench and reasonably slowly consumed said treat); 28-minutes at the Siler City turn-around (but that included an extra 12-15 minutes chatting with Mike O'Connor who was manning the control).  No other stops -- well, outbound, just before getting to Snow Camp, I had to stop on the side of the road for about 5-minutes to let an excitement-induced cramp release / muscle relax. 
The above email text, encapsulates everything I "need" to write, er, type regarding this brevet. 
Except for the following: 
I was so happy to finally finish a 200 in under 10-and-a-half hours, and 
If I had done a reasonably shorter stop at the turn-around control, 
I would have come pretty close to a 10-hour finish.

Cycling Commute Post-Brevet

I spent a little more than hour chatting with RBA Alan after completing the brevet.
Making some plans for the future.
Of course drinking a welcome home-brewed beer.
Probably a "Belgian" -- Alan would recall; I usually forget which option I chose.
The final act of the visit was helping Alan put things away.

Then I headed for my abode by the flatter westerly route that I use.
I didn't do that route in morning because the above described easterly route has more city lights,
Which help with seeing the roadway.
(There is, or was, some road construction on the westerly route.)

It was dark by the time I got to my abode.
I was surprised when I figured out the in-motion time for the post-brevet commute.
I thought I was riding faster than the number indicate.
I wasn't pushing, but it was a mile or more per hour slower than I thought I was riding.

Turns out that there was one more rider out on the course when I finished.
My visit time with Alan may have been partially to wait for that rider, and
To assist in a welcoming finish.
[I've checked the results for the lantern rouge finisher: 
His 13 hour time means that he finished at 8 pm. 
That was well after sunset, and close to civil twilight. 
In other words, darkness was certainly closing in on that ride. 
So far, this 200 brevet is his only completed / credited rando ride. 
Will we ever see him again. 
Frankly, I'm not hopeful.]  

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Mar-23: 7-Cs for Alan's 76 -- A 108-km Perm-Pop

Last year, I had the idea and put out the call to celebrate RBA Alan's 75th birthday
In a manner similar to how we celebrated his 70th birthday.
Clyde's Curious Critters Chatham County Cycling Circuit
Owner:  Raleigh RBA Alan Johnson

Thinking it a good idea to celebrate Alan's 75th birthday,
I put out a call / invite on the NC Rando list-serve and Facebook group,
To ride Alan's Perm-Pop and then share a low-key meal with Alan and the other riders.

Riders on the day:

  • BobB, #5843, 
  • me, #6218, and 
  • MikeO, #215. 

The three of us had a fun ride on a nice weather day in the middle of March.

This year, MikeO had the idea to celebrate Alan's 76th birthday.
But somehow, I ended up being assigned to put out the call for riders.
Hey, all --  

MikeO, BobB, and I are going to do Alan's 7-Cs Perm-Pop on March 23rd, with an 8 am start, as a belated birthday ride for the "Fearless Leader".  I reckon we'll do lunch after the ride -- lunch group includes Alan, but ride group probably not (as I understand it). 
  • if you missed the 75th birthday ride and lunch ride last year, and want to join for the belated 76th birthday ride, or
  • if you need to ramp up for Alan's Raleigh Region 200k Brevet on April 6th, or 
  • if you have no reason whatsoever, but just wanna' join what should be a camaraderie ride, 
contact Alan to arrange your paperwork exchange.
I rode from north Raleigh to the ride start in Morrisville,
Arriving to find Bob, MikeO, and Alan in the parking lot, waiting for me.

But surprise!  Mike wasn't going to be able to ride.
He had extra chores regarding his several dogs to take care of.
We let him off the hook for riding,
But maybe only because he left a contribution toward Alan's lunch.  :-O

[The historical weather almanac seems to be "down," 
So I can't confirm the weather conditions, so 
I'll just go with my memory.]

It was reasonable weather for mid-late March.
Cool but sunny, with a breeze or wind out of the NNW.
My Excel log actually notes "VERY windy, NNW."

Given the route, that was a headwind for some of the early miles, and
All of the miles after the penultimate control (Ray's Supermarket),

I had worked until 8 pm the night before, so my legs were tired all ride long.
Bob and I took a rather long stop at the first intermediate control -- Andrew's Store.
I was hoping my legs would start to come around.

The next miles to the intermediate Info Control at Clyde's weren't the easiest miles I've ever ridden.
But we had agreed to not take too much time at said Info Control.
Clyde's place was looking a bit worse for wear,
Instead of being the stellar looking place it had been a few years prior.
[I later heard that Clyde may have had to move into a nursing home / long-term care facility. 
Don't know for sure if that is true, but it seemed logical.]

We continued on our way to Pittsboro.
Just keeping the pedals going around.
I tried to force my legs to perform better on the section between Pittsboro and Ray's.
I figured that with a tailwind, it would be "easy" to pick up the pace and
Get the legs to come around.
Nope.  Didn't happen. 
The legs didn't start to feel better, and the pace was still rather slow.
I kept forcing my legs to work, looking forward to sitting at the outside table at Ray's
No luck on that table front, either.
Two "locals," one at each table, were sitting facing each other,
With the two tables between them.
Yes, I'll type it:  hogging both tables.
And each was busy smoking.
Making the entire atmosphere extremely less than I had hoped for.

We left Ray's for the last 24 or so miles of the course.
My legs wishing they were doing something else.

Bob, by the way, had been patient the entire ride.
He was in good shape having done a PacTour Desert Camp week in late February.
    ( Bob's blog report(s) from Arizona. )

We called Alan with about 10-miles still to ride.
From Wilsonville, if I recall correctly.

Alan met us at the finish.
Then the three of us walked from Bob and Alan's vehicles to the Mexican cafe.
I'm not sure which of Alan and me walked more gingerly across the lot.
My legs hurting from late work and riding, Alan's legs a bit wobbly from his recent LIFE activities.

I was quietly wondering to myself how I could handle Alan's April 200-km brevet
Given how badly my legs had just performed on the much shorter populaire. 
Regardless of such thoughts, and more importantly, we enjoyed a lunch together.

I'm wondering if there will be any chance to get more people to come out next year,
For Alan's 77th birthday.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Feb-06: Egypt Mtn 210

It's not how much gear you have with you;

It's whether or not you have the piece of gear that you need.

Bob and I set out upon our most frequent go-to Permanent:
"Warrenton and Egypt Mtn," a 210-km trip.

We started at 0600, which meant 40 or 45 minutes riding in the dark,
But also that meant getting away from north Raleigh before most of the morning traffic.
And might mean finishing comfortably in daylight at the end of the ride.

It was an unusually warm day for early February.
The temperature at 0600 was in the lower 60s.
The high temp, middle 70's, slightly lower the further north one was, at about 10 am.
Thereafter, the temperature slowly, ever so slowly declined, being mid-60's when we finished.

Accompanying those unusually warm temperatures,
There was a stiff SW or SSW wind, 10 to 20 mph, all day.
Well, once the wind "woke up" after around 9 am.
Mostly a tailwind outbound.
A stiff headwind for most of the second half of the ride. 

Just as we reached the turn off Tower Rd onto Jones Chapel Rd, 74.7-miles into the ride,
Bob was suddenly looking down at his cassette, or so it seemed to me.
Turned out he was looking at his rear wheel because it was going soft on him.
We pulled over at / after the turn, and Bob began to investigate the problem.
[I tried to use a google-street-view here, but the yellow-man has not been to that corner.] 

Turned out that the problem was that his rim tape has slipped inside the rim,
Or deteriorated to the point of no longer being useful for protecting the inside of the tube.
Who carries spare rim tape?
Not Bob.
Not me.
This could get "interesting."

Suddenly, I realized that I had a roll of black electrical tape with me.
Voila, acceptable rim tape substitute.
I watched in awe as Bob quickly strung the electrical tape in place as if rim tape.
We were soon on our way on Jones Chapel Rd and the rest of the course.

I was thinking that this was also the ride where my rear tyre developed a problem
At about the 103-mile mark.
But upon reflection and investigation,
That flat tyre experience was on the Sep-06-2018 Egypt Mtn ride.
I can no longer keep straight what happened when.
[I should share this with Dean #4070.
He could remember incidents, but couldn't remember when or who was with him.
And sometimes he couldn't recall onn which route an incident occurred.
Riding the Tar Heel 200 fifty-two times will do that.
Riding Lookin' Out My Back Door fifty-two times will do that.
And, most especially, riding Get 'er Dunn 314 times will do that.]

This made the 34th time I successfully completed the Egypt Mtn route.
I have one DNF on the Egypt Mtn course -- Aug-02-2014 -- apparently I never blogged that ride.
A cold downpour hit Lynn and me just before we got to Bobbitt, 89.5-mile mark
We sheltered at the Bobbitt store for about an hour. 
The temperature dropped considerably. 
Lynn did not want to continue. 
Lt. Dave, whom we talked into coming to rescue us, told us it was good we chose to DNF. 
He had encountered many flooded roads getting to us. 
I recall that in the Summer 2014, we had to use a detour. 
The "pipe-stem" connecting bridge was undergoing re-construction. 
So Bobbitt was actually at the 93.4-mile mark that day. 
Modified route that day:   

This made the 13th time that Bob successfully completed the Egypt Mtn route.
Flat tyre.  Unlucky 13th time?
I don't believe in that.
I'm pretty sure Bob also does not believe in that.
Oh, btw, this made R-110 for Bob.

The headwind on the return slowed our in-motion pace.
Me being out of shape, of course I was out of shape, slowed our in-motion pace.
And the extra time dealing with Bob's flat tyre slowed our elapsed time.

--> Egypt Mtn 210 ; 136.5-miles; 10h43 in-motion; 12.7 mph; EM rando elapsed time:  12h39

Permanent Route Name / #Distance Date Finishers DNF
NC: Warrenton & Egypt Mountain / 1444 210 2019/02/06 2 0
Cert# RUSA# Name Club / ACP Code Time
RUSA-T87538 5843 B__, Bob Randonneurs USA / 933095 12:39
RUSA-T87539 6218 S__, Martin Randonneurs USA / 933095 12:39

Feb-02: Raleigh-Berea-Raleigh 109

I wasn't going to blog this ride, but I thought of an amusing angle.

If you are reading this, you may realize that I have quite substantial memories of my Jan-05 brevet.
You may also realize that I recall very little of my Jan-23 perm-pop.
And continuing the trend, I recall nothing of this Saturday ride, with its 0800 start time.
Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

Looking at my Excel log, we used the standard route at the beginning and to finish.

And coming in the flattest way, Six Forks to Strickland to the shopping center,
Certainly suggests that I wanted to avoid the extra climbs of a Honeycutt finish.

The Excel log also notes that Bob and I ate lunch at Fireside Subs after the ride.

And then I rode the half-mile to my abode.
Coasted more like it, since there is a gentle down-slope the entire way.
--> R-B-R 109, with Strickland start and finish --> ; 68.8-miles; 5h11 in-motion; 13.3 mph; RBR rando elapsed time:  5h42

Jan-23: Raleigh-Berea-Raleigh 109

When Lynn and I created this route, for Lynn to be the route owner,
We absolutely knew that Strickland to Six Forks was shorter
Than using any part of Honeycutt Rd.
We KNEW that.
So I never plotted out the mileage, etc. using Honeycutt.

However, Lynn did comment that if we found Six Forks to Strickland to have too much traffic,
We would just make a safety detour.
I was likely thinking Ghoston to Peed to MVC to Norwood -- adding distance and climbing.
Lynn may have been thinking Honeycutt.

So, the submitted and official R-B-R routing uses Strickland and Six Forks,
Outbound and homeward bound.

I have since discovered that riding the entire length of Honeycutt Rd,
Then Possum Track to Six Forks
Is exactly the same distance as riding Strickland to Six Forks.
[Exact meaning within they each round to 67.8-miles.]
I have also discovered that using a (usually) finishing combination
Of Six Forks to Durant to Honeycutt adds only 0.1-miles to the route.
And by-passes one of the Honeycutt climbs.
And also passes by the home of another north Raleigh RUSA member.
[That last can be handy for doing a front porch paperwork exchange.]

By the way, for those that are convinced that RWGPS provides good climbing estimates:
Take a look at the profiles of the three routes embedded above.
Then look at the supposed climbing of each route.
To help with your examination, note that the first 62.9-miles of each are exactly the same route.
Do you still think that RWGPS offers up an accurate estimate of climbing?  All the time?

Anyway, enough background.  On to the ride report.

Bob and I started our ride at 0800 on a Wednesday.
I knew that Strickland and then Six Forks would be trafficey,
So we started using the Honeycutt Safety Detour.

We used the sidewalk to avoid getting on Falls of the Neuse Rd during rush-hour,
Then cut through the gas station at the Honeycutt corner.
We had chicane our way through cars stopped on Honeycutt, waiting for the stop-light.
Bob did not like cutting between the stopped cars.  Not at all.
I also didn't care for doing that' but I was sure the cars were not moving and there was plenty of space.

Then, on the downslope away from Falls of the Neuse, we claimed the lane.
The upslope lane was filled with a line of cars.
If we had tried to ride along the fog-line of our down-sloping northbound lane,
There would not have been sufficient room for cars to safely pass us.
Half-way down the decline, there were no more up-slope southbound cars,
So cars behind us were able to safely pass.
However, I reckon I'll avoid future 0800 RBR starts -- I don't want to temp traffic too often.

After riding the entire length of Honeycutt Rd, and making the quick cut on Possum Track,
We turned onto Six Forks Rd, rejoining the submitted, official route.
I asked Bob to check his cycle computer for the distance ridden vs. what is on the cue sheet.
He reported that they were the same.
RWGPS is very good at getting the distance correct.

I recall nothing from the middle 58 miles.
It must have been a pleasant day.
After all, the weather history almanac for RDU airport indicates that
The temp at the beginning of the ride was in the low to mid-60's, and
That the temps during most of the ride were in the upper-60's to lower-to-mid-70's.

My Excel log indicates 22-minutes at the Berea control, and
Another four minutes (two minutes, twice) of stoppage / pauseage time elsewhere en route.

The plan when we started was to ride the entire length of Honeycutt for the finish routing.
But my Excel log indicates that we used Six Forks to Durant to Honeycutt to get to the finish.
I told Bob that the reason was so that I could point out someone's house.
A someone that was committed to going to PBP, and
That maybe it would be good for Bob to know where that someone lived,
In case Bob ever gathered there to "car"-pool with that someone.

That was my excuse.
There was another reason:
I recall feeling rather worn out, and wanted to eliminate at least one of the Honeycutt climbs.

More proof that I was tired at the end?
I let Bob give me a lift from the finish at the shopping center to my abode.
That's all of half-a-mile.  With a gentle down-slope.

Not much of a story, but it is mine, and I'll be sticking to it.
Permanent Route Name / #Distance Date Finishers DNF
NC: Raleigh - Berea - Raleigh / 2818 109 2019/01/23 2 0
Cert# RUSA# Name Club / ACP Code Time
RUSA-T87187 5843 B__, Bob Randonneurs USA / 933095 05:36
RUSA-T87188 6218 S__, Martin Randonneurs USA / 933095 05:36