Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Jul-03: "Dragon Lite" -- shorted

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 
Rando buddy Bob and I had not ridden together since March 14th.
But with restrictions slightly eased, or were they already being re-tightened?
We decided to do an "Independence Day" ride on the 3rd.
[Bob had other commitments for the Fourth.] 

We weren't sure the 3rd would be a Holiday or not,
So we figured that we either needed to start early to beat rush-hour traffic near Raleigh,
Or wait until after the rush would be over.
Bob suggested either 0630 or 0830 -- we chose the latter.

We decided to do a ride of about 50-miles since we could do that without refueling. 
Bob left the choice of route to me, and I figured to include some roads he had never ridden.
As a result of those criteria, I came up with a "new" route:  "The Dragon Lite".
As the name implies, the route is a shortened version of "The Dragon".

A little research (mostly on this blog by searching for word "Dragon")
Revealed that I've apparently done "The Dragon" a half-dozen or more times, but
The most recent apparently was in December-2011 -- "The Dragon" a casualty of rando riding.
[Interestingly, one of the more interesting Dragon rides was done on July 3rd, 2010
I had completely forgotten that ride until I did the above referenced "research".]
[The original Dragon online map was created using "", and 
When that hobby-site more or less demised, 
A map was map made using "TrimbleOutdoors," but
Then Trimble essentially disappeared, so a third map was made using RWGPS.]  

"The Dragon" RWGPS map embed:

"The Dragon Lite" RWGPS map embed:

U can see that I sucked 11.5-miles out of "The Dragon" to make the "Lite" version.
However, RWGPS claims that the "Lite" route has 4-feet more of gross climbing!!
I'm not sure I believe that.

Okay, on to the information about this July 3rd ride.

I left my abode at 0742 to cycle-commute to the start.
8.06-miles later (including approx 30 or 35 yards extra because I missed turn),
I arrived at Pleasant Union Elementary at 0818.
Bob was already there and ready to ride, so we started at 0821.

Non-eventful drift down Mt. Verson Ch Rd and "glide" back up and
Across NC-50 to Old Creedmoor / Carpenter Pond Rd.
More non-eventful riding the rollers of Kemp Rd.

However, during the 1-mile on NC-98, something happened.
There seemed to be more pebbles in / on the shoulder of the highway, and
I managed to hit one square-on with my rear tyre and suffered an immediate pinch-flat.
Luckily, the flat occurred in front of Neal Elementary School and
There were some small trees available for use for a shady spot while I changed the tube.

The tube change went reasonably smoothly, but I did not hurry.
It may have taken as much as 15-minutes to complete the change and to inflate the new tube.

Back on the road, more completely non-eventful riding on Patterson and Cheek Roads.
Across the wide (but shallow) part of Falls Lake.
[The lake looked to be plenty full -- though I have seen it higher. 
I know I commented to those effects to Bob.]

Turn right immediately after crossing the lake and follow the logical road-path
Onto Boyce Rd which crosses Old Weaver Trail and
Becomes Will Suitt Rd when the road goes into Granville County from Durham County.

After entering Granville County, I told Bob that we would turn onto Fleming Rd
So that we would ride past Cedar Creek Pottery and
Bob would know where it was in case he ever felt like taking Retta Deane there for an outing.
[I mentioned to Bob that I used to call the routing including Fleming Rd as "Pottery Loop."]

After Fleming Rd, we were on Northside Rd which we could have taken straight to Creedmoor, but
We took "Strawberry Loop" to better define one of the Dragon's wings.
[If one zooms in on the map, see "Lyons Farm" that sells a LOT of strawberries every Spring.]

Completing "Strawberry Loop," we returned to Northside Rd to ride toward Creedmoor.
The steepest climb of the ride (that Bob and I did this day) was on Northside Rd --
About 6.4% according to RWGPS -- and I think RWGPS invariably understates the steeper inclines.

"The Dragon" actually goes up into Creedmoor, so that one might refuel there.
Since we were not wanting to stop anywhere on this ride,
"The Dragon Lite" cuts thru a housing development just south of Creedmoor-proper.

Headed south toward Falls Lake, riding easily on the rollers of Dove Road,
I realized that the day's heat was already getting to me, so
I asked Bob if he would be okay if we shorted the ride to only about 40-miles.
He indicated that doing 40 would be okay.

So ... we skipped riding the Dragon's Neck and Head,
Which is where the steepest climb of the day should have been, and
Is where Bob would have been introduced to roads he had never ridden.

Riding "straight" across Old Weaver Trail to New Light Rd, and
Then finishing on the usual Ghoston - Peed - Mt. Vernon Ch combination of roads,
We ended up with approx 40.3-miles in 3:00 in-motion.

I had originally planned to enjoy my cycle-commute to the ride proper,
Enjoy the 53-mile Dragon-Lite and also enjoy my cycle-commute back to my abode, but
I must have looked pretty decrepit since Bob offered me a ride home.
I accepted.

Pretty lousy story about a mostly non-descript ride, but I'll be sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Jun-27: Modified Denny's Store Sortie

Jun-27, modified Denny's Store Sortie  
0600, solo -- 70-88 F -- 7h51 elapsed -- V-150 #1
93.4-miles -- 7:01 in-motion

The plan was to use the "Denny's Store Sortie" 138-km perm-pop as the core for a 100-miler.  Started at 0600 from my abode (that was probably too late -- shoulda' started at 0500 or 0430).  The ride started well, but the increasing heat and headwind outbound followed by more heat and the wind shifting from NW to SW (on a hot day, it always backs around to be from the SW) made for a headwind all the way back to Raleigh.

The first 33+ miles in faux single-speed 39/15 mode, including the climb up the "Range Wall" huffing and puffing the entire way.  Just after 33-mile-mark, I reflexively shifted to the 39/14, and I decided I'd use gears the rest of the ride.

Before I got to Shoofly, approx 63-miles into the ride, I had bailed on doing a 100-miler and was instead in "survival" mode.

Although this was my Hudson Valley Randonneurs Virtual Spring Brevet V-150 #1, the way I feel right now, I think I'll count it as V-100 #6.  [Someone had an insane plan going into the weekend: 100-miler Saturday + a 200k on Sunday + another V-100 on Tuesday -- those would have meant a successful V-50 campaign, a successful V-100 campaign, and a V-SR. Hahaha -- THAT is definitely not happening.]

So, I'll finish the virtual brevet season with 10 x V-50 and 6 x V-100.  However, having cleaned out the house of my mother-in-law and separately my father-in-law, I collect VERY FEW awards (to gather dust and for someone else to have to dispose of at a future date).  In other words, I won't be filing my results nor applying for the associated bumper stickers (?).
Camp Butner was a United States Army installation in Butner, North Carolina during World War II. It was named after Army General Henry W. Butner.  Part of it was used as a POW-Camp for German prisoners of war in the United States and this site eventually became the Federal Correctional Complex, Butner.
This "prop", across the road from the previous sign for Camp Butner, sometimes used to take photos en route, usually the "Bahama Beach: perm-pop.  I think the most recent use of this location was last September when John + Ann J agreed to pose.
NC State Farm across from the Camp Butner sign.

More NC State Farm.

Looking Deep into the Creek.

NW corner of the modified route -- I didn't do the mile out and the mile back, down-and-up-and-down-and up, to the Control at the Allensville Store and back to this location.

Strange! That flag was luffing about some, and showing that the direction of the wind was becoming variable, but I'm surprised to see a "sad Flag" in this photo. 

The iconic location for photos on this route, the actual Denny's Store x roads, is just visible in the middle of that curve in the background.

This year, tobacco in that field.  Some years, cotton. Some years, essentially lying fallow with an alfalfa crop.

Berea c-store. [I unintentionally took a mirror selfie.] 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Jun-20: "Assault on Flat Rock" -- V-100 #5

V-100 #5
"Assault on Flat Rock", with pre- and post-ride commutes
72.3-miles,  5:15 in-motion,  6h08 elapsed.

Rode the core course with my Irregular and sometimes rando buddy Harvey (#11802, currently expired). Harv had recently only been riding about once a week on the greenway (same one MikeD has reported riding many times in the course of these virtual brevets), and hadn't done any hilly rides since last September or October. Therefore, he was interested in a pedestrian paced ride. I was more than fine with that -- but to get some "training effect" from the ride, I decided I'd try to stay in the 39/15 the entire ride -- including the tough climbs in the middle of the route.

I did stay in the 39/15 all day. The ride up the 1+ mile climb on Grove Hill Rd was nearly a delight, 10-12 mph on the chip-seal that was falling apart / had fallen apart while sitting and keeping the cadence up. Harvey dropped me off his front wheel -- if he were in proper shape, he would have dropped me off his back wheel.

A couple places on the Flat Rock Rd 1.4-mile climb required standing while pedaling to stay in the 39/15. Upon reaching the top of Flat Rock Rd, I told Harvey that the climbs were a lot easier than I had remembered. (Of course, as best I can recall, the last time I did the "Assault on Flat Rock" was in 2012. I guess the intervening 7 1/2 years of mostly rando rides, some with a "bit" of climbing, had re-calibrated my thinking / the perceived effort. (Prior to this ride, my blog had 17 posts tagged for the "AFR" -- I used to ride it a lot -- to get in some climbing training.))

I'll paraphrase what RUSA #12 wrote on her blog back in 2013, the last three climbs (Ghoston, Peed, Mt Vernon Church roads) are tough enough. Parts of Ghoston and Peed standing.

I rode out to the meeting place, arrived 56 minutes before Harvey wanted to start riding. and then putzed around on the flat-ish stuff near there in case anyone that hadn't committed to the ride ride showed up to start 30 minutes before the delayed start that Harv had requested the night before.

A "typical" Irregular thing before the start of the ride-proper.  Harvey realized that he had forgotten his water bottles.  So, we rode the 1.2-miles from PUE to one of the gas stations / c-store at the corner of NC-50 and Norwood Rd, where Harvey would be able to purchase a couple of chilled water bottles -- hoping for bottles with flip-top lids so that he could drink from them while riding -- unfortunately, he couldn't find flip-top bottles, so he purchased 2 bottles with screw-tops.

Many stories and memories from long-ago "AFR" rides and also more recent solo efforts were shared en route.  [One particular memory of interest was this one from January 2011.]  We may have gotten lucky in that the day was heavily overcast until our ride(s) was(were) completed.

Longest ride of the year for Harvey.
But not for me.

And only half as long as some Solstice rides I've done, but I don't worry about such stuff as that any more. Or, at least I claim that I don't.
Harv arriving at the "mid-way point" after completing the climb on Grove Hill Rd.
Looks like the storm blew the top of that tree in the lucky direction!
this photo does NOT do justice to that yard and homestead

And hoping this doesn't get me in trouble -- LL rode her first 100-miler of the year today (June-20). Solo. Reportedly entirely on the few roads that she mostly stays on because the lack of traffic fits her very reasonable phobia dating from Feb-20-2016.

Jun-18: Variations on a Theme -- V-50 #10

V-50 #10
Variations on a Theme

No plan for a route when I started.
Just ride wherever/whatever in the nearby neighborhood until the threatened rain materialized.
Gearing was in 39/14 left over from the end of my previous ride. A few miles in, while doing an early incline, I decided 14 was a bit much, so I shifted to the 15, and proceeded to do the rest of the ride in the 39/15.

Only one climb got difficult in that gearing. Deer Trail, at about the 4-mile mark of the linked route [oops, it appears that I deleted that RWGPS route -- :-( ], I was working HARD as the speed slipped to a low of 3.8-mph. After that, though, everything was much easier, although I did a LOT more standing to pedal than I usually do.

I didn't start and finish at the TLC-4-Bikes shop (as indicated in the map), but instead started and finished at my abode, approx 0.9-miles from the bike shop. I didn't bother to detour off Honeycutt Rd to ride past the shop at the start; however, I did ride up to the bike shop a mile before finishing in order to deliver a message to Gary, the shop owner / mechanic.

An interesting thing about 5 or 6 miles before the finish of the ride. I happened to look down at the gearing and discovered I was in the 50/21 -- not 39/15. I conclude that I must have automatically shifted from the 15 to the 21 unintentionally. However, I am confident that I would not have unintentionally shifted from the 39 chain ring to the 50, so I conclude I had ridden most of the ride in 50/15. That gearing would explain why the climb on Deer Trail early in the ride had been so hard.

The nice things about this ride: (1) it turned into a decent hill workout (I manually created the RWGPS the next day in order to get an estimate of the climbing), (2) my legs felt great after the 2:14 in-motion / 2h28 elapsed ride, and (3) it never did rain in the north Raleigh area on the 18th.
photo didn't turn out so well. I was trying to get the asphalt of "Bayleaf Ch Rd" where it disappears into Falls Lake and also the impossible to detect slight gap on the other side of the lake where I think the original road was located. 

It is my understanding that "Bayleaf Ch Rd" is the original routing of "Six Forks Rd" from before the Neuse River was dammed up to create Falls Lake. 

approx mile 13.6 of the RWGPS map.
another crappy photo. Taken at the bottom of Possum Track Rd. The sign on the left is the logo for the "Mountains to Sea" hiking trail. 

approx mile 18 of the RWGPS map.
This photo for Bob -- approx mile 17.4 and 18.6 on the RWGPS map.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Jun-13: Just following my front wheel

V-50 #9
Just following my front wheel
34.0-miles. 2:29 in-motion. 2h33 elapsed.

70-80 F. Sunny. Dry. Stiff NE breeze.

Many cyclists out and about.
Mostly solo. Some doubles.
One group of 8 or 10 (young-looking males).

Jun-12: V-50 #8

V-50 #8

Jun-12 (i.e., earlier today -- this post is ripped from a Facebook post made late on Jun-12)
Solo. 47.5-miles. 3h40 elapsed.
78-82 F (but there was a LOT less humidity with a dry and somewhat cooling breeze out of the northeast).
Photo at the 23.7-mile mark.  There was a large box turtle and two small ones sunning themselves on that log. This time, I managed to stop immediately, retrieve the phone, lay the bike down in the shady ditch on the opposite side of the road, so I knew I would get a 3-turtles photo.

However, when I turned around, all three turtles had disappeared.  I took the photo anyway.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Jun-06: Michener's X-roads and Return

I.e., essentially the first 26.2-miles of my old "Warrenton + Egypt Mtn" 210k perm, but starting from my hovel instead of the official start of the route.  Then turn around and come back, but did ride the Ghoston-Peed-Mt.VernonChurch finish (with its three climbs that even RUSA #12 said are tuff-enuf).

Jun-06, 0630, solo -- 74-85 F -- 6h09 elapsed -- V-100 #4

1h17 chat with my former supervisor 1.9-miles before the turn-around. Don't ask me what we chatted about.  All the usual things men chat about during a stream of consciousness conversation.  And I'm confident that neither of us could possibly recall even 10% of what we chatted about.  [However, I am sure that some of our conversation was about personal repercussions stemming from the coronavirus lockdown.]

Second major stop at the CVS at Bay Leaf (start/finish of many of my old Perms).  There was a young guy and his girlfriend rest-stopping in the shade.  He had completed approx 80-miles of the cycling leg of a virtual team Iron-Triathlon for charity while she was providing periodic "SAG" support.  Chatted with them for a bit.

But the big time waster at the CVS was the clerk forgetting to ask for my CVS card (and me forgetting to offer) -- I had to use a human cashier because the mgr-on-duty was refilling the self-serve cash register.  I walked out of the store to my bike; then, as I loaded up 4 Arizona Tea cans into my bottles (replacing overly warm water) and putting two of the cans into two of the jersey pockets, I realized that I had paid $4 plus tax, instead of the sale price of $2 plus tax.  Back into the store to get the price adjusted. Cashier had problems getting the refund to take -- and eventually gave me a coupon for $2 CVS bucks -- when I was a retail "asst. mgr.", I would have just taken two actual dollars from the till and chocked it up to customer satisfaction (and informed the store mgr and the cash room dept.).  Anyway, the process took more time than it should have.

The point of the ride was to actually drop by and visit / chat with my former supervisor, so I did not begrudge those 77-minutes.  The time wasted at the CVS, however, did put the successful completion of my virtual 100k in danger (due to a possible hors delay). I was still concerned about that -- but admittedly not much concern -- as I rode past my friend's that lives 3.44-miles from my abode.  (I started thinking that I would need the extra 4-minutes that the extra 1-km would allow.  However, when I coasted to a stop just outside my door, 6h39 elapsed -- even for a 100k, I had one minute in hand -- and for 101k, five minutes in hand.) Correction: I finished at 12:39 pm --> 6h09 elapsed, not 6h39. Brain failure due to too much sun/heat?

No photos.  WAY too overcast for most of the ride to get decent photos.  And once the sun came out, I didn't want to stand around in the rapidly rising heat.
Likely only those have ridden multiple-multiple times with me on the Bruce Garner / New Light Rd "finish" will understand (e.g., BobB, the Irregulars):

After doing the first approx 45-miles in the faux
 single-speed 39/15 -- an easy ride outbound that had been, and an easy ride back, also, although the breeze was in my face the entire return leg -- anyway, after approx 45-miles of faux single-speed, I was on Bruce Garner Rd and the legs were "wanting to ramp it up," so, you know what happened, "time-trial" on Bruce Garner / New Light. 

Except that the legs didn't have quite enough to keep it up all the way to the bottom of Ghoston.  I backed off the "time-trial" -- perhaps while still in Granville County on Bruce Garner -- but I did maintain a cruising speed, into the breeze, 2 or 3 miles per hour faster than I had been riding most of the day. 

Then, just inside Wake County (or, as I think about it, more likely just before it), three guys pulled out of a driveway riding mountain bikes (?) or at least some pretty wide tyres (tho not "fat tyres"), and I easily overtook them at cruising speed.  However, when I got even with the first guy, he looked over at me with a smile/smirk and what appeared to be a licking of his chops.  I knew he was thinking I was some racer-boy dude on fancy equipment -- HA -- and he was gonna' "show me." 

He picked up his pace as I moved ahead -- picked up his pace just enough so that (at cruising pace or perhaps just a bit more) I could not complete the pass and get back over toward the fog line and was instead stuck out in the middle of the lane.  But only momentarily.  Somewhat annoyed, I said out-loud, "okay, I'll give you something to chase," and hitting the pedals with seriousness I and was going 25-mph within seconds.  All three of those guys were hanging on. 

The legs were somewhat wearied from the short "time-trial" from only a few miles before, but I was determined to uphold the honor of the slow pack of the randonneuring world.  I did bog down a bit on the first non-trivial upslope inside Wake County (non-trivial to me, but sometimes, even for me, it is trivial), and the lead rider of those three was creeping up on my right side -- into a dangerous position for him because if I moved suddenly to my right, I would clip his front wheel and he would go down -- but I didn't do that.  Instead, I doubled down and still they were hanging on.  I started wondering how long I could keep this up.  Approaching the Northern Wake firehouse, they were still on my wheel, but a couple hundred yards after the firehouse, no one was visible in the mirror.  Where had they gone?  I didn't know. 

But I had maintained the honor of the slow rando pack, and no longer "in danger" of being passed, I backed off the pace to a sustainable one

May-30: Tiny Turtles and Small

Tiny Turtles and Small 

via Coachman's Way, etc. -> old "TT" course ->
intersecting the "TT" course at its 2.5-mile mark and following "TT" back to there;
then return via Coachman's Way, etc., 40.5-miles
i.e., same course as May-03 and May-15

0745, solo -- 70-77 F -- 4 turtles -- 3h12 elapsed

I took it easy, apparently. Didn't feel like it.

Last three turtles were all within about 1/2 a km.
I HAD to stop, photo, and rescue all them.
And text photo to LL.

She did a different solo ride, guessing 50-miles.
She encountered 3 turtles herself.
"Banner day," she indicated in her text.
0805 -- tiny turtle
0930 -- tinier turtle
0935 -- small turtle
0941 -- another small turtle

Big Turtle 
A few days later, fracquaintance PamelaB (RUSA #12) posted a couple photos of a turtle she encountered on her ride in NW Massachusetts / far S Vermont (borrowing from her FB timeline - for comparison purposes).  The 4 turtles I encountered (see above) and the three that LL encountered were all "Box Turtles" whereas the one Pamela encountered was a "Snapping Turtle."  I hope that Pamela's turtle won't be harassed (or worse) by any human and goes on to live many more years.

Friday, July 10, 2020

May-26: The "Road to Dickerson"

Last week, M-Th, all day rains.
Friday morning rain.
The weekend, Sat + Sun, sunny, but I couldn't get out.
Yesterday, Memorial Day, overcast all day, but no rain. Still couldn't get out.

The "Road to Dickerson"

Essentially the "Bay Leaf - Oxford - Bay Leaf" perm-pop, but starting nearer the house and turning around at Dickerson (instead of continuing on up to the east side of Oxford).

Overcast in the morning, which is good because that helps keep the temperature from skyrocketing. Late in the ride, the skies over Raleigh began to clear / did mostly clear, and in the last several miles, I was glad of the places where the road was shaded.

A forecast 3-mph headwind on the way out. Ha! Those little triangular "flags" one can see "everywhere" and the long grasses in the ditches were whipping about quite noticeably -- certainly significantly more than a 3-mph breeze. (But interestingly, I do recall see one "sad flag" outbound; but I don't recall where.)

And paraphrasing the "Fixie Pixie," there was no tailwind inbound; instead, I was feeling good. At least until the out-of-shapeness and the climb on Lawrence Rd and the last three climbs got to me.

If it had been sunny the entire ride, I planned to take a few more photos.
But today, only three.

Local randos, and some from elsewhere in RUSA-land, might recognize this location (if I had managed a more expansive view).

I tried to find an angle and scope that would include the flag atop the tall flagpole, the parking lot, the building, and my bike.  No soap.  So, I settled for the corner of the building with new name of the fire-station and my bike.

The station used to be part of the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Dept. But Stony Hill and Bay Leaf were merged to become Northern Wake last year or the year before that.

Dickerson.  If one looks carefully, one can see where the green "town"-name sign used to be bolted atop that post.  The sign disappeared two or three years ago. 

For a view of that signpost on a sunny day, click here.
A sign of the times.
Since I will surely re-purpose the RWGPS map I made of the route I rode this date,
What follows are the "map image" and "elevation profile" of the route ridden.