Before I start I must say this would not have happened for me without the help of three people:
Thank you all. Without your help I might be stuck somewhere between Siler City, and Seagrove right now.
What a ride. I left the house around 5:30am, and biked to Morrisville to sign in, pickup queue sheets etc. I met up with my fellow Randonneurs (I very much enjoy being part of the club :-) and showed off my new drive train. New chain rings, chain, rear derailleur, rear cassette, cabling. Hell even new brake hoods and a polish :-D.
The ride kicked off at 7am. I sped along -maybe a little too fast- behind only the tandem duo Chet and Cindy. The pack quickly caught up to me though, just before the turn onto Lystra… Ferrington road I think. It was good to ride with the pack, having a group of skilled riders breaking the wind for you makes pedaling easier. We stretched out a little on Jack Bennett, I eventually fell off the pack around Chicken Bridge.
The last ride was a mostly solo event for me, but this time I rode with a fellow from Boone NC named John Pertalion. He was a strong rider, always smiling we rode into through Snow Camp, Siler City, and into Sea Grove. There was a point where John mentioned possibly falling back due to cramping, fall back I thought… I am the one about to fallback. It was good, our bursts of energy seemed to be just slightly out of sync, thus we kept a good pace.
On Fork Creek Mill road I saw foothills and noticed roads that the towns people named Mount something, or something Mountain road. I thought, its on now. Aside from the long stretching ascend to the check point at Seagrove I think the worst was behind me though. Looking back I think Coleridge was tough but at the time I owned the hill section -just a nice burst of energy.
But back to the ride into the control. That damned mile or so was looong. It had enough of a grade to slow me down, but it was not undulating, just steady. At the top I was greeted by a group of folks stamping control cards and filling up water bottles, sharing sunscreen etc. A great bunch of folks they were, salt of the earth. I had a bunch of power bars, but I followed the advice of my little nurse and stopped for real food. It was fast food, which is something I seldom eat, but it worked. I remember thinking the high salt content in the burger and fries was likely a good idea. The fabric of the jersey I had on was white from the salt I had expelled. John did not stop to eat, and I did not see him again on the rest of the route.
I set off alone, which I don't mind… for me there is some amount peace that comes from riding solo. My pace felt good, I absorbed the experience. Aside from some knee pain I was all good. The bike was in fantastic shape, the shifting action never felt so good. I thanked Gilbert many times on this ride. My pace was accelerated as I was hoping to catch up with John again. I did not go too fast though, it is hard to catch up after a long sit and I learned that struggling to do so can wear your body.
At the Siler City control I met up with Dean Furbish and Mike O. I had seen them come and go while eating in Seagrove, and it felt good to see fellow riders. We took off at roughly the same time, I had the fire in me and tried to push the next 10 miles to the Snow Camp control. I felt good when I got there. Mike O was right behind me as I pulled up, and Dean pulled in moments later. Milk, Tums, ibuprofen, and Gatorade that is my pick of poisons.
We left roughly together, I might have pedaled out a bit ahead. During the next 10 miles I felt good, the rolling hills were becoming hard on my knees, and the rain started to come. It was mostly a drizzle, no thunder/lightning which I like; riding through all the elements year round I have come to like a light drizzle, especially when it washes away the sweat. The only issue here was that I had taken off my cycling cap earlier and due to the road rash on my arm from earlier in the week I was wearing a long sleeve RUSA jersey. At a little abandoned gas station on NC 87 I stopped broke out a fresh jersey, my cap, and the rain jacket that Gilbert provided. Mike O stopped to throw on a rain vest, and Dean waved as he went by.
The next 10 or 15 miles were up and down for me. I quickly started to degrade, my knees hurt and mentally I was drained. Luckily about half way in I caught a second wind, I ate an energy bar, swore at myself a little, and then my head became clear. My pace felt good and I was having fun. The rain also stopped shortly after putting on my jacket… Doh!
I pulled up at the store on 15/501 to meet Mike, Dean pulled in right after. It was getting dark and I did not have a light to read the map. Thanks to Gilbert I now had an additional rear light so I took my small Planet Bike blinky and clipped it to my chest so I was able to read the route.
Jack Bennett is so much nicer coming in! Mike had suggested I leave the rain jacket on as the ride down could get chilly, the advice was good. I got in a tuck, shifted to the tallest gear, and listened to the generator whirr as I flew into the night. I rode with Mike O. down Lystra to Ferrington, and then fell into the bright lights of Dr. D.
Dean and I rode in together, I had enough light to make it, but Deans lamps made riding in the dark easy. The drizzle started again as we got into Morrisville
I ate a piece of pizza, chatted for a bit and then hit the road in the rain -which was coming down good now- to head home. At home I dried up showered and ate a wonderful post ride dinner with my Mary. Lamb, hummus, tabouli, and ice cream... what a day!