Sunday, December 9, 2007

Floats like a butterfly: Lake Loop / Dec. 8 2007

It was a day for parades, for old rides and old friends on our latest installment of the Lake Loop.

My ride day started way too early. Old friend Chip Robinson was in town for a one-night stand of the legendary Backsliders. It was not to be missed, and Chip was in fine form: he’s picked up a freeform beat vibe from the New York streets, where he is living in the back of a bike shop (“I’m never late for work anymore,” he confided.) For a front man, Chip gave up a lot of uncomfortable truths. Maybe it was the beer and two shots of brown liquor that dropped his defenses.

My own sad truth was that I was out until 2:30 a.m. at the smoky Pour House. The alarm jarred me out of Dreamland at 5:30. Not that I ever really slept. Thank goodness for the home espresso machine and the double espresso Clif shots. Is it true the Western World runs on oil and caffeine?

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately, so I rolled out my Silk Hope for only the second or third time this year. That’s the bike that carried me through my magic first PBP and through that brutal inaugural Cascade 1200K. The Silk Hope has earned a little pasture time, but yesterday was a day to let it out of the fence for a canter in the autumn sunlight.

The temps were in the 40s at our 7 a.m. start, but every hour brought improvement. By mid afternoon we were basking in temperatures that flirted with 70. Wintertime riding don’t get much better than this.

There were five of us: Jerry, Wes and JoeRay came over from Chapel Hill. Byron and I rounded out the field. For the first time ever, we rolled out of the Stony Hill parking lot at the appointed hour.

In a recent product review for, I commented on the trend back to wool clothing. Yesterday, four of the five riders were wearing wool base layers or wool jerseys -– or both.

Here’s a shot of Wes in his “flat-line” Charlie Brown jersey and Byron in the RUSA wool jersey.

A nice long shot of Wes and Jerry looking downstream.

And the downstream view.

Here's a shot looking down route. That's Joe and Byron approaching in the distance.

Here's 3 on the dam.

Byron took top honors in the “Best Dressed Competition. He looked like he’d stepped out of a 1960s cycling catalog. I think he’s ready for his cover shot in Grant Petersen’s catalog.

I’m going to give second place to Jerry in his Open Eye jersey, although I feel he pandered to the judge's well-known weakness for caffeine by wearing a jersey from the best coffee shop in Carrboro.

Byron was riding his Movable Beast, a Bianchi San Jose set up with honking 32 knobby tires and a dusty, three-speed Sturmey Archer hub.

Byron carried more weight than the rest of us and drifted off the back a bit yesterday. No worries, though, as we regrouped several times.

A couple highlights of the day:

As we headed up to Oxford, a dozen Christmas floats passed by at highway speed in the other direction, apparently heading to a nearby parade. But where had they all come from? A few miles later, mystery solved as we passed the Triangle Float Company. As luck would have it, we saw the floats heading back to the barn in the late afternoon.

It was perhaps the lightest traffic day ever on the Lake Loop –- until we hit Shiny Rock Road heading toward Grassy Creek.

A dozen or more cars came by. What the…? Another mystery solved. Grassy Creek also has a parade, and we rode right through the middle of it.

JoeRay the thinker wrote down the number for Roses Restaurant in Boydton, a highway point on the ride where we often eat lunch. When we were on the dam, about 10 miles outside Boydton, we called in an order for cheeseburger deluxes and a vegetable calzone. Lunch was ready when we hit town. That probably shaved 15-20 minutes off the stop. Brilliant, Joeray.

We finished up around 4:15, well within daylight. Byron rolled in about 20 minutes later. A glueless repair patch on his tube developed a slow leak, forcing a roadside repair.

Saturday’s ride completes 6 full years of at least one century per month. I have buddy Rich to thank for that impressive streak. Back in 2002, I showed up at a January century ride with a vow to do at least one century a year. Said Rich: “One a year? You need to do one a month.” I thought that was nuts at the time. 72 consecutive months later, who’s nuts now?

Of course, I'm not the only one working on a streak. There are several NC riders chipping away at RUSA's R-12 award...

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