Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A New 200k on New Year's Day

Being somewhat ambidextrous causes me to forget my left from right sometimes, or maybe I’m slightly dyslexic. One of those has to be the reason I managed to insert my contacts into the wrong eyes at 5:30 AM on January 1st. What other reason could there be? It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the margaritas I had on New Year’s Eve. My mistake wouldn’t register until I tried to read something small, like the odometer on my bike, and would prove to be a problem on the inaugural New Year’s Day 200km brevet.

Tony Goodnight—passing out cue sheets and rider instructions.

Back in November when the weather was still warm, the idea of starting 2008 with a 200km brevet seemed like a good idea. Especially since it was a new event and the first organized by our friend and riding buddy Tony Goodnight with mentoring by Joel Lawrence. So I was eager to sign up (although as Tony pointed out to me later, I didn't actually sign my name on the line until December 31--minor detail). I briefly studied the cue sheet and the map and saw that we would be riding through some NC towns that I’d never heard of much less ridden through. All-in-all it sounded like a good way to get the year off to a grand start.

I was out the door and on the way to Lexington at 6:00 for the 1½ hour drive mostly west on Highway 64 from my home south of Chapel Hill. As I drove through Siler City, I thought about the recent Siler City Express permanent that a few of us did in November and of course all the times we’ve stopped there on Al Johnson’s brevets. I arrived at the Wal-Mart in Lexington to see a bunch of cyclists in various states of preparation for the big event. Tony gave all the bikes a quick once-over with Joel's help, a few instructions regarding the route, and we were off just after 0800. The air was brisk, but not uncomfortable thanks to my new Joneswares woolens that my lovely and supportive wife had conned Santa out of.

Richard Lawrence (orange jacket)—The rider we should all aspire to be. At age 81, he logged 6,500 miles in 2007.(Larry Graham in the foreground).

Among the riders was Chuck Lathe and his personally hand-built and beautiful Coho Red Randonneuse.

At about mile 0.??, I realized I couldn’t get my odometer to come into focus. I could read Tony’s large print cue sheet well enough, but I couldn’t read my odometer at all. One without the other isn’t much good. My plan quickly became to hang onto someone's wheel all day.

Mike Dayton approaching the control in Gold Hill.

The first 33 miles to the control in Gold Hill were mostly down wind. What I thought was a quick stop turned out to be not quick enough to keep up with Mike Dayton. Mike had done the pre-ride about 10 days before and was just out for fun, but he was setting a pretty fast pace and was in and out of the control in a hurry. I thought that we might catch him at the next control, but alas, we didn’t see him for the rest of the day. We thought he’d ridden off the front, but it turned out his disappearance had another more sinister reason—Bonus Miles. For his explanation, check out his earlier post.

At about mile 40 the route started angling back to the northwest and the wind was showing its teeth. The roads were smooth and lightly traveled with gentle rollers—nothing steep enough to hurt. However with the ever present gale, the rollers set up a cycle of sweating on the uphills and freezing on the downhills. The second control was in the town of Landis at mile 55. Tony Funderburk and his wife were there to sign cards and offer the unwelcomed words that we’d be fighting this wind for another 30 or so miles. Tony decided to ride along on his shiny new and fast Bianchi. He set a pretty quick pace which quickly spread our little group apart. Truth be told, the other guys hung with Tony while I dropped off the back.

As we made a right turn approaching Cleveland, the head wind became a roaring tailwind and I was able to bridge back to the gang. At this point our group consisted of Tony Goodnight, Tony Funderburk, Joel Lawrence, Joel’s friend Henry McMullan of High Point, and Larry Graham of Columbus, Ohio who holds the NCBC 600km record at 22:14 set in 2006—that’s fast!!

No signs of Floyd on this Carolina Blue sky day

We hit the control in Woodleaf at 90 miles, but the next cue indicated a turn back into the wind for 13 miles on highway 801. Tony F, having fulfilled his volunteer pace setting duties for the day peeled off to cruise on home. The wind turned out to be not too bad—a quartering wind really, but enough to make me lose touch with the group again and I was soon riding alone and grumbling. A right turn on Highway 64 put the wind at my back again and just after crossing the Yadkin River, I passed the site of team “Virgins of the Fleche” 22-hour control from the 2006 Fleche. It brought back fond memories of my teammates and our frigid adventure. My euphoria must have affected my few functioning brain cells because I slid by the turn to Old 64 without noticing it and collected a bonus mile of my own! Not being able to read the odometer probably didn’t help.

Back on course, I trudged on to the fourth control in Tyro just as Tony G, Joel, Henry, and Larry were leaving. I needed some fuel and liquid and a warm spot. Actually, what I needed was a nap, but with nothing comfortable around I decided to head out.

I rolled out alone and rode the 12 miles back to the finish at a comfortable pace, just fast enough to generate some body heat. I’m not sure the forecasted 54 degree temp ever materialized, but all in all, it was a fine ride and indeed a great way to get the cycling year started. Tony’s first brevet was a rousing success with all 15 riders finishing. I for one, hope this ride becomes a regular part of NC Randonneuring.

Happy New Year to all of you and I’ll look forward to seeing you on the road—hopefully in sharper focus next time!

My companion for the final 30+ miles.


sharetheroad said...

Hey Jerry- how many fingers am I holding up??

Great write-up. Hate I missed riding with y'all- Branson

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, this is Victor. Adrian Hands mentioned to me that you have done a cascade 1200 before. I am thinking about doing it this year. I wonder if you can give me some tips on gearing and stuff. my email address is vw@unc.edu. Thanks!