Sunday, December 28, 2008

Streak: Part II

It would have been an easy to day to skip. Fog and light rain in the forecast. Temperatures in the 40s. Maybe it would warm up. Maybe not. Time for a gut check on my commitment to another streak.

At stake was a five-month string of 200Ks. Twelve 200Ks in a row are needed to earn RUSA's coveted R-12 award. A December 200K would put me at the half-way mark. However, as I watched the weather reports, my motivation began to flag.

But across the nation my fellow rando brothers and sisters were facing real weather obstacles to their R-12 attempts. Friends in Seattle and Colorado forwarded pictures of deep piles of snow. They were smothered out there with little hope of clear roads before year's end. Some R-12 hopefuls publicly threw in the towel. Others decided to jump in the car and head hundreds of miles to R-12 routes in warmer states.

So who was I to whine about a little fog, a little rain, a little cold? My beloved Lake Loop was calling. Pick up the phone.

This would be a solo trip, my second of the year. Kelly doesn't like me to ride by myself, but the only drawback is that my pace is usually several miles an hour slower than a group ride. There is much more meandering, poking about at the side of the road. I stopped five times in the first 50 miles, and it took me 1:45 to cover the last 23 miles.

The weathermen nailed the forecast. A steel gray day with patches of fog and patches of rain. I dressed accordingly. Lots of wool from head to toe, shoe covers, orange glasses. I rode my faithful Coho, with full fenders and fore and aft running lights. I left Stony Hill Fire Station #2 at 6:30 a.m. It was still dark and the world was socked in by a heavy fog. The world is different in the fog. Smells cling to every molecule -- for the first 8 miles it was skunk, then cow shit and wood smoke until finally the fog lifted at daybreak and the smells broke free. The cloud ceiling hung low, trapping the world's din; bored dogs along the route anticipated my arrival and gave full chase.

No special photographic talent was needed to capture the gloom of the day. Just point and click.

Loyal readers of the Park will know it's de rigueur to stop on the dam for the obligatory photo. Yesterday, as I neared the dam, I saw a bird watcher at one of the parking lots. He appeared to be peering through Hubble Telescope: the Home Edition. Like me, he was enjoying a world painted in a million magnified shades of gray. I asked how the bird watching was going. Lots of grebes, he said. We shared two minutes of warm company on an otherwise solitary day, and he took this shot looking toward the dam.

I ran into moderate rain from Skipwith through Clarksville. Enough to get me iced down in the five minutes I stopped to have my card signed and buy AA batteries that took one picture before giving up the ghost. No more pictures for the day.

The roads remained wet until Stovall, 90 miles into the ride, but were quickly dried by a headwind I battled for the last 40 miles.

Back at the start at exactly 4 p.m., back in my baby's arms by 4:42.

The Streak Lives: Part II. Speaking of, congratulations are in order to N.C. rider Jerry Phelps, who just completed R-12 #3, and to other local riders on the R-12 track -- Paul P, Byron, Branson. I'm sure there are others I'm missing, so chime in. [Note: I missed Dean -- see his note below. Apologies!] And for those riders across the nation attempting to keep their R-12 streaks alive, may you have tailwinds, blue skies and dry roads.

1 comment:

dean furbish said...

I see you've been streaking again. Keep it up and you'll get noticed!

Congratulations on stretching your R-12 streak, Mike! Also, nice pix, especially the island shots.

I guess everyone who completed a December Permanent currently has something going towards an R-12. Congratulations to all!

With my December ride, I completed the requirements for my second R-12. Keith Sutton's ride report is here:

Anyone can start or continue an R-12 in January!