Sunday, March 22, 2009

Siler City Express / Mar 21 2009

We had 11 riders for yesterday's Siler City Express, a 200K permanent that cuts through the Uwharrie Mountains for some of the most spectacular and challenging riding that Piedmont North Carolina has to offer.

Despite a course that pitches up to 14 percent in a section or two, and hills that do not know when to quit, we had a 100-percent finish rate. That's a testament to the overall fitness and mental toughness of our local randonneuring crew. Even better, we had two newcomers in the fold.

A summary in bullet fashion.

Weather. Yeah, it was the second day of spring, but somebody forgot to alert the thermometer. A 33-degree start but a 55-degree finish, with lots of sun, a slight headwind on the way home.

Steel. Lots of classic steel in the line-up, including two Cohos, a Surly LHT, John M's bike from Iowa, and Branson on an old Trek. A shot of a few riders at the start ...

And Branson's bike.

One & done. Speaking of Branson, he did the course on a fixed gear and claimed not to have walked anywhere along the route. The videotape is being reviewed. Also on a single speed was Jerry, whose Langster sported a new silver coat. New paint is good for a couple miles an hour and he was near the front all day.

When one new ride ain't enough. Mr. Lathe, who was on his new Go-Heels! Coho (that would be powder blue), showed up in his new VW TDI, which was every bit as sharp as the bike. Apparently, both vehicles have lots of pull up the hills. Chuck was in fine form throughout the day.

Sign of the times. For anybody looking to abandon at Seagrove, here's one possibility for snagging a ride. I'm not sure they'll take you back to your car, though.

Quote of the day. Well, from the dinner party that evening, not the ride: "If you want to cross a street safely in Rome, walk behind a nun."

Guest appearances. Danno showed up and rode to Seagrove with us, then turned back for a 100K day. We crossed paths with Fearless Leader Al at the corner of Fort Mill and Erect Rd. He was out on a scouting trip for his upcoming series. It's a darn shame that Wes and Joe Ray didn't realize Al's wife Dorothy was with him when they took a nature break right in front of the truck.

Story of the ride. JoAnn joins us from an ultra marathoner background. Over lunch she told us about the terrible things that happen to your feet when you run 150 miles across the Sahara Desert. I'd repeat a few of them here but I'd probably lose my lunch.

Bonus points. Speaking of JoAnn, she gets the prize for most miles ridden when a missed turn added a little extra distance to her total. She still managed to finish within a few minutes of the front group.

Big Kahunas Award. You had to see it to believe it. We were rolling up River Road, having just made the turnaround. Here comes smiling Branson, screaming down a hill, riding fixed with no hands, taking our picture. I hope his wife doesn't read this blog.

Tired of tires. John M had a flat tire that turned into a major headache. He had a flat on a big honking 37mm tire that would not reseat after he pulled the tube. His spare was a 25, and he did most of the ride on a seriously mismatched set of tires. Ever seen a car with one of those mini, donut sized spares? That's how John's bike looked. Despite the mechanical issues, he made up lots of time throughout the day and rode in to the final control with Chuck.

A tip of the hat. Newcomers George and Jack, doing their longest rides ever, finished in fine shape with Monsieur Branson. George did a bit of faux cussing as he rolled into the finish -- at least I think he was fauxing. Jack looked content, like a hooked bass. I think both will be lining up for Al's 200K next month. Here's a shot of Jack at the start.

Lanterne rouge. And a big tip of the hat to Brother Rob, who hung in and finished another long day on the bike. He is riding himself back into form, and I think it's working as he shaved about an hour off his time in the January 200K.

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