Sunday, April 5, 2009
Morrisville 200K Brevet / April 4, 2009
Leg cramps. I knew they were coming, I just didn't know where or when. Maybe it was the unusually dry day, and the fast pace that brought em on. Whatever the reason, 40 miles from the finish of yesterday's 200K, I got the warning signs. Sharp twinges in both calves, thigh muscles coiling like dangerous springs when I stood on the hills. I popped another e-cap, thought it would help.
Three miles from the finish, I thought I was free and clear. I'd made it through the hills on Crawford Dairy and Hamlet Chapel Roads, made it up the gentle climbs on Martha's Chapel from the lake, made it up the last little climb on Carpenter Fire Station, the leg muscles simultaneously taut and tender, threatening to revolt.
Then we caught a stop light.
When I tried to put my right foot back on the pedal -- WHAM!!! The calf seized up. I yelled bloody murder. My two riding buddies, Bill and Russ, looked back, graciously let the green light cycle through while I collected myself. I knew I was in for it now. If I had to stop again, put a foot down at a stop sign or stop light, I was doomed. And it happened twice more before the finish, once at a light, once at the final turnoff to Al's house, where a line of cars was stopped for another light. I risked falling over, flopping on the ground like a gaffed flounder. I could see Al's house now, but I could no longer lift my right foot to the pedal. I got off, gingerly, pushed my bike the final 200 yards to Al's house. It was not pretty. In fact, I'd say it ranks in the top 3 of All Time Ugly Finishes. But it makes for a good story.
I can't say enough good things about the guys who provided the company on the final stretch home. Russ was out on his first brevet, and what a showing he made. He rode across the country last summer and he still had the legs to prove it. The real horse in our team was Bill, who sat tirelessly on the front for at least 25 of the last 30 miles. He rides with the North Raleigh Road Dogs, where they call him One Speed Bill (if memory serves). Not because he rides a single speed, but because he is so incredibly steady and smooth in the saddle. A high pace up and down the hills, but no surges, no lapses in concentration. He is the kind of diesel you want to hitch your trailer to as you coax your tired legs toward home.
Safely back at Al's, we set up chairs and greeted the waves of arriving riders. The riding conditions were ideal -- sun, temperatures in the low 70s, and headwind on the outbound leg that meant a healthy push all of the way home. I believe everybody finished, pushing their bikes into Al's yard with a look of tired satisfaction. There were some new faces. Besides Russ and Bill, I had lunch with Victoria and Curt, down from Charlotte, and talked with Lynn, another north Raleigh rider. There were lots of the usual suspects, including Mike, Branson, Dean, brother Rob, Byron, Sara and Gary, Paul, Chuck, Jerry, Joe, Wes, Alan N, Bob, Dan, "Daddy G" Geoff, Jack, and several I'm drawing a blank on, so forgive me. See all of those NC Randonneur jerseys in the pictures? We look sharp! Thanks to Mr. Branson for that. Brother Rich worked the turnaround, and Fearless Leader Al served up tomato sandwiches at the finish.
Another fun day on the bikes, even with the cramps, gramps!