Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lumberton 200/300km Brevets, February 6, 2010

Owing to the weather this past week, we wondered whether there would even be any North Carolina brevets this weekend. Not only had training been affected, but so too was the ability to formulate a ride-day game plan ahead of time. On such short notice, if it went off, we’d be riding on and by the seat of our pants.

Further north our friends in the DC area have had it much worse, however. In reference to the heavy snow this weekend and the lousy riding weather so far this year, one DC Randonneur shared this bit of humor:

Chuck and I have accepted Punxsutawny Phil's gracious invitation to share his private suite in the climate-controlled Punxsutawny Library. See you after the thaw.

Closer to home, my home, which is located just an hour and a half from the start, I was pleasingly surprised upon rising and poking my head outside early Saturday morning and seeing that it wasn’t raining! Just cloudy skies that would last all day.

Weather wise, Tony has had good luck with his eastern North Carolina flatland experiment: the flèche two years ago, culminating at Ocean Isle Beach, and now with the Lumberton brevets this weekend, with riders having a choice of 200km or 300km, the latter with an even bigger helping of wind. Simply put, if this weekend’s brevets had been scheduled anywhere else, there may not have been any brevets. In fact, by the time Tony was ready to make his escape from the western Piedmont, it had already begun sleeting there.

It was an enthusiastic group that turned out for both rides. Among them was the band, “Beach Boys and Girl” (Mike D, Joel, Ed, and Lynn, was there anyone else?), riding 300km down to Sunset Beach and back.

There is Joel in blue, one of the Beach Boys. You know his group (with Mike D) was going to have fun. I wonder if they took a quick dip in the ocean?

Among the 200km aspirants was fast guy Steve (on the right) to whom we waved as he whizzed past us in the opposite direction having already cleared the first contrôle. Among several others, two new people completed their first 200km brevet: Lee Ann and Tim. A hearty congratulations to both! The winter months are not the easiest time of year to get this brevet-thing figured out.

After pre-ride instructions from RBA Tony, locals Tom and Mary were kind enough to escort us 21 miles out of town all the way to the Gum Springs Rd intersection before bidding us farewell and turning back. They’d have ridden with us all day were they not tapering for their upcoming race in Sebring.

Tom and Mary led us through Tar Heel over the Cape Fear River, where we turned right onto River Rd past Harmony Hall Plantation, which was barely visible on the right. You’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there. The only thing really noticeable from the road is the old general store, which doubles as a museum.

Besides a few interesting buildings, the site is home to one interesting tidbit of colonial North Carolina history. Check out this sign.

At Ammon (mile 31.3), everyone met for a brief time. The Beach Boys and Girl get high marks on contrôle efficiency. Although arriving behind us due to having to stop to make clothing adjustments, they were out of the contrôle ahead of us. With more miles to go before they could sleep, it was best to make good use of a great tailwind.

I spotted a Willie Nelson look-alike in Ammon. I was also able to study some randonneuring eating habits in the wild. Here’s Scott posing with a delicacy. Or, should I say, the reason he’s smiling is that he’s already consumed the delicacy?

No, that’s not SRAM the component maker.

A group of seven of us left Ammon for the southernmost tip of the route located 46 miles away, almost due south. We would leave Bike Route 5 and head into Elizabethtown (mile 43) where we would cross the Cape Fear River again and for the last time.

Now to take advantage of a tailwind for the next 34 miles (77 mile mark) before it would turn on us the last 50 miles homebound. But let’s not dwell on that right now.

At the far-end contrôle, I had another chance to observe the eating habits of randonneurs in the wild. Here, for example, is Lee Ann lustily consuming . . . I don’t know what.

All gone.

Knowing what lay ahead, none of us was eager to leave the contrôle. We took our time making sure that we had consumed enough calories and had properly hydrated.

Finally we left with the assurance that the next control was only 14 miles away. Scott literally pulled us through somehow managing a pace of 16 mph against the wind. Lee Ann also pulled. The only thing I can say is thanks and that I’m sorry that I posted the above pictures of your eating habits. I promise to take them down as soon as everyone has had a chance to see them.

This leg of the route took us up to downtown Whiteville where the contrôle was located just off the traffic circle with the court house plopped right down in the middle of the circle. We got our cards signed, flipped our cue sheets, and quickly calculated how many miles before the next store.

Now it was my turn to lead, primarily because I had studied the on-line map of this section of the route on how to get out of town. Next came Old Lumberton Rd, which seemed to go on forever, pedal stroke after pedal stroke. . .

The wind rushing past my ears sounded like I was listening to sea shells. It was almost impossible to have a conversation with Sridhar. We took turns pulling, our speed in the low teens.

Sridhar is not one to complain, but his wish was granted as soon as we entered Robeson County. The road became as smooth as glass, trees popped up on both sides of the road, and the road itself had a few interesting turns for a change. We hoped we could ride it all the way to Lumberton. But it was not to be.

We found our store at the corner of Old Allenton Rd where we were supposed to turn, now just 13 miles from the end. Lee Ann and Scott had arrived ahead of us and would leave ahead of us. Tom and Mary arrived offering encouragement.

The last part of the ride was broken up into several small turns keeping our minds occupied. Had the wind abated? The last couple of miles was like riding a victory lap.

The 200km is a nice route, flatter than advertised. The start/end staging area in Lumberton is conveniently located just off the interstate and surrounded by several eateries and motels. The course is beautiful, traversing a designated Scenic Byway in one section and through a couple of forests.

Congratulations to everyone. Thanks to RBA Tony for designing such a nice route and sponsoring the ride. Thanks to Tom and Mary for pre-riding the route and for being on hand to host the event and check on riders. The companionship of Scott, Lee Ann, and Sridhar more than offset the headwind. Thanks, guys!

Let’s ride!

Note from Mike D: Here's a picture of one-half of the 300K crew -- Joel and Lynn -- at the turnaround at Sunset Beach. They're still smiling, but from there, it was 80 miles back uphill and into the wind.


Doctor on a bike said...

SO GLAD some riders were able to make it and had weather that was accommodating if not exactly ideal. Sorry the travel day conditions kept me from even attempting to get there. Looked like a terrific route.

dean furbish said...

Doc, understandable that you couldn't make it --- riders even closer in were prevented from coming. The good news is that there are brevets scheduled each of the next several months!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for coming down to my neck of the woods Sat. The headwind and cold were tough but you all were tough. I'm glad everyone got back safe and sound, and a big shoutout to Lee Ann my homegirl for finishing her first 200k in difficult conditions in under 10 hrs. Thanks to Tony for setting up a great route and next year we'll have better weather.

ScottConn62 said...

Thank you! Great write up. I really enjoyed the company out there! Also, feel free to leave up my culinary habits.
Looking forward to the next brevet.