Monday, May 10, 2010
Morrisville NC 400K/ May 8, 2010
As we motored along on Saturday's 400K, Bill, a rider who began randonneuring last year, told me that he enjoyed the way that groups and alliances shift and re-form during brevets. I like that aspect of the sport, too. We all start the ride together, but you never know who you're going to finish with, or who you're going to share company with along the way.
You may pair up with a group of riders for 50 miles or so, until a control reshuffles the deck and you head back out on the course with a new crew. Sometimes, your legs simply get heavy, or your stomach turns sour, and you back off the pace for a while until another group approaching from behind picks you up, lifts your spirits and carries you on to the next control.
At so it was on Saturday. Riders came and went. Several of us moved out of the first control ahead of the large group we'd entered with, and that would put us a few minutes ahead for the rest of the day. The one constant in my group were the dual overhead Kamms -- Chris and Annette. Fueled by jelly beans and fit from the mountain training of western North Carolina, they sailed along the course, even into a fierce headwind. Annette was our coach, cheering and badgering us to pick up the pace, stay focused. For the longest time we had Kim with us, but we lost contact with her when she dropped a chain at Love Joy Road; we were up a winding, hilly section before we realized she was no longer with us. Wes was with us until the turnaround, when the heat began to take its toll and he developed leg cramps.
I was in the same boat for 60 miles after the turnaround. I told Chris and Annette I'd be useless until Seagrove, and I kept my word. The hilly section from the Uwharries to the Hardees control can inflict serious suffering on tired legs, and there was some kind of pollen in the air that was driving my throat insane. We made it through the hills intact and stopped for a fast food dinner, where we picked up Jerry, Tim and Wes. We would eventually splinter again in the section from Seagrove to Siler City. Annette was on fire and riding with inspiration. With my own leg cramps setting in, I urged Chris, Annette and Jerry to ride on. I figured I'd back off the pace once they dropped me, allowing me to recover. Instead, they graciously slacked off and pulled my weary butt to pizza and drinks at the Siler City control. A big thanks to volunteer Mike O for the chairs and the food.
We left out of the Siler City control as the heat of the day began to break, and with the cooling temperatures I regained my legs and felt fine the rest of the way home. We stopped for V-8s and cookies provided by Biker Bob, who was volunteering at the Snow Camp control. Tim left the control with us but purposely sat behind us on the final leg and finished a few minutes after our group, after stopping to phone home.
My stated goal was to finish before midnight, thus completing 250 miles in one calendar day. So there was the stated goal, but in the back of my mind I had another thought -- maybe besting my time of 17:17, set back in 2002, my very first year of randonneuring. Jerry knew about that mark because I'd mentioned it in an online post. As the day wore on, that time goal took on less importance than finishing with the group I'd shared so many miles with. I would have been miles back down the road without their help. When we stopped at a store about 20 miles from the finish and took an extended break, I put 17:17 out of my mind. I'd get it on another day.
We were about five miles from the finish, heading up Carpenter Fire Station Road, when Jerry casually said, "Hey, Mike, it's 10:56 right now. I think we can make it in under your time." That breathed new life into our group. Chris, Annette and Jerry dug deep and did big work to the finish. We rolled in at 11:14 p.m., three minutes under the wire.
As Annette would say, nicely done. Thanks to all for another great day on the bikes.
Note: Thanks to Biker Bob for use of his photo.
For other perspectives, here is Vance's report, Keith's report and Bryan's Facebook posting. Maria's pre-ride report is here, and a big thanks to her for volunteering on Saturday. Also, thanks again to Bob for working Snow Camp. His volunteer report is here. Here's Ian's report and a short write-up by Martin.