Sunday, July 18, 2010

Adorable Wet Critters Populaire, 7/17/10

Judging by the lawns and flower gardens in our neighborhood just south of the capital city, it’s rather obvious that we’ve missed most of the afternoon pop-up thunderstorms the past couple of weeks enjoyed by others. But what’s that got to do with yesterday’s Get ‘er Dunn Permanent Populaire?

Well, I should have thought of it sooner. Someone needed to invite “Fearless Leader,” aka “Rainman” Alan, to this side of town for a ride! No kidding, before yesterday, I’d ridden the route thirteen times. And the only time it had rained on me was the one and only other time that Alan rode with me. The two of us got caught that day in a nice refreshing downpour. Today was no different, just the intensity and duration of the torrent. Alan got ‘er Dunn again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself as the day started dry but overcast. We assembled for the group picture:

We stuck together until the Johnston County hills began sorting us out. Here we are getting ready to climb out of the first of several creek beds.

JayJay is climbing in good form.

So is "Fearless Leader" Alan fresh from Bike Virginia donned in his sharp commerative jersey.

JayJay is inspecting this year's cotton crop just south of Coats, NC.

At the turn-around control, the team plays mind-agility games in the conference room of our local Dunn randonneuring office. Mike asks engrossed contestants random questions in a game of cue-sheet trivia. Either that or state capitals. I can't remember.

Meeting over. On the road again.

A little while later as I talk to Mike, I'm still wracking my brain, trying to remember . . . what is the state capital of North Carolina?

But he won't even give me a hint.

We split up after the next control in Erwin. Janis heads out first followed shortly by Mike and Alan, while I wait to ride with Sridhar.
After having referred to my riding buddies as "adorable two-legged critters" in the ride announcement I happened to post on the NC Randon listserv, it was now payback time. Here I am caught in what was supposed to be a group picture in Coats, NC.

Much of the route is farm land. On our return as we cross from Harnett into Johnston County, we are greeted by some adorable critters of the four-legged variety.

A little closer to home, we catch a tractor on Stancil Road. Daddy is getting a helping hand from junior today. Wave!

The dark clouds ahead are clearly visible now as Sridhar and I trace along the top of a ridgeline. We hear the thunder which is almost constant and see what must surely be rain ahead. The only question is whether it is going to beat us to our desination.
With about ten miles to go, I ride ahead of Sridhar, in an attempt to outrace the storm.
About six miles from the end of Sridhar's ride, storm clouds gather. The sky darkens and the sound of thunder is more urgent. Sridhar has more immediate concerns as he senses an impending leg cramp. He gets off his bike, which he leans on a nearby mailbox. He walks around in hopes of placating his legs. Well, the son of the owner of the neaby house spots poor Sridhar and takes pity on him. He asks Sridhar if he's okay, invites him in the house, and offers him shelter from the looming storm.
The young man introduces Sridhar to his family and offers Sridhar a beer, which Sridhar forlornly declines we are told. The hosts take great care of our hero, who sits in their garage protected from the elements. An industrial fan blows on Sridhar, who reclines in a love seat where he manages a short nap. At last, there is a lull in the rain. With the clock still ticking, Sridhar bids his hosts adieu and ventures out under unsure skies. The downpour begins again in earnest and our randonneur is caught out in it.

Alan and Mike, who are at the front leading the charge home, get caught in a deluge just 20 minutes out. They decide to push on to the finish as wet as wet can be.
JayJay is not far behind. She, too, gets dumped on as she forged ahead, splashing in the puddles along Rock Service Station Road, finishing her ride in fine style.
Me? I'm caught somewhere between JayJay and Sridhar just under four miles from the finish. I'm dry at this point, still entertaining the false notion that I can remain dry to the end. Little did I know that there was an active line of cell formation that would continue for the next several hours. But who's complaining? We needed the rain. Besides, doesn't randonneuring = rain?
I pulled over under a car-port roof of a local nursing home. From my perch, I watched the sky darken across the road beyond the produce stand.

I called home and my suppositions were confirmed. I needed to stay put for the time being. I'm informed that not only is it raining hard there but lightening is dancing all around. Assuming that Alan, Mike, and JayJay are already there at the finish, I inquired as to how they were doing. I am informed that they have not yet arrived. This could only mean that they were still out in the rain or holed up somewhere like me.
Still no sign of Sridhar approaching from behind. Then the rain came.

And it came.

As soon as there was a lull, I headed out only to be caught in a real downpour. I cruised the length of Rock Service Station Road with both taillights flashing. The heavy rain was warm and invigorating. With my system awash in adrenaline, I pushed in a taller gear than usual those last few miles. Who besides randonneurs know how to have as much fun, excitement?
I'm happy to report that all the "adorable two-legged critters" on bikes yesterday made it back safely, successfully completing the ride within the allotted time, and with stories to tell.
The only question remaining is whether reclining on a love seat sofa, taking a nap, while being cooled by an industrial fan as you wait out a storm is allowed outside of a control. It's a good thing that our hero respectfully declined the beer. That would have been too much.
So how wet were we? So wet we had to take showers just to dry off.
Let's ride!


Ron Malinauskas said...

"A little while later as I talk to Mike, I'm still wracking my brain, trying to remember . . . what is the state capital of North Carolina?"

It must have been really hot! Hmm, let me think- Charlotte!

Sounds like a fun ride despite the downpour.


dean furbish said...

Hi, Ron!

No doubt you've heard the one, "What is the state capital of Kentucky --- Lexington or Louisville?" For those who want a hint, here it is:

We did have a fun time. Good people. This route has all the earmarks of a "Ron ride." Next time you are in town we can ride it and stop in at the little Italian restaurant in Erwin for lunch.

Biker Bob said...

So much for thinking you would escape rain with a 100K. We had rain for the last 3 hours of the Kerr Lake permanent, although it never was the heavy downpour variety with thunderstorms that you had to deal with. We all were soaked when we finished but had a good time. Getting through Clarksville VA was a real trip. They have some big celebration there every year and closed the business 58 bridge, so we had to cross the police tape. Jerry got to practice his negotiating skills.


dean furbish said...

Hi, Bob!

I'd heard of the annual Clarksville celebration, but not the closing of the bridge. The festival must have grown. I imagine your progress through the crowded town streets was slow going as well?

Glad ya'll had a fun ride. At least the rain that rained on you didn't rain on us (and vice versa)! :)

Anonymous said...

You sure do put on exciting rides, Dean -- complete with "fireworks". It was a great time, but I don't think I've ever been so happy (or relieved) to get to the end of a ride.

Your starting/ending control is THE BEST!! The folks there are great. They made me laugh and saved my ride...

When I finally made it to the end point, I was pretty stressed out -- Like Yungfalbz said about her ride, I too had wondered if the day to meet my maker might have come. I was so glad to finally be out of the storm . An old farmer who was standing in line behind me at the store took a look at my sopping wet hair and gear and joked: "Looks like you forgot to put your top up!" -- yeah,..."and my sides and my floor too", I chuckled... Nice comic relief... Then, when I discovered they wouldn't take my debit card, he even offered to pay for my chocolate milk and sodas. Find THAT here in the city...

I did find the cash, though, so I paid for my purchases, got my card signed and headed out for the last little ride back to your place. As I turned away from the counter the man at the register yelled "Wait, you NEED A RECEIPT !!! I know how this works!" Oh mannn, in my exuberance to be done, I had totally forgotten the receipt. If he hadn't practically shoved it into my hand,. I wouldn't have gotten credit for the ride. Where do you FIND these wonderful folks?

Anyway, thanks for riding so much of the route with me, for recruiting such a great crew at that end control and for engineering such a memorable trip!


dean furbish said...

Hi, JayJay!

It was enjoyable riding with you. Thanks for the ride report, since I wasn't with you at the end.

I agree with your assessment of the wonderful people at the start/end control. I'll convey your appreciation to them. Looking forward to riding with you again.