I am loving all of these ride reports. This one is from Chris, a very strong rider from western North Carolina. His wife is equally strong and both are a joy to ride with. Enjoy!
Anomalous Spike in Berry Smoothie Sales
Greensboro 1000K Brevet
I am not known for making kind comments about McDonald’s. That might change since a new product at that ubiquitous chain is in part responsible for our successful completion of the Greensboro 1000K. Also, I believe this week there are bean counters at McD’s scratching their heads at the pattern of sales of the Wild Berry Smoothie. Many restaurants in a large circle in North Carolina had exceptional sales over the weekend. But why?
Jimmy Williams, Annette and I planned to make the brevet a three-part effort of 400/400/200, and made hotel arrangements accordingly. My parents, who were in Fayetteville and then Henderson, up at odd hours, setting out large meals, made up our support team. They may have been as tired as we were, and got no more sleep. Big thanks to them.
At the depart on Friday morning, the distance was in the back of my mind. Projected high temps of 98F were the real concern. We rolled out, cast caution to the wind, and rode at a high pace anyway. Jimmy, Annette, and I quickly added Jerry Phelps to our rotation, and for spice we became a quintet with Stephen Andreaus on board. This would do well in the opening 200K since Stephen was only riding that distance. His exuberance pushed us on despite our larger ambition.
By mid-afternoon we passed through Greensboro, ready to get on with the big loop. Wendy Gardiner, from Georgia, joined up with us, and that is how it stayed all the way to Fayetteville. At times we scattered a bit on the long run down Highway 22, and Smoothie sales spiked in Ramseur and Carthage. These concoctions staved off heat exhaustion, but the heat had done its work. We arrived not at 11PM as thought, but at 12:45AM. I had wanted more sleep, but two hours it was to be, sandwiched by supper and breakfast.
The second day we set out at 5AM sans Wendy. The pre-dawn roads were pleasant enough and did not foretell what would come. Day two was the day of wind. It started at 7AM and was in our faces for the remainder of the day. I calculated that 12 hours of a reduced pace would cost us 60 miles or three hours of riding longer into the night. But, our capitulation to the wind also saved us since there is no success to be had fighting wind for twelve hours. We amused ourselves with other things than forward progress, such as the information control at Snow Hill Baptist Church, more Smoothie stops, and all the dogs that came out to harass us, or to say hello.
Dogs are a funny lot. They announce themselves with great bluster, do a great job defending their property lines, and only rarely do they actually pose a real menace. I do not have dogs. I am a cat person. Cats are much different. You will not know they are after you until it is too late. Jimmy, Jerry, Annette, and I became like cats, stalking our prey.
At the Snow Hill control, the women in the store commented: “there was another guy that came through here by himself about an hour and a half ago. He also asked me to sign one of those cards.” We muttered ‘Bob’ in unison. He was alone in the wind, having forsaken any sleep at all in Fayetteville. We pressed on to Scotland Neck and learned Bob Sheldon had been there one hour before. And it was here that we rallied against the dwindling wind of late afternoon. Relatively speaking, we put the hammer down and clicked off the next forty miles in two hours. This was a 6mph improvement over our progress of the day. Sure enough, as we rolled into Skippers, VA, we saw Bob’s bike outside of McDonald’s. There was a spike in Smoothie sales there also. We added Bob to our group, and continued at a faster tempo. Maybe we could get some sleep that night after all.
Despite nightfall, this portion of the ride was my favorite. And, as unattractive as was the necessity of going through Fayetteville the night before, Tony G really made up for it with the route that took us from Skippers to Henderson. It was party time on the lake, and we five looked like some sort of UFO with all the night riding gear. The stars were unobstructed and the air was crisp at last as midnight approached. Still, the wind had taken its toll and we reached Henderson, and sleep, not before 1:45 AM. We agreed on 3.5 hours of sleep, which was again sandwiched by supper and breakfast. My parents were doing their job at least as well as we were doing ours. We rolled out at 7:30AM for the remaining 200K.
The last part of the ride was punctuated by Smoothie stops in Yanceyville and a couple of other places, and was altogether a beautiful day. The strongest memory for all of us will be that this was the day that Jimmy Williams began to feel good. His pulls were long and fast, and lasted over several rollers at a minimum. We dubbed him The Diesel, and he was. A few times I was more wrecked by holding his wheel in line than by succeeding him and taking a pull of my own. Conditions were favorable, and confidence was high as the miles dwindled. Jerry had on the NC Randonneurs jersey that day so with the end in view we chose him to roll across the line as the first finisher: 58’ 13”. We were all ready to dismount.
PBP is longer, but 1000K is no three-hour tour.