|Three peaks (l-r): Hanging Rock, Sauratown Mountain, Pilot Mountain, taken at Mile 48.|
Joel, JoeRay and I picked the ideal day to ride a 200K. Temps at our 7:01 start were at the freezing mark but climbed to the mid 60s by the afternoon, with plenty of sun and a very light trailing wind that gave us a gentle push from Sweet Virginia back home to Carolina.
The ride was the final check of the permanent route that will be used for next weekend's annual NC Randonneur party in Greensboro. It's largely the same as the route Tony G put together last year, with some slight variations out of town and back in. One note: the route is actually 211K (132 miles) so set your mental odometer accordingly.
The route out of Greensboro was very quiet at 7 a.m. We encountered one "oops" immediately -- a newly closed road, as we cut over from Elm to Church Street. There are other connecting streets between the two.
The first 64 miles of the Natty Greene route are gentle. You'll find a few hills and many flat sections as you angle north toward Virginia. Traffic is light for the most part, and long sections on three-digit roads make for easy navigation.
At mile 48, you'll get your first good look at the triple peaks of Hanging Rock, Sauratown Mountain and Pilot Mountain. Thankfully, the course skirts those climbs. You'll have various views of the peaks for the next 40 miles.
The route crosses into Virginia and hits a control at mile 64 in Dry Pond. Once past that control, expect a very different course -- a much hillier one -- for the next 30 miles or so. You'll have four crossings of the Dan River, and every bridge brings a climb out of a hole to another ridge top, with plenty of rolling hills in between. The roads are quiet from Dry Pond to the 85-mile control in Danbury, which is a pleasant stop at the General Store, with rocking chairs out front.
|Rocking chairs at Danbury General Store....|
The Natty Greene course is a lollipop shape, and just north of Summerfield you'll rejoin the stick portion of the route, heading south on the same roads that took you out of town. Traffic picks up as you near Greensboro on Lake Brandt Road, but the final roads into town usually had a shoulder or were four lanes, allowing any car traffic to pass.
The run into downtown is through an old section of the city and has a neighborhood feel before the finish at Natty Greenes, a pub and restaurant on Elm Street. The party is being held there, in a loft room on the top floor.
Next Saturday's forecast calls for lots of sun with a high of 65. Should be a perfect day for a bike ride. Please join us. One note: it took us 10 hours to finish the course, with an average ride time of around 16 mph. The sun was setting as we got into town. Given the hills in the middle section of the course, and the course's length and finish in an urban area, lights and reflective gear will be needed, especially if you expect to finish after 5 p.m.