|Seven of 10 finishers: Capn, Mike, Mark, Tim, Ian, Joel, Joe|
A 600K in February? Oh, you betcha. Just ask the gaggle of randonneurs who signed up for Tony Goodnight's Weekend 'O Brevets, held Feb. 5-6 in Lumberton, NC.
Riders had their pick of a 200, 300, 400 or 600K. Two riders, Steve A and Jimmy W, traded up to the 600K upon arrival in Lumberton, scrambling at the last minute to round up an extra pair of shorts from fellow riders.
Ten 600K riders, including your humble reporter, headed out and 10 riders finished on a flat course that followed a circuitous route through North Carolina's coastal plain. A hard rain could not dampen our spirits but everything else got a good soaking. We were our own weather system, depositing large puddles inside several Eastern North Carolina establishments.
Our course cut through the fatback of hog country, including Bladen and Duplin County. While we didn't see the sausage being made, we were able to chow down on some at a strategically placed Waffle House just outside Sunset Beach.
A few highlights from a special weekend on the bikes:
- Guest riders. We had two SIR riders in town -- Mark Thomas and Joe P (Greg's boyfriend). Those guys know how to have a good time on the bike. We put them in charge of the weather on day 1 and they delivered with a true Seattle soaking. The NC Randonneurs provided a full day of sun and comfortable temps for day two. We wore short sleeves and smiles heading to the finish line.
- The Peloton. Remarkably, the 10 600K riders hung together as a group until the last 75 miles or so, when Steve and Jimmy could no longer stand the intoxicating smell from the barn and galloped off from our short stay in South Carolina. A tip of the hat to Bryan R, who hung the red lantern. He had a G/I issue about 28 miles from the end and waved the big group on, but finished just a few minutes behind us.
- The Pigs. Am I right? There's nothing like the smell of a hog truck in the morning. A dozen passed us on Saturday morning on the way to the world's biggest processing plant in Tar Heel. You haven't really lived until you've been sprayed with a fine mist of hog waste....
- A first. A special congratulations to Joel Lawrence, who I believe is the first and only U.S. rider who has now completed a 2011 SR series. He endured two very cold and rainy events (the Brushy Mountain 200K and last weekend's 600K) and two frigid events, including the 400K, where he and his riding buddies finished at 5:30 a.m. with temperatures in the teens. He is one tough rider -- and one who stays positive no matter what the conditions are, making for great riding company. Now if we can only get him to open up a bit more....Also, a nod to Jimmy W, who just got his first R-12.
- Kidney stones! Joe from Seattle had heard the stories of that guy at PBP, that one with the kidney stone who persevered and finished despite a five hour detour through a French emergency room. On this weekend's ride, he got to hear the story first-hand from none other than Capn Ende. I never get tired of hearing it, and I don't think the Capn's tired of telling it, so be sure to ask the next time you ride with him. And be sure to have exact change ready.
- Hey, we're on Facebook! Several riders carried smartphones on this weekend's ride, and any time we stopped at a restaurant, the phones came out. Within seconds, pictures of the restaurant's interior flooded our Facebook pages. The comments from friends 3,000 miles away beat the fries to the table.
- Heat wave. I've seen some strange weather, but nothing like what we encountered Saturday, just outside Wallace. The set-up: we'd been riding in heavy, cold rain when we crested a small rise. Instantly, the temperature jumped up 15 degrees and everyone's glasses fogged up. Apparently a mass of warm air had pushed in from the coast and we rode smack through the wall of it. After riding in temps in the 30s, we were grateful for the sudden blast of warm[er] air.
- Who let the dogs out? At one point on Saturday, a pedestrian walking along the route saw us coming and said "One dog up." That became the mantra for the weekend. (That and STFD, the standard call anytime a rider got on the front and attempted to whip up the pace.) Yeah, we got dogs. Seems every home in Bladen County is required to keep a minimum of two canines, and bonus points if you let them run loose... Unfortunately, on another Tar Heel ride this weekend, Tom F had a dog take a big chunk out of his calf. Tom, heel up quickly.
- Sprints. Well, it's fairly clear that SIR did not send its A Team to represent in the county line sprints. Even so, Thomas, operating in stealth mode, managed to bag two county lines. His accomplishments were overshadowed by Joe's faux pas, who sparked considerable amusement among the Tar Heel crew when he sprinted for a sign that simply pointed the way to Fayetteville.
Edit: Joe P has provided song lyrics to commemorate the ride. They're sung to a song about a famous North Carolina train wreck....