Friday, December 09, 2011

keeping warm in style

hey there, hope you all are well. as a commuter, i can tell you the weather is different on a daily basis. i have been working the wool since october at times but full time now at least on one layer or another. that said, have a look at this design for an NC Randonneurs woolie..

 i think it looks great! project coordinator Branson says we need a few more interested to hit the minimum. get on board! Baaaa-aaaa!!  

the skinny:Pricing will be Short Sleeve $95, Long Sleeve $105, plus $8 shipping each (if needed.) If you want to wear one, drop me (branson) an email at NCRandOrder AT gmail DOT com with:

1- SS or LS or both
2- Size
3- Shipping or pick-up

full story over at research trailer park-link in the right hand column :)

stay tuned for some more gear reviews coming soon.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taste of Carolina 1200K

continuing with the 'checklist' driven summer I managed to knock off two more perms I hadn't ridden before: the Yanceyville Ramble. cool route! Wes called this one as a final NC trainer before moving abroad and riding PBP. it's not really hilly, but does have a nice triple hump near the end that is for real. give it a shot. nice perk: breakfast at the cracker barrel where the meet up takes place :o) #2 is Dr.A's ham and yam: raleigh to smithfield and back for 100K. Lynn, Mike D, and Dr.A joined me on this one. other than traffic on lake wheeler road, it's a quick easy spin out and back. all ya need sometimes..

after these rides my august was a whirlwind with travel to new york for the duchess county fair. hurricane Irene ruined the end and sent us scrambling. after a side trip to syracuse, i finally got on a plane in albany and made it home..48 hrs later it's time to ride a 1200K, soo, without further ado....Taste. of. Carolina. chapter one.

I actually enjoyed my first 1200K back in may, why not do another? I prepped for texas, I just showed up for this one. packing was different:3 bags instead of 1. did it all the night before. not enough sleep and already tired. traffic was bad. Bryan and I got to greensboro about 7. a few peeps hanging around. checked in. ate a little. went inside and Tony let us nap in the common room. got up around 230 for a 4am launch. 21 riders on the 1200, 2 on 1000k  and 7 or so on a 200k to send us off. good friends too: mike, jerry, john fresh off PBP and maria and glenn. we hit a drive-thru for a sandwich and coffee before the ride.

bike-thru b'fast

time to roll, about half of us from NC, the rest from far and wide, this day was a grand loop into the mountains. having ridden it in july, I knew what to expect. I came up with this nearly universal truth:the more scenic the ride, the more challenging the route. the start was nice and smooth. we made the controle 1 by day break. Tony was there to sign cards and short stopping was on: riders were gone in no time. I scrambled out on my own, and before catching the front came upon Mary in the foothills. no wearer of the Adrian Hands' spirit award leaves a gal alone in the hills, so I pulled the big climb up hwy 89 to sparta. at controle 2 in twin oaks we had a snack and found the others' finishing up. 2 were also icing their knees after the early climbing. the next set was cool, with lots of christmas trees and small farms with friendly curious animals..

hillside goats
I had my one and only flat, and Mary and I made controle 3 where we filled bottles and sat a minute out of the heat. we were joined by Joel Lawrence here. riding well after breaking bones in a crash this summer! off we go to laurel springs. I ride just a little ahead, and they meet me as i'm leaving. Mary says "go ahead, Joel is right behind me." the climb from here is brutal at this point of the day, and I flirt with cramps, ugh..150miles in, 50 to next controle, 50 more after that.. after a terrific descent to low gap, it's back to sparta, and on to salem fork to retour to greensboro. i grab a V8 in sparta and work out the hamstring. John Morris is signing cards in salem fork and it's good to see a familiar face. the 'trio' (mary, joel, and curt) show up soon after me, and into the dark we ride. i zoom off, wanting a better time than july, and max sleep time. I make it in about 1:50, and sleep from 3-6. the leaders left about 3:30...

I goof a bit in the morning and head out about 7:30 by myself. it's still hilly after getting out of town, but very pretty too. the trio catches me at a store, and at the 2nd one Bryan shows up. we ride together to Ellerbe and have lunch at a funky sub shop. it's the taste of carolina 1200. onward, it's hot out. the trees are diminishing, as is the road quality. the wind is increasing. rockingham motor speedway. we have made the legs feel good and I hit the gas all the way to laurinburg. Tony is here, and I throw my feet up before changing to a thin sock. Bryan goes the other way and pulls on wool. the trio, and Micah show up. he's jamming a single speed bike. after leaving together, Micah and I ramp it up a  bit, we roll into Rowland, funkytown! out of here we ride very steady to fairbluff, where Henk and Chuck are caught. Henk is suffering a bit and we give them a wheel. we roll on to Tabor City-Funkytown! after a quick stop it's 37 endless miles to Ocean Isle. i'm up front and delerious. 19hrs of bike, 21 overall, 'interface' issues, ready to get there! i see a light ahead, it's Don on the retour! allez! I'm fantasizing about a park bench when a swing and adirondak chairs are spotted in front of a warehouse. we pull in and take 5. yes. now I can make it. refreshed enough to finish, we roll on to the beach via a very windy causeway. jerry and beth are at the cottage with lots of food. I eat one of every thing :) 3 riders ahead of us are there too, planning to leave about 3. It's nice to see Lynn for a few minutes, I give her some encouragement, and see them off. the trio shows up along with bryan, and we all go up to sleep a few..after about 2.5 hrs sleep I get up. I said if I rode back to back 400's to the beach, i was going to see it! I walked out to the ocean alone right at sunrise-so tranquil and soul stirring. it made the pain melt away..

atlantic daybreak
800k down, and time in the bank now. this ride was front loaded like texas. relax..
Henk was ready and left. Micah and I left in search of coffee: a bagel place was found and we stopped. terrific pumpernickel and lox! yum. so-so coffee :(  I was looking out the window and Vance roll by-happy to see him make it to the beach! also here a young couple said they knew a gal who rode RAAM. so do I, and she's on this ride. they knew Mary! small world indeed. we enjoyed clouds, and light rain back to tabor city. still funky, we sat a minute and got ready for a long 100k back to laurinburg. 

we took 2 little breaks on this part which included lying on the river in fairbluffs under the spanish moss, and that wacky town of rowland. after 30 miles of highway rushing with myrtle beach folks, we needed to de-stress. as usual the others showed up right behind us. when we all got to laurinburg, the talk turned to weather. it just wouldn't be a taste of carolina without a hurricane. tropical storm Lee rose from the gulf and was hanging over the greensboro area, and  a hurricane was approching in the atlantic. Yay! after a break and a shower I donned a 2nd pair of shorts, and a wool base layer. somehow a flask had oozed gel all over my front bag, the vols quickly helped me clean up and away we went in groups. the trio and bryan were ahead, we were about 10 min behind. the plan, with 90 miles to go at 630 or so, was make it to the hope mills controle at mile 45, and look at the weather, continue if safe. all seemed fine, so after a snack we rolled. the roads were mellow, but starting to roll. getting sleepy. need an energy drink and a minute off the bike. about halfway in arabia, we came upon this store, a good one, with hand dipped ice cream and hand blown pipes and bongs. really..

B says"good energy"

we get back to pedaling and somehow stay awake as we climb to Aberdeen and on into southern pines. after getting cards signed and talking jibberish we get 2 rooms down the street. I let Tim L know where we are and invite him and anyone else he sees to come by. we sleep from 4-7 while a big storm blows thru. perfect. chuck and joan are in the lobby sleeping when we wake up. Tim is on the road. 

Bryan gets the jump and Micha and I, well, we want coffee. turns out starbucks is less than a mile off course. we sit down and quaff a latte. I called Lynn and find out they finished at 1am. Bravo! we go about 9, as we pass by the controle, we see bill olson asleep outside. the rando life. today is going to be hilly and very scenic. and stormy too. only 85 miles tho. Tim rings and says he found a subway, I hit the gas and we meet for an early lunch. off we go into some goood rollers, Tim zooms by on the bumper of sandford and sons' truck! hilarious! we chase and enjoy the views. after a short storm, we make the penultimate controle. 33 to go, and according to facebook, Bryan is 40 minutes ahead. Micah and I dig the fast city descents out of asheboro, and fly thru the countryside before seeing tony outside greensboro. 3-6 inches of rain expected in the area. the sky is black over town and we get nailed with about 5 miles to go. I fire up every light I have and ride behind Micah to cover us. we pedal hard to the end and finish around 3:30. biker Bob greets us at the door. 83.5 hrs. a fitting, crazy finale to a pretty good ride!

singin' in the rain
we had time to clean up and wait for the rest to arrive about 1.5 hrs later. the trio were joined by tim, chuck, joan, and the olson bros.. great job by all to finish with time to spare..we all headed across the street later for a nice sit down recovery/victory dinner.

thanks to Tony and the volunteers who made this ride possible. it was scenic, challenging, and fun, as it was run in true low-key, minimalist brevet style..let's do it again.

there were 5(!) domestic 1200's this year. AND of course, it was a PBP year. it was cool to bookend the grand randonees' with Texas in may and this ride over labor day with fellow NC rando buddy Tim Lucas. we became the first NC randos to get the ARC award- the American Randonneuer Challenge- riding 2 U.S. 1200's in the same year. chappeau Timbo!

Friday, July 08, 2011


well, it's been a busy few weeks since returning/recovering from the Tejas 1200..
writing has been on my mind, but working and riding have been the order of the day.
the heat is on too, and rides have been challenging, which leads to part one of this entries title. the first two times out (both 200k's),I managed to leave home without my endurolytes. On one ride I really suffered late in the day, and the checklist was reborn :)

Part two is riding new rides. I seemed to be riding the same 'ol perms again and again..
So, a small wish was to do some of the many perms in the area I had not yet ridden.
First up, Byron's Triple L. I was amazed I had not yet done this route as B and I are great friends and have ridden 1000's of miles together. It was a super nice day with Tim, Bryan, and David (who completed his first 200k!). I recommend this route! All the stores have covered seating, very nice on hot summer days. Next week was the Black Creek Showdown. this flat route goes down east. rain cooled us off on the way down, but the heat was real on the way back. I needed an extra stop coming back for more water. the tempo was strong from the front and a long cooldown was in order at mickey d's at the end.
turning around in black creek

gotta take a dam picture

I did a nice social 100k with the team CBC folks on memorial day. I spent the time telling tales from texas as i moved about the pack on a vintage '87 cannondale team!
the next 100k was Deans' Benson Mule Pull-quick and fun. gotta love populaires. stay tuned as the newest one is Dr.A's Ham 'n Yam and the start is just blocks from my job. I can ride it after work! will report on this one soon, raleigh to smithfield and back. yeehaw..

Late Nite with Tony G.....
this past weekend a suprisingly large contingency showed up in Salisbury for a midnight start-time to a smorgasbord of brevets in the hills and mountains in NW Nawth Cackalacky.
4 folks chose 200, about a dozen the 300, 7 the 4, and at least 4 were on the 600.
the tempo was brisk for the opening stretch, Branson rockin' the fixie up front. all routes went out together, and the 200 split off (around 100k)and Tony was there with refreshments.
we donned warmers and headed for the first and heaviest climbs. the trip up stone mtn. was easily 5 miles up two roads and took almost an hour! the "kick" on oklahoma rd was the real deal, with some riders walking. ouch. Lynn and I were joined at the top by Mike and Taylor (a strong young rider from Ohio) the real suprise was getting passed by Branson on the descent to Sparta! wow, he's dialed in on that fixie. We had cheese omeletts and coffee at the cafe in twin oaks and bid adieu to the 300k riders. Tim and I soft pedaled hoping Bryan would catch and he did at the next controle. the scenery was terrific, lots of christmas tree farms, and cows and big blue skies. yard sales, too. still in warmers, tho. downhills were nippy, and unpaved in one spot. the afternoon was nice and warm and full of climbs and big views going down. Tony sent us to Laurel Springs for lunch with the Harley crowd, a cluster of biker bars by the blue ridge parkway! we marched on over more grinders all day 'til we were back in Sparta, completing the century loop in the western hills. a july 4th parade held us up, so Bryan and I grabbed a frozen coffee to cool off. Tim was up the road as I had pulled a flat repair back a ways, but we caught up later at another little store. from about 4:30 on, the 3 of us stayed together, this route never let up! the climbing was relentless to the end, all tolled, nearly 17,000ft.
We arrived at the bike shop at 11:25. whew! 23.5 hrs., longest stretch I'd done in one shot. day 2 in texas was almost 22 hrs., but a 'little more dramatic'..just the same, a great training ride for France OR the 1st day of Taste of Carolina.

into the nite

sunrise descent to sparta

christmas trees

40 to go!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yippee Ki Yay! Tall Tales from the 1st Texas Rando Stampede

A 1200k is a big event. to ride, and to organize and put on. The folks in Texas from three different regional clubs were involved in this one-Lone Star Randonneurs of the DFW area, Hill Country Randonneurs (Austin), and the Houston Randonneurs. LSR George Evans was at the helm and LSR RBA ( K-Hound crazy) Dan Driscoll cracked a mean whip too. dozens of others came into play as the ride unfolded and I think they did an admirable job all around.

the assembly took place in Waxahachie, Tx just a bit south of Dallas on tues may 10. the talk leading up to ride was weather-a blender full of wind, rain, hot, cold, thunder, you name it. mostly to start tho, was the wind. opening day was gonna be gusty southerlies 20-30 mph.
after a check-in and bike inspections, we had a meeting with final info and went to eat and meet our fellow riders. the talk was fun. great folks. NC pal Tim and I went to the store for a couple things and I introduced him to blue bell ice cream-a Texas favorite! we gobbled it up on the way back to the hotel and tucked in for the last good nap before the ride. I managed about 5.5 hrs sleep. I hopped up at 3:30 and prepped for the 5am start. i rolled the bike and my drop bag downstairs, cyclers everywhere already. a little food to go and i was ready to head outside. it was kinda balmy. and 'breezy'..a few words from george and at 5 sharp we rolled. off to marble falls-224miles to 'overnite controle #1'

ready to rando!

Stage 1-Waxahachie to Marble Falls-224miles
Tim and I were right by the driveway. when the gun fired, 3 or 4 bikes zoomed out the drive and just took off. the rest of the field did not follow suit. the plan was to ride in a group to work the wind today. of course there would be some sorting out, but at first it was fairly big and easy going. after all the short moves downtown we were on a long stretch and opened up a little. I put in a pull on a mile long grinder and dropped off to shoot a video and see who was around. it was about half the field-

lookin' back

that's Dan right on my wheel keepin' me in check. good thing, cuz there's more to come..
I fade to the back and ride with Tim into the daylight. I meet a bunch of riders and see some cool bikes. the night before was mostly modern fast stuff but today I see a Riv Homer Hilson, a Gunnar, a Waterford, a Custom Riv, Ti from habanero, serotta, lightspeed, Dean, and Leonard Zinn! of course, Claire is getting noticed too :o)

with the winds coming at us good now, we start to share the work and get down the road.
16-17 is about the best we can do and keep the peace. Dan rules the peloton with an iron fist and we make our 1st store intact. we keep it to about 15min and roll on to controle  at mile 73. this stop lasts about 20min and away we go into the wind. unrelenting, all we can do is push. the rollers are big and soft but not painless. I keep pushing and double D uses his big lasso to reel me in. we get some texas dirt today too as a section is under construction. we pass it without problems and head onto the jailbird. part of a local perm route.

all smiles on the dirt

following instructions to not pick up hitch hikers, we make our way onto higher ground. the views coming down toward Lampasas are great. Rugged. Raw. Scruffy. one can see for miles, but just in front i s a little dog. a very confused, scared dog. middle of the lane, miraculously we miss him at 30mph going down hill!  by now i've found the climbers and some are the hill country guys. they know the way over the mountains tonight and out tomorrow. I'm wanting to go with them in the morning maybe. one perk today is clouds. less sun and heat, but rain maybe? we'll see. into Lampasas and there is George and the sag team-Charlie and Patricia. these people were just fantastic. thanks for helping out! between stops they dug thru the mountain of drop bags, found mine and had it for me to dig thru ( I needed a bar and my supplements).a few guys were at this stop already and looking like they worked hard to get there. it was no fun out in that wind alone and I had no allusions about making a go for the front. turns out there were only about 2-3 bikes up the road. our group of 26 or so soon turned to 40 as weather reports abound on all types of mobile devices. they weren't good and a group decision was made to wait..

dan and george think we should wait
yeah, it rained pretty good, but if we knew what was to come, I think we'd have rode. the hour+ at that store was one hour we weren't going to sleep later on...the next section was full of cool roads and as we headed for the hills we wondered what the stray riders had ridden thru up ahead of us. sunset was nice. i grabbed a shot and then flatted on a roller that had me thinking 'oh well, let's have one now and get it over with'.. 

 jeff and mike stayed with me and we jammed up to group at the next store. it was only about 5min for me to stay with the group as we went into the night. it seemed like the miles went quickly and by 9:30 or so we were in jonestown at mi 194 with just 30 to go.
the local police thought otherwise. after explaining to them what a bunch of cyclists were doing on the road at night, they said it was too dangerous and consented to us passing if they escorted us to the edge of town. we let some more arrive, reload, and we left together. prob'ly more that 30 of us. it was up and over a mountain pass to get to marble falls. the first climb was big and headed into lightning and high winds. I had company at the top:catherine, peter, and dave. the blue lights were a mile back. we'd strung it out good. down a whooptee and back up and storm time. we stopped for 120 seconds to don rain gear and off we went. another fasty and i was fishtailing. flat #2!! see ya! i watched a dozen bikes fly by. someone lit me with a helmet light. i changed the rear in a hail storm. down the mountain with ZERO visability, and NO Brakes! "on your left!!" I yelled as we swept to the right and back uphill again, thank you gravity..the dude with me lost his lights, so we stopped and he got 'em lit right away. off we went again and another big climb was on. I saw blinkies ahead and pushed hard. after catching this trio I continued my march. i caught the herd, then two lone riders. I arrive in marble falls about 9 mins behind the other members of my future. the volunteers are cheerful and quick to check us in and get us upstairs. i remove all the wet gear, clean up, and go eat. other riders are coming in, and I look around to see what's up. I find Catherine and ask 'what time tomorrow?' "4" she says..'who's coming?' 'David'  'cool...'
at that moment I played the most important card of the ride..I went to bed at 1 and got back up at 3. I was downstairs by 4. there was hot food in the lobby. and vols with water and bananas.

Stage 2-Marble Falls to Sealy-242miles

4:15 we gather and roll. myself, Catherine, David, Peter, and Hamid. after 2 blocks I jet back for my bottles, damn. I chase for a few miles into the sticks before I see the red taillights. By the time I rejoin it's mountainbike time-a few miles of dirt road that is mushy after the rains. we take our time navigating this stuff and finally hit solid road again. we begin a descent and cross a low bridge and hook back, straight up! when the road levels we are split up. we encounter a lost rider and bring him along to find the next road Dave and I have a 'word' with a motorist who insists we yield to him because its the law. whatev... we hang at the turn to regroup and i flat! damn! while changing the front, Ann comes along and is freaking out. some guy has threatened to get his gun! she had been hiding in the brush. she won't wait and rolls on. off we go to dripping springs, 1st controle of the day. here we find Ann. Don too. I beg Ann to ride with us, but she leaves before we do. On the road it's really kinda dark out for almost 8 in the morn..I know these skies and it's sprinkling. I spot a little yellow jersey ahead and we catch Ann. now she asks-'can I ride with you guys?' please do. we stop and put on rain gear, john has joined in and rides without any. it's very dark and lightning picks up and rain is falling at about a 45deg. angle. shit.
clouds are moving around like stalking lions and Catherine says- '2 miles'. 'what?' 'the lightning, it's 2 miles from us' 'cool, let's just keep pedaling'..the wind picks up more and as we zoom down a hill toward a bridge, I can see it coming down the riverbed across the bridge sideways..gusts were said to have hit 70mph in that area that day. this may have been 40-50mph. oh, it was frozen too. like tiny ice needles on the face. I led the way and watched the mirror for 4 more bikes. we forged on and the blasts eased to plain ol' big rain. I can tell some of you this: Yo A! was on this part of trip. I could not have been in better company, tho. amazingly cool, brave riders all..the 15 miles of hell gave way to Canyon Lake. there was a store and we all grabbed something hot, collected ourselves and got back out there. reports were- when the cell passes us, it will clear and we'll be OK. Peter flatted on a hill a mile up the road. on the restart I was freezing. my teeth chattered like I was at a playoff game at Lambeau Field! gimme a climb so I can slow down and warm up. we got that climb and made our way to river road. as in the Guadalupe River...

foul weather aside, everyone loved this part of the ride. just wonderful winding roads peppered with funky tube ride/rafting places and cottages. half-way thru I had another flat and made yet another fix. we made our way thru another groovy village and were about 12 miles from controle at new braunfels. Ann got tangled up in some train tracks but was fine. (other reports tell of falls here, these tracks collected a half dozen or more riders) we made the controle and refueled. it was dry now and a bit of sun was peeking out too! the 'herd' rolled in as we were leaving, the one and only time we saw them. the next 10-15 miles could have been fast but the wind was back, the roads were rough as hell and of course I had to flat again. i put a new tire on this time and it went the rest of the trip. I told the crew, 'when we hit a nice stretch, I'll pull you all at 20mph..'  "til you flat again!" Dave interjected. we needed that laugh :)

we made the first whataburger controle in Lockhart at 4. everybody munched. a fresh burger and tangy pineapple shake hit the spot! we had picked up Ian from Seattle along the way. Also here was Don and John..those 2 left and our original 5+1 remained intact for part 2 of this day. yes, after all that riding and adventure we were at 128 of 244 miles. just lovely country roads all the way to La Grange, Tx. lie ahead including some fast, hardpack sections..

Colorado Cate and Canadian Dave

rearview crew
this was a fast, fun 100k that went by in no time! the approach to La Grange was sweet too..we finally got a big ol' Texas Sky..

road to La Grange
I was hoping for a quick stop here. there was almost another 100k to go. the whataburger controle was adjacent to a big c-store. we split up, and it took a bit of time. john and don showed up too. hamid had wobbly lights which I fixed while everyone ate and got ready. finally we took off all together. 8 riders in the night. there were some long stretches of 7,8,9 miles and long climbs too. we stayed together. after this insane day, no one was getting left behind now. we kept it light until about 20 to go. it just felt right to run some brisk steady tempo. Catherine and Don were going strong and we zipped along thru the middle of nowhere. with only a few turns left, John made a move. As much as I wanted to stay together, i marked him. Peter came along too. we we moving fast, probly 20mph at 1 in the morning, 21hrs after departing! we had a friendly 'race' to the finish and found the holiday inn express. upon check-in we learned we were first in behind the lone wolf, chris!
I quickly ran outside to greet the rest of the crew waved them in. everyone was glad to be there and stunned to find out they were in the lead group. in minutes we were all gone upstairs and off to napville. we slept just over 2 hrs and were on the road around 5am..

my apologies for no updates coming thru on this day. your thoughts were much appreciated! we needed them sometimes :)

Stage 3-Sealy to Crockett-155miles

It's nice out. 60's. gonna be hot. but roads are supposed to be flatter, and less wind.
hmmm. the roads were still rough, the wind had shifted and was still pushing at us. it was kinda flat tho.. I left with John and Hamid. the girls were up the road. Dave left early on his own. Ian was nearby too. halfway to the 1st controle in magnolia we were all together.
Dave stayed up the road all day. I left magnolia with Ann, Catherine, and Don. John caught on later. we started the slog thru the Sam Houston forest. really nice area. but a hearty 50 mile stretch that was hot (95) and windy with long hills that took their toll. glad we out early. we crossed a track on the way and I lost a gel flask. the train was right there! the gate came down on us..

choo choo
we were in the woods and it was going to be tough. a little more than halfway tho, we came upon a sight for sore eyes-the city hall cafe. an oasis in the middle of nowhere. we stopped and filled and chilled. after 20 min or so we all headed out one by one, but would be back together in a few miles before the huntsville controle.  a logger truck buzzed us all one-by-one and we were glad to be alive and back together again. don flatted on this stretch and my front was soft upon arrival. i changed the tube while the rest ate at the truck stop. the next few roads were busy as hell. huntsville is the justice center for texas and jails are everywhere. there's even a jail museum. finally on a mellow road again, Don and Catherine pull Ann and me for some hard miles in the wind. we pedal down hills that should coast 20+mph at maybe 15mph...we do this for 15 miles until I do a nice pull with everyone in an echelon to a tiny store in weldon. we drink and snack and cool off. i never saw a tumble weed, but Ann found a furball in the street.

Peter showed up here too, with Ian not far back. we marched off to Crockett. hard to believe just 25 left on this stage, we'd finish in daylight. not without more climbing tho. the last road to Crockett was cruel-a ribbon that went up about 300ft per roller, dropped back a little, and did it again. in  a mile or two, we'd put another 600ft on the ticker.
finally there was the Crockett Inn. we pulled in and let Catherine go in first. the stampede's first 1000k finisher! yay Colorado Cate! superb riding! 

Don, Ann, Catherine, Peter, Me

 Dave was there to greet us, and we checked in, cleaned up and talked departure. early was on tap but we opted for a little more rest, and got 3.5 hrs...

Stage 4-Crockett to Waxahachie-147miles

It's 3am. Off into the dark we go.  A tick less than 3 miles and turn right, go 23.6.. yep, some of the longest ques' ever on this ride. the sheet could have said-'turn right and pedal til you need to shave', or 'go 'til teeth rattle out' today..and later today would be a doozy. this opener tho, was a super roller and plenty of fun in the dark. 'Critter!!' 'Possum!' don't know how we missed him going downhill in the dark but we did. Dave was driving up front for a good ways. there were a million stars in the sky. This was good cycling. the time passed quickly, and the chill in the air kept us working toward mile 40 and Palestine, where the first controle store was closed. 'McDonalds has good pancakes' said Ann. A smile greeted us at the door as they opened at 6 and served 8 cyclist a hot breakfast. Warm and happy we roll away to rural areas on 'roads' that were cart paths with asphalt poured over them. Wow, where are we, lumpyville? Great scenery, tho..for about 30 miles..

Add caption
we stopped at very friendly little store in Tennessee Colony, and began the slog to Corsicana. left turn into the wind and 19 miles on hwy 287. then straight 15 more. THIRTY FIVE MILES on this one highway. super rough, bumpy ass highway 287. I thought it wouldn't end. my knees were tender but my friends helped out. we stopped. Peter was offering advice and Catherine rolled up, removed her knee bands, gave them to me and off we went. I felt better. Corsicana finally arrived. there were choices to eat and Taco Bell was it. after chow, we got it together and headed out.  a last farewell from super SAG Pat and Charlie, and thru downtown we go all together. another 13mi que and off goes John. Of course there is no chase today, pure group. bon route! a sign seen on this road perks up the gang:
no barn has ever smelled sweeter..
yep, we've checked off another 200k, and are closing in. we stop and finally take off the last thin layers remaining and enjoy the sun. lots of chat, we're not even trying to go fast, we got this thing. It was like the last day of the tour, a parade now. support rolls by as I grab a sunflower pic of the group, cheering loudly and making sure we're OK.

lookin' good, group!
we are joking on the last road about how many water towers we see and how far off some of them are. we roll into town and line-up on the last road all together. finish as a unit.
82 hrs and 34 minutes. john ahead at 82:12, and lone wolf chris at 79:43. congrats to all!!!

if any day were gonna kill tires, this was it. somehow I'd snuck  thru today. 'til picture time. my front was flat in the lobby! I rounded up my spent tubes and made it a memory:

me, claire, and lots of butyl

We had time to clean up and relax before we got to welcome the next wave of finishers and finally see some folks again. the herd was lookin good too! still a big group, that is Spencer behind Jeff. he conquered this beast on a fixie. a tip of the stetson there, Spence..

with all that ensued over 4 days and 766 punishing miles, the real gift of this ride was people. all the ones who put it together and ran it. and mostly the ones I shared the road with. I met so many the first day , it was a little sad to not see them after that. But the company I chose and was blessed with was incredible-the unflappable Catherine the Great, calm cool David, Ann, Peter, Don, Ian, Hamid, and roomie/sparring partner John. what an honor to conquer my first 1200K with you all. thanks for all the wisdom and experience you generously shared with us all. this group was rich too. PBP's, mille miglias', gold rush, last chance, cascades, shenandoah..whew, now the Stampede. Truly EPIC.. 

ps: I can't say enough good stuff about all the texas people who threw this event. they were great from start to finish. if and when they do it again, count me in!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

rearin' to go

i'm going to write a tick more before the big ride. i'm sitting on an old friends porch in a quaint old neighborhood in Dallas. it's really mellow, but just minutes from chaos. just as this day may seem right now, before the rando begins. I'm in denial of nerves before we get under way. all the well wishes and followers really help, though. I do appreciate it very much.

the bike went together pretty good. just a little fussing with fender placement, not much else. I hand pumped the tires and went out a few times 'til I felt dialed in.  a flat(!) this morn kept me from revisiting White Rock Lake for a 10 mile lap. that (10mi) used to be a big deal 25yrs. ago.. and to do 2-3 laps was studly! hopefully Tim and I can go out for a spin in Waxahachie after check-in. maybe get some others to ride too..

altho cloudy now it was hot, a bit muggy, and windy as hell yesterday. it shall continue I'm sure. I sat outside last night tho, and it was really nice. the evening riding looks to be great after the wind settles down some. I had a 20oz bottle for the front, but the heat had me buying a big polar with a big ol' texas on it at a well stocked shop up the street. 
if ever in this area, Richardson bike mart has what you need. good guys there..

stay tuned!


morrisville 400k

well, the time had arrived for a 'dress rehearsal' for texas. straight out 400 km's of 'are you ready?'...the bike was up to the task. loaded and tuned. I tried to rest some, but it's not so easy. I rose at 4:15 and rolled out about 5:15. had an easy trip to morrisville where 28 other riders were assembling. it  was on the cool side-vests and warmers were in sight on most.

a few words and we were off with an easy pace for the first hour. the glorious morning made for great cycling and story telling. the rush was on at the controls. snow camp was 5min. max..small groups hurried onto the road and good chase ensued for the next 5-6 miles to bring it back together. at siler city our clan of a dozen or more motored off for seagrove. more good, steady tempo kept us moving (along with good BS'ing) and seagrove arrived in no time-11:42 is my FB post. a bit of snacking, and into the hills. flynt hill rd..Joe Ray made a break and I went with him. we had a great time playing out there! we chilled out but were the first to troy at 1:50. pretty strong 1st 200k. as the others rolled in there was talk of a crash. john morris hit a small dog on a descent. he was banged up but bravely soldiering on. back on the road, joe, branson, and lynn were ahead and I joined them. the rest were not far behind, and met us in seagrove. again I rode with Lynn and Branson to siler. we were going well-Branson on his fixie! and Lynn steady as ever.

Ian awaits in siler city with welcome refreshments. loaded, we may have left but pizza arrived along with the other riders! oh well,a hot slice was really good.
at snow camp, the others showed in 5 min. cards signed, warmers out, reflective stuff on, lights running, let's do this thing! Mike D asks why are we still here? there is a record o be broken! over the rollers, and onto old switchboard- little Joe had made another break. lots of push-pull tempo and no closing the gap. just chill. steady riding across chicken bridge and there was Frosty's. and little red blink up the road.
hamlet chapel is a toughy at the end of a long day and today was long. ..

finally to andrews store, branson and jimmy stopped for water. wes, cap'n, lynn, and me chased the little red dot. I opened up on jack bennet, and by farrington it was a welcome downhill to the lake and martha's chapel. I rocked a steady 17-18 all the wasy to the berry patch and finally reeled him in! so funny, Joe looked at me and simply said "good evening".

we rode in together, my garmin showed time of 10:48. it was only moments 'til branson, wes, & jimmy, then a bit later mike, tim, and purple chainring winner john morris rolled in. ALL before midnight!

a fantastic 400K! congrats to all. 100% finishers, no DNFs. 

now I just have to do it for a few days in a row :o)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Climb every mountain

Hot Springs 200K-

Soo, with major rides on the horizon, Bryan and I decided to go to the mountains again between brevet weekends. no triple hump, this was the real deal. with bonus miles over a bonus mountain (twice) we tipped the counter at almost 14,000 feet in 150 miles.

I had another reason to ride: i'd climbed the mountain of sobriety to year number 3..

the adventure really began friday  with the car trip out. rainy, rainy, twisty roads. running late. we got to the campground and pitched tents and crawled in about 1am..up at 5, and on the way about 10 min. to 7..tony was waiting for us, along with about 8 other riders-mostly locals, including Ashvilleians' Annette and Chris Kamm. 

Still foggy and cool, we headed out and into the mist. literally. in just a few hundred yards the road heads upward. for a little over two miles. ya see, hot springs is in a hole. the only way in or out is over the mountains. we would climb one out, and return by coming down the other. here I am on the way up:

up, up, and away...

that is Bryan and the Kamm's behind me, and up ahead,two young guys, Luke and Lee.
at the top, Tony waited and said-"last chance to turn back!" no thanks, T..
Downhill! whee! 40mph in seconds. look: headlights! it's Team Lantiseptis! Mike, Cap'n, Branson, and Spencer, climbing the last miles of their challenging fleche route that started on Mt. Mitchell! awesome riding, boys. onto the brakes and make a left, let the scenery begin. there are plenty of great views up here: river roads galore, farms, horses, and rocky cliffsides, big valleys. spectacular cycling for sure, but be prepared to work, too..

not long onto the course, in the middle of a 10 mile stretch we came to a T. the next turn was a right, so that's what we did. oops. a major climb ensued, and after nearly 3 miles we were on another screaming descent in the fog. I started soft pedaling hoping someone would come along, and finally Bryan and Kamms rolled up. we had a chat and B manged to get a map on his phone and we turned back-all the way back. over walnut mountain again!
a common thing out in country: the side road has a sign, but, no sign for the road you are on. makes navigating a little frustrating at times..those extra miles and climbing put us on the bubble for the first control. we jammed along another terrific river road and soon we were there. we kept it brief to get back in the game. and climbed some more. on the descent we saw the youngsters climbing to the control. they caught us in short order, strong boys. a bit more confusion nipped us in Asheville. thanks to local knowledge, we only blew a couple miles this time! the Kamm's and other riders were at the store. jumping their wheel would have been good here, as they seemed to know the next couple hours up the road! we had another mix up between 'new/old' leicester rd. but again kept it to 2-3 miles :o) next came a few miles on newfound rd..then about 3 miles up newfound rd... this was a looong climb finished by a tenacious hound and his gun wielding owner! at least this descent was civil- almost straight, smooth and wiide open. we arrived in town and found a store and waited for bryan and hopefully rick to show up. everyone enjoyed the break and off we went. 

B chillin'
 with navi probs behind us, the next several miles were a non-event. a bit of wind and a grind up to iron duff. plenty of fun sightings today, including this horse and buggy man.

last control. it's pretty hot out. I was enjoying the first use of a new mini camelbak. we still had 3 climbs to go in the final stretch: the first looked like a desert road. long, straight and deceptive. i was headed to low gear and we weren't on the hill yet. damn! the descent was the same too, looong and smooth. I flew by the turn to Betsy's Gap. took about 200 yards to slow and turn back. Luke and I headed to the big climb of the day, Bryan up the road about 10 min..this one hurt a little-4.5 miles of continuous ascent with turns and cliffsides. unrelenting and beautiful at the same time, and another attention getting descent with plenty of switchbacks and fast runs.

up to betsy's gap
 the final climb is not too bad. has a couple breaks. lovely hairpin descent down to the creekside road that takes you along to Hot Springs. fantastic approach! I want to come do this route around Halloween with fall colors (hear that, Tony?) we arrive about 7:30. looong 200. seriously rides like 300k. just sayin'..

a  couple notes if you go: 
-the campground is very mellow, I left my keys on the cars' roof! and everything was still there! $30 a night is a good deal, and the french broad river will sing you to sleep..

-it's in the middle of nowhere. make sure you have fuel in your car and supplies as it's about 15 miles back to marshall where you can get stuff.

Friday, April 22, 2011

morrisville 300K

by now everyone is aware of the wicked weather that ripped thru the area last saturday afternoon. quite a few randos' are glad the call was made to move the 300K event to sunday, too. we missed some of our friends who could not stay around to do the ride, but 21 randonneurs lined up to roll out at 7am sunday morning.. with just a slight chill in the air, Alan dropped the flag and off we went. the pace was easy going and the group was together through the 'new' roads in  miles 3-4 and we all missed a turn together! back on the route, we started motoring a bit more, out to chatham co. where Bryan pulled a cheeky snag of the county line. things remained calm and together, Mike told me about the neil young gig he'd just seen (jealous). we were on to lystra and jack bennet, before the climb finally broke us up. annette pleaded for an easy go up the hill, umm, OK? plenty of hills thoughout the day anyway...

from here on to snow camp it was a pretty run with 10 riders sharing the fun. the first control in snow camp was a quickee. the Kamms ran, Tim too, fearin a leaky front tire, he hoped to buy a few minutes to work on it in siler city, 11 miles up the road and control#2.. we were there in no time, and another short stop ensued. the first 100k was done in 3 1/2 hours. nice.. once again, chris & annette were off and Tom jetted after them. Tim finished his tire fix and we were all together on the road in a couple minutes. in three miles, it's country roads again, and coleridge rd. goes on for about 9 miles. the rollers begin too. they come and go in near perfect weather; at the half we're in the mid-fifties. 
the turn-around is busy. the store is rocking with patrons. after church folks and the like. the little Hardee's stops taking orders! I get my card signed, put ice in my bottles, and scarf down a bar, banana, and get prepared to go. Ian and Mary show up with refreshments, and Tim is there. the lead couples invite me to join, but I  hang back for Tim. after just a few miles back on the road he sends me on, his legs not wanting to go too fast. solo time. I start my march, and things go pretty well back to siler c.. this stretch has been a thorn in my side on prior attempts, not today. back in town, Joel has an oasis set up in the lot. he recommends the navel oranges and I oblige him. after a fig newton too, mike and john show up. I wait for them, and Tim shows! he settles in for a PB&J and off we go. It's only 3:10, but the front quartet is about 20 min ahead, forget it..I do some pulling to snow camp, and john is chillin' due to cramping. i jet ahead to do some housekeeping before they arrive. just as we are about to leave, Bryan pulls up! he didn't even snack at joel's drive-thru, he saw us leave and made chase. in minutes the 4 of us are on the road, but within a mile or two, it's bryan and i on the rollers, and by lindley mills I'm alone again. i'm fine with soloing as it's important training right now. getting my nutrition routine dialed in, and tempo making on the new bike is key.  hopefully everyone is coming along fine behind me. I kept up the rhythm across old switchboard and castlerock, turned on a blinky for the hwy 87 stretch ( and left it on), and motored on..

given the super temps, I felt I could make it home from snow camp (50 mi) on two full bottles. worked out just right. I also knew I'd make my original soft goal-finish without needing lights. I was smelling my hard goal-finish in 12 hours. with so much riding, and 1 very tough 1200K only 20 something days away, I couldn't senselessly push too hard. still, it was going to be close. if not for stopping to take a photo, and catching a light on the last road, it was a reality. Alan's watch says-7:02. I can live with that. 12:02. pretty good.
I ate some pizza and waited. bryan, mike, and john were along before 8. way to go, fellas.
just one minute off their goal of beating the official sunset..Tim should have been close by but a missed turn in the new part gave him a few bonus miles. an extra post ride treat was a birthday cake for john. happy birthday! 

next up- 200K around Hot Springs 10,000 ft climbing. yay! we'll be in before the fleche teams arrive, can't wait!! 

a little follow-up on my spring gear break-in/testing: 
-finally got a fender to rattle (fixed it)
-rode with the front boxy bag on the rack-really like the access to stuff! bike handles well too..
-took the M/L bag off the back and switched to the medium/banana style bag. basically it acted as a big, fancy tool bag with room to stuff my vest into after the sun was out for good around 125k.
-wool. I chose my joneswares Eddy again. super comfy allllllldayyy..

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

three great rides=one great bike test=rando time

Yo, A! rides
 Yo, A! Miles of smiles :o)

on sunday, march 13, NC cyclers gathered from near and far to remember our beloved Adrian Hands. known for not driving (my kinda guy) and pedaling to events, most rode to the start of this mini-Fleche, which began in Hillsboro, on the Eno River.. 3 friends-Bryan R, Bryan H, and David S met at my place and off we went into the dark around 6am. I delivered them right on time to Jerry P, at 7am, so we could head to chapel hill. we arrived at Adrian and Padmini's place in no time where we exchanged pleasantries, and watched A's son Ian prep his bike. 

Now we were 6 riders with special guest Adrians' ashes in Ian's  pannier! the sun was coming out and we had a good time rolling on up to H' the weaver st. market we met Branson, Jack, Rich, and some others I didn't know. A hearty breakfast ensued and off we went to the courthouse. wowzer. the crowd was BIG. bikes everywhere, and lots of folks. After a few words, the men put A's ashes in the river. A's brother spoke, and Padmini too, who told us to get on the road! Ian said he hadn't been to many funerals, but this was the coolest one ever :) we got the bikes together and off we went- lot's of reminders of Adrian out there, license plates etc. but I loved the pics hanging on the velos...

a few hands
 we just couldn't have had a prettier day. amazing! around mile 10 we missed a turn, who cared? Branson knew all the roads and had us back on route in short order. winging it and enjoying the ride was A's style, so bonus miles were de rigueur. riders came and went as we made our way through parts of Durham, RTP, and into Cary. we filled bottles and stopped for indian food (of course!) before making it to the Buddhist Center. here's Jerry's bike cinnamon girl, stocked to party:

it took a bit for everyone to arrive, and more socializing took place, and we had a little parade, led by the illustrious ( and dear friend of A's) Gilbert Anderson.

mr funky bike

the cermony was touching, funny, emotional, but more than anything, filled with love.
it was great to see everyone and share our love of Adrian and cycling together. a very special day indeed. a  frequent comment was that regarding Adrian's unselfishness on and off the bike. I too, was shepherded by him, on my first 300k, with that amazing coolness only he possessed. he made it seem OK, all the way, into the night, following me on his fixie with a small light stuck in blink mode. i'll never forget it. nor will I forget him..

3 amigos after the Yo A! day...

 brevet #1 on the Boulder-

after one more shakedown ride, it was time to kick-off Al's series in morrisville..
200K. this used to be the "season opener' , but thanks to Tony's winter action, this ride was a sprint before we settle into the longer rides of the series.. I'll say this now- I was humbled and impressed. a lot of folks are riding strong. NC is on the rando map!
we rolled at 7am. there was a change to the route, but not today, a bridge was closed so we headed out the old way. Bryan H and I pulled quite a bit to mt. Lystra where some little bitty climbers took the points. we were all together for the next major sections and again the Ti and Carbon quartet took the rollers into snow camp. short stops ensued, and our gang met them as they were leaving Joel's oasis in siler city. card signing formalities, reloading bottles, and gobbling fig newtons broke the crew a bit more. Tim and Annette jetted ahead with us in pursuit. it was Bryan's first 200, and I didn't want him to think it was all run-and-gun, but we were hustling. back at snow camp, tim was scooting out, as we arrived. another short stop and off we went. 

most storytellers on this day will say it was the big winds causing all the hustle and bustle to catch some push for the retour. whatev... they were swirling!  another element was a fairly big temp range-I left at 6 and it was 39 deg. it was about 45 at the start, and slowly crept to the low 60's. peeling layers was the game. Bagless Bryan had a funky look going on late in the ride! (if he comes to the 300, I'll loan him a bag) I chose bare legs lathered in Mad Alchemy's uber secret coffee Embrocation. worked great. arm warmers and a vest over a JonesWares wool Eddy jersey and their sprint base. perfecto. 
back to biking. I basically led bryan (when not grabbing a little wheel) point to point back to nc hwy 87, where we both were stuffing warmers  and along comes bryan r, jerry and chris, and a few others. we jumped the wheels and rode chicken bridge with the tri-types and stayed with 'em to parker herndon. the warmth had me drinking a bit so we filled real quick at andrew's store. we hammered jack bennett, and battled winds on the lake. cruised across lewter shop and fought serious traffic down thru carpenter to morrisville. 

the front folks were 10-15 min ahead of us. good job! we chilled out a bit, and in no time others were tumbling in. our time was 7:30. i'd say another dozen showed over the next hour, that puts about 2 doz., or half, back in 8.5 or less. really impressive on a rolly course with bitchin' headwinds. note to self..drink more (but not Al's homebrew)

so far, I lloooove the new bike. very fast, responsive, and comfortable. 
*also of note were two other new bikes ready to travel. chris' blue gunnar w/S&S, and
Keith's (doc on a bike) surly traveller's check. very cool and rando-centric!

Variations on the Triple Hump-

with hilly brevets looming and the 1200 on the horizon (it opens with back-to-back 400k's w/12,000 ft of climbing each day!) it was time for some real climbing. new rando david was camping at hanging rock over the weekend, so Bryan R came up with a nice lil' 50-something mile loop from there. we headed out at 6 to meet dave on the hilltop and roll 'bout 9:30..
climbing hanging rock-by car..

the weather was foggy but clearing and heading to the eighties. groovy. it was chilly and I forgot my arm warmers, but had some non-warming goop for my legs. i put some on my arms too. the opening descent was nippy! we all got shiver induced shimmys as we hit 40+ in spots. a quick left onto moore springs just outside the gate and the road mellowed out. there is a country store here. with a hammer nutrition banner above the ice machine. interesting.. we roll a bit, and warm up some. in short order we find markings on the road for '3 mountain madness'. time to head up sauratown. the first 100 ft of this road is straight up. we all settle into our rhythms and grind away into the fog. dew is covering our bikes, arms, and all things around us. i catch bryan in the rear-view about 2 miles up.

sauratown fog

just after this shot we ride into a turn, then head on to the top where the sun is shining. and the road ends. and cell towers abound. we all snack, update our friends and begin the descent. back into the fog and going fast! thanks to the organized rides, the road is marked with S-L-O-W painted across it. on the brakes  and into the turn. cool. no, not cool. i'm flat in back. ease it down to the edge. the challenge tires are rideable flat because they kept the rim off the pavement. no puncture found, I just cooked the tube. the hole was inside and I patched it. i washed up in the little brook rushing down hillside and off we went. no prob. from here. the blackburn frame pump was good at filling the big tire to nearly 90 lbs or so. i'm on a full blown dress rehearsal at this point trying out all my new stuff! 
still foggy, we meander over rollers and quiet roads for a half hour before the blue skies show up on approach to pilot mountain. the boys roll ahead toward the entrance and i steal a nature break. i'll catch 'em, right? a sign by the road (one of those pewter historical landmark types) says the summit is 3 miles west. shortly  beyond the visitor's center, i see david and finally overtake him. he's already spinning his granny gear (1st time since crossing the rockies last summer, BTW). it takes me a bit longer to spot bryan-he's spinning up a switch above me and looking good! i'm feeling it a tad because i'm pushing a 50/23. the chain won't stay on the 26, some cable stretch has me in  a spot of bother! I stop for 45 sec or so and proceed. this baby alpe d'huez is tough to clean out of the saddle. be prepared. the view on top is worth the effort! spectacular. take it in and eat something as your heartrate comes back down, but nature takes your breath away at over 2400 feet of elevation. 

pinnacle overlook
once again, time to descend. this one is technical. the very first right hander is a  decreasing radius scorcher that will put you head-on into the far lane so watch it! it's very switchy and takes just seconds to hit 30+ heading into turns and yours truly cooked the tube again after wondering if the smell was me, bryan, or cars. no joke. the stench of burning brake pads and transmission fluid is in the air..I did another mountainside repair and off we went. the plan was fill bottles at the visitor center. I put a new tube in there too. yes, flat tubes are not up to the high heat challenge. use good ones!

we left pilot behind and made our way to pinnacle where we bought snacks and drinks for the final stretch. the roads and views were great. you get a couple of different looks at pilot as you leave the area. this one is after a grinder, before the only busy stretch we rode: hwy 66..

D & B  catch me..

the road gets quiet again and really fun for the return to hanging rock, we loved it! great rollers, banked turns, and whoopdees' kept us energized. so did the store I spoke of at the beginning. I just had to see what they had inside for cyclists. score! look at the full row of gels, bars, blocks, from Hammer, Gu, honey stinger, and Clif. also on the end were tubes, and helmets! if ya go to hanging rock and forget stuff, fear not, it's here..

damn gooey!

from here all we had to do was climb hanging rock. after splitting points with bryan I was ready to go. no 26 cog, and I hit the 23 about a mile into the almost 2.5 miler. I cleaned it no prob, but there is a good little kick about .5K from the end! yowza! burn!

 this was a really nice day, and we want to do it again soon. maybe a bit longer, too, including a southern return by danbury. watch the list. makes a fun day trip from RTP. 

since it was Paris-Roubaix day, here's my dirty legs at the end. most of it, believe it or not, is brake dust..crazy! 

dirty boy
time to rest for the 300. I've made adjustments to the bike and have everything running smooth. hope to see you all this weekend! Tailwinds!!