.entry-content img { border: #000000 2px solid; }

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Howling Grits" Populaire

Jerry Phelps recently put together a permanent populaire that he named "Howling Grits", and four of us (Dean, Sridhar, Jerry and myself) met Saturday January 23 at Farrell's Lakeside Store near Farrington Village to add to our mid winter training miles. Jerry lives only a few miles from the start, but somewhere between his house and the store, he lost my card and cue sheet so offered me his own. There was a control about every 10 miles which I suppose is part of the idea of a populaire, as they are designed to "break in" new randonneurs and not get them too discouraged wondering when the next control point is going to come up.

Temperatures started out a little brisk (around freezing) but not quite balaclava level, although keeping the top of your head and ears covered was important. We took off down Lystra Road, and before long encountered "Col du Lystra", a nice little challenging climb. I remembered this hill from a charity ride last summer (Cup n Cone Tour). The route overall had a good amount of climbing (1500 ft according to the RUSA website).

The roads were wet at the beginning due to rain the day before. This is when fenders are nice to have - they don't do a lot of good in a downpour but are helpful afterwards. I used my bike with fenders - the other one doesn't have enough clearance for them. I discovered some handy "Sheldon Nuts" during the process of mounting the fenders (named after the late Sheldon Brown who suggested them to Quality Bike Products). These move the fender bracket out from under the fork crown/rear brake bridge if you have side pull brakes with recessed mounts, and allow for better up and down adjustment as well as not having to remove the brake caliper to remove the fender.

We stopped at the General Store Cafe in Pittsboro for lunch (sorry, grits are not served on Saturdays), and the terrain was a little less strenuous the remaining 30 miles. About a quarter mile from the end, with Farrell's Store visible in the distance, Jerry was about 100 yards ahead of us. I heard Dean say "Let's reel in Jerry" so the three of us shifted to our next higher gear and went after him. Dropped him, no. But we all did turn in to Farrell's together. There were several other cyclists out enjoying the sunny skies and mild afternoon temperatures. I remarked that this would be a good training ride for Maria who says she needs to work on hill climbing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kerr Lake Permanent

Jan. 16 was much more tolerable temperature wise than the 2nd, with temperatures ranging between 32 and somewhere around 50 degrees. 10 of us took off from the start north of Raleigh at 7 a.m. and basically followed NC Bike Route 1 north toward Virginia. We crossed the dam and circled Kerr Lake before returning to NC and Bike Route 1. This was my first permanent, as well as first time on this route though a part of it was included in the Ride Between the Lakes century that used to be held every October (it started in Warrenton but it has been several years since the ride was offered).

I enjoyed seeing some new faces (new to me, since I'm the newcomer). Gary Shaffer lost a screw from one of his shoe cleats at the half way point, so he was forced to leave his left shoe attached to his pedal the remainder of the ride (with only one screw holding the cleat on, kicking your foot out in the normal way to disengage only causes the shoe to pivot). Made for some interesting times getting off and on his bike. Congratulations Gary for finishing the ride in less than ideal circumstances. Last night I decided to check my own cleat screws and discovered both of the left screws were loose and one had backed out one turn! I believe I'll throw in a spare cleat and some screws for the next brevet.

It was time to turn on lights by about 1645 (I could see the road and cue sheet fine, but with dusk coming on I wanted to be visible), and I finished up around 1730. It was a great ride and I look forward to many more. Thank you Mike for getting the ride organized, and to the other riders who made this enjoyable as well as challenging.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kicking off the new year

2010 has started here in central NC with mostly fair skies but below normal temperatures. Greensboro Velo Club hosted a Polar Bear Ride on Jan. 1 - initially I thought I would go for 61 miles but decided to go on the "medium" route of 41 due to obligating myself for a 200K brevet the next day in Salisbury NC (north of Charlotte). With tooling around Greensboro before the ride started, I ended up with 46 miles. Temperatures dropped into the 20s and the wind picked up for Saturday's (Jan. 2) brevet. The seven of us participating had a strong tailwind the first 60 miles down to Mt. Gilead, and paid for it coming back. I finished around 7:40 p.m. with the aid of lights and reflective clothing. My thanks to Keith Sutton of Virginia Beach who waited for me at the last two controls and helped immensely in navigating.