Saturday August 28 was a day for a solo birthday ride, as I had arranged with Tony Goodnight (western NC RBA) to do a pre-ride of the 300K route (one of several brevets planned for Labor Day weekend). The rides will all start and end at the Greensboro Airport Best Western located off Thorndike Rd where NC 68 intersects I-40. I arrived a little before 7 a.m. and parked in the bank parking lot across from Best Western, then had my control card signed at the hotel desk. A fog bank settled in about 10 minutes after I left, and I was glad to have the new Lightman xenon strobe mounted on the back of my rack.
The first 200K will be shared by most of the rides, and takes you north to Virginia via Belews Lake, with several miles on Pine Hall Rd. Dillard and Sandy Ridge are a couple of the communities on the route. I noticed a bit of overlap with some of the roads used for the return leg of the Sauratown 200K, and possibly a little of the Danbury 205K permanent. The route turned north into Virginia on Route 8, and then headed west toward Dry Pond rather than continuing to Stuart VA. Although there was only a few miles of riding in Virginia, what there was turned out to be hillier than other areas. My left pedal began squawking like a loose fan belt on one of those hills before getting to the control at Dry Pond. The lady at the store kindly provided a can of WD40 and with a couple of squirts where the pedal body meets the axle (Candy C eggbeater), all was quiet again. After leaving Dry Pond, the route turns south along some back roads before entering NC and rejoining 704 near the Dan River, west of Route 8.
Several miles on 704 eventually brought me to Madison, where I took an extended break to have a late lunch (2:30 pm) at Wendys. There are several eating places to pick from. After a few turns, I was going back toward Belews Lake and would rejoin Pine Hall Rd before ending up in Walkertown. At the Sheetz control (intersection of 66 and 158), a man hobbled up with one arm in a sling. Turns out he is a cyclist, but had taken a nasty fall when he went over an unseen speed bump. He was lamenting having to wait another few weeks before he could ride again.
The Best Western was about 15 miles to go, but I was running about an hour behind my projected time (still had plenty in the bank). I was hoping to get back to Greensboro around 5 pm and it was more like 6:15. This was a convenient place to get my reflective stuff on and refill water bottles before heading toward the Randleman area. I turned on lights about 7:15 as I was going down Guilford College Rd. It was right at 9 pm when I found Coho Bicycles (no sign, I just looked for the address and also remembered there was a church across the street). I guess Chuck has a dog and it started barking when I stopped at the church. Nina came out to see if I was ok and kindly refilled my bottles. This was the turnaround point, although the return route to Greensboro is slightly longer. As is usual with me, night navigation is more of a challenge. The helmet light helps with looking at road signs and a cue sheet, but it is very hard to see the computer display without stopping (even the low power setting of the light washes out the computer numbers). However, with a little patience and double checking, I made it without any bonus miles! Thanks Tony for an excellent cue sheet.
Not surprisingly (it was around 10 pm), the little control store in Julian was closed. I recorded the time, then hung around to eat something and take a break. A couple of sheriff's deputies pulled up and asked if everything was ok, and where I was heading. I think they were relieved to hear I was on the final 25 miles. The rest of the ride was through familiar territory (I have often ridden in this area with the Alamance Bike Club), so night navigation was no longer an issue. It was about 12:30 am when I rode up to the Best Western.
There was great weather for the ride, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone later this week when the scheduled brevets start Friday am. For more pictures see Greensboro 300K.