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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DNF = Dog No Friend (of mine)

I went up to Middletown VA last Friday for Matt Settle's 600K brevet, which follows a rugged, scenic course through the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke and back (mostly a long narrow loop although the section from Buchanan to Roanoke is an out and back). Things were going well for the 8 or so of us that started (broke up early into a couple of small groups of 2 or 3 and some solos). I was riding with Chris Mento and Phil Creel and we were on our way to the return control at Raphine (where drop bags were located). Around mile 233 at 3:30 a.m., we were starting down a long hill and heard some dogs barking close by. Phil and Chris got by them, but I did not fare so well. With no warning, a medium size black dog appeared square in front of me. There was no time to react, and I t-boned the dog, sending me over the handlebars. I felt the impact of the helmet on the road and then went down on my right shoulder. I laid on the road for a minute or so, and managed to get to my feet, but my knees buckled and I went down. Chris got on his phone and eventually reached Tom LePore, the volunteer working the Raphine control. While waiting for Tom to arrive with his van, Phil and Chris did what they could to make me comfortable and also gathered up all the stuff that had been knocked off my bike (cue sheet holder, water bottles, helmet light, mirror, pump).

Tom's wife Rose provided excellent help, carting me to the hospital in Winchester and staying there for several hours where I had a full round of xrays and the various scrapes and contusions were cleaned up and dressed. I ended up with a broken rib, another one cracked, and assorted bruises. Thankfully, no broken collar bone or dislocated shoulder. Now I just have to deal with the pain and wait for the healing to run its course.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Uwharries 400K

To be different, I thought I would title this entry Uwharries 400K instead of Morrisville 400K. The route extends another 32 miles past Seagrove (turn around point of the 300K) into the Uwharrie Mountains of central NC. The name Uwharrie means "rocky field", and some sources claim that this mountain range is the oldest in North America. I will leave that to the geologists to debate, I will just enjoy riding over some of the hills in Montgomery County and admiring the scenery.

The middle 100K of this ride was the new part for me. Having heard plenty of tales of Flint Hill Rd, I opted to use a bike with a 28/28 low gear combo. As we were screaming down the long hill to the Pee Dee River on the outbound leg, I was dreading the return. However, just gearing down and patiently turning the pedals soon left Flint Hill behind. Perfect weather and great riding companions, not to mention the volunteer help at the controls (Richard and Joel Lawrence, Ian H, and Lin) combined to make this a wonderful day (and night). My only mishap was a broken rear rack bracket late in the ride that caused the rack to flip all the way back and drag the rack trunk against the ground. Martin heard a distinctive metallic snap, and commented "that doesn't sound good." Five seconds later, we were all startled by a loud rubbing noise. I really thought my back tire had gone, as I had ridden over some piece of trash earlier in the day. By then it was dark and I was at the back, so no one knew what the problem was until I stopped, turned on my helmet light and looked. A few minutes to fish out some zip ties for a temporary repair to the rack (reinforced later with an old toe strap from Byron) and we were on our way.

Busted rear rack bracket

For clothing, anticipating a possible chill to the air once past midnight, I lashed on "old blue", a warmup jacket originally purchased in 1974 (importer West Coast Cycles - no longer in business). It is not wool, but that mystery material "acrylic" that has stood up amazingly well. As we were getting ready to leave the inbound Snow Camp control, Martin expressed his regret for not bringing along a shell and gratefully accepted the offer to use the jacket, as I was not needing it (long sleeve base layer under my jersey and a windbreaker were enough).

I (almost) learned my lesson about bonking from the 300K two weeks ago, and had a sit down meal at Seagrove both outbound and inbound. I should have eaten some more at the corner of Lystra and Farrington Point (Farrell's, where we took a little break), as I started to bonk about 8 miles from the end. I hung with Martin and Denis rather than stopping to eat, as I decided it was better to follow them and not have to focus on reading the cue sheet (I'm still not totally confident of the new route into Morrisville, especially after being up for 25 hours). When we arrived at Alan's house, consuming a gel and energy bar was my first priority, and then signing the control card. We made our way back to Morrisville Square (the Parkway is wonderfully free of traffic at 4:45 a.m.), and it was time to change and take a sleep break.

"Old Blue" warmup jacket, circa 1974

Glad everyone who started the ride finished successfully (special congrats to the 6 riders completing a first 400K, and to John M for toughing it out after a crash).