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Monday, October 28, 2013

Ala Orange Populaire

This new populaire is titled "Ala Orange" since it covers parts of Alamance and Orange counties.  The southernmost part of the route intersects with a couple of other permanents, but Ala Orange starts and ends in Graham which makes it more convenient for those living between Greensboro and Mebane.  Access is close to I-40/85 (exit 147).

The course is rolling throughout, but no really tough climbs.  Like a certain permanent in the Raleigh area, whose first time riders are soberly admonished by the route owner to "save something for ____ Mountain", this one also features a mountain road (Bass Mountain Rd), but it is approached from the kinder, gentler side.  The descent is a great downhill where riders can reach 35 or 40 mph without even trying.

Best place for a sandwich stop is the Saxapahaw General Store (43 mile control), which features indoor and outdoor seating.

A cold start for Oct.  30F
Graham Rite Aid is the starting location

Early morning frost and mist along Jim Minor Rd
First control, near Carrboro

Saxapahaw General Store

Home of the Original Hollywood Horror Show.  Doesn't look like much on the outside, but apparently there are some good shows.
Bass Mountain Rd.  Where is the mountain?
Logs at the New South Lumber Company
Finished lumber being stacked

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fox and Hound(s) 600K

I'll start with the hound part - my primary riding partner for the 2013 NCBC 600K was Martin (see his ride report here), who achieved K-Hound status last year (10,000 RUSA kilometers in one calendar year).  The other hound-to-be is Ron M who is over halfway toward his goal.  The fourth member of our sometimes-together group was Tom D, who would have been far ahead of us except for a broken spoke early in the ride.

This was my third time doing this 600K, and although not obvious from the finishing time, this was the most difficult due to heat (foreseen) and some nocturnal wildlife in the form of a gray fox who decided to obstruct our path on Highway 210 in the early morning (around 2 a.m.). 

I was doing pretty well until about mile 160 between White Lake and Rocky Point (outbound), but then the heat and wind combined with some dehydration left me feeling really lousy.  Not sick or nauseous, just blah, with little desire to keep going.  Fortunately Tom, who was dealing with his own dehydration issues, needed to pull off at a convenience store.  A large V-8 and some cold water did wonders and helped propel me to Rocky Point where we ate a meal, prepared for night riding, and waited for the arrival of the inbound front group.

Tom led the way down 117 for five miles before we turned off onto some quieter roads going into the turn around control at Wilmington.  Joel feted us with plenty of hot sandwiches, Cokes, and frappuccinos.  It was good to see Ron A from NJ, who popped in with Joel's relief (Rex, who actually didn't have to do much other than help Joel clean up the control after we left).

By the time we got back to Rocky Point, it was time to slip on some arm warmers.  I had a vest, but never did use it.  Every time we started up after stopping for any length of time, there was another "warmup" session needed due to our damp-with-sweat jerseys.

Things were going ok as the four of us pedaled along at about 14 or 15 mph on Highway 210 toward White Lake, trying to stay focused out there in the middle of the night.  I was following Martin and Tom, when suddenly Tom yells out about a fox in the road.  The next thing I know, Martin has made a fast stop and I manage to grab my brakes in an attempted panic stop.  I couldn't quite bring the bike to a complete stop before kind of skidding into Martin's right side.  My handlebar extension (accessory bar) and front quick release lever somehow locked into his bike and we rolled forward a few feet before I went over on my right side onto the shoulder.  Once I got up I saw the fox, poised like a statue in the road with one leg kind of hanging limp.  It was virtually motionless, yet still upright.  Martin asked how I was and I responded that my right knee had taken the fall but I hadn't broken any skin.  I could pedal ok so we resumed our trek after I had readjusted my headlight.

Once arriving in White Lake about 4:15, we got cleaned up in the room (generously provided by Mick who was not able to make the ride), and tried to get some sleep.  I was up a little after 6, hobbling around and attempting to square things away for the final 200K.  I did remember to put on some sunscreen.  Jerry took one look at me limping and offered his bottle of ibuprofen to take with me.  Martin and I got on the road around 7 and stopped at the Scotchman to have some breakfast.  After waiting in line for several minutes, I decided I could survive on a Clif bar and some ShotBloks, so we departed White Lake.  As the sun began to beat on us, both Martin and I were experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation.  Martin would generally ride ahead and stop under some shade to wait for me.  At one point, he suggested I sit down on the steps of a church building to cool off.  That helped for a few minutes, and then I decided I really needed to try out the porch mat for comfort.  After what seemed like at least half an hour, I heard a train whistle and commented "that must be the alarm clock.  It's time to go."  I sat up and Martin looked at me.  "You have only been asleep for a minute.  Lay back down."  Me: "Are you sure?"  Martin: "Yes.  You need to rest some more."  Something else Martin did was to strongly urge that I take 800 mg of ibuprofen, since a lot of it was getting lost through perspiration in the heat.

We made it into Angier and took a break at McDonald's.  I knew there was almost 40 miles of rolling terrain ahead, but I had forgotten about the difficulty.  Having a bum knee didn't help matters, but staying seated and spinning in a low gear enabled me to make it all the way through the challenging hills to finish in 37 hours. 

My knee is still in recovery mode, but at least there is not a torn ACL or meniscus.  My thanks to RBA Alan; volunteers Jerry, Joel, and Mary; and fellow rando Martin for making this a successful if less than ideal (from my perspective) 600K.