Riding Day

Registration for the Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride did not open until this morning (Friday). Just about every soul in the town arrived at the registration area as we arrived, so we got into line. Happily, we did not stand too long before someone pointed out that there were various lines depending on what letter of the alphabet your last name began with. Jack headed to R and S, while I stood in A – D. In a parking lot. With rain forecast.

 

Those dark tents in the distance are where we had to be to register
 
My knees were a bit sore by the time we got our wrist band and t-shirt, and the whole time I was standing there, I was thinking, “If this wait makes us start our ride so late that we get rained on, I’ll be annoyed.”

After that long wait, we jumped on the bikes and wanted to drop off the t-shirts back at Roomba so we wouldn’t have to carry them along, so by the time we finally got rolling down the road (and figured out where the heck we were headed) we realized that we somehow missed breakfast. 

Luckily, at about mile 10 or 12, there was a rest stop serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with fruit and granola/power bars, along with the usual Powerade and water. Even with the early wait I think we hit the first rest stop at about 10AM. But of course, there were more lines for the porta-pots and sustenance. 

 

Lines for everything are standard operating procedure for these organized rides
 
We both felt really great during the morning. And the famed headwind for whic this ride is notorious appeared to have gone on vacation. This first day offered 3 routes: a 37-miler, a 59-miler, and a 72-miler. Our original goal was to do the 37 miles, have lunch back in Edenton, arrive at camp well before the expected afternoon rains, and maybe beat some of the enormous crowd to the showers.

But man, we were sailing along those flat roads, hitting 20 mph speeds at a stretch (we are quite pleased when we can sustain a 13 mph average speed along the Blue Ridge Parkway). So, when the signs came up indicating the split of the 59 mile route from the 37 mile route, we thought, “Heck yeah,” and turned right for the longer ride.

Remember, this part of the country is flat. Pancake flat. The wind can tootle along and hit nothing in its path for miles and miles, and roar at you from all different directions at once.

 

That yellow line you see at the left of the photo is an enormous, beautiful field of mustard flowers, rape seed being the crop grown a lot of places around here. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the field closer, but I was unwilling to stop and start up again in the wind, and it was a crosswind, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking my hand off the handlebars to get my camera.

  
At mile 30-ish, that old headwind found us, after coming home from vacation. The clouds were rolling in and the wind took our average speed down to 16 mph. In another 5 miles it became worse, average speed = 13.5. We had another rest stop somewhere in there and everyone was a hurtin’ cowboy.

All along this stretch of the ride, the wind buffeted us head-on, then crosswind, then head on again. Since the beginning Jack and I had been trading off being “lead goose” to the other, so the one behind could rest a bit and be drawn along in the one in front’s draft. It’s a great system – except when the wind is coming at you from the side. I felt at times like I was fighting my own bike just to keep it from veering off the road entirely.

We both did pretty well until mile 55, when I simply, totally, popped. I felt that I might not have been drinking enough water, so I “paused” more frequently in the task of incessant pedaling to take swigs of water, and then I wouldn’t be able to catch up with Jack, pedaling strongly away, flying lead goose for no one.

At last we made it back. The things that hurt the most on me were my hands and feet – not the legs nor the place where the bike meets the body. We decided to have a late lunch before getting off the bikes and taking a shower, since a few pb&j sandwiches and a banana or two just weren’t going to cut it. So we rolled into Edenton downtown and stopped at a cafe at about 2:30 for a hamburger. Just as we leaned our bikes against the wall to go inside, the rain began.

It had rained a lot while we were inside, but eased up by the time we were ready to head back to camp, so we rolled home and found all was well around the Roomba homestead. This camping area is somewhat protected from the wind, and the rain had not found its way into any of the openings we’d left to keep things cool. The solar panels had topped off the battery, even with the ceiling fan running on low the whole time we were gone.

We had a bit of a lie-down, and went into town after a bit to get take-away and eat it back at the house so we didn’t have to wait in any more lines (not, at least, until tomorrow). As we finished up our meal of barbecue and beer, the heavens opened up again and we were soothed by the pattering of raindrops on the roof. Early night, and up again tomorrow for another go.

  • Ride time: 3:58:47
  • Stopped time: 1:26:09
  • Distance: 60.32 miles
  • Average speed: 15.16 MPH
  • Fastest speed: 23.30 mph
  • Ascent: 69 feet
  • Descent: 106 feet

  

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