Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Ride: Saturday, December 20

Riders In Attendance:
Roses: Jae Brainard, Tracy Clanton, Carolyn Sparano
Thorns: Ron Clanton, Steve Sparano

Route: Jae's Ride, or the Cisco Ride
Distance: 125 miles (when you add up the group's cumulative mileage, in other words, 5 riders X 25 miles each). ; )

The Sparano's arrived at Bruegger's parking lot around 8:20 to find the Clanton's getting ready alongside Jae. The day was a balmy 50 with a decent fog but no wind.

The Sparanos, thinking they were running a little late due to the prior night's corporate parties, asked when everyone else had arrived and found the others had just pulled in. The Sparano's were late partly due to the aforementioned partying, but also due to the extra time needed to get Carolyn's bike from the Smit's house. Kevin had recently replaced a broken front derailleur cable and adjusted the gears on the bike the were so graciously letting Carolyn ride. Steve had to get the bike from the Smit's garage since they were busy playing Sherpa for Steve Cope on his ride across the USA. See Steve Cope's blog at However, despite plans that would have made it easy to obtain access to the bike, Steve had to resort to a minor act of breaking and entering in order to enter the Smit residence and get the bike. Kevin and Theresa will have to call to get the details on that portion of the adventure.

Note to Blog Reader: Please note that this is the first incident of the day where Kevin, from 1,500 miles away, was sabotaging the day's ride. More on that in a bit...

Ok, so the group left the parking lot with the plan for Jae to lead the group and take us out to the RTP area rather than out west to the Jordan Lake area. Everyone agreed it sounded like a great idea for a couple of reasons: first, it was a new route, second, it has very little traffic, and lastly, no one else had any better ideas. Pretty much par for the course for this group.

As we were finishing up deciding on what layers to wear, a new fellow named Tim rolled up and asked to join in. Due the already excessive number of "Tims" in the group, we almost banned him on the spot, but after some executive consultation among the leadership team, we accepted him into the group. We quickly briefed New Tim on the ride essentials of no drop, pace of about 15 mph, distance of 30 miles, lots of banter and New Tim still wanted to ride with us. New Tim noted that any ride was better than sitting on his butt all day so we took that as a compliment, and we were off.

We headed out through Preston and out Carpenter Upchurch (Ron's pull) and Tracy and Ron (on the tandem) did not disappoint. Tracy and Ron (now called Tron since it's easier to type) pulled the entire way. New Tim seemed to like the pull and the increased pace and moved up and back with ease. It was apparent Tim was a strong rider based not only on his riding ability on Ron's Pull but also re: comments about riding he's done with the hammerheads from CSH.

Today, instead of heading over Hwy. 55 and onto our usual weekend route, we turned right at end of Ron's pull and took a right on Koppers road which took us out to McCrimmon Parkway, over Davis drive to Hwy. 54. Somewhere along this route New Tim decided to drop off and continue at a different pace than what the group was currently riding.

It was then during this portion of our ride that Kevin's second attempt at sabotage surfaced. As Tron and Steve were out front chatting away about the upcoming holidays and other events, we heard from the back "hold on, hold on....we have a problem." Tron slowed while Steve doubled back to find Carolyn and Jae pondering an issue with Carolyn's chain and how to correct the situation. Apparently, Carolyn's chain had hopped off the large rear chain ring and was now wedged between the large rear chain ring and the spokes. Steve then proceeded to free it from its place and return it where it belonged back on the rear cogs. After a quick clean up in the wet grass to remove most of the grease from his hands, we were cleaned up, saddled up, and back on the road.

As we returned to biking, Ron commented that the bike's rear derailleur may need some work to adjust it and keep it from happening again. When I mentioned that Kevin had done some work recently to replace a broken front derailleur cable and adjusted the shifting as well, we all quickly (and simultaneously) realized where the problem MIGHT have originated. I noted that I would like to take it in to be serviced and we speculated about the comments we might get from the mechanic like..."well, honestly, in all of my years working on bikes, I've never seen work quite like this before...." As always, the group always has the leader's back. ; )

We followed McCrimmon Pkwy. to 54 and up into the RTP area. This took us out to Hopson Road where we turned left and headed West. We knew we were getting close to the Durham Wildlife and Skeet Shooting Club since we could hear the distinct sounds of shotgun fire in the distance. There was quite a lot of clay pigeon hunting going on that morning.

We were not long on this portion of the ride and we heard another request for assistance from the back but this time it was Jae! Her issue was that her front chain ring had lost the chain and needed some help to get it back on. It took Jae only a matter of seconds to return it to its proper place and we were back riding again. The group couldn't resist this opportunity to ask if Kevin had been anywhere near Jae's bike in recent weeks. It turns out, this was not the case. But Kevin is always with us...however, no evidence of sabotage this time.

The group slowed so we could turn onto Louis Stephens and there was a sound that could only be described as a shrill shrieking, squealing, squawking noise. This was the result of Carolyn's and Tron's brakes squealing. It was kind of like nails on a chalkboard, only more annoying. We then turned left onto Louis Stephens drive and followed it until it ended back at Davis Drive. This portion of the ride allowed Tron to really crank it up and and get some cardio work in. As we climbed one rolling hill, I think I saw Tracy filing her nails faking pedal strokes as Ron cranked solo up one ascent, but I can't be certain. The rest of the group followed them as they cruised through the rolling portin of the ride. There was absolutely no traffic out here and made it a great ride.

We approached the end of Louis Stephens at the intersection with Davis Drive. Normally, this is a serene and peaceful setting far removed from traffic noise, however today the squealing brakes once again pierced the silence. The group commented that there was no way we'd be sneakingup on anyone with those brakes.

At this point, the group had ridden about 17.5 miles and the plan was to simply double back the way we had come and return home to the start for a 35-mile ride. Another option was to turn right onto Davis and thread our way back resulting in about a 25-mile route. We turned right. ; )

We followed Davis down to McCrimmon Pkwy and turned left. Ron noted that he was hoping there would be another mechanical issue at this point so we could stop in at the Starbucks located in the shopping center on the corner. No issues, so we rolled on and followed McCrimmon to Koppers which becomes Louis Stephens (the Cary version). Jae noted to Tron that we would follow Louis Stephens back and turn left at the Yellow Barn. The Ron half of Tron asked "what Yellow Barn?" Jae said, " you know, the one that's right there on the corner." Ron looked puzzled and rode on. As Tron approached the turn and saw the Yellow Barn that's been there for every ride the group has ever been on and which pre-dates the group by about 100 years, he jokingly noted, "That must be new!" We then decided that it in fact must be one of those blow up buildings that was put up for the Christmas season which explained why Tron (really Ron) had not noticed it before. Oh well, Ron won't pass up a chance from now on to note how striking the Yellow Barn is.

The ride ended back at Bruegger's where, in honor of Steve Cope, we all powered through a few sausage, egg, and cheese bagels and washed them down with a gallon of coffee. Each of us then ordered a giant stack of pancakes, two orders of waffles, a pound of bacon, and finished it off with dessert which included a cheesecake for each of us. ; )

After some route plotting, I was able to include our ride profile from today's ride. It wasnt long but we encountered some serious climbs, see below.