Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Saturday March 21

Not a great day of biking.

Those in attendance
Jay Brainard
Jen Serino
Jill (still never got her last name)
Paul Miller
Steve Cope (Capn Carbon – now with carbon fiber wheels)
Nate Poerschke
Kevin Smit
Theresa Smit
Nicole Lewis
Sheila Augustine

The Roses and Thorns planned to travel a newer route that took the cyclists towards RTP and then back South to familiar roads and on in towards the finish.

The temperature was in the low 30’s at start time so most cyclists were dawning layers of clothing, expect Nate who was in biking shorts with no leg warmers or tights. Looking at him made everyone else feel cold.

The pack headed out from the start with Theresa in the lead. The Thorns and Roses intended to ride the first 10 or 12 miles together as they traveled the newer section of the route.

Those plans were shattered several times on the days ride.
First situation that splintered the pack happened before fully leaving the confines of the Preston neighborhood. Kevin was riding in the middle of the pack keeping an eye on the leaders as well as monitoring the back of the pack in his mirror. The pace was pretty strong for the Roses and Theresa was the Rose setting the pace in the Pull Position. As the group was about to enter Ron’s Pull, Kevin noticed Jae falling off the back of the pack. As he continued to monitor her she fell even farther off the back. This prompted Kevin to fall back in an effort to help Jae close the gap, however she continued to falter.
Kevin turned and rode back to see what he could do to help. Jae was not feeling good at all and had already made the decision to call the ride off for her. Kevin and Jae then made phone calls. Jae called Beth another member of the Roses who had not decided to ride today and was at home. Beth lived very close to where Jae and Kevin had stopped alongside the road. Beth agreed to come and pick up Jae and her bike and take her back to the start. Kevin called Theresa to let her know where he and Jae where.
Kevin told Theresa to continue with the ride and he would make an effort to catch them once Jae was safely off the side of the road and in Beth’s van.

It did not take Beth long to arrive. Kevin said goodbye to Jae and Beth and headed out to see how soon he could rejoin the group.
Kevin was not having a great day on the bike either. In his effort to close the gap between himself and the group there were periods he could only sustain 13 mph. He had no energy at all, no ability to produce power or RPMs.

Kevin finally caught the pack as they were making the turn onto Alston off of Highway 55. Just as he was closing the gap he saw Jill pull away from the pack and turn for home. Jill had a time constraint and the pack started later than she had planned and was going much slower than expected due to the Roses and Thorns riding together, as well as holding back so Kevin could close the gap. Hopefully Jill will return and the next ride with be more challenging for her than this day’s ride.

Kevin was now back in the fold of the pack as they continued on Alston to Okelly. He learned that both Nate and Theresa had thrown a chain during the early part of the ride.

At the corner of Okelly and Alston Nicole had a rear Flat tire. Kevin worked with Nicole to change the tire as the group waited. Well some of the group waited. The remaining “Roses” (Theresa and Sheila) decided to push on knowing the “Thorns” were planning on dropping the hammer from that point on anyway. Then Steve Cope (Capn Carbon) and Jen informed the group that they each had 12 o’clock commitments and needed to be back at the start in less than an hour. Kevin provided a route that put them back onto familiar roads and the way back to the start. With that new information and Nicole’s tire now fixed and inflated the group headed out onto the now shortened ride route.

Within a mile Nicole commented that her rear tire now had a bump in it that she could feel with each revolution of the tire. Kevin had her pull off the road and looked to see if there was an issue with the tire that could explain the bump. The rest of the pack was now out of sight as they headed for UpChuck hill and the path home. Upon investigation it was noted that Nicole’s rim was Ok, it had no up and down motion in it, the spokes were all equally tight, but the tire did appear to have a flat spot in it. This meant that the tire was on the rim OK but the tube maybe twisted or have a narrow spot on it. The decision was to go ahead and ride it on into the finish. It was also suggested that Nicole let the air out her tire and re-inflate it once the ride was done.

Back on the road Nicole and Kevin were now all alone until they met Nate who had left the leading group and was circling waiting to see if Nicole and Kevin were OK. The three remaining riders now readied themselves for the climb on UpChuck. Kevin took the lead position and swooped down the front side of UpChuck in an effort to us momentum gained to offset the drag about to take place on the climb. All three riders made it to the top however in the process Nate threw his chain again killing any momentum he had planned to use to climb the hill.

The group of 3 riders made the right turn at the top of Upchuck and headed into the rolling hills of Mount Pisgah. Each did a good job of powering thru the undulating hills and out onto Luter Shop. Normally this intersection would have the riders turning right and headed for the Strawberry patch and Lake Jordan areas. Today the riders were already two or more hours into the ride and needing to head for home so they turned left.

Kevin elected to have the three riders head into the finish by traveling thru Cary Glen and “Nicole’s Roller Coasters”. Once thru Cary Glenn the Three riders made the right turn onto Carpenter Fire Station Road. Nicole was falling off the pace slightly as the three made their way towards Highway 54 and “Ron’s Pull”.
Just as they were about to reach the light at 54 a shout from the side of the road caught Kevin’s attention.
It was the “ROSES”. Theresa was in the middle of fixing a flat tire on her bike. Kevin and his group stopped to assist. Once the tube was replaced and tire inflated the group now of 5 riders all headed for the start/finish which now was about 8 miles away.

In the end Steve Cope and his group of Jen and Paul all did about 34 miles.
Theresa and Sheila did 34 miles although on a totally different route than the “Thorns”
Kevin and his band of Nate and Nicole also completed 34 miles. The average was just under 15 mph. The total time from start to finish was close to 3 ½ hours with all the stops, flats, thrown chains.
Just goes to show that one cannot always count on an effortless trouble free ride.

Sunday March 22 nd.

A great Training ride for new riders

Slightly warmer start still needed layers to stay warm at the beginning.
Those in attendance
Steve Cope (Capn Carbon) ready for a Hammer Head type ride.
Kevin Smit (GOG) not ready for a Hammer Head type ride
Theresa Smit - a lonesome “Rose” among the “Thorns”
David Bridenbaugh – ( Mr. Bridenbaugh) ready for a challenge
Don and Carrie Zelna – First time with the group (long time friends of Theresa’s) they tolerate Kevin for short visits. Don and Carrie have never ridden in a group, and are trying road biking to see if they like it.

Kevin recommended that “Capn Carbon” and “Mr. Bridenbaugh” should do their own ride or join the CSH group for today’s ride. Kevin and Theresa were looking forward to helping the Zelna’s having a wonderful first experience on road bikes. Kevin knew that Steve and David would be left out of the days focus and that their skills and abilities would naturally intimidate a newer rider. So both Steve and David were banished to ride with others for the day. They both graciously accepted the rejection and agreed it would be best if they did their own thing, and elected to ride with the CSH group that leaves at 10 am.

The bikes Don and Carrie were riding were set up more as a hybrid vs road bike. Carrie was riding without toe straps, and both were in tennis shoes. The tires on their bikes were better suited for off road, and Carrie’s seat was adjusted way too low. They both had helmets and were dressed for the weather.
Kevin lifted Carrie’s front tire and Steve Cope’s entire bike to find that Carrie’s front tire alone weighed more than Steve’s entire bike – with two full water bottles.

Don and Carrie are both in great shape. Both are runners, and have accomplished several long races. Don is also training for his first Triathlon (sprint series distance). Yes he is a budding TRIASSHOLETTE.

So now you have the picture.

The newly formed pack said goodbye to the two Hammer Heads and headed out onto the streets of Cary. Kevin was designing the route in his head as they traveled into the Preston neighborhood. His intent was to start off on flat roads with the ability to add or remove hills and add or remove miles as the ride unfolded. Kevin is always ready to challenge others while also watching intently for signs of over doing it and adjusting on the fly as needed.

It was evident from the start that both new riders had solid riding skills. Each held their line very well allowing Kevin to draft each of them with comfort. This information was shared with them to help them understand the importance of holding a steady line in a pack. They both also did a great job of Spinning. Kevin was also spinning and would compare their cadence with his. They were well into the mid to upper 90 rpms. Kevin also noticed that each shifted effortlessly and just at the right moment on the hills in order to maintain cadence and speed.

WOW they are naturals. It has taken Kevin years to master these skills and still he falters regularly.

Kevin did stop everyone just before entering Ron’s pull to adjust Carrie’s seat position. The idea was to raise it slightly to see if she was comfortable with the change. The seat was so low that it would take several small adjustments over the course of the ride to bring it closer to proper position. Kevin also provided feedback on the foot position during the pedal stroke. Both Carrie and to a lesser extent Don pedaled with heals too high, sort of in a tippy toe fashion.

Once onto Ron’s pull the pack picked up the pace reaching speeds of 19 to 20 miles per hour. Ron would have been proud of the new riders efforts.
OK the first challenge had been met, how would they do with sustained speeds, and they did great.
Next the group headed onto Fire Station Church Road to see how they did in heavier traffic and in a single draft line. Don did a great job of keeping the gap between him and the rider ahead within a good Wheel Sucking distance. Carrie was much more tentative in closing the gap between her front tire and the rear wheel of the rider ahead. With more practice and understanding of the techniques involved in drafting she will do very well.

As the pack closed in on the Cary Glenn area Kevin had to make another assessment of the new riders and what challenge he felt comfortable in presenting them. Kevin probed the new rider with “OK we are at about 7 miles”, “we can start to head back a couple of ways”, “we can turn around and stay on relatively flat roads, or chose any of 3 other ways with varying degrees of Hills”.

“We feel great”, “Lets not turn around yet”, “We have done 20 miles before and are hoping for a little further”, was the reply from both of the new riders.

“OK you asked for it” “UPChuck here we come” Kevin replied with a huge smile on his face.
Kevin then provided limited information on what was about to unfold for the cyclists. With that the pack started their fast coast downhill towards the climb known affectionately as “UpChuck”.
Kevin used the opportunity to stay in a larger chain ring and stood the entire length of the climb. A great workout that had his heart rate well into the max zone. Once at the top it was time to circle and assess everyone’s attitude to see if they were ready for more miles and hills or ready to head back.
“That was great”, Carrie said with total joy in her voice. Don was already at the top of the hill and circling with Kevin as they anxiously awaited the ladies. Kevin’s next plan was to take them to the intersection of Yates Store and Luter Shop to again assess how everyone was doing.

Once there Kevin again probed the group “OK we are at about 10 or 11 miles”, “We can head back now and end up with around 20 to 24 miles”, “or we can turn right and add any number of miles we chose, the options allow us to adjust the miles and hills as needed”.
“WE want more miles” was the cry from the group.

A right turn onto Luter Shop had the pack now headed for any number of variations of routes and challenges. This was also a good place to adjust Carrie’s seat yet again a little bit higher.

The group rode at a steady 17 mph the entire length to the Strawberry Patch at 751. Without asking Kevin could tell the group was ready for even more miles so he instructed them to take the right and headed for Martha Chapel.
The run down Martha Chapel splintered the pack with Kevin and Don pushing 21+ mph and the ladies falling slightly off the pace.
“OK folks we are at the 17 mile mark I say we head back and look to have done 35 miles by the end of the ride” Kevin suggested.
The pack turned left onto Farrington Road and the part of road known as “Kevin’s Crawl”. Again the group splintered with Kevin and Don pulling up the hill at 17 mph and the ladies falling off the pace with Theresa falling the furthest behind.
A short time circling at Holland Chapel allowed all to gather in a group again. Kevin did one more seat adjustment for Carrie and the pack was headed for home.
Kevin felt the new riders had more than accomplished the challenges he placed on them so far. His objective was to bring the pack home as short and flat as possible. They did a good job of staying relatively close with Theresa bringing up the rear position. The route home took the group the full length of Luter Shop and onto Green Hope High School road.
Half way back on Luter Shop Kevin could see a large pack of riders headed towards them. He suspected it was the CHS group. Sure enough he spied “Capn Carbon” bouncing along chit chatting at 22 mph along side some of the HAMMER HEADS of the group. Steve was not even winded, or sweating as he glided along.
He and Kevin swung out into the middle of the road to pass each other in a high five fashion. At the tail end of the Hammer Heads was Mr. Bridenbuagh working his way up the draft line.

Don and Kevin talked at great length about how to ride in a pack, along with other riding techniques. Carrie was close enough to also absorb the information.
A short cyclocross had everyone carrying their bikes across the RR tracks by Green Hope High School. Once back on the bikes Don took off as if he was Steve Cope on the last sprint home. Kevin was challenged to stay close enough to let Don know when the next turn was to take place.
The pack was guided back into the Preston Neighborhood for some last minute hills and scenery.

A great ride for first time road bike participants. They ended up riding one of the group’s standard 35 mile routes, including UPCHUCK. Very impressive, with an average speed of just below 15 mph.

We hope to see more of Don and Carrie on rides with the “Roses” and “Thorns”.

It turned out Steve pushed the pace for the CSH Hammer Heads on the way back from Lake Jordon. His attacks splintered the Hammer Heads and he was one of two left standing after the battle.
What an animal.

In the future Steve will need to ride his touring bike fully loaded if he is to ride with the “Thorns”.