Saturday, June 06, 2009

MOB Rule and a hidden apology

Saturday June 6th.

A large crowd gathered for the day’s bike ride.
Kevin had to resort to writing down names of everyone that was in attendance. There would be no way he could remember later who all showed up.
Those in attendance riding with the “Roses” ;
Tracy Clanton
Jae Brainard – the ride leader for this group
Beth Gonzales
Lori Brogden
Ron Clanton – Started with the Thorns and did his obligatory Pull on “RON”S PULL” , maxing his heart rate at 189 then joined his wife to ride part of the route with the “Roses” (How Sweet).
Debra Hollis – Back on her bike after yet another crash – “Crash Test Dummy”
Michelle Causey
Tom Causey
Patti Lewis – “Patty Melt”

Those riding with the “Thorns/Stems”;
Steve Sparano – “Sporadic Sparano”
Steve Cope – “Capn Carbon” – the leader of the “Thorns”
Jeffery Roussel – “Down Hill Racer” - Most improved for this season
Steve Hamalainen (Ham for short) – Back with the group for the first time this season – he is getting in shape for RAGBRI
Eric Hamalainen (Ham for short) – first time riding with the group – came with his dad Steve
Josh Carter – “Moving Violation” - getting faster and faster - doing local races.
Taylor Wofford – first time for her riding with this group – Learned about it from “TriTodd”
Cameron Cooper – first time for him riding with this group – Nicole told him about the group
Rita Beard – first time with the group – Nicole told her about the group – She rode with out cleats.
Tim Travitz – “Slow Tim” – not anymore – he has been blistering the pavement with his speed on the bike.
Doug Augustine
Sheila Augustine – “Rose” working to be a “Thorn”
Don Zelna - new to the sport but already turning into a "Thorn"
Carrie Zelna - also new to the sport - a female version of "Cap'n Carbon"
Tim Devinney – “The Love Train” - also pushing the pace to splintering speeds
Ernest Davis - getting ready for Blood Sweat and Gears
John Majikes – was seen at the start but did not join the group until later on the road – left his shoes at home.
Donte Bergamascao – Friend of Ernest and used to work with Theresa Smit.
Theresa Smit – “Rose” working to become a “Thorn”
Jeff Giordano - another Hammer Head looking for others to punish
Willey (sorry can’t remember his last name) – rides normally with the Hammers heads in the Mello Vello group and with CSH.
Kevin Smit – “GOG” – ride leader of himself and any one that will follow.

So there you have it 31 cyclists, the largest turn out ever for this group. Now Kevin was faced with trying to design a route that would challenge the “Thorns” allow those who started out with the “Thorns” and then get dropped to be picked up by the “Stems”. And what abut the “ROSES”? Previously he had been given strong recommendations of making sure the group did LYSTRA since many are training for BLOOD SWEAT AND GEARS at the end of June. Jae had already said she would be happy to lead the “Roses” so that group was taken care off. Kevin also did not know the skill levels of many of the new or returning cyclists. Some were young wipper snappers from NC State, some veteran “Hammer Heads” from the Wednesday night Mello Vello rides. He also wanted to make sure that at least two of the “ROSES” were allowed to hang with the “Thorns” and “Stems” as they had made it known they are looking to step up the miles, and pace. How to please everyone was the challenge of the day.

“OK, today is a LYSTRA day”, bellowed Kevin, as he was ready to turn the pack loose onto the roads of Wake county. Nothing else was said as the pack immediate split into 4 groups even before leaving the parking lot. Theresa and Sheila were nowhere in Kevin’s mirror as he swung onto High House. How is he going to protect them and help them survive the “Thorns” when they are still back chit chatting with the “Roses”? Don’t they realize they put themselves at risk even before their first pedal stroke of the day? To make matters worse the “Thorns” were already charging hard towards the Preston neighborhood. Normally the pack remains together on High House with the lead riders holding back the pace to at least 13 – 15 mph. Today however the first group was shooting into the turn at Preston and Kevin was off the back of all the “Thorns” riding solo in no man’s land doing 17 mph just to survive what normally would be a short warm-up. As he rolled into Preston – Still no Theresa or Sheila. DAMN.
Kevin now had to make the call of holding way back to pick the two up in hopes of later catching the ever increasing pace of the lead group, or to close that gap now and ask everyone to cool their jets for awhile to let the gals tuck into the pack. He struggled with this dilemma for far too long as the “Thorns” made the turn onto Hogan’s Valley Way and the first climb of the day without regard to who or how many may be trailing. Hogan’s Valley was completed by the “Thorn’s” in record time. Kevin only saw the group as they raced through the green light across Davis drive and towards the round-about that then leads out into the county roads. Kevin hesitated at the light long enough to see the two ladies rolling into position at the intersection. Kevin yelled “Green Light” in an effort to jar the two into a short attack to make the intersection. Nope. They were still in the “Roses” mind set and stalled there allowing the light to turn red. Kevin knew this was a long red light and he wondered if the two trapped riders would think to push the walk button in an effort to shorten the duration of the red, or if they would risk jumping through the red light if no cars were coming. No time to wait and see, Kevin had to find away to get in front of the pack to deliberately reduce its momentum in hopes that the two trailing “Roses” could wakeup to the challenge they had placed on themselves. His only possible move was to sprint hard towards the round-about and then short cut it by turning left rather than right.
Kevin was able to jump the gap (by cheating) and was now squarely in the front of the freight train of 20 “Twitchy Thorns”.
No one noticed that Kevin had been in the back (out of sight) and was now in the front. The “Thorns” were in a completely different place than ever before. Little situational awareness, just an aggressive look in each of their eyes. Kevin had never seen this look so early in a ride before. He was confused as to why the group was so anxious to go fast so early, knowing they would be doing LYSTRA. Something was in the air, or maybe someone was egging them on. Kevin slowed his pace expecting the pack to respond to the Ride Leader. With in the blink of an eye the “Thorns” zoomed past and Kevin was all alone again riding solo in No Man’s land still looking in his mirror for the two “Roses” he was to help be initiated into the “Thorn’s”.
Kevin now worked to ride close enough to the “Thorns” to try and shout directions and yet slow enough to catch a glimpse of the two ladies. Doug Augustine had figured out what Kevin was attempting to do as he also fell off the pace to join Kevin in the dead zone.
The chit chat of the “Thorns” faded as they elected to turn right onto “RON’S PULL” without instructions to do so, and again without consideration of where everyone in the pack was. Kevin attempted to inform those ahead that he was going to wait for others who were trailing. The only folks who heard that were Steve and his son Eric who immediately pulled up to oblige.
The behavior of the other “Thorns“ at that point mimicked that of groups like the Mello Vello rides. Those rides are fun for a different reason than the intent of the “Thorns and Roses”. When you show up for a Mello Vello ride you expect to ride till you puke and then limp home on your own as best you can. At least that has been Kevin’s experience and is why he goes to those rides (plus the beer, food and friendship afterwards).
Kevin and Doug both turned back to see if they could spy Theresa and Sheila anywhere in the distance. Slowly out of the humid haze far in the distance came three riders(John Majikes had caught up with the ladies at Davis after having to drive back home to get his shoes) strolling along side by side as if 13 mph was the prescribed speed for the “Thorns”, who were actually at that point now charging down “Ron’s Pull” at well over 28 mph.
“We got caught at the light” Theresa informed Doug and Kevin with a comfortable smile on her face as if it was no big deal.

Didn’t these two gals know they had just put everyone’s life at risk (falling off the pace line is like being taken off of life support)? Didn’t they know that they now are asking for those that waited to now perform at Olympic levels just to possibly regain a spot with the “Thorn’s”? Didn’t they realize that their goal of riding with the “Thorns” had become Doug and Kevin’s only reason for living?

Well know everyone knows.

No words were spoken as the pace line formed behind Kevin. He was already wore out emotionally and mentally so there was little he could do physically to close the gap on the “Thorns”. The group made the run up “Ron’s Pull” at about 10 mph slower than the “Thorns”.

Just as Kevin was trying to determine how he lost control of the ride soooo early he noticed Ron Clanton circling back towards them. Is it possible that someone in the group ahead took a quick inventory to see if all were in tow after “Ron’s Pull”?

Yes there at the intersection was a large group of riders all well rested, eager to attack each other some more, each chit chatting in a joyful tone recounting the last few miles and the speeds attained.

Then suddenly there was dead silence from the group as “GOG” bellowed at them all (as best he could being short of breath).
Scolding the pack of riders as if they were children who had gone out of control on the schoolyard.


“What, did someone Crash?” was “Cap’n Carbon’s” honest concern.
“NO”, “We had two riders that got trapped at the light on Davis”, “An no one in the group took notice” was the short-winded reply by “GOG”.

“How come you are short of breath” was the rib by “Cap’n Carbon”.
The pack was shocked that “Cap’n Carbon” had the nerve to flip back at “GOG” who was clearly pissed as hell. (the truth is GOG was mad at himself for not clearly communicating at the start the objective of helping the two Roses become Thorns/Stems and that the pack was an integral part of that success).

“Because I am OLD, FAT, and OUT OF SHAPE” was “GOG’s” immediate rebuttal.

“GOG” now struggled with that fact that he clearly had demonstrated he had broken rule #6.
That rule states, “Never Take Yourself TOO seriously”.

The pack was z-Bottom of Form;z-Top of Form;HTML Markup;Comment;embolden by “Cap’n Carbon’s” appropriate ribbing of “GOG” resulting in lots of banter the rest of the day regarding each other’s SPIRT. This was mostly brought out when/if “GOG” rolled into and intersection ahead of anyone else. “Where are you going? – That is not in the SPRIT of these rides” he would hear from the pack.

What a start to a long hilly fast day.

Lesson learned with a group as dynamic as this one, the day’s objectives need to be fully communicated, or just let it unfold, as it will likely do anyway.

The pack now complete in numbers, minus Ron who continued to wait on all the Roses, traveled thru the light at 55 and Carpenter Fire Station. The pace line formed a serpentine structure as 20+ cyclists worked to share the busy two lane road. Kevin had positioned himself in the middle of the pace line to monitor both ends and to ensure Theresa and Sheila were tucked into the draft line. He was also level setting himself on how best to allow everyone to get what they were looking for with the days ride. He needed to accommodate the “Hammer Heads” who would want to continue to attack and press the pace. He needed to accommodate those who wanted to hold onto the “Hammer heads” for as long as possible and yet be assured they could fall back and find a pace and draft line to survive the last miles home. He wanted desperately to help Theresa and Sheila have the best experience on the toughest designed ride of the season for the group. Kevin had never produced a Cue sheet for the day’s ride. He generally has an idea of the route, or distance, or time he would like to introduce to the group. He then alters that based on who shows up and modifies the route on the fly based on how all riders are holding up. Normally Kevin is able to sometimes play with the ride leaders by letting them zoom past a turn (giving them the opportunity to race back and catch the pack who had turned behind them), or to not tell them of the turn forcing them to slow and rejoin the pack to then attack once thru the turn. This style of riding works well with a group that is verily evenly matched, and more intimate in size. This was not going to work on today’s ride. So taking all these new facts into consideration Kevin designed a compromise in his head.

As the group rolled towards the Yates Store intersection Kevin pushed to the front of the draft line and asked “Cap’n Carbon”, “Down Hill Racer”, and “Moving Violation” to circle the pack at the top of “UP CHUCK” until all had made the climb and the right turn at the top. With a nod all agreed to the plan.
Kevin then fell back to his spot in the middle of the draft line.

The attack on “Up Chuck” unfolded out of sight of Kevin. He can only report that it looked like “Cap’n Carbon” made the right turn at the top of the hill just ahead of everyone else.

Kevin arrived and was able to circle just one time before all “Thorns” and “Stems” had made the short but challenging “UP-CHUCK” hill.

“OK Cap’n, take your Thorns and turn em loose. We are planning to stay straight on this all the way to 751, then the left towards Martha’s Chapel and the fast run down it to Lake Jordan”. “You can wait there or go on right to the gas station at LYSTRA and Farrington”. “See you later” was the sendoff provided by “GOG”.
“We are going to do LYSTRA Right?” was the plea from “Cap’n Carbon” to “GOG”.
“GOG” flashed two fingers.
“Cap’n Carbon” looked confused so “GOG” tried to whisper back “we will do it twice”.
“Cap’n” leapt into the saddle, rounded up the troops and danced on down the road with all but “GOG”, Theresa, and Sheila in tow.
The two ladies did a great job on the rolling hills of New Hope Church Road reaching speeds of 21 mph.
Up ahead Doug Augustine and Ernest were both slowing to fall back and join this fast moving tail end of the “Thorns”. This small group now rode together all the way to the next meeting location as described by “GOG” earlier. They worked together up and down the hills maintaining 20+ mph average for the next 8 miles. The effort performed by the two ladies was consistent with the weaker “Thorns” and placed them squarely in the realm of a strong “STEM”.

As “GOG” and his small band of cyclists rolled into the gas station he could sense the “Thorns” were fully rested and up for the LYSTRA challenge.

“DID anyone buy water to top off bottles?” Kevin asked.
“I will get some” replied “Sporadic Steve Sparano”

While Steve went to fetch water for everyone Kevin took a poll to see how many in the group had never done LYSTRA. To his surprise there were at least a half dozen who had never taken the challenge.

“OK you have two choices, Sit and spin, or stand and grind, the hill is about 1 ½ miles of climbing with a false flat in the middle, and then another 3 miles of slight up all the way to 15/501”.

Then there was some side discussion between “Cap’n Carbon” and “GOG” on how to get the pack up the hill and to Big Woods while allowing for those who want to climb twice do so without scattering the pack too much. “Cap’n Carbon” recommended that those who want to climb twice do so by turning after the two steep sections, roll back down, make a u-turn and then climb all the way to 15/501 and everybody regroup there.

“Those looking to ascend the hill twice can go with Cap’n Carbon” “He is planning on climbing to the crest, turn and coast back down then u-Turn and climb it again all the way to 15/501”.


And with that the pack was quick to leave the parking lot, just as the “ROSES” were seen rolling in.
WOW they made great time “GOG” thought to himself as he too headed for the assent on LYSTRA.

Lystra’s climb does not take place right away. There is at least a two-mile stretch of road that hides the climb from view of the cyclist. Then as they make their way around a left hand bend the cyclists are greeted with a wall of black top. As Kevin rounded that corner he saw from afar a long string of cyclists that appeared much like a thin line of worker ants struggling to bring their new found booty back to the ant hill. As he rolled to the bottom of the climb Kevin remembered his advice given to others. Should he sit and spin, or stand and grind. He elected to sit and spin, so keeping rear derailleur aligned with his 3rd gear he attempted to dance on the peddles in an effort to increase the rpms as gravity began to play with his mass. “RATS” this spin thing will not last very long. 3rd gear became 2nd almost instantly. He found himself passing (crawling past) a couple of cyclists. He recognized a couple of them being Rita who you may remember is riding in tennis shoes and platform pedals. As he observed her riding style he realized she was still in the big chain ring on her front crank set. Next he struggled to pass and then be passed back by Taylor and then by Rita.

“I hate Youth” Kevin blurted as the two young ladies walked past him. Kevin then resisted, at least for the first half of the first rise, the temptation to go to granny gear. Just prior to the false flat he popped the chain into Granny – How demoralizing. He then found himself onto the false flat. OK if I stay in granny and spin for just a second or two I might recover enough to charge the second climb in a stiffer gear. Amazing what goes through ones head with lack of Oxygen.
Kevin looked up to check his heart rate monitor for a slight glimpse of a reduced heart rate, only to be met with the sight of “Cap’n Carbon” careening down the hill with “Moving Violation”, Cameron, and “Slow Tim” all in pursuit of “Cap’n”, and each tucked in a downhill racer profile . Others likely followed but Kevin had dropped his head in an effort to avoid the sight of the next wall of black top poised to taunt him even more. Kevin’s next move was to start an internal argument of whether or not he would join in the fun of LYSTRA DUO.

Shifting back into 2nd gear was a morale booster for Kevin, which also forced him out of the saddle to perform the stand and grind technique of hill climbing. Most riders would perform that skill in a much higher gear, but this was the best he could have hoped for at that moment. Then he sat, then he stood, then he sat, then he stood as he and his bike past the two young ladies again to met the crest of Lystra.

Without hesitation Kevin checked both ways for cars and then applying slight pressure on the handlebars he navigated a U-Turn. I can rest all the way to the bottom and then try this again hoping to stay out of granny gear this time, Kevin rationalized. On the way down Kevin saw out of the corner of his eye the “ROSES” who had apparently decided that LYSTRA was on the menu for them as well. They were a bit behind after stopping to “smell the roses” at the gas station. As Kevin turned back at the bottom towards the climb he recognized both Rita and Taylor had also made the decision for LYSTRA DUO. “Not enough of a challenge yet today Ladies?” Kevin asked knowingly.

The second climb was better than the first. Kevin slid past the “Roses”, who were recovering at the crest of the second climb. “Way to go ROSES”, he shouted with an encouraging ring. He and Taylor, and Rita all made their way to 15/501 and the awaiting pack. Without stopping to visit with the group Kevin rolled up to the stop light only to be heckled from the pack, “Where are you going? That’s not the SPIRIT of these rides”. Kevin could only shake his head knowing he deserved all the grief the pack wanted to pile on him for his earlier scolding episode.

Everyone joined him as the light changed and all 20 riders now onto 15/501 heading towards the left turn and long fast downhill of Jack Benett. “We are doing Big Woods” “We can reassemble at the end of that or at the turn from 64 onto Farrington” was the next set of details provided by the route designer, (no longer ride leader – that was lost in the parking lot at Brueggers).

As the pack closed in on the turn they saw Jea Brainard and Tracy Clanton who had elected to climb Jack Benett and then meet the Roses at the top of Lystra. “WOW” the “Roses” really stepped it up in distance, pace, and difficulty. Clearly there was something in the air making everyone perform at a higher level for the day. It was also along this short section of 15/501 that “Cap’n Carbon” informed “GOG” that on the second LYSTRA climb Cameron was riding side by side with “Cap’n” chatting about the trip across the US that “Cap’n” had completed. This amazed “Cap’n” that Cameron could ride so easily at his side, carrying on a conversation, and not be strained by the second assent of LYSTRA. We HATE YOUTH.

The charge down Jack Benett went smooth with traffic doing a fair job of mixing carefully with the bikers. Everyone made a fast sweeping turn onto Big Woods and its undulating hills. The “Thons” really worked to shred the pack on this favorite time trial stretch of road. Buy the time Kevin made it to the end of Big Woods the “Thorns” and “Stems” had fully formed into two groups. The “Thorns” had not waited and continued their attack of each other all the way up Highway 64 to the next gathering spot at Farrington. Those remaining with the “Thorns” included “Cap’n Carbon”, “the Love Train”, “Moving violation”, “Slow Tim”, Willey, Cameron, and Jeff.

The “Stems” now fully aware of survival in the pack worked to make the slow climb from Lake Jordan up highway 64 to the Wilsonville gas stations. “Down Hill Racer” was in the pull position and set a pace that splintered the pack into at least two groups.
The left at Farrington had the “Stems” making the turn while the “Thorns” were found chatting with other bikers who had stopped at the same gas station they did. It did not take long for “Cap’n” and his band of “Thorns” to pull up along side “GOG” and his stand of “STEMS” who were already setting a pace of 19 mph on Farrington. “We are taking Horton Pond, Green Level, and then the bike path on to the finish”, “ You take your group any way you want to on in” Kevin said formally releasing the “Thorns” to ride as hard for as long as they cared without having to wait on anyone else. There was now about 15 miles left until the end.

The “Stems” settled into two packs each riding to protect the individuals doing the group pace. Steve Ham (for short) was working hard to not get gapped off the back with “GOG” keeping him well in sight. Kevin asked the groups to hold up once they got to the end of Horton Pond just to make sure everyone made the next series of turns.
Once at Horton Pond and 751 Kevin was heard saying to Steve “ You picked the longest, fastest, hilliest ride this group has done all season to use as your inaugural bike ride of the season.” Steve Just smiled and then replied “It will be good for me if I survive it”.

And then the pack was off again onto Luther and its rolling hills.
Kevin made an early decision to throw as many hills into the days ride as possible in the 45 – 50 miles they had to work with, and the hills would not end until the last 5 miles of the ride.

The pack of “Stems” again split into two working groups as they traveled the length of Luther. They assembled once again in the “SPIRIT” of the ride to make sure all were safe and given a short rest before heading out onto the three remaining hills for the days ride, as they would travel down Green Level towards the county line and Cary.
There was almost a pile up as the lead riders in the group were having to dodge runners and other cyclists that were traversing the road from the Tobacco trail. In fact one or more of the groups riders may have thought that the bike trail they planned to take into the end was the Tobacco Trail. This was quickly corrected as “GOG” rolled on past those that had slowed and then charged up the last hill of the day.

The turn onto Green Level Church put the group within several feet of the bike path that would lead them home. John Majikes was in the lead and anxious to show all were to make the left turn as he raced into the turn, only to have to lock up his brakes. He overshot the turn missing the narrow passage between posts, and almost ran into the barricade that is in place to prevent cars from driving on the path. His near accident was a signal to all others to slow down and make an easy transition onto the bike path. It also signaled the need to remain slow and to share the path with walkers, families with strollers, dogs, small kids on bikes with training wheels, and joggers. The whole pack relaxed and enjoyed the 12 mile per hour pace saying hello and good morning to all they encountered. Kevin took a quick read on his odometer to see what the average pace had been for the first 40 miles, and noticed 17 mph as the average. That is fabulous for the distance and the number of hills presented in the day’s route. At one point on the bike path it travels thru a tunnel under Highway 55. It is in this tunnel that the young “SPIRIT” of the riders is expressed as each shouts at the top of their lungs a “Primordial Scream of the Conquer”. Everyone’s ears were ringing as they exited the other end of the tunnel, each having added to the decibel count. Everyone traversed the various narrow spots of the bike path without issue. Steve and his Son Eric pulled off the path as it passed within feet of their house. “Great Ride Guys, See you next weekend” as they waved and made their turn to home. The remaining navigational maneuvers had the pack leaving the path onto Davis drive then onto Waldo Rood where “Down Hill Racer” said his goodbye prior to the turn onto Cary Parkway. The pack rode safely down Cary Parkway and into the parking lot at Brueggers. The “Thorns” were already there having charged well ahead. They had elected to follow much of the same route however did not do the cool down on the bike path but rather continued to attack each other on additional hills of Wimberly, Jenks, Holt, and the ugly hill on Jenks Carpenter Road before turning onto High House and the downhill attack that always takes place there.

Comment from Sheila Augustine a "Rose" turned "Stem"
She recalls eariler letting the ride leader know of her desire to step it up but with a contraint.
Sheila was heard at the start saying
"I can't do 50 miles today - i have a time issue"

In the end she commented
"turns out we rode so fast 16-17 mph (not exact) that we were back in time!!
thanks "

So the major difference between the “Thorns” and the “Stems” are as follows:

The “Thorns” hate to wait
The “Thorns” love to attack
The “Thorns” must be controlled at the start of the ride or no one will ever see them until the end
The “Thorns” anticipate every green light, and will shoot through intersections timing their safe passage between cars, and assuming everyone else is looking out for themselves
The “Thorns” love hills and love to dance to the top as quick as possible
The “Thorns” only stop when “GOG” tells them to.
The “Thorns” take no prisoners
The “Thorns” keep score of who is first to the top, or the county line, or city limits
The “Thorns” will tolerate the “Stems” if they have to or until “GOG” turns them loose.
The “Thorns” will chitchat with everyone (only to judge how winded the others are so they can plan their attack against them)
The “Thorns” view 50 miles as a warm-up or recovery level ride.
The “Thorns” know during the ride how many watts they produce and how that is comparing with their heart rate
The “Thorns” never tire
The “Thorns” are plagued at the end of the ride thinking they need to do more miles.

The “Stems” all start out thinking they are “Thorns”
The “Stems” do not chit chat much (they are usually too winded)
The “Stems” are slower at the start of the ride
The “Stems” are not as quick to clip in and take off from stoplights
The “Stems” rarely recognize when an attack is being mounted
The “Stems” suck rear wheels for as long as possible, and as close as possible
The “Stems” fatigue with miles and speed being the contributing factors
The “Stems” accept hills as an element of a good ride and work to not fall below 9 mph on any climb other than LYSTRA.
The “Stems” need rest stops.
The “stems” usually ask each other at the end of the ride how far they went and what the pace was.
The “Stems” usually finish the ride 2 – 3 mph slower on average than the “Thorns” (who could have gone even faster but “GOG” didn’t turn them loose soon enough).
The “Stems” all feel great about their accomplishments and how much they continue to improve.

The “Roses” are consistent in their mission and objectives for riding.
The “Roses” love to start out riding at a pace that allows for casual conversation.
The “Roses” feel good just to be out in the fresh air and to be exercising
The “Roses” possess an untainted SPIRIT of the rides. To stay safe, enjoy each other’s company, and to not take it too seriously.

IT is the intent of these rides to support the goals and objectives of all who bless the group with their presence. We hope you all enjoy the rides and continue to make this a dynamic group and help each other improve to the levels desired.
Remember it is all about the banter and not about the bike.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

End of May weekend rides

Saturday May 30

Those in attendance:
Representing the Roses
Theresa Smit
Traci Clanton
Beth Gonzales
Lori Brogden
Sheila Augustine

Representing the Thorns and Stems

Jeffery Roussel – “Down Hill Racer”
Todd Spain – “TriTodd”
Josh Carter – “Moving Violation”
Doug Augustine
Rion Augusine
Tom Plant
Ron Clanton
Bill Roberts – first time with the group
Dwight Mouton SP – introduced to the group through Steve Sparano - first time back on the bike after a bad crash last season
Jeff Giordano – introduced to the group Through Steve Sparano
Ernest Davis – getting in shape for Blood Sweat and Gears
Tim Devinney – “Fast Tim” – “The Love Train”
Kevin Smit – “GOG”

Those doing the 3 mountain climb near mount airy
Steve Cope – “Capn Carbon”
Jim Palistrant
Dayn – McBee
Susanne McBee

The weather was perfect for a bike ride, and with the earlier start the temperatures were mild through out the ride.

The pack took some extra time getting ready, as there were several new faces to be introduced.
The pack was off and flowed through the backside of Brueggers and onto High House for a short distance prior to diving into the Preston neighborhood. The Roses were quick to fall off the pace as the Thorns and Stems rode together through and then out of Preston.

Kevin directed the pack to make a right turn onto Lewis Stevens with the intent to ride behind Green Hope High School. This section of road is hillier and dotted with many parked cars. This would be used to keep the early pace down and the group held together. Kevin was also hopeful that without Steve Cope the group would settle into an organized pace line at a comfortable average speed of 17 mph. This would allow the Thorns and Stems to ride the entire route without splintering into two packs.

Just as the group road past the backside of Green Hope TriTodd announced he had just received his 30th flat tire for the season. All in the group stopped and waited for him to change his tire. This was also were Rion demonstrated the proper slow fall technique for when you are unable to pull your foot out of the peddles in time. All witnessed the technique and Rion received high marks for the slow motion action and the choice he made of falling away from traffic and onto soft grass. Well Done.

After a quick tire change the pack was off again directed to stay the coarse straight ahead on down Lewis Stevens and towards Miami Blvd. The pace was well maintained at 15 mph until Josh “Moving Violation” pushed his way through the pack and to the front. Once Josh was at the front the entire pack found the pace jumped to 19 mph.

So much for maintaining control.

The group continued to press as all made the left turn onto Old Raleigh-Durham Road and then the turn onto Miami. Another left turn at Emperor Blvd and Miami had the pack still together and at a reasonable pace back down around 17 mph. Then with the left turn onto Davis the group exploded into two with one group pressing well over 20 mph leaving others like “GOG”, Rion, Doug, Ron, and Ernest to wonder who it was that sent everyone else into a break away.

The “Love Train” was the first to the next intersection at Kit Creek and made the right turn with such confidence that all others followed without question. The pack all sat up and waited by coasting until all riders were reunited at the intersection of 55 and Alston. This lasted only long enough for everyone to make the next turn onto Alston with the group attacking each other on the short climbs to Old Kelley Chapel.

The pack clearly needed to be splintered with half the group ready to be turned loose to attack each other on the hills of Old Kelley and the other half needing to work together to encourage one another to make the climbs. The traffic was beginning to build as the morning unfolded. All cars and trucks on the days ride were providing for a safe passing experience. The group continued to splinter as the “Thorns” attacked but did not destroy each other, and the “Stems” each did a solo effort to make each climb.

A short stop at the top of Old Kelley and 751 allowed “GOG” to warn everyone of the expected increase in traffic and to also let the “Thorns” know of the next turn at Stage Coach. “GOG” was not part of the “Thorns” on the days ride and was looking for someone in that group he could anoint as the “Thorns” ride leader. This would allow that group to put the hammer down without having to constantly stop or circle to wait on the “Stems”.
The “Thorns” needed no further permission and even without a formal ride leader they took off like bullets from a machine gun towards the next turn on 751 and Stage Coach. The “stems” formed a single file pace line to allow for the heavier traffic and to work together on the hills.

Once at the corner of Stage Coach the “Thorns” were seen slowing only for an instant to ensure the “Stems” were still on their bikes. At that point “GOG” jumped the gap between the two groups and zoomed to the lead rider of the “Thorns” “OK TriTodd, you are now the ride leader of the Thorns, Take them from here on in, You can throw Lystra, or Big Woods, or both, or whatever you choose at these riders”. “You OK with taking the lead?”. Kevin directed and then asked. “Will Do” replied TriTodd. With that Kevin slowly faded back to the “Stems” to let them know they would be turning the “Thorns” Loose while the “Stems” would maintain a more reasonable 17 – 19 mph pace.

There were no arguments from either group.
The split did not fully form during the run on Stage Coach. The two groups actually melded into one up to and thru the two left turns that were required to navigate from Stage Coach and onto Old Farrington.

Once onto Old Farrington and at the base of its first climb the split became permanent. The “Thorns” scampered on up the hill and were quickly out of sight of the “Stems”. Those forming the “Thorns” included; TriTodd, Bill, Josh (moving violation), Jeffery (down hill Racer), The Love Train, Tom Plant, and Dwight Mouton.

The “Stems” consisted of; “GOG”, Ron, Doug, Rion, Ernest, and Jeff Giordano. This group rode a very controlled pace and remained together working in the pack to keep everyone in tow. The pace set by the “Stems” on Old Farrington fluttered between 17 and 19 mph. With each rider concentrating on the pace line work there was little if any conversation. As the miles on Farrington rolled by the “Stems” began to see individual riders in the distance. These were splintered “Thorns” who had fallen off the pace line and were now stuck in no man’s land riding solo.

These two solo riders were absorbed into the “Stems” at the intersection of Old Farrington and Farrington Post road. Both Tom Plant and Dwight Mouton were welcomed into the “Stems” pace line as they turned towards the rest stop at the Gas Station at Lystra and Farrington. The “Stems” were growing and the “Thorns” were shedding.

Once at the Gas Station the “Stems” found another contingency from the “Thorns”. Waiting there were Jeffery Roussel (Down Hill Racer), Josh Carter (Moving Violation), and Tim Divinney (The Love Train). Missing were Todd Spain (TriTodd), and Bill Roberts.

Apparently there was a split in the “Thorns” desire to do more miles or head for home.
After a brief rest and a long Bio Break by Rion the two groups were ready to head out.
Josh (Moving Violation), Jeffery (Down Hill Racer), and Tim (The Love Train) all elected to do more miles that included a run up Jack Benet and a fast downhill run on Lystra. The others: Kevin (GOG), Doug, Rion, Ron, Jeff G, Tom, and Dwight all elected to head for home as direct and with as few hills as possible.

“GOG” led out the pack that was headed for home. He pulled the entire length of Farrington from Lystra to Lake Jordan. As he passed by Martha Chapel it was clear he had his sights set on pushing towards and then up “Kevin’s Crawl”. Normally when the pack reaches that point in the ride the pace is down around 15 mph which allows Kevin to then produce a slow build in speed during the incline. On today’s ride the pack hit the bottom of “Kevin’s Crawl” the pace was already 20 mph which is usually the max reached during the climb. Kevin needed to dig deep if he was to ramp up the pace as the climb was just beginning to unfold. “GOG” found some secret energy as he pulled the group along cresting the climb at 23 mph. Best effort yet for the old man on “Kevin’s Crawl”.

A short pause by the group at the turn onto Holland Chapel was followed by a smooth pace line with a very consistent 19 mph. The pack then made the quick right and left at the end of Holland Chapel putting them onto Luter Shop road at the Strawberry patch.
Again the group worked to form a protective pace line allowing all to cover the ground at the 17 to 19 mph pace. As the county Line loomed ahead “GOG” pulled out of his position in the draft and announced “Race to the County Line – Just where the pavement changes color”. Then he jumped on the pedals to entice any and all who may want to join in the fun. The only other person to accept the challenge was Dwight who fell into position just behind “GOG”. With only 50 ft to the county line “GOG” was fully spun out and looking to shift to the next big gear as Dwight’s front tire drifted passed to take the win. “GOG” had hit 32 mph in his short sprint attempt only to lose in the last few feet.

Once the sprint was over the two riders settled back into the pace line to finish the run down Luter Shop and then onto Green Hope High School road. Once onto Green Hope High School road Kevin asked Doug to take the group on to the finish as he was going to circle back to see that Ron and Ernest were OK since the two had fallen off the pace line.

Kevin did not have to travel back very far as he quickly spied the two riders riding side-by-side chit chatting and enjoying the last few miles towards the finish. Kevin hooked up with these two and rode with them to the railroad crossing were they met up with the group being led by Doug. The pack now back together all rode the last 3 miles to the finish.

The “Thorns” were still out on the road as the “Stems” completed 43 miles at a solid 16+ mph pace. It was later learned that the “Thorns” completed 48 miles at a 17+ pace. The group also learned that on the run down Lystra “The Love Train” blew past “Down Hill Racer” who was maxed out at 46 mph. “The Love Train” apparently hit 49 mph at that point.

The Roses did 36 miles at a strong 15 + mph pace and are looking to step it up a notch and are considering joining the “Stems” on the next rides.

Sunday May 31.
Those in attendance

Theresa Smit
Kevin Smit – “GOG”
Steve Cope – “Capn Carbon” – back from Saturdays 3 mountain climb ride
Jim Palistrant – also back from Saturdays 3 mountain climb ride
Josh Carter – “Moving Violation”
Tim Devinney – “The Love Train”
Doug Augustine
Sheila Augustine
Carrie Zelna
Don Zelna
Sara Matetowsky – another Triassolete – who did very well in her first Triathlon.
Emil Velasquez – first time with the group – and Sara’s neighbor
Patti Lewis
Paul Lewis – fist time with the group
Lori Brogden
Kirsten Hawkins – Joined up with the pack in Preston
Laura Spell

As the Group assembled they were enlightened with the Saturday 3 Mountain assault results. “Capn Carbon” had a monster ride completing the distance of 70ish miles and 3 large assents in 4hrs and 5 min. He completed the event in 6th or 9th place but was in 3rd at the bottom of the last and most challenging climb up Mount Pilot when he cramped and had to stop to take on fluids.
Jim Palistrant was pleased with his performance, however when he learned of “Capn’s” performance he was heard muttering “I have a long way to go to match your skill”.

We also learned the Dayne and Suzanne McBee road as a team and did very well. Please make sure you ask each of them separately how they did and how they liked the ride.

It was announced by Kevin that everyone was planning to ride (start) together for as long as possible and that the ride would be considered a recovery ride.

Everyone listened and accepted this information as the truth. They were all also looking at the sky as it was threatening Rain. “The rain will stay north of us and we will head south past Apex”, “If it does start to drizzle you may need to position yourselves just outside the rear wheel of the person ahead of you to avoid being drowned by the spray”, “Please do not overlap the persons rear wheel with your front tire” was the next set of instructions from “GOG”.

Enough preaching from the ride leader and the pack was off out of the parking lot and into the Preston Neighborhood. It was at the top of the first climb were the group was joined by Kirsten who had timed her start to join the pack at that spot.

As the group continued the route thru Preston Lori was asking others to see if her bike was set up correctly for her. She has been having some knee pain, which is a sign that minor adjustments maybe needed for a better fit. It is debatable if the seat needs to be lowered, and the seat shifted very slightly forward. It was also suggested that Lori peddle more with her heals down rather than in a tippy toe fashion. If she elects to adjust the seat height it would be best to not lower it more than a ¼ inch at first, then ride it for a while before adjusting any more.
At the same time it was noticed that Don Zelna could likely raise his seat ever so slightly to allow for fuller peddle stroke.

As the pack rolled out of Preston they all made the left turn off of Lewis Stevens towards High House and the run towards Holt road and then Apex. The long climb up to Holt on Jenks Carpenter scattered the bikers as each struggled with this early climb. A short pause to let the pack reassemble and the group was directed to make a left onto Holt towards Apex. Still no rain as the pack continued to head south away from the dark clouds to the north. As the pack closed in on Davis and N Salem road Lori told Kevin that she would likely turn back early do to her knee pain, and that she was feeling the effects of Saturdays ride with the Roses. He made sure she had a cell phone with her in case she ran into mechanical issues and that she knew her way home. She assured him she would be fine and said she would let them know when she peels off.

The pack was now rolling into Apex and the lousy pothole filled road of N Salem. A single file draft line allowed the group to pick up speed resulting in several riders being strung out at the end of the line. “GOG” was near the front and was looking in his mirror to see if all were accounted for. As he reached a stoplight in the center of town he realized that Lori was not with the pack. Theresa and a group of cyclists rolled past Kevin as he continued to wait for the tail end of the pace line. Theresa attempted to yell to him that Lori had already elected to peel off and head for home, however Kevin did not hear this (old age and loss of hearing the likely cause). After waiting another minute or two Kevin elected to turn back and ride towards any trailing riders. He rode to the edge of Apex without seeing anyone. Deciding Lori must have headed for home Kevin now turned back towards the planed route and pushed to see if he could bridge the gap to the other riders. In the distance he could see Theresa who apparently was now waiting on him to tell him that Lori had turned back – DUH.
Kevin and Theresa now stopped at the light on Salem and Highway 55 with no other riders in sight and the rain beginning to wet the road. At the green light the two riders headed for Tingen and the expected fast pace it always produces. Up over the railroad tracks signaling the start of Tingen, the two riders saw a large pack of cyclists sitting on their bikes in the school parking lot to the right. The pack had pulled up waiting for all to arrive. This would allow for a large fast pace line to be formed resulting in high speeds for all to enjoy. Theresa slowed to take a place in the pack as Kevin continued on down Tingen maintaining his speed. “What, are we not going to ride due to the rain” he taunted the other riders as he slid past their location.

The usual suspects jumped immediately to swallow up Kevin and to take control of the pace. The pack scurried as best it could resulting in a degree of controlled chaos that slowed the formation of the draft line for a brief moment. Sensing this at the front of the pace line the ride leaders continued to maintain speed until the pack had sorted itself out and all were now in a position to hang on as best they could. The pace continued to build with speeds reaching 29 mph. Many remained in tow, as each rider is getting much better in the technique of drafting.
As Tingen becomes Woods Creek road the flat fast section of road now transforms into undulating hills, some short and steep, others long and gradual. It is here that the pack is always splintered with the strongest riders attacking on each rise in the road. The rain had already let up at this point but the road was still damp.
Each rider was left to do their own style of hill climbing and to get to the next intersection as best they could.
At the corner of Woods Creek and Friendship the riders were allowed to regroup as those that got there first also got the longest rest.

“OK” “Thorns you are free to go and do your own thing” “I will take the Stems on a more gentle pace from here”, “The route from here is the same one we did last time it rained on us”, “make the left here onto Friendship, at the T intersection make the right onto New Hill Holliman, then look for Tody Goodwin on the left half way up a climb on the curve and take that left onto Tody Goodwin”, “Then at the next T intersection turn right onto Beaver Dam and take it to the gas station at Wilson Ville”, “From there take it on home any way you choose”, “Steve you got that” was the information provided by “GOG” to the “Thorns” and their newly anointed ride leader “Capn Carbon”.

“Also everybody there is a down hill and bridge just up ahead that has bad pot holes and a lip in the road at the bridge, please go thru there carefully, also just before the stop sign at the T intersection is another patch of bad pot holes”, Kevin went on to explain.

“How far are we planning to ride” was a question from within the pack. “I am estimating 40 ish miles” was “GOG’s “ reply. “Some Recovery Ride” was Theresa’s response.

The “Thorns” consisting of “Capn Carbon”, “Down Hill Racer”, “Moving Violation”, “The Love Train’, Emil, Sara, Don, and Carrie needed no more rest and jumped on the peddles. At the same time the “Stems” continued to think about getting back into the saddle.
Jim Palistrant elected to turn right and head directly for home having accomplished all he was looking for in a recovery ride.

The group was now down one “Thorn”, and one “Rose/Stem”.

The “Thorns” were already out of site before the “Stems” began their run down Friendship.

“So what is your definition of a Recovery Ride” Doug asked Kevin.
“Well I would expect maybe the same mileage but at a much gentler pace” was his reply. Looking at the speedometer the group had been averaging just under 15 mph so Kevin was confident that he had so far engineered a good recovery ride, knowing he was also pushing the “Roses” to ride further and faster than they normally do. His intent was to help them step it up a notch to build their conditioning and confidence.

At the corner of Friendship and New Hill Holleman Patty asked if there was a short cut they could take to reduce the mileage some. Paul had not been on his bike for years and was beginning to fade slightly. Kevin considered this request and said “Yes, we can ride past the turn onto Tody Goodwin and get you and Paul to the spot you do your Monday morning rides, from there you can cross over Highway 64 and then take Jenks on back to the start, that will knock off about 4 miles from the planned route”. “The rest can then still turn from there and hook up with the original planned rout further down Tody Goodwin” Kevin went on to inform the group.

With this new information the pack of “Stems” consisting of “GOG”, Theresa, Patty, Paul, Doug, Sheila, Laura, and Kirsten all headed onto New Hill Holleman as the rain was again beginning to dampen the roads. The pace was maintained with all in tow as the riders road single file on this busy section of road. Just as the group reached the next major intersection “GOG” recognized yet a better short cut home for Patty and Paul.
“If you guys want a great short cut that will put you home in 4 – 6 miles from here then turn right here onto old Highway 1 and it dumps you right back in the heart of Apex without any hills” Kevin chirped with delight.
Patty and Paul thanked him for that great information and headed towards home on old Highway One.

The rest of the pack now down two more “Stems” rode on across Old Highway one and towards the original destination of Tody Goodwin and beyond. The “Stems” were now down 3 riders in total from the days start. The group worked hard to stay together in a draft line, however even with their best efforts several took turns falling off the back especially when the road began to expose additional hills to the group. Tody Goodwin was ridden at sustained speeds of 19 mph which is difficult in itself but with the rough pavement making it even more challenging. The group did not stop as they swung into the right turn onto Beaver Dam road and charged forward the remaining 2 miles to the rest stop at the gas station at Highway 64 (Wilson Ville).

As the “Stems” glided to a stop at the gas station they were met by a bike group who had started their ride at Salt Box Village doing 50 miles, and the “Thorns” who were now fully rested and ready for more fun on the bike. Carrie Zelna was still smiling and busy chit chatting with anyone and everyone. She is a female version of the group’s social chairman “Capn Carbon”.

“What way are you heading back?” “Capn Carbon” asked “GOG”.
“I figure we will go back the most direct and flattest possible, which means turning at Holland Chapel” was “GOG’s” response.

“I have never done LYSTRA” Don Zelna informed the group.
Clearly he had not yet been challenged by the pace or distance the “Thorns” were doing.
“We just may have to throw LYSTRA into the Mix” taunted “Capn Carbon”.

“Any of the Thorns want to join us for the last few miles is welcomed to do so” announced “GOG”. Emil did not need any further invitation, and “The Love Train”, and “Down Hill Racer” gave it some consideration.

“We going to lollygag all day or ride” bellowed the “Thorns” leader as he mounted his bike. And just that quick his rag tag band of “Thorns” fell in line.

Others elected to wave goodbye in order to provide for a well-deserved rest and bio break.
Once all “Stems” were fully hydrated the group moved towards the stop light that would provide safe passage across Highway 64 and onto Farrington road. “Green Light”, “Yellow Light” shouted Kevin as he and half the “Stems” jumped across the intersection, only to scoot past as the light was now red preventing the rest of the “Stems” from following suit. After a long wait the next green allowed the remaining “Stems” the opportunity to join Kevin and the others who were all waiting on the other side of the road. Back together the “Stems” were now up 1 but down two overall, having had 3 head for home earlier.

The pace line formed once more allowing for speeds again to reach 19 mph as the pack made its way to the turn onto Holland Chapel road. As the pack made the turn the pace slowed briefly allowing all to take a drink from water bottles. Then slowly the pack fell back into a tight formation and the pace once again began to build back to the 19 mph range. This pattern of riding continued thru the turn at the Strawberry Patch and well down Luter Shop Road. The only exception was again at the County Line where it is mandatory to sprint for the County Line. The only two who took up that challenge were Doug Augustine and “GOG” with the two battling it out at over 30 mph. The Victory went to “GOG” with Doug hot on his heals.

The ride then continued on to familiar Cary Roads to the dismount and walking of bikes across the railroad tracks in front of Green Hope High School.

The last 4 miles now lay ahead with Kirsten peeling off from the pack at Lewis Stevens so she could ride back into Preston were she had joined the ride. The rest of the “Stems” now down by 1 finished the days “RECOVERY” ride having ridden 43 miles at just under 16 mph. The group had actually ridden the second half of the ride must faster resulting in increasing their average speed form under 15 to just under 16 mph for the days ride.
Well done “Roses/Stems”.

The “Thorns” were already at the finish having done 45 miles at close to 17 mph pace. The “Thorns” had ridden past Holland Chapel and elected to push hard up Martha’s Chapel for their finish route home.

A great day of biking even with the threat of Rain.