Sunday, October 04, 2009

Leadership shatters others step up to fill the void

Saturday October 3rd

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when Capn arrived at the Caribou caffeine dispensing location at 7:30. Capn was expecting a huge turnout as this was the last ride without the GOG and Mother Teresa which means there would be no need to ride "In the Spirit" of their goofy rules and undocumented ride laws. After enjoying a fresh cup of Java with Jeff (not #6, not with the broken collar bone, not downhill racer, aka Claim Jumper and more recently Sand Bagger), the 2 warriors came around the corner to a light turnout in the parking lot - WHAT???

The group of Thorns preparing for the day's adventure included:
Debra - don't call me Debbie!!!
Philip - don't spell my name with 2 L's!!!! (you gotta be kidding me, one should never give out this type of pet peeve info)
Jeff - Claim Jumper/Sand Bagger
David Cole - #7 - he rides a "Seven" bicycle and is always wearing "Seven" branded outfits just like Tracie (Capn thought these were women only clothes)
Christy - Pink Triathlete/Pinky
Tim - The Love Train and provider of entertainment
Todd - Slow Todd
Christine - Slow Todd's better half
James - Mr. NC State - Red Man
Shawn - Green Flash/Yellow Jacket (read on for 2nd nickname)
Josh - Moving Violation/Barfie (don't read on if you have a weak stomach)
Joe Pitman - Mr. Immortal
Steve - Capn Carbon

Based on the initial conversations in the parking lot, the group knew the banter would be intense all ride long as the group was punchie. First, the Green Flash showed up on a brand new black and gold fixed gear bike - very nice. This immediately drew attention from Capn who said he better watch out or he might hit a car on a bike with no brakes. OK, insider information from James (don't tell the Green Flash) was that the Green Flash picked up his new fixie last week and unfortunately had an accident with a car just miles after leaving the bike shop - OUCH - he and the bike are OK. The Green Flash just looked at Capn like he wanted to break his neck and the conversation ended right there. Then the Green Flash demanded a new nickname as his new bike was not green at all and he wore no green clothing. Capn immediately gave him the name of Yellow Jacket (based on all the gaudy black and gold crap on his bike) as he was sure that Shawn will still deliver a mighty sting with his new ride even though he only had 1 gear and NO brakes. Then Cristy started yapping about her upcoming night out to the U2 concert. She mentioned that her party was heading to Hooters on the way to the concert and that she was not happy about that choice. Capn then asked Christy why not as he thought she worked there. James and the Yellow Jacket quickly chuckled and chimed in teasing Kristi. Then Kristi gave the guys "The Look of Death" and the boys shut up. The ride finally got rolling at around 8:10 with everyone chatting about their plans for the day. Capn had to bail out early to do the Raleigh Typhoon scavenger hunt, Love Train had to be back by 10 to meet a client, Moving Violation had to get back to spend time with The Dish, Claim Jumper wanted to get back for a swim, Debra was tired from placing 2nd place in the Senior Time Trial Championships recently (awesome job), Christy wanted to be fresh for her U2 concert, Phillip was not up for more than 35 miles and jumped on the opportunity to get back early, and Immortal had to get back to watch a football game. The only riders not making excuses for taking a shorter ride included #7, Yellow Jacket, and James. Through Preston and on to Ron's Pull the group rolled with never a quiet moment. The peloton picked up Slow Todd and his wife Christine heading through the neighborhoods which was an unpleasant surprise (sorry Christine). Christine had not been riding much as was a little nervous about riding with the Thorns. Capn told her that she would be fine and that it was Slow Todd that he was worried about not being able to keep up. Along the way, Phillip was asking what he has to do to gain a nickname as this was his second ride and felt somewhat left out. Capn replied that Phillip only needed to do or say something (anything) that you might regret and he will earn a nickname very quickly! Then Philip got real quiet and got back into the pace line. Once on Ron's Pull, the pace started cranking up as expected. The Yellow Jacket was the first to break out of the pace line and sprinted to the lead which drew the attention of #7, Moving Violation, Capn, and Immortal who jumped right on his single gear heels. After the Yellow Jacket ran out of gear (duhh), Immortal put the hammer down and shocked everyone with a huge surge of power and acceleration. Immortal had Capn pinned onto the right shoulder and very cleverly had him boxed in as the finish line quickly approached. At the last minute, Immortal (Joe) drifted toward the left and that was all Capn needed to squeeze past him on the right for a very very close finish. Even though Capn won, the group voted and demanded that the money be split based on Immortal's stellar performance.
GOG owes Capn and Immortal $50 each.
Cross 55, past the fire station and a left onto the road that is called Upchuck Hill. As usual, the Love Train blasted down the hill followed closely by Moving Violation and Capn who thanked him for the draft and then dropped the Love Train like an old and big rock. Then out of nowhere, Josh unleashed an assault up the mighty incline that could not be matched by anyone including Capn and Red Man. Josh easily won the climb today. Capn wants a blood test of Josh or will protest the results.
GOG owes Moving Violation $100 - pending a clean lab result with concurrence from the International Olympic Committee.
A right, then left, then right put the group down to the Strawberry Patch. Down 751 and finally a left onto some woman's chapel road. It was here that Slow Todd and his better half Christine decided to separate from the group and head home. Christine mentioned to Capn that Slow Todd could no longer hold onto the pace line and was embarrassed. Slow Todd's excuse was that he had to run and Christine had to check on the kids.
Everyone else got in a tight pace line as the much anticipated sprint to the lake was just a few miles down the road. The pace got quicker and quicker and #7 pulled the group down the hill at a sustained 28+mph with his massive calves busting at the seams - WOW. As the lake approached, Capn took the pull position and knew he was being set-up for a mighty sand bagging from the field. Capn clicked down to his biggest gear (53x12) and slowly climbed out of his saddle while looking back to see who would challenge. All of a sudden, the road filled up with a massive field sprint with Sand Bagger, Moving Violation, and Yellow Jacket all at full throttle bearing down quickly with Immortal, Red Man, Love Train, Kristy, Phillip, and Debbie hot on their heels. Leveraging his ride leader card, Capn quickly raised his hands and claimed victory even though it was clearly well before the finish line. This did not stop the mad group of sprinters who surged toward the real line and blew past Capn. The finish was too close to call from Capn's vantage point. A gentleman's tie was declared between Moving Violation and Yellow Jacket with Sand Bagger wishing he went a little sooner. Christy said that Capn was a premature ejection sprinter and a dirty racer.
GOG owes Moving Violation and Yellow Jacket $50 each.
At the lake (man is it LOW), the group made the decision to split up to accommodate those wanting more miles and those with major excuses for a shorter ride. The Love Train immediately turned around and blasted back on his own as he had to be back by 10. Yellow Jacket, James, and #7 took a right with plans to do Big Woods. The rest of the group agreed to limp back home. At that point, Josh told Capn to head on up the road as he was not feeling well but would catch up later. The group reluctantly rode on but then looked back to see Moving Violation leaning over the guard rail and hurling projectiles toward the lake - gross! Apparently, Josh pushed it a little too hard with the sprint to the lake or maybe never recovered from his earlier Olympic effort on UPCHUCK Hill. The group gave Josh his privacy and rode on up to the Strawberry Patch where they waited for him. Josh eventually showed up and was a little embarrassed - as he should be. Kristy appropriately branded him a new nickname - Barfie. There were other suggestions but they were not appropriate for printing in this blog. On the group rode toward the much anticipated County Line and associated cash prize. Everyone had written off Josh due to his recent "incident". As the line approached, the rest of the peloton started getting excited and started looking at each other for the first to make their move. Capn could not take it any longer and put the hammer down which got #7, Immortal, Sand Bagger, and YES Josh out of their saddles. In a side-by-side drag race, Barfie nipped Capn at the line by less than a wheel. This earned new respect from the peloton for Josh as they have never seen anyone go from hurling to a sprint victory so fast.
GOG owes Josh $100, some mouthwash, and a clean shirt.
A left and then right put the group heading through Nicole's Roller Coasters and toward the coffee shop. After turning onto Capn's Graveyard, the group saw an Older Gentleman (he was not glistening so it was not another GOG) pushing his bike near down the road. Phillip approached the guy and asked if he was OK. The old man (I would guess 75-80 or about GOG's age) said he picked up a nail in his rear tire and that he had no extra tube. Bob (the old man's name) said he pulled the nail out of the tire and then tried to re-inflate the tire with a CO2 cartridge - what was he thinking? Claim Jumper, Capn, and Phillip quickly went into bike shop repair mode and replaced his tube with one of Philip's extras. A quick shot of CO2 and Bob was back on the road and very thankful for the support. Everyone in the ride group chucked and wished that they could still ride a bike at that age. Bob was on a really nice bike with full lycra riding gear - how cool was that?
GOG owes Phillp $8 to replace his tube and $4 for a CO2 cartridge.
Everyone saddled up and rolled down Capn's Graveyard toward High House road. As expected, Capn assumed the "pull" position and steadily cranked up the pace - 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28+. The peloton stayed tight until the very end with Sand Bagger surging past Capn to be the first one to the end of the road. Since Sand Bagger did no pulling, Capn is suggesting that no payment should be made by GOG. When asked about his Sand Bagging riding style, Jeff (not #6, not with the broken collar bone, not downhill racer) got defensive and said most bike racers call this "strategy" and was offended by Capn's questioning. In summary, the definition of a Sand Bagger is a rider who stays in the draft line all day and takes no pulls. The Sand Bagger then attacks at the end of the day after everyone else who did all of the pulling is tired. Whatever.
The group ended up riding 35 miles at 18.4 mph - great ride, especially Debbie, Phillip, and Immortal!
Shortly afterwards, the other group that included #7, Yellow Jacket, and James came rolling into the parking lot. #7 reported that they rode 47 miles and had an awesome ride. Capn asked #7 if anything happened that was blog worthy? #7 quickly gave his account of the County Line. #7 said that he was determined to win the sprint (and needed the money for another woman's jersey) and did not want to give the other 2 guys a chance. He devised a plan to cranked up the pace early in hopes for a clean break-away with no sprint. Unfortunately, Yellow Jacket (on his single speed bike) was quick to respond and chased down #7 to a reported gentleman's tie to the line.
GOG owes #7 and Yellow Jacket $50 each.

Sunday Oct 4th

Those in attendance
Steve Cope – Capn Carbon
John Majikes – Story Teller
Jill Fitzgibbons
Patti Lewis
– Patti Melt
Theresa Smit – Mother Theresa
Carrie Zelna – Mother Goose
Sarah Matejowsky
Karen Long
– done with Tri Season and riding her old road bike
Jeff Giordano – Claim Jumper/Sand bagger
Tim Devinney – The Love Train
Kevin Smit – GOG
Frank Lewis
Josh Carter – Moving Violation
Brian Martin – also back from the CNC (Cycle North Carolina)

The Smits were there having just returned late the night before from their fun filled Bike ride across NC. This is an event that would be even more fun with the Thorns and Roses all participating. Imagine a week full of Banter and Biking.
GOG was riding his fixed gear and quickly designed a route that would be flat.
After all were ready to ride the group headed out onto the streets of Cary traveling as usual into the Preston neighborhood. GOG found himself at the front of the pace line and without a speedometer had no clue what the pace was. The pack was directed right at the Yellow Barn rather than the normal left. This continued to help keep the pack together and still had GOG at the front of the pace lines. The pace was strong and yet not so strong to drop anyone in the pack. The group continued along Lewis Stevens as it travels behind Green Hope and on towards RTP. On one occasion the group was forced to jump through a red light at 55 due to the in ability to trip the light sensor. The pack wound their way to highway 54 and had no issues with traffic on the cool sunny Sunday Morning. GOG still leading the group directed them left onto Hopson road and back towards Highway 55. They group crossed Highway 55 onto Alston Ave. It was at this point that the pack began to dissolve. Mother Theresa was still feeling the effects of 7 days of biking and was unable to sustain the pace as the pack headed into the hilly section of the days ride. The pack slowed as it closed in on O’Kelly to see if they could protect the rider that had fallen off the pace. This action did not produce the desired results as Mother Theresa was totally spent. She was being protected by Mother Goose and Story Teller as they elected to ride along side her and to provide chit chat to help her take her mind off the effort. The rest of the pack continued right onto O’Kelly and then a left onto Yates store. It was there that the pack splintered even more as folks now had an idea of how to get back home and where to jump in with CSH as it heads out of town on their standard Sunday ride.
“OK Capn you lead those that are with you to Upchuck and then straight to Cary Glenn” I will hang back and make sure everyone else who does not want to jump in with CSH get back to the finish.” GOG was heard as the group continued to divide.

GOG then circled at the corner of Yates Store and Carpenter Fire Station as one by one the various riders made their way towards UpChuck. In the distance he saw John (Story Teller) waving to GOG suggesting he should go on. John was signaling that all was OK and he had the group with him and would ensure all made it home safe. GOG continued to hold his pattern to see that all with John were accounted for. As he waited he recognized the move made by trailing groups ride leader. John was directing the small pack to make the left onto Carpenter Fire Station, avoiding UpChuck.
GOG was now the last one left of the Thorns to attack UpChuck solo. His fixed gear bike was prepared to race down the front of UpChuck spinning the peddles at such a high rate of rpms that it would bounce GOG on the seat. It was then up to GOG to maintain as high of rpm as possible if he was going to survive the steep climb on the other side.
GOG did not have the strength to carry the rpms into the bottom of the climb. Within the first few feet GOG was already realizing that he would be forced to stand and mash the peddles as best he could as he and the bike slowed to less than walking speeds.

Just after the top of UpChuck GOG hooked up with Jill. She was riding steady as they discussed the final stages planned for the days ride. “I realy need more miles today” Jill explained to GOG. “Well you could stay straight on Yates Store and turn right onto Green Level to the Strawberry patch, and then do any number of miles extra even from their” GOG went on to explain. “ That sounds good” answered Jill.
As these two riders were discussing this GOG recognized another member of the group who had fallen off the back of the thorns and who had missed the left turn towards Cary Glenn. It was Sara. She was at the dead end and was already making the turn to back track to the location where Jill and GOG were now waiving at her.
Jill and GOG made the left turn and headed towards Cary Glenn. GOG checked his mirror as they rolled on ahead of Sara and into the next curve. No Sara as in view as both Jill and GOG were now rolling into the Cary Glenn neighborhood and meeting up with Capn Carbon and the rest of the Thorns who were all waiting for the group to reassemble before attacking Nicole’s Roller Coaster. Jill said her good byes as she continued on her quest for extra miles. GOG still had no sighting of Sara who he felt should have been seen in the distance by this point. “Sara missed the last turn” he shouted to the group, and with that GOG made a U-Turn to race back in hopes of catching her and redirecting her towards the finish. GOG pushed hard all the way back to the top of UpChuck. No Sara. He then made the turn towards Mount Pisgah and rode down that road for a half mile and no Sara. CRAP. He then turned and headed back to the waiting pack.. Once pack to the group GOG rolled up to Mother Goose and asked if she had Sara’s cell phone number and if she would call her to determine were she was. The call was made and the group learned that Sara had indeed made the turn towards Mount Pisgah and was already closing in on High way 751. She was then given instructions on how to get to the strawberry patch and to expect to run into Jill who was riding towards her from the opposite direction. “Well done Capn you lost one of your riders” GOG poked at Capn Carbon. “ Your leadership skills are rusty from being gone so long and that is why you lost one of the riders” Capn poked right back at GOG.

As those two were bantering back and forth others in the group took on the leadership role. Mother Goose, The Love Train, and Claim Jumper all turned towards Green Level and the Strawberry patch to also ride towards the missing rider in an effort to help locate and then ride her into the finish.

GOG and Capn Carbon continued to trash each others leadership skills as they then led the remaining riders into Nicole’s Roller Coaster and towards Cary.

The CSH riders were intercepted at highway 55 with Capn Carbon, and Moving Violation pulling out of the Thorns to join this new group. Let it be known that both The Love Train, and Claim Jumper also joined in for extra miles after they had first rescued Sara and were bring her back toward Cary and the finish.

Now down to just 4 riders left Karen turned to GOG and asked.
“Do you think you can keep us all together these last few miles back to the finish”
GOG replied “I am clearly out of practice but will do my very best”.
All laughed as they knew even if GOG lost them they would know their way back to the finish from Capn’s Grave Yard were they currently found themselves.

The group was not a large one but splintered into many small pieces as the ride was in its last 10 miles. Clearly GOG is out of practice. Good thing there are others in the group to step in and take over the leadership role when it is recognized that GOG is not up for the challenge.

Thank You Love Train, Mother Goose, and Claim Jumper for your decisive and effective leadership on the last few miles of the days ride.

GOG has no clue how far or fast the group rode since he has not speedometer on his fixty.

Special note.
Jeff left after the ride to go for a swim
Jill finished her extra miles, loaded her bike on the back of her car and then went for a run.
GOG went home and sat on the couch.