Sunday, November 08, 2009

end of Season rides have begun

Saturday Nov 7th
The official start to the OFF season.
Those in attendance:
Ron Clanton
Jae Brainard
Theresa Smit – Mother Theresa
Kevin Smit – GOG
Shawn Richardson – Green Flash all though today he came as the Yellow Jacket on his black and Gold Fixed Gear bike. He is the Yellow Jacket on the fixed gear due to how he can STING you if you provoke him while he is on that bike.
Frank Lewis
Joe Pittman
– Mr. Immortal

The temperature was slowly climbing to 36 degrees as the riders all struggled with how many layers to put on for the days ride. Shoe Covers were all in order as were long fingered gloves. Several folks elected to wear a thin windbreaker expecting to have to shed it sometime during the ride. Jae was bundled up in her traditional winter wrap reminding all the cyclists of the young brother in the movie “A Christmas Story” . You know the one with the famous line “You will shoot your eye out”. Imagine the scene when Ralphie’s younger brother was sooo bundled up to go outside he could not move. That is Jae in the cooler months of the year when prepping for a bike ride.

The group had already been level set, via the email notice announcing the weekend rides, as to what type of ride and distance was to be provided. They were also informed that Capn Carbon would not be in attendance. This likely kept the Hammer Heads away since they would not have anyone to play with. These factors may have had an impact on the attendance levels. This participant wants to believe that the low attendance was do also in part by the many others who were in Wilmington participating in the Bridge to Battleship Triathlon. This next weekend will support one of the reasons for the low turnout.

The seven riders slowly mounted their bikes and rolled out of the parking lot, keeping the pace low as to minimize the impact of the cold air rushing past any bare skin. There was minimal chit chat and virtually no banter as the riders journeyed into and then out of the Preston Neighborhood. The only riders lamenting on the missing Capn Carbon was Frank. He was very curious as to what important non biking activity might have kept Capn Carbon from making the weekend rides. GOG shared with him all he knew on that subject. Apparnetly Capn and his Friend were spending the weekend with another couple on a weekend in the mountains of NC. Hmmmm maybe Capn can be distracted just a little.

As the group reached the first directional instructions GOG suggested Ron’s Pull as the next section of road for the cyclist’s journey. The Pace did not quicken, the draft line did not form into a tight single file. At one point just prior to Green Hope High School Ron rode up from the end of the line to ask if it was OK that he PUSH rather than PULL on this section of ride today. GOG assured RON that he was still in command of RON’s Pull and he could indeed lead from the rear rather than PULL from the Front. NO ONE was going to disrespect RON on his section of Road. All riders were happy to ride in the manner demonstrated by RON at that point in time. All riders were still in the pack as they finished RON’s Pull and prepared for the next section of road that would point them towards either UpChuck, or Cary Glenn, or O’Kelley.

As the riders rolled onto Carpenter Fire Station the pace id quicken slightly reaching 19 mph with GOG in the pull position. GOG was still working out the path for the days ride. Earlier he had considered leading everyone onto O’Kelley, 751, StageCoach, Farrington, and back home via Martha Chapel and the Strawberry patch. As he was just 4 miles into the ride GOG was already realizing that 4 or more weeks off the bike results in a pathetic performance with limited ability to climb, or sustain speeds over 16 mph. In addition he still had not taken his bike in for major servicing and was riding without the ability to shift his front derailleur. So GOG altered his plan for the days ride and directed the pack into Cary Glenn and it’s “Three Ugly Sisters”. This would result in a shorter route for the day and would bypass UpChuck in the process. The pack all followed his lead and soon were each planning how to best respond to the 3 short hills that lay between them and the exit of the Cary Glenn Neighborhood.
Yellow Jacket was riding comfortably as he swarmed around each of the riders with no apparent plan to attack unless provoked. Joe was the first to take a swat at the “Yellow Jacket” as he pushed the pace on the first hill in an effort to sneak away before his real attack on the last of the 3 Ugly Sisters. The Yellow Jacket followed at a distance to gauge Joe’s true intent. Frank was also sliding into the mix to participate in any swatting that might take place. Just as the three cyclists reached the bottom of the last climb one of them flinched which was all it took for the Frey to take place. Frank then Joe then Frank, then with the delayed acceleration produced by a gear ratio of 48 x 16 the “Yellow Jacket” was in full flight and zoomed by both Joe and Frank stinging them as he was the first to make the roundabout at the top of the climb. These three cyclists were able to circle a half dozen times before all the remaining riders completed the gauntlet laid down by the “Three Ugly Sisters”.

Noticing that at least half the group was ready for opportunities to attack each other GOG altered his route yet again. He made the decision then and there to add a few more hills and add a few more miles than his second designed route would provide for.

GOG directed the group to turn right out of Cary Glenn and head towards UpChuck from the opposite direction normally ridden on that section of road. “We will do the left turn just prior to UpChuck and head for Mount Pisgah” he was heard setting the next phase of the ride into concrete.

This was the beginning of the splintering of the group. It never fails that once provided with enough information the riders confidently plunge head on with the knowledge and some assumptions as to what and when they would need to hover for the next set of directions. This was no different. The 3 who had enjoyed attacking each other earlier were now pushing the pace well past 18 mph as they showed no hesitation of where they were headed or how they were going to get there. GOG found himself in No Man’s Land. He was planted squarely between Frank, Joe, and the “Yellow Jacket” group of riders and those behind him consisting of Jae, “Mother Theresa” and Ron. The leading group did slow slightly as they made the left turn onto Mount Pisgah allowing GOG to roll past them with all looking over their shoulder to make sure the trailing riders could see the maneuvers made by this leading group. It was here that the formal SPLIT was solidified. As GOG and the other 3 riders coasted into the first downhill of Mount Pisgah the trailing group elected to glide on past the turn and remained on a direct route towards 751. “They did not turn” Joe announced to the leading group. “That’s OK I know where they are going and I suspect they will get to Martha Chapel ahead of us” GOG responded. That was all the others needed to know and the attacks began as if someone shot off a starters pistol.

GOG was dropped as if the lead cyclists had just shed a heavy load. GOG had no way to respond so he settled into a survival mode of cycling. Keep the rpms up, the breathing in control, the legs on the verge of burn but not lactic acid collapse. His performance continued to demonstrate the results of not keeping up with any form of exercise for a period of weeks. The gap generated by his poor performance was only kept in check by those riding easily ahead of him. On several occasions GOG could see the 3 riders ahead turn to validate he was still moving behind them.

The group found themselves dead ended were Mount Pisgah stops at a T intersection with Highway 751. GOG was still some distance behind resulting in an unplanned stop for the 3 riders who were now at that T intersection. Eventually GOG rolled up to the stop, leaned into a left hand turn and coasted into the next downhill, this was the only method for GOG to communicate the next turn as he was too tired to communicate verbally. The pack of cyclists fell in line behind GOG as he lead the group down and up the hills of 751 and onto the right turn at Martha’s Chapel. There had been no sign of the other cyclists who had elected to bypass Mount Pisgah and had made a bee line to 751 earlier. GOG was not sure if they would find them on ahead, or if the group had elected to take control of their own ride and route back at the earlier SPLIT.

The run down Martha Chapel was no different than the run down Mount Pisgah. Frank, Joe, and the Yellow Jacket worked together to attain reasonable speeds without completely dropping GOG from their view. GOG was doing his very best to maintain 18 mph on a section of road that usually expected 25+ mph speeds. By the time GOG made it to Lake Jordan the others were waiting in anticipation of a right hand turn that would take them towards Lystra , or big woods, or other fun cycling routes. GOG had no plans to punish himself with more miles or extra hills so the choice was LEFT not right. GOG was also so slow in getting to Lake Jordan that he had no view of the attacks mounted by the lead cyclists, and they did not share with him who took the prize at the finish line. GOG could only surmise from the shit eating grin on the Yellow Jackets face that he had STUNG yet again.

The group now found themselves again lining up behind GOG as he rolled onto the section of road known as first “Kevin’s Crawl” and more recently as “Claim Jumpers Prize”. The group did not push the pace allowing Kevin to remain in the honored pull position and to slowly build the speed up as they responded to the small rise in the road as it traveled from the Martha Chapel/Farrington intersection to the Farrington/Holland Chapel turn. GOG was unable to push the pace beyond 17 mph, again demonstrating that he was suffering from being out of shape.

The turn onto Holland Chapel was completed with the riders now falling back into the same pattern as Martha’s Chapel or Mount Pisgah. The lead riders riding comfortably well ahead of the continuously struggling GOG. They regrouped at the end of Holland Chapel followed by the short jig and jog at the Strawberry patch which signals the run towards home. Déjà vu, this section of road was another repeat of all the previous long runs resulting in the gap of 3 followed by 1. The sprint to the county line was another victory for the FIXED GEAR “Yellow Jacket” but it was a battle well fought by Frank and Joe who were a close 2nd and 3rd or maybe even a tie for 2nd.

The lead group had extended the gap between themselves and GOG to such an extreme that GOG was challenged in how to best direct the pack to the next turn. If GOG did not push to close the gap he would be hard pressed to get the group to turn right onto White Oak Church road. GOG wanted to include the bike path that parallels Green Level as the last few miles of the days ride. After an internal debate GOG realized there was little he could do to close the gap, so, he breathed deep and then bellowed at the top of his lungs, “Right TURN, RIGHT TURN”. No response from the lead cyclists, so GOG took another deep breath and with his left hand cupped around his mouth in an effort to create a bull horn he again shouted “RIGHT TURN, RIGHT TURN”. It was Joe who then signaled right turn letting GOG know that he had been heard.
The three ahead slowed again allowing GOG to roll up to them bringing the pack back into full strength (in numbers not in physical ability). The group climbed the hill past the Tobacco Trail and finished the run to Green Level all together. It was hear that Frank took the lead and after a short pause for traffic he took the pull position lighting up the rpms and pulling the pack towards the turn at Green Level Church in access of 20 mph. The group members each navigated the left turn off of Green Level Church and onto the bike path. “I did not know this was hear” exclaimed Joe. “I had not riding this path for a long time” Frank added. The “Yellow Jacket” remained silent but deadly. The path was lightly traveled by others that day allowing the cyclists to glide along while also exploring the horizon and its fall colors.
GOG directed the riders to take the right fork and its tunnel under highway 55. Frank led the way into the tunnel followed by the “Yellow Jacket”, “GOG” and then Joe. Once all were safely into the tunnel “GOG” produced one of his immature child like screams at the top of his lungs. “CRAP” Joe responded to the sudden primal scream that was still echoing in the tunnel.

The cyclists continued their relaxed ride on the bike path, dodging the entrance gates at each road crossing. At the busy road crossing of Jenks Carpenter the cyclists all challenged the “Yellow Jacket” to demonstrate a Track Stand. “No way, I have only had this bike a month, I need more practice” he shared with the group as he was also unclipping from the peddles.

The group completed their ride on the bike path and found themselves at Davis drive. Here they finished the route by traveling down Davis to Waldo Rood, to Cary Parkway, and on into the Brueggers parking lot. A 35 mile ride at 15.5 mph average. The start of the OFF season, lower miles, slower pace.

Then others who had SPLIT earlier at Mount Pisgah had already loaded their bikes and were inside enjoying each others company and a coffee. They had completed 29 miles at a 14+ mph average. They elected to turn their days ride into an out and back journey with the turnaround at Highway 751.

Sunday Nov 8th.
In attendance:
Steve Sparano – “Sporadic Steve”
Theresa Smit – “Mother Theresa”
Kevin Smit – “GOG”
Lee Duncan – knew to the group, proud to be riding on a steel framed bike (Steel is Real)– found out about the rides from Dileep.

“GOG” did his best to welcome the new rider and to explain some of the types of antics one might encounter on a ride with the “Thorns and Roses”. Unfortunately Lee would not get the full impact of riding with the group as there were only 3 others on the days ride. The ride start was warmer than Saturdays. “Mother Theresa” wanted to make sure that we recognized that there was no one she could potentially finish the ride with. It was her way of saying to take it easy on her. “GOG” was quickly remembering how poorly he rode on Saturday and using that information he elected to work to flatten out this days ride while also getting the group to Lake Jordan and back into town in time for Lee to jump in with the CSH ride.

Once out of the parking lot it was “Mother Theresa” who set the pace. She was the first into the Preston Wood Neighborhood and the first one to the Yellow Barn where “Sporadic Steve” stopped to take a picture of a giant sculpture of a Chicken. As he stopped to take the picture the remaining cyclists rolled on towards the next intersection only to circle once before Steve was able to join the group. “GOG” directed the group away from “Ron’s Pull” and towards High House. Immediately “Sporadic Steve” assumed the next turn would take place just over the bridge and as he drifted left on High House “GOG” directed him to stay straight. The group was not going to ride on towards Apex, or Holt, but would remain straight riding on High House and crossing over Highway 55, and then make the right turn at Glenn More Road. This put the cyclists into the Field Stone Neighborhood and it small rolling hills. This route would dump them out onto a left onto Green Hope High School road. This would produce a flat ride out of Cary and onto Luter Shop and the run towards the Strawberry patch at 751.
The only momentous event that took place was when “GOG” sprinted at the very last second to the County Line on Luter Shop. He won that event only because Lee did not know that it was one of the sprint locations. When “GOG” attempted his sprint Lee was actually able to respond and could have taken the sprint easily if he knew of the finish line for the Sprint, and if “GOG” would not have waited until just a few feet to the line before attacking. It was totally unfair, and a poor example of a sprint.
Lee will not be caught off guard again.

The group road smoothly on towards the Strawberry patch and circled only once there as they waited for “Mother Theresa” who had been dropped at the county line sprint due to her unwillingness to participate in that childish game. The pack once assembled made their way to the left turn onto Martha Chapel and the long run down to the lake. There were no attacks on the run to the lake, the pace did quicken to 19 + mph with “Mother Theresa” working to stay in the draft.
Once at the end of Martha Chapel “GOG” informed Lee that there were so many more options of where to ride from there including Lystra and Big Woods. Lee showed a strong desire to go and do all that right then. “If we are going to get you back into Cary Glenn before the CSH ride gets there we need to head back from hear” “GOG” went on to explain. “I know my way back you guys go on and do not wait on me” “Mother Theresa” chimed in-between blowing her nose and catching her breath.

“Sporadic Steve”, Lee, and “GOG” all made the left turn onto Farrington and headed into the section of road known as “Kevin’s Crawl”. This is exactly what it was on this day’s ride. Kevin was barely able to accelerate up the gradual incline but did reach a slightly higher speed than accomplished the day before.

The turn onto Holland Chapel resulted in the 3 riders continuing to push the pace with no “Mother Theresa” in sight. Lee was clearly just getting warmed up as he was the one egging on the others to sustain speeds yet accomplished earlier in the ride. Lee was also chatting comfortably as the other two riders were doing their best to remain in ear shot and to nod their heads as that was the only way they could respond at this faster pace. Lee went on to explain that he has easily ridden with the CSH riders on 57 mile routes and was looking forward to jumping in with them today to bump the miles from this groups planed 33 miles and more towards 55 to 60 for Lee. It was here also that the group learned that Lee was a Technical Writer for IBM. “GOG” suggested that Lee would be a great candidate to take over the BLOG. “NO NO NO” he replied, “I am a Technical Writer”, “I have had a chance to read some of the BLOG”, “ and it does not follow any writing technique, or rules or spelling, or punctuation, or grammar”. “It would be impossible for me to create anything within the BLOG as it is currently produced”.

“GOG” continues to clearly demonstrate his failure in all those areas. He so hated English, and writing, and it shows.

The group was now back at the strawberry patch. They did not slow or circle in any effort to allow “Mother Theresa” to catch up. Sometimes a no drop does not work, especially when an individual demands they ride and suffer in isolation. “GOG” also knew she had her cell phone and would be happy to use it if needed. “GOG” also knew from years of riding with “Mother Theresa” that she will actually do better riding alone than feeling like she is holding the group back, and in fact would likely finish the days ride with in 2 or 3 minutes of the others who were still riding at a good clip.

Lee, “Sporadic Steve”, and “GOG” were know closing in on the county line. “GOG” felt so bad about his last attack antics that this time he clued Lee into where the county line was and to prepare for an attack. Just as that was being shared “GOG” jumped into the attack. Ok OK he still needed to cheat. Lee responded and the race was on. “Sporadic Steve” was caught by surprise and actually slowed down slightly as he analyzed his complete disappointment in “GOG’s” most recent poor sportsmanship antics.
“GOG” was still stuck in his small front chain ring and was not quick enough to shift the rear cluster from its middle rings. “GOG” quickly spun out and LEE glided by to take the win effortlessly.

“GOG” owes Lee $100, and should pay an additional fine for his poor sportsmanship Cheating tactics.

The group continued onto “Nicole’s Roller Coasters” with Lee blasting past everyone on the second climb. Upon exiting Cary Glenn the group was stopped by a driver who was traveling in the opposite direction wanting to find out how to find the Tobacco trail. In the time it took the cyclists to direct the driver “Mother Theresa” was able to ride up to the group and rejoin them.

A right turn onto Carpenter Fire Station the group was now keeping a vigil out for CSH. Normally that group it contacted no later than the point they would be turning into the Cary Glenn neighborhood.
“I think I read or heard that they moved their start time back to 10 or 10:30” Lee said.
“OK, we will continue to ride back towards them on the route that they take headed this way” was “GOG’s” response.
The riders continued across Highway 55 and onto the section of road known to them as “Capn’s Grave yard” and still no CSH. They continued to the end of “Capn’s Grave Yard” and made the left turn back towards the Yellow Barn, and the Preston Neighborhood. Up ahead “GOG” saw the “Mother Theresa” had gotten to the yellow barn ahead of them. She had turned off of “Capn’s Grave Yard” earlier and took the back way behind Green Hope High School to get there, cutting off almost a mile in doing so.

CSH was intercepted at the ROUND ABOUT in the Preston Neighborhood. Lee said his good bye to the “Thorns and Roses” and folded himself into the well formed double draft line of the CSH ride group.

“Sporadic Steve” and “GOG” met back up with “Mother Theresa” as she was waiting on the light to cross Davis drive. This group finished the ride completing 35 miles at 15.5 mph average.