This write-up provided by Lee Duncan - Sonic Boom.
At 0800 the famous Thorns and Roses assembled in the Parking lot, ready to take on the day. In the spirit of a true smoke jumper, the group was prepared to parachute into the wildly burning morning sun, arriving fresh and ready for the strenuous work of fighting fires along the rugged terrain that lay ahead.
Again, a lot of people. Probably 10 - 20 people plus.
Rob Robertson, Blue Shirt from last week, AKA Top Rookie
Thorns: Pat, Shawn (Green Flash), Kee Kee, Sharol, Jen?!, Jim (Domestique), Lee (Sonic Boom), James (Triathlete) and many others whose names I did not get.
It was a hot morning, and everyone seemed ready for the day ahead. Rob Robertson (Top Rookie) took the Karaoke mic and did a phenomenal job of organizing and explaining the challenging route at the start of the ride. The maps and directions were distributed among the different riders, with Sonic Boom passing out a few he had made as well. Everyone stayed together at the start of the ride through the normal route out of Cary. As we turned AWAY from Ron's pull and toward High House, it was a bit like brushing your teeth with your left hand, awkward and messy, but you get through it. But the group worked to stay together and followed the route. We then rolled through Jenks Carpenter, Holt and crossed 55 onto Jenks. Even though we had just got started, the morning heat began to claim the energy of the group. With this the Thorns took shape with Shawn at the helm and the Roses and Stems under the leadership of Top Rookie. To this point, I was amazed with the listening comprehension skills of the front Thorns, as they seemed to know every turn as it was explained. It was later learned that a key requirement for riding with the Thorns and Roses is membership to Mensa.
As we took a right on Roberts and right on Green Level Church, the group started to experience Green Level vertigo. Very common among Cary residents. This is a condition brought about by 30% of all roads in Western Cary being named "Green Level something." Luckily, Domestique had his wits about him and one upped the tricky namsters to keep us on track. At the stop sign we took pause for the group to consolidate and then headed up the long slow route through Green Level West and then a Left on "Lucifer" or "Luther" as it is more commonly known.. for its tough hills that snare riders in both directions. Pat and Jen were driving the group's pace through this section and looking very very strong.
From 751 and Hortons pond the trees now gave way to more open spaces which allowed the sun's full wrath to fall down on the group. The Green Flash, as he had from the start of the day, launched from his saddle and provided due discipline to those that thought they could get through the ride with only 1 water bottle. James (Triathlete) was able to keep pace easily through his secret training regimen and considerable mitochondria biogenesis developed through running, swimming and biking 23 hours a day. Now the group was at a difficult crossroads. No, really the group was at Farrington and turned left.
At the 64 gas station we all refueled and drank copious fluids to reclaim the energy from the beginning of the ride. The Stems and Roses pulled up shortly after with Top Rookie bringing the riders safely in for a break. The Thorns decided that due to the sun's heat, that we would take a shorter route home. And with that decision, everyone saddled up and continued on 64 in route to Big Woods. Shawn went off the front with aggression and actually out-paced moving traffic for about a mile. This was very impressive. Eventually the group caught up to Shawn and we continued along 64, through Big Woods and Lystra ..until arriving at the second refueling station, the Farrington Sandles resort. After some rest, Sonic Boom suggested an alternative route to get back home, and was quickly rejected by the full council of Thorns, as it was way too hot. And they were right.
Now the sun was well overhead and the group decided to go back to Thorns and Roses Headquarters the old fashioned way, so they continued on to Martha's Chapel, 751, Strawberry Patch etc. At the final stage of the ride Sonic Boom tried to cajole other riders into the Max Hr zone on Cap'ns graveyard. Kee Kee and Sharol accepted the challenge and drove the front to an aggressive pace. A truly impressive performance. Sonic Boom then approached Triathlete by howling at him, and was quickly rebuked ....w Traithlete calmly informing him that he was an embarrassment to the Thorns. Everyone agreed.
The Thorns arrived back at Thorns and Roses headquarters doing 46 miles at a 19 MPH average, a great start to the weekend. Despite the seemingly dangerous nature of our mission that day as smoke jumpers, no one succumbed to the raging heat of summer, and all enjoyed themselves.
Following description for the same days ride is proveded by
Rob Robertson - Top Rookie
Saturday - or three hours in a toaster oven....
The following bikers were present:
I provided copies of the route to the Thorns/Stems and three Roses. I uickly explained what was going on and asked everyone to watch out for each ther and stay together. Lee agreed to manage the Thorns and I said I would sweep the Stems. Everyone headed out together and stayed together up to about High House. I then noted that one of the Roses had decided to ride with the Thorns and Stems. I never saw the other two Roses again, so I hope they enjoyed their route. On the way towards Holt, Phillip, the Rose, and another lady told me they were going to stick together (they had a cue sheet) and would probably drop off. I lost sight of them on Green Level West, went back 2 miles looking for them but never saw them, so I assume (hope) they made it back okay. I caught up with some of the Stems who had kindly waited for me, and we rode into the US-64 gas station just as the Thorns were heading out. Lee said the Thorns weren't going to do the planned loop south of US-64; they were going up Big Woods instead. The Stems were also all for this change in plans so we went that way too. By this time the heat was really starting to work on the group. We stopped at Lystra station and the consensus was that it was to damned hot to be outside, much less on a bike. Everyone decided we would head back. We went back to Martha's Chapel, then the Strawberry Patch. I asked if anyone wanted to turn onto Ferrell West (as per the cue sheet) - I got some pretty weird looks. So we went back per the normal Sisters/Graveyard/High House route. When we got back everyone else was gone so I assumed the Thorns must have cut things short; this was confirmed on Sunday morning. IIRC, the Stems did 48 miles at about a 17.5mph pace.
Three of us showed for some more heat:
Shawn (on a new fixie)
We decided to do the standard route to the lake and back. It was hot, real
hot, hotter than Saturday. Jim and Shawn were strong as usual - I was bushed before we even started and my performance suffered accordingly. They basically shredded me anytime we hit a hill. We ended up doing 34 miles at
about a 17.4 pace (mainly because they kept waiting on my slow butt to catch