Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cycle North Carolina - Day 3

CNC Day 3
Lincolnton to Concord (Lowe's Motor Speedway)
18.9 mph average speed
33.4 mph maximum speed
2:57:18 ride time
55.94 miles
about 2000 feet of climbing

As we move east, the terrain is flattening out. We started out with moderately rolling hills and by the time we got to Concord, the roads were slightly flatter than many of the routes that I ride at home. As a result, our speed stated to pick up.

Lowe's Motor Speedway is really neat. I am staying in a race car garage in the infield. We were all disappointed that we were not allowed to go around the track as part of our route when we arrived but they are going to open up the track for an hour this evening. Until riding into the speedway, I did not realize that they painted the seats to make it look like people were in them. Tricky, huh?

When we first arrive, there was a Petty Driving Experience car in the garage with the indoor camping. It was moved soon afterward. The indoor camping in the garage was kind of neat.
The Concord chamber of commerce really dropped the ball. The vendors that they said were going to be here and the wine tasting that was supposed to be our entertainment did not materialized. We were all disappointed. Who wants to say, "I rode my bike across North Carolina and I went to a mall?"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cycle North Carolina - Day 2

CNC Day 2
Morganton to Lincolnton
17.0 mph average speed
37.o mph maximum speed
2:59:15 total ride time
50.84 miles
3689 feet of climbing (yes, more than day 1!)

The day started out good. Pancakes for breakfast! Woo hoo! The only problem was that the was a lot of smoke from those pancakes. When I got to the front of the line, I could see why -- the grills being used looked like they may have been rate for outdoor use and we were indoors. Oops! Anyway, I'm a big fan of the pancake so I was a happy camper.

When we (photo from left to right:  Gary, Doug, Tracy, Tim and Jon) left Morganton this morning, it was very foggy. We started out of the parking lot with a climb and continued with rolling hills the whole route. We reached our highest elevation of the day near the 20 mile mark.

We arrived in Lincolnton and went downtown after cleaning up. Indoor camping yesterday went well so we decided to do that again tonight. Tracy, a rider from Clayton who also does the OMV rides; Les, an ex-Marine from Missouri, Tim and I set up an area in the gym with all of our gear -- and our bikes! We heard a lot of grousing about packing wet tents in the dark, shower trucks and port-a-pots so we were really happy with the indoor plumbing and a gym floor.

Last night we saw Cherryholmes, a bluegrass band. They have several awards and Grammy nominations. They were pretty good. Tonight, we have Alive After Five with beach music for our listening pleasure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cycle North Carolina - Day 1

CNC Day 1
Black Mountain to Morganton
17.7 mph average speed
41.1 mph maximum speed
3:23:19 ride time
59.90 miles
about 3600 feet of climbing

Today we awoke to beautiful weather. The sunrise over the mountains was gorgeous. I had breakfast at the Y's campus and met Tim, Doug, Jon and Gary (who rides 1200 miles/year in Michigan!) at the coffee lady.

There was quite a bit of climbing at a fairly steep grade. Doug (below in a blue jersey and white helmet) has a GPS on his bike and he said that we were hitting 6% at times. Most of the steepest climbing was in the first third of the ride but shorter hills continued along the entire route. I did fine on the climbs despite my concerns about the cassette on my bike.

Our little group stayed together until the second rest stop at which point Gary decided to ride back so that he could add more mileage! Jon, Tim, Doug and I completed the rest of the day together.

The third rest stop was in Lake James State Park. We rode along the top of the dam and the view was spectacular. Unfortunately, we also had to deal with the rolling hills around any lake.

Tonight, I am planning on "indoor camping" in Morganton. We are planning to see a bluegrass band called Cherryholmes.  The Morganton camping area is shown below.  A tent city was set up on a baseball field (upper left), luggage is piled by one of three luggage trucks (lower right) and shower trucks take center stage.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cycle North Carolina - Day 0

Today I arrive at REI two hours before the regular opening time to get on a bus traveling to Black Mountain, North Carolina for the start of Cycle North Carolina. With some help, DH and I removed the pedals from my bike and turned the handle bars. With so many people and bikes making the trip, this allowed more bikes to fit on the trucks transporting them.


Each of the over 1,100 riders is allowed to bring two, 40 pound bags in which we need to fit: a sleeping bag, sleeping pad or air mattress, tent (if camping outside), bike clothing and gear for seven days of riding, street clothes for seven to eight evenings of relaxing, toiletries, etc. Yikes! I did not weigh my bags but I think that they are "slightly" heavier.

At REI, I checked in my bike, loaded my bags one of the two buses and hung around until 9:00 when were were to pull out. When other people stated to get on the bus, I went to the bus with my bag and got on. Not many people were on the bus but all the seats were taken. Hm. "OK," I thought, "I'll try the second bus." I did and find a seat but most of those were saved as well.

The trip to Black Mountain, just east of Asheville, was uneventful until the very end. Both bus drivers missed the turn off to the YMCA facility that we were staying at. Our bus driver turned around with an impressive 3-point turn that did not even go into the other lane. He got us up the mountain to the check in area. When we got off the bus, the second bus was not there. I heard from someone that it had gone off the road when turning around in a neighborhood. I heard from several riders on that bus that it took out a retaining wall and got stuck a a precarious angle. The passengers -- and my bags! -- eventually made it though.

After that, we checked in, hung around, had dinner and went to a kick-off meeting.

I am staying at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in a dorm. Some people are camping and others are staying in hotels.

Tomorrow, I plan to ride with Tim, Jon and Doug. The route has us going across the Eastern Continental Divide and then up Stone Mountain Gap on our way to Morganton, NC. The route is about 62 miles and we were told the steepest climb of the entire trip is 5 miles into the ride. I hope that I can keep up with the group. I left my "flantlanders" cassette on the rear wheel (12/23) and I'm a bit concerned.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Red Rover Red Rover

While camping at Bike MS, we hung around under the team tent. A lot of topics came up during our time there. One of them was about the r*ver trip one of the cyclists when on.

Hey, remember the r*ver trip that I went one. I got stuck in the snow at the side of the road.

Did you use the chain winch to get out?

The chain broke.

By now, DH was getting exited. He kayaks and wanted to know about the trip.

What kind of river trip?



ROVER trip.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beach vacation

After completing the Bike MS double century, we had a much needed vacation. On Monday, our big decision was beach or pool. We decided on the beach in the morning and the pool in the afternoon. I read my book and rested my eyes periodically in both locales. The water was nice. The sand was soft. What more could I ask for?

We did some outlet shopping as well. I had a quest to try on 100 pairs of jeans but stopped just short of that after finding a few pairs that fit nicely.

DH and I went to Friendly's one night. That is something that I like to do when we are in Myrtle Beach. In high school my friend Pam and I went to Friendly's frequently and dealt with our teen aged angst by splitting Jim Dandy's.

Another night we saw Burn After Reading.  I really had to see it after catching a glimpse of the trailer where Chad (played by Brad Pitt) says, "He thinks it's a Schwinn!"  I enjoyed the film quite a bit.  I like most of the Coen Brother's films though and I generally enjoy Frances McDormand's roles in their movies.

The beaches at Myrtle Beach are really great. The traffic there can be pretty bad but since we tend to go at the tail end of the season, it's OK. I do wish that the food there was better. Whenever we are there, I feel like I am in the chain food capital of the world. You'd think that since it was a beach, good seafood would be abundant. Someday we'll find some good local places!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Double Century!

One weekend, 200 miles -- done!

Last weekend I completed the Bike MS ride in New Bern, NC. Each day, I rode the 100 mile route and I completed my first double century. My first 100 mile ride was only this May and I'm pretty pleased!

We arrived on Friday afternoon and found that my teammates had already set up a nice camping area for us. I'm not sure how many of my teammates ended up camping but 23 of the 84 riders on my team and registered to camp. We had a nice central tent and we hung out there until happy hour -- one of the advantages of being on a team sponsored by a brewery.

Saturday started out early with a 6:30 wake up call. The organizers must have thought that we would not be able to get ourselves up because they blasted us with a burst of music at 6:30. I had intended to get up about then anyway, having set the alarm on my cell phone for that time. The blast of music was a bit surprising though.

The ride started out at 8:00 with all of the 75-mile riders and all of the 100-mile riders in one big start. We were asked to line up by speed, which helped a lot until the routes for the two distances split and rejoined. When the routes rejoined, there was a lot of traffic with faster 100 mile riders joining slower 75 mile riders.

I started with a large group of Team CBC riders and we stuck together for a long time. The group skipped the first rest stop and stopped at the second one, about 25 miles into the ride. The routes split after that a few riders took the turn off for the 75-mile route. The rest of us continued past rest stop 3 to the lunch stop at mile 52. There was rest stop food, lunch food and even a band! Some of our group had fallen back and we tried to regroup at that point but had limited success.

A small group of us continued on with plans to stop again at mile 75. Unfortunately, between mile 52 and mile 75 we encountered a bad headwind. I averaged 20.4 mph for the first 52 miles and we were barely able to maintain 18 mph into the wind. Our group dwindled the three riders -- Scott, Roger and me. We stopped ad mile 75 and ran into Tim and Jon but they were just leaving the stop. We were able to team up with a large group from Selma Cyclopaths and we rode to mile 82 with them. When they stopped, we decided to stop briefly and regroup as a Team CBC unit. Five of us headed into New Bern together but we ended up breaking into two groups over the bridge. Roger and I finished together. Overall, I was pleased with the ride but slightly disappointed in my speed. I had hoped to break 20 mph and I average 19.8 -- finishing in exactly 4:58:00 minutes but the route came out to 99 miles on my bike computer. I did not realize how close I was until the next day when someone told me he finished in 4:54 and average 20.2.

On Saturday night after dinner, the organizers played Breaking Away for us on an outdoor screen. I hadn't seen it in a long time. I was struck by the "pre helmet" time frame! I have to admit, I did not make it to the end of the movie. I can't imagine why I was tired!

After talking to several teammates, it seemed that the plan for Sunday was to go slower -- about 18 mph -- and focus more on finishing the double century than on speed. Before we even left, the plan seemed to be coming apart. I had hoped to ride with Tim and Jon as well as Scott and Roger. Scott said he was going 75 rather than 100 and Tim was in street clothes, not spiffy spandex. Surprisingly, I found them both on the ride and both ended up riding the 100 mile route. Go Team CBC!

Our plan also called for skipping the first rest stop and refueling at mile 25 or so as we did on Saturday. Several of my teammates pulled off at the first stop (later I found out that some of them ended up riding the 30 mile route). When we stopped a quarter of the way in, I talked to Tim and asked if he was pulling my leg earlier about not riding. He said it was a last minute change of plans to join us and I told him that I was glad that he changed is mind. I talked to a few other people and was told to get the show on the road and we left.

We stopped again at mile 50 where they were lunch and homemade ice cream. I made a bee line for the ice cream, found some lunch and took care of other essentials. I turned to Jon and said, "Isn't that Tim's bike?" He said that it was. I was disconcerted because his bike wasn't with the rest of our group's stuff. We saw Tim a minute later and he said that we had left him at the rest stop! He was in the bathroom when we pulled out. Oops!

We stopped at mile 62 to pick up our double century patches and were sure to keep track of Tim this time. We planned to stop again at mile 82. Unfortunately, our group had an accident occur before then.

We were a large enough group that we were riding two abreast in a double pace line. I was at the front of the line on the left and the person leading the right side of the pace line was a Bike Marshal (B.M.) -- a rider designated as a special helper. I've ridding with him before and he's a strong rider and overall good guy. Our group approached two cyclists were on the side of the road repairing a flat. B.M. said, "You OK?" They replied that they needed a pump. B.M. hit his brakes quickly in his enthusiasm to help the rider with the flat. Roger ran into B.M.'s rear wheel and went down, landing on his shoulder and head. Roger's shoulder was separated and his helmet cracked. Tim, who I believe was directly behind Roger, avoided hitting him. It could have been much worse for the group.

Once Roger was down, I don't know that the organizers could have done any better. We were able to flag down a motorcycle almost immediately. We got Advil (courtesy of a rider in the group) and ice (from the motorcycle) right away. We got a 911 call in as well as a call to our team captain and it seemed like 5 minutes later there was an ambulance for "the body" (yes, they said The Body!) and a vehicle for the bike. Roger will be off the bike for the next 6-8 weeks.

After the accident, we went on to finish the ride. We were all pretty shaken up by the incident.

Surprisingly, I finished the second century in 4:58:14. Again, the distance was closer to 99 than 100 and again, I finished with an average speed of 19.8. I'll just have to go back next year to try for a 20+ average speed!

After the ride, I changed clothes, grabbed something to eat and we drove to Myrtle Beach. After checking into the hotel, we headed to the seafood buffet of my choice. When we got back to the hotel, I called my parents to share my news. My dad answered.

I rode 200 miles this weekend.

That's nice.

I followed up, 200 miles is a lot to ride in a weekend.

Yes it is, he replied.

Updates: My Bike MS Photo Album, information about Team CBC's injured reserve from the local paper.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preparing for the pet sitter

Last week we used a pet sitter while we were out of town. We have not left the Girls with a pet sitter before and I was not quite sure what information to leave for her. I prepared a list of Hannah's regime and asked some dog friends what other information would be good to provide.
  • If your pet is on medication, leave detailed instructions on its use, even if you tell your pet sitter verbally how it's administered.
  • Any quirks that your dogs may have
  • Name and number of your vet
  • Your cell phone numbers, or a number for an alternate emergency contact person
  • Letter of permission with the pet sitter, allowing them to seek veterinary care
  • Notify the vets of when we were out of town, who was watching the dogs
  • Even if dropping off food, type of food and favorite treats
The basic template that I used was provided by a friend and modified for our use.

The dogs are:
  • Hannah: chocolate lab (14 yo)
  • Emma: golden retriever (6 yo)
I listed any quirks the dogs have here. For example, if it is dark, Hannah will want to go out the front door. Emma has gator jaws and we have worked with her on this but beware.

I also listed information about talking the dogs for a walk. For example, Hannah has a limited range and both girls know how to walk nicely on a leash, heel, etc. Don't let them tell you otherwise.


Breakfast time
Dinner Time
Any snacks

Even though food is being left, list name and amount of food "just in case."

Medications and supplements

Hannah has an extensive medication list. I included that in a separate section.

Contact information:
  • DH and me
  • a local emergency contact
  • our vet

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Final rides before Bike MS

Bike MS is coming up quickly! Last weekend I rode my last long rides before tackling Bike MS weekend. This year I am hoping to have the legs for the double century -- that's 200 miles in two days. In the past I've gone with the more traditional 150 miles.

On Saturday we had a lot of rain due to Tropical Storm Hanna and I did my time on the trainer. I kind of knew that if I held out I might be able to squeeze in an outdoor ride but I got on the trainer first thing in the morning so that I could relax in the afternoon. I watched house flipping shows on mute while listening to my iPod shuffle.

My replacement wheel came in and was on my bike before the ride on Sunday.

Sunday was the last Team CBC training ride. The group that I was with went about 72 miles. The group was good although the ride was a little slower than in the past. I think that everyone just wanted to stay together not not push too much.

This week I have pretty easy workouts leading up to the MS ride. So far it's been kind of fun.

I'm getting excited about the upcoming ride and obsessing a bit about the weather forecast.