Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tour de Cure

Last weekend I participated in my fourth Tour de Cure. The TdC is an annual bike ride and fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes. About 400 riders participated. This year they tried a new route that took us from Cary to Southern Pines. The new route was very nice. Some riders thought that it would be flat but I knew better -- after all, they are called the sandhills. There is sand and, well, hills!

The weather was great! It was rain-free but overcast so we didn't get too hot on the black pavement. There was a breeze but we didn't have to deal with any wind to speak of.
Team Type 1/CSH group photo

My friend Doug and I had decided to do the 100 mile route on Saturday and the 75 mile route on Sunday with David and Melissa. Since the routes were the for about 70 miles, Doug, David and I tried to stay together. Doug and I were more or less in the same group on Saturday and we ended up seeing David at rest stops. Speaking of rest stops, there were a lot of them and we ended up stopping every other time. The route was nice, especially when we got into the horse country around Pinehurst and Southern Pines.

After 70 miles, Doug and I said good bye to David and tried to hook up with a group of riders for the "100." Notice the quotes. We said that we wanted to ride 100 miles on Saturday. The queue sheet said 103. OK, not bad. Well, it was more than that. Anyway, I had not been paying attention to the details of the new route and did not realize that our special bonus miles were through Fort Bragg before looping back to rejoin the main route where we repeated the last bit before finishing. While the roads on Fort Bragg are not heavily traveled, it is not exactly scenic. I knew from previous TdC events that very few people do the 100. It was me, Doug, three other riders and that's it the entire time that we were on that leg of the route (I know of one other similar size group that did the 100 and a solo rider mentioned below). We did not see TdC support vehicles or anything. After getting off the base we had a rest stop which was several further than we expected it to be. At that stop I asked, "How much further is it really?" It was clear by this point that I would be riding more than 103 miles. The workers replied, "14 miles. Or 18." We figured that we'd take the pessimistic number and that it would be 106 miles to the finish. After a few miles the group of riders I was with fell off the back and I ended up soloing the last 15 miles or so. 105 miles. 106 miles. No finish line. 107 miles. No finish line! 107.75 miles there it is!

I felt that I rode strong on Saturday and several people made comments to that effect. I felt happy. My training is starting to pay off!

The hotel was nice and the event hosted a dinner (would not use that caterer again) and there was a band for entertainment. I stayed at the host hotel which had a pool and was very nice. I definitely liked the location a lot and the route was good but the queue sheets need some work and no one who did the "100" liked that leg very much. The event had a very major change including totally new routes, new Saturday evening host town and pretty much new everything and I thought they did a great job. There were surprisingly few problems.

One such problem is that they apparently did not sweep the 100 mile route. One women was still on the 100+ mile section when the volunteers started to turn around the signs for Sunday's return trip. When this rider got off base, she followed the now turned signs and turned toward Cary instead of toward host hotel. Some time later, another volunteer saw her and offered to SAG her back to the host hotel. The rider refused and rode in herself. She ended up logging 130 miles on Saturday. I don't know if she rode on Sunday or not!

On Sunday morning we left quite early for the return trip. Last year it was brutally hot so this year the organizers had us all leave at 7:00 for the return ride. The return route was the reverse of the Saturday. I don't think that anyone did the 100 on Sunday although my TdC friend Tracy rode 12 miles before the 7 am start so she'd get 200 miles for the weekend. On Sunday Doug, David and I added Melissa to our posse and we stuck together for the first 50 miles or so. We were all together for a while after that but the distance started to take it's toll. I felt strong on Sunday as well but was happy to see the finish line. DH met me at the finish which was great.

I enjoyed the event and hope to participate again next year!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The madness continues

Last weekend I participated in 3 Mountain Madness (3MM) for the second time. I really enjoyed it. The ride is extremely well supported and the scenery is terrific. I do wish that we did not have to contend with cars on the Pilot Mountain section though.

The temperatures were pleasantly cool at the start of the ride and the humidity was low. It was 59 when we arrived at the start and perhaps a few degrees warmer at the start of the event. I kept on overhearing people talk about arm warmers and I thought they were crazy. I know that arm warmers have gained popularity among the triathlete set but 60 degrees is not arm warmer weather -- especially with the first climb of the day -- Sauratown -- in pretty much full sun. Still, at the beginning of the ride there were people in arm warmers and, worse yet, long sleeved Ts under there jerseys (at least you can take off arm warmers!). In contrast, I had on a short sleeved jersey and had debated going sleeveless! The high was about 80 degrees and I was very hot going up Pilot that afternoon.

Lining up for the start of the ride

The ride started out fine. I knew from last year that everyone rode as a group for the first 45 minutes or so. People started to string out as we approached the Sauratown climb. I stuck with the group at the beginning and I was pleased with the way I rode Sauratown. Almost
immediately after Sauratown, there is a rest stop.

View from the first rest stop

There was a large contingent of Raleigh area cyclists at 3MM and I bumped into them repeatedly. Tom W., Chuck, Paul and I seemed to be going about the same speed so I was with the most of the time. On this ride, there are enough hills that I end up keeping track of other riders more than riding with them. I just kept on going my own pace.

Tom, me and Paul at the top of Hanging Rock

I ran into some of my cycling friends at the rest stop and headed off to Hanging Rock which comes up pretty quickly. After that there are 30 miles of hills and the Pilot Mountain. Pilot is difficult because (1) you've already done 100k before getting there and (2) it's steep. This year I had the added fun of (3) getting stuck behind some cars that were going slower than I was pedaling (and there was no way to get around them).
Chuck and Paul

Pilot Mountain

View from the top of Pilot Mountain

I was really glad that I did the recon trip in April. I think that paid off. My ride time this year was 22 minutes faster than last year.

Next year's 3MM is June 5!

As an side, Pilot, Hanging Rock and Sauratown are all part of what was once the Sauratown mountain chain named after the Native American tribe known as the Sauras. Interesting.

Outer Banks 2009

We made our regular May Outer Banks trip with the girls. On Friday drove to Manteo for lunch and then went to the beach. Both Hannah and Emma had a great time on the beach. We stayed at our regular campground. On Saturday morning DH went kayak surfing while I rode my bike. The cycling options are limited. You can go north on NC 12 or south on NC 12. It was extremely windy that weekend and I had the pleasure of riding into a 20+ mph wind for the first part of my ride. The good news is the tailwind on the way back. The wind was not quite as bad on Sunday.

On Saturday afternoon went to Ocracoke. This involved a 40 minute ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke. The Girls usually love the ferry but on the way there, it was so windy they were not comfortable. On the return trip, however, Emma adopted a girl and trained her to pet her the entire way back. Yes, 40 minutes of undivided attention. Emma was very pleased.

While on Ocracoke we saw a shop called Ride the Wind. Since I know someone with a blog called Ride the Wind so I took some pictures. We walked around the village and stopped at a neat coffee shop and did a little shopping (a very little, we had the Girls with us after all!)

Since we went south on Saturday we headed north on Sunday. Our main destination was the Corolla Lighthouse and a picnic at the Whalehead Club there.

As always, we had a great time. I look forward to my next trip to the Outer Banks. It's a very special place.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Raven Rock Ramble

This year I did the Raven Rock Ramble 100 mile bike ride for the second time. Last May, it was the first 100 miler that I'd ever done. Since then I've completed a number of 100 mile bike rikes including the Tarwheels Bikefest last August, the Bike MS double century in September, Cycle North Carolina in October and 100 miler club ride in November.

I was happy with how Raven Rock went this year. It continues to be a well organized event that is as much a social as it is a bike ride. It seems like all of the area cyclist that I know sign up for it. In that way, it reminds me of the Firecracker in July.

The main story that I will remember from this ride is Rest Stop 2. The rest stop was at a volunteer fire department and while we were there, apparently a call went out over the radio. No alarm sounded at the station. We were getting ready to leave when a pick up truck came speeding into the station, brakes screeching, driver started yelling, "Git! Now GIT! Don't you all know to GIT when the alarm goes off?!!!" As I said earlier, no alarm had gone off at the station.

Sandra, Lori and Larry

Group photo take at the last rest stop -- not far to go now!

I've been negligent

I have neglected my blog lately because of despite the fact that I have had a lot going on. I'm going to attempt to catch up in the next week.

  • Raven Rock Ramble
  • Outer Banks trip
  • 3 Mountain Madness
  • Tour de Cure (coming up this weekend)
  • Emma turns SEVEN on June 13