My attempt at a Super Randonneur award for 2013 did not end successfully. Sure, I could probably piece together another attempt by finding late season 400/600 km brevets. But I’m starting a new job in July and may have large demands on my time, especially at first. Therefore, I would rather wait, plan and make a new attempt in 2014. That doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my pursuit of an R-12. Therefore, I had been waiting for a June permanent to be announced. Sure enough, I saw an announcement to ride the newly-approved Wavorly-Smithfield route. Despite a fantastic forecast, only three rode: Jacob, Ron and me. This was also the “maiden permanent” of my new bike, a 2013 Trek Domane 4.5.
Despite some hot weather earlier in the week, the morning start was actually a little cool, about 65 degrees. I wore summer attire and a vest. We left close to 7:00 am and stuck with a leisurely pace of about 14-15 mph. We eventually hung out around 16-17 mph. Amazingly, we stayed together for much of the ride. We eventually spread out a bit. But we almost never lost sight of each other. If we weren’t together, we usually arrived at control points within 5-10 minutes of each other. Here’s a photo of one of the many corn fields through which we rode. I didn’t realize I live this close to corn. Our southern routes usually feature cotton. 🙂
I shared in an earlier entry that I have a fascination with old churches. I’m also intrigued by abandoned houses. The rural areas of SE Virginia and NE North Carolina have abandoned homes sprinkled all over our usual routes. I’d never trespass in them. But I often wonder why they were deserted. Perhaps the family moved to a home with electricity, water and other necessities or conveniences that weren’t available in such an isolated area? Perhaps the abandoned house couldn’t sell without those services? Maybe the owners passed away or the bank foreclosed the property? I can only imagine. Many of the homes are fairly small and ordinary, perhaps just a simple design with two bedrooms. The home featured above is a bit different from the “usual ruins” in that it gave me a San Francisco Bay Area vibe AND that it’s very close to newer homes. I know there’s electricity and water on this street. So what happened? This home may eventually be consumed by the woods.
I had a couple of unexpected stops. One rather silly stop was while I was riding with my handlebar bag unzipped. I hit a small pothole and felt something fall out. I knew it was a snack. While it was tragic that I lost three Oreos in the mishap, my true purpose for returning to the sad scene was to retrieve my wrapper. I don’t litter! 🙂 A scene from SpongeBob SquarePants popped into my mind as I looked at this Oreo and shot the photo. Mr. Krabs was devastated when a prosecutor tore up a dollar bill and tossed it on the courtroom floor in front of him to prove he loves money. Krabs rushed to the pieces, scooping them up as he said, “There, there… Daddy’s got you!” I’m not that attached to Oreos. But spilling a bag of Peanut M&Ms might have been more traumatic. 😉 Yes, I’m a bit warped!
The new bike – well… it rides like a bike! 😉 My Madone was already a good bike with Shimano 105 components. The new Domane steps up the group to Ultegra. It’s better; but not enough to be dazzled. The higher handlebar position and vibration-dampening components make it a comfortable ride for sure! Comfort equates to efficiency; and efficiency equates to speed, right? The longer wheelbase and raked fork add stability as well. Sure, diehard randonneurs are unlikely to flock to this bike. But I think it’s a great compromise between touring comfort/stability and performance. I certainly rode well on the Domane. I set no personal records. I simply had a good ride. That’s good enough for me! 🙂 Here’s a photo of an amateur radio station I spotted on the course. Not only does this operator have two good towers on his corner lot, he has a moon-bounce array in the shade. Yes, he makes radio contact to the other side of the world by bouncing his signal off the moon!
Here’s a photo of a monument that’s in the middle of nowhere. I found it intriguing because it’s isolated, poorly kept, away from the road and because I wonder if time and vegetation will consume it like some of the homes in the area. Riding alone, I often notice and think of things I wouldn’t have time to notice or think of if I was with other riders. I guess there’s something to be said about taking in the scenery, something my Dad used to tell me. Coincidentally, I’m writing this on Father’s Day. Riding alone, especially if no other riders are within sight, compels me to take the time to shoot a photo when others would rather press on. I have to budget my time wisely so the photography does not delay me too long. My rolling average speed on this ride was decent at 15.5 mph. That’s not bad considering the 3500 feet of climbing and slowing for photos. My overall average was 11.8 mph. I finished just 20 minutes behind the lead rider. He was probably taking it easy. Then again, we all took our time at control points as it was getting a little warm. Ice in the Camelbak was welcome. I expect to appreciate the ice more in July and August when I’ll likely ride in 90+ degree heat.
Completing this ride puts me at “R-6.” I’m halfway to the R-12 recognition. I’m expecting December to be my most challenging month due to the potential for weather issues combined with Holiday travel (I missed last December’s permanent). Perhaps October or November will toss a surprise at me. We’ll see.
Halfway to R-12,