The first weekend in November was beautiful! I was hesitant to hit the road for a permanent since I had been off the bike recovering from a knee injury for two weeks. I also felt I needed to get my legs back into shape before tackling a long ride. An initial proposal to start the ride at 6:00 am on a Saturday and a slight chill in the air were both playing head-games with me. Once the ride moved to Sunday at 7:00 am, I decided to join with short notice since the end of Daylight Savings Time would give me an extra hour of sleep before the ride. I also did not want to risk having to compete with upcoming holiday weekends and/or bad weather to achieve my R12 goal later in the month. I went to bed early and, when considering the time change, still awoke 30 minutes later than I normally do during the week. I even arrived to the starting point quite early. It was going to be a good day so long as my knees held up.
Three riders departed on our Windsor-Woodland 205 km ride with me: Jacob, Ron and Keith. This was the first time in a while that our small group was not dominated by recumbents. Keith was on one of his Surlys. Therefore, the group was half uprights and half not. 😉 It was around 45 degrees and expected to reach 58. I wore a wool base layer, a summer jersey, tights, wool socks, a balaclava and a vest. The first nature stop was just 10 miles into the ride. Keith and I formed a small gap while the ‘bent riders inspected the bushes. We didn’t see them again until the first control stop at 34 miles. I normally would have stopped for a break or two within those 34 miles. But I opted to stick with Keith and see how longer stretches between stops worked for me. Our pace was not fast… just non-stop and steady. Keith and I left the first control stop after some cookies and as Jacob and Ron arrived.
We had a gentle tailwind for the first 50 miles or so. Later, we had some crosswinds and headwinds. We tried a different control stop for the midway point. The original stop was an old grocery store in Woodland, NC with no restrooms or hot food. We learned of a convenience store 0.3 miles down the road and opted to stop there for lunch. What a great move! Not only were there restrooms, they also had a good selection of hot food. I had a couple of fried chicken legs and some macaroni and cheese. Both were surprisingly good! Jacob arrived as Keith and I finished eating. Ron (pictured) arrived a few minutes later and showed his approval of the mac and cheese. Jacob, Keith and I left to begin our 60 mile trek into 15-mph headwinds while Ron finished his lunch. I fell behind relatively soon. There was a tricky intersection where Jacob waited to ensure I made the turn. I rode with him for a few miles. Then I was on my own again. I could feel myself working to keep up or catch up. Then I remembered to exercise a little self-control and let them leave my sight. I set a 14-15 mph grind into the wind once I was no longer trying to catch them.
I took a few photos along the way. Here is a photo of what must’ve been a beautiful home at one point. The photo below shows a cotton puff compared to my XL glove. My aching knees benefited from each stop. My stops had me wondering if I’d see Ron soon. The last “stamped” control stop was at the Hardees in Franklin, VA. I felt like eating again. So I ordered a “Thickburger” with cheese. The ketchup and mustard was a bit messy. But it didn’t matter. That burger was SATISFYING! I really didn’t expect to be so easily pleased. My body must’ve had a craving for calories that only a Thickburger could deliver. Ron arrived as I received my food, ordered just a drink and then left about 10 minutes later. I wasn’t sure if I’d see him again. There was one last control, an “info control” where we had to identify features of a particular house. Ron was already gone. There was no reason to lollygag there. I gave my knees a quick rest and then continued on. I had just 15 miles to go. Sunset was approaching. So I donned my reflective vest and turned on some lights.
I saw Ron’s taillight in the distance with about 10 miles to go. I did not chase. I figured my pace would either catch him or it wouldn’t. I eventually caught up, chatted for a minute, and then moved on. The sun was behind the trees; but there was still daylight. My Cue Sheet app let me down as I entered the final mile. Apparently, my road had a turn in it with another road “beginning” straight in front of me. As a result, RideWithGPS likely would not have interpreted the curve in the road as a turn; and I interpreted the junction as an intersection. Therefore, I continued straight and went off-course. Luckily, I recognized this within 0.1-mile and returned to the course. Ron probably passed my position while I was off-course and reviewing the official cue sheet. The cue sheet was right. RideWithGPS, while not technically wrong, was misleading. We finished the ride within a minute of each other. He must’ve arrived first and parked on the other side of the DQ since I didn’t see him roll in while I put my bike away. We completed the paperwork and then I headed home. As always, it was very nice to get my heater blowing after finishing a cool ride.
My rolling average speed was ~15 mph. Finishing in 10:33 calculates to an overall average speed of 12.3 mph. Looking at past results from Run #1 and the Reverse run of this course, I finished more than two hours sooner. I attribute that to better rest stop management and not riding as many bonus miles! 😉 I have just one more permanent to go to achieve my year-long R12 milestone. It’s a good feeling. 🙂 However, I must admit that the switch to Standard Time is still leaving me weary three days later. 😦