It had been nearly four weeks since my last ride. I had a command duty phone over Thanksgiving week (no riding with this phone and its associated briefcase) and then I had riding conflicts with either rain, cold, school programs or holiday parties. Regardless, I had let my friends know that NOTHING was going to stand in the way of finishing my R12 endeavor! Last weekend’s weather was forecast to be questionable with heavy rain on Saturday and light rain on Sunday morning. The forecast for the following weekend was not looking good*. I could either ride early in a little rain at 40-50 degrees or risk having a really crappy ride later in December. I opted for an early ride. So did four other riders, Brent, Jacob, Tom and Keith.
This was my first time riding the Hertford-Edenton 204k. It leaves from a different Suffolk location than our other rides and then heads directly to North Carolina. I awoke at 4:30am and immediately looked at the forecast. Here’s a screenshot of the weather radar. Yuck! The chance of rain was to diminish as the day progressed. Getting wet early seemed like a guarantee. It didn’t matter. I was going! My drive to Suffolk was rainy. The rain had nearly stopped by 6:30. We prepped our bikes, got receipts and hit the road shortly after 7am. It was 45-degrees and drizzling. I wore tights, a wool base layer, a jersey, a wool balaclava, Windstopper gloves, and a raincoat. It was also dark; so I donned a reflective vest and ankle bands. The drizzle stopped early. However, we were following the rain cell and rode on wet roads for most of the morning. I had opted to leave my fenders at home. This was not a bad decision since the roads were not wet enough to cause wheel spray. We did our best to avoid puddles.
My lack of training surfaced fairly quickly as I fell off the pace after ten miles. “That didn’t take long,” I thought. Although I enjoy company on long rides, being able to set my own pace is always a good thing as well. I picked a steady pace of 14-15 mph, dipping to 13 while riding into moderate headwinds. I felt better when I wasn’t pushing too hard in an attempt to stay with the group. Riding alone also allowed me to stop for photographs along the way without impeding other riders. I shot a lot of abandoned houses today. I could imagine some were quite majestic in their day, especially the one with columns shown here.
“Would today be the day I could finally achieve shorter rest stops?” I find it easy to lollygag at control points if I’m around talkative riders who aren’t in a hurry. Today was different. I actually caught the group at the first control point as they were about to leave. Therefore, I was swift in getting my snack, drink and receipt so I could join them as they left. I learned that the group had missed at least one turn and rode a “bonus mile” or two. That was helpful in enabling me to close a gap. I rode 10 miles before falling off the pace again. That was okay. My plan was to continue riding as I had with the hopes of catching the group at each control point. It was a great way to keep my stops brief. Temperatures eventually rose to 55 degrees, allowing me to ride without a coat for a couple of hours.
I left the second control point with the group. Jacob pulled ahead of the group and I followed. I rode with him for a while before he eventually pulled away. One of the “information controls” was an out-and-back. I saw him riding the opposite direction and estimated he was about a mile ahead of me. I saw the rest of the riders entering the out-and-back as I exited, putting them exactly two miles behind me. I reached the last control stop with services around 3pm (I think). I was ready for a late lunch. I had a fried chicken leg, a corn dog and potato wedges. It was an oddly satisfying combo. Jacob opted to wait for me since he knew we were in for some night riding. I finished eating as the others arrived. Jacob and I left, ready for the coming darkness.
This was my first night ride on unlit roads since my attempt at a 400k back in May. Jacob was using his new B&M Luxos B dynamo headlamp. Since I had been interested in the Luxos U, I was curious to see how Jacob’s Luxos compared to my dual-Ixon setup. The Luxos has a wider beam than my Ixon pair. However, the spot I project onto the road ahead of me is larger and brighter. I’m not knocking the Luxos. However, I’m not as interested in investing in a dynamo hub or a Luxos when I already have what seems to be a very good setup that’s also simple to remove or transfer between bikes. Sure, battery-free power would be nice. But I don’t think I’ll do enough overnight riding to justify the purchase. By the way, I’m not claiming the Ixon IQ is superior to the Luxos B. The Luxos is brighter with a wider beam than a single Ixon. However, two Ixons are brighter, albeit not as wide, as a Luxos (Luxos U owners are welcome to comment on how the “U” differs from the “B” on the road). Additionally, most dynamo light users carry back-up lighting which seems to nullify the “it weighs less” argument. My Ixons act as back-ups to each other. I stagger their run times to ensure their batteries do not die at the same time. 🙂
Jacob and I finished just before 6:00. The others arrived ten minutes behind us. This 11-hour ride was about average for me. Although my rolling average was slower at 14 mph and I made more stops, the brief control stops helped keep my overall completion time shorter than some of my slower rides. Now that the R12 is behind me, I find myself wondering, “Will I go for R24 or beyond?” For now, I think not. I skipped some really good rides and social events to pursue this goal. It will be nice to have a flexible riding schedule in the future. However, I don’t imagine I’ll pass up a good opportunity to ride a perm if the weather is nice.
A Milestone Acheived!
*PS: This coming weekend promises to be a perfect, 70-degree sunny day. It’s too funny that I jumped at last weekend! But now I’m available to ride with my wife and daughter.
We still had you and Jacob in sight when Keith and I pulled over to wait for Tom to fix a flat tire on that stretch right after Rocky Hock, where the route parallels the Chowan River. We knew he didn’t have cue sheets or a GPS with the route loaded, so we got an extra 20 minute rest! When we caught up to you at Sunbury, I was ready to leave with you and Jacob, but apparently NEITHER Tom NOR Keith had cue sheets or a working GPS, so I realized I probably ought to wait for them to eat. Surprisingly, neither of them were willing to ride with food held in clenched teeth! Congrats on your R-12!
Congrats on your R-12! Having completed two myself, I can appreciate how hard it is to make that commitment over the course of 12 consecutive months. Well done!