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168Re: Cycle North Carolina

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  • David Clark
    Oct 9, 2009
      Well - this is a late and abreviated ride report... Let's see what I remember after being back to work for a week.
      We drove up Saturday to Blowing Rock in a gathering rain.  It was sprinkling in Hickory and a driving rain by the time we got to Lenoir.  We arrived in Blowing Rock to find it totally choked with cyclists milling around trying to stay dry and figure out where to check in and where to sleep for the night.  The Blowing Rock elementary school was already filled with people setting up camp indoors for the night as we were picking up our ride packets and figuring out the parking and shuttle system.  Marta went to park the car at the Appalachian ski area while I put the bikes together and talked to people.  A guy in the school hallway right next to me was putting together a RANS F5 out of a very sleek aluminum hard sided case.  It had S&S couplers in the frame and was completely knocked down for flying.  It took him about an hour to build it all back up while we chatted.
      Lots of recumbents in evidence.  It was fun to walk around the inside of the school and talk to people about the bikes.  Many very nice touring bikes with panniers, Brooks saddles, and bar end shifters.  Lots of Tour Easy and other long wheel base bents.
      Had a good barbeque supper at the VFW hall and then a couple beers at a bar down the street.  As we walked back to the school where all our baggage was sitting in the gym we decided that the rain had slowed down to the point where we would rather camp outside than in the gym with 200 other noisy folks.  Set up the tent in the school playground on a very nice wood chip surface under the jungle gym.  Wet but not too wet.
      Sunday morning was foggy but slowly clearing as we ate breakfast and got everything packed up to put in the baggage truck.  We were on our way by about 8:4and among the last to leave.  Some folks started at 7:30 but it was still foggy and dark, and it took us an hour to get the camping stuff and luggage packed up.  This was the pattern for the rest of the week.  We never got started earlier than 8:30 but figured that there wasn't any point in hurrying.  The early starters must have been doing the rent-a-tent service where somebody else takes care of horsing the bags around.  Or staying in motels.
      We headed out as the sun was starting to burn off the mist.  Took 221 out of Blowing Rock and within a few miles got on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading towards Grandfather mountain.  The day was cool but sunny and bright.  I had never cycled the Parkway.  It was incredible!  Very little traffic other than lots of bicycles.  The views were amazing.  Marta and I stopped and took pictures at every overlook.  So did lot's of other folks.  This was really cycle touring as we just enjoyed the morning sun, great views, and a great road. 
      Lots of climbing to get up to 4400 feet.
      We got off the Parkway near the Grandfather Mountain entrance and then headed down a very steep, twisty descent to the first rest stop at the Linville  post office.  That was fun!  The rest stop was basically out of food and water because we had spent so much time "touring" up on the parkway.  We did get a few apple slices and a little water but basically were not well hydrated for the rest of the day.  That was the one downer on our first morning.  I guess we just needed to be faster.
      From there we hit 221 again and then 181 where we ended up on an 11 mile long descent on good wide ride that was real fast.  Hit 44 mph before deciding I needed to bring it back a little.  Passed an ambulance where a cyclist had hit the guard rail.  Learned later that this was a broken bone or two plus a concussion.  So - used a little more caution for the last 3 miles down hill.
      The last ten miles of the day were not so steep.  we made it into Lenoir after 59 miles of mountain riding by about 4:30.  We were set up at the Mulberry Recreation center which had some playing fields to camp on.  Found our luggage and set up our tent.  Found the shower trucks and got cleaned up.  The shower trucks were one of the high points of the whole week.  I told Marta that back packing trips on the Appalachian trail needed a lot more catered food and shower trucks.  She had to agree with me.  Ate a pasta dinner and basically crawled into the tent and went to sleep from 8:00 until 6:00AM.  Combination of lots of climbing and not much sleep the night before.
      Same routine the next day for 56 miles from Lenoir to Statesville.  Some really steep upgrades - especially at the end of the day when the route seemed to take a bunch of pointless detours just to get more climbing in.  What Marta calls PUDS (pointless ups and downs - a big feature on the AT).  Really got tired of going up hill.  Stopped at Fort Dobbs before getting into Statesville.  This was way more interesting than I had been expecting.  It was the site of a three story log fortress that the British built to defend the frontier during the French and Indian War.  There were re-enactors in period uniforms talking about the history and bits and pieces of 18th century crockery and metal bits that had been dug up along with muskets and small canons.  We spent the evening on a church grounds in Statesville.  Got rained on by a thunderstorm as we were settying up our tent.  The meal was provided by the church folks in their activity hall.  They seemed a bit overwhelmed by 1200 cyclists lined up to eat.  I don't think they really understood how much food a group like that could consume.
      Had to get new brake pads for Marta's bike.  She had literally worn out a set of pads in the last two days of descending.  I was impressed!  There were several bike shops set up for mechanical support.  The Liberty Cycling folks from Asheville had a set of Kool Stop pads that fit her V-brakes that gave her a lot better stopping power than the original Shimano pads.
      Tuesday we head to Thomasville over 63 miles of mostly rolling country.  This was easier riding and some beautiful farm country.  At the last rest stop of the day at Thomalex lake Marta saw an old hiking friend of hers who was just hanging out there talking with the cyclists.  They were both surprised to meet up like that.  We met them that night in down town Thomasville where the streets had been blocked off for the celebration with music, Miss Teen North Carolina, and Bobby Labont and his NASCAR car for entertainment.  The day was easy enough that we felt great "partying" in the street until at least 9:30.... We were staying at the Baptist Childrens Home which has a great faciltiy there.
      Wednesday was our longest day.  75 miles from Thomasville to Sanford.  There was a century option but we opted for the short program.  Rolling country side.  A great pasta salad lunch provided at the second rest stop.  And the weather continued to be perfect.  Spent the night at the LIons Club fairground which was pretty primitive.  I think the porta potties were about half a mile away from our tent so those midnight rambles were a bit of a hike.
      Thursday we rode 58 miles to Dunn.  Pretty tired from yesterday's distance.  The landscape started out in the sand hills but then got distinctly flatter.  Good lunch at the Buies Creek Volunteer Fire Department.  Stopped at the Averasboro Battlefield museam and read up on some late Civil War history.  Little military cemetary with graves just marked "Six bodies".  Had a good conversation with a guy riding another RANS F5 about technical stuff.  Brakes and shifters and what not.  The Tourist board folks at Dunn had made a major effort to organize trips to restaurants with shuttles.  There is also an Airborn museum for you military types.
      Friday was an easy, flat 61 miles to Kenansville.  The weather starting getting darker and we hit rain for the first time cycling into Warsaw.  We stopped under a porch of an old commercial building in downtonw Warsaw and then made it over to the Veterans Museum where a hundred other cyclists were sitting on the porch waiting for the rain to slow and eating home baked cookies and drinking lemonade provided by the fine folks of Warsaw.  We decided just to press on and within about 30 minutes the rain stopped and we started to dry off.  The Duplin Count Events center in Kenansville is a great facility that included winery tours and a  bar inside the main hall.  By this point in the week,  after a wet ride, beer seemed mighty attractive so we relaxed inside chatting with other folks until the bar closed at 10:00 (which seemed really late...).  Talked to a guy with a RANS X-stream.  Looked interesting although I still don't know if I'm ready for a long wheel base bike.
      Saturday was a short day into Surf City through a bunch a swamp land used by the USMC for training exercises.  Flat, hot, and humid.  Felt like summer as a crossed the last bridge onto the island and saw the ocean in front of us.  The ride organisation seemed to be falling apart by the time we arrived - nobody could really tell us what to do or how to do it.  We get the bikes broken down and loaded into the bike transport trucks, picked up our "free" fish fry lunch at the park and found a shuttle to take us and our bags to the camp ground.  This took about three hours.  We decided that the only way to cap off the day was to head back to the beach and have a big seafood dinner at the bar watching the surf roll in.  Now that was more like it!  Had steamed oysters and countless (well - maybe four) bottles of Sam Adams while talking to all the cyclists around us about the events of the week.
      Sunday was all logistics, all day.  Busses showed up at the campground at 7:30AM and we didn't make it back to Blowing rock until 4:30PM.  Home to Charlotte by 8:00.
      What a great week!  Lots of ups and downs physically and mentally.  I would find this much easier the second just because we started to get used to the logistics and daily schedule.  We would bring a lot less camp clothing next time.  We really just needed a couple pair of shorts, some tee shirts and sandals.  Just wear a cylcing jacket or your rain gear on top of that to stay warm.  That way there would be a lot less luggage to deal with.  We would also seriously consider doing the rent-a-tent option where they do all the packing and hauling.  The motel thing looked pretty complicated with shuttles and taxis but that might work well too.  All in all, a great week and I'm already planning on the spring ride.  And maybe the BRAG ride across Georgia.  Marta seemed pretty grim at times (she just started riding a bike in May and that upright bike is just NOT comfortable). She had to get a new saddle by day four.  I tried not to talk about how comfortable my bike was too much but I could see she was starting to understand what bents are all about as we talked to lots of other benters that were cruising across the state in comfort.  She's starting to think recumbent so this could be the start of something wonderful.  I was totally impressed that she met her goals which were "no walking, no sagging."  She is tough!  There were some hills where we both started to run out of gears and lots of folks were getting off and walking.  But - if the goal is "no walking, no sagging" then that means stay on the bike and keep pedaling!
      Hope to see more of you out there in the spring.  There must have been at least 50 other bent riders out of 1200 participants so lots of company.

      --- On Tue, 10/6/09, Jerry Morris <froglegz57@...> wrote:

      From: Jerry Morris <froglegz57@...>
      Subject: Re: [mecklenbent-riders] The Raven
      To: mecklenbent-riders@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 2:17 PM

           the rnc ride was very popular on the brol website and a lot of guys said they were coming to ride.  one family from wisconsin was coming and several from the new england area were planning on dropping by.  sounds like it was a blast, maybe next year....  whistfully staring off into space......  i will check the site for the tdp and probably make a commitment by thursday.    can't wait for the ride report.

      --- On Tue, 10/6/09, David Clark <david_h_clark2004@ yahoo.com> wrote:

      From: David Clark <david_h_clark2004@ yahoo.com>
      Subject: Re: [mecklenbent- riders] The Raven
      To: mecklenbent- riders@yahoogrou ps.com
      Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 12:29 PM

      I'm also thinking of doing the Tour de Pig ride.  I was planning on going to 'Chapel Hill Saturday afternoon to install a new sink in my daughter's condo so I could "fit this in" in the morning.  I see from the sign up form on thier web site that the event is limited to 600 participants and taht there are no guarantees that you can ride if you register on the day of the ride.  I don't know how likely it is to be full....
      The Cycle NC ride was great!  I'll have to pull together a day by day report.  One of the most interesting things was there were a ton of recumbent bikes there.  I got to see all kinds of interesting recumbents and talk to other bent riders.  Some very cool stuff.  Marta should have pictures up on face book shortly.

      --- On Tue, 10/6/09, Jerry Morris <froglegz57@yahoo. com> wrote:

      From: Jerry Morris <froglegz57@yahoo. com>
      Subject: Re: [mecklenbent- riders] The Raven
      To: mecklenbent- riders@yahoogrou ps.com
      Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 8:46 AM

           sounds like you have been busy and a new ride is in the works.  i checked out the tourdetuck website and it sounds like a killer ride, both in beauty and in difficulty.  when might we get to see the new ride?  great report on the 2 choices, cant wait to see the finalist.
      dave and marta.....  how did the rnc go??  drop the group a blow by blow when you get healed and are ready for more abuse.  still playing with the idea of the tour de pig this weekend.  if i can get the heel pain gone i will be up for it despite my lack of riding lately.  tim will be working but there may be other medic employees joining the ride. 
      i have also noticed a lot more activity on the silver comet site lately so we may have a few added locals if we do a ride there.  the trail is currently broken near the 15 m mark but it may be fixed fairly soon since that is a heavily traveled area.  if it is not we can portage around it or just go out and back.
      ride safe,

      --- On Mon, 10/5/09, philip.bissette <philip.bissette@ yahoo.com> wrote:

      From: philip.bissette <philip.bissette@ yahoo.com>
      Subject: [mecklenbent- riders] The Raven
      To: mecklenbent- riders@yahoogrou ps.com
      Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 11:16 AM

      I rode the Carbent Raven at Amling's Cycle in Niles IL, about 20 miles from downtown Chicago. The bike is awsome. It weighs less than 20 lbs, the frame is very stiff and efficient and the bike is extremely comfortable. It had some SRAM carbon fiber wheels on it which made it even faster. Incredibly smooth, fast etc. My only complaint is the steering and shifting setup, but that would be easy to remedy.

      All that said, I'm probably going to go with the Bacchetta Carbon Aero 2. I rode the CA about a month ago in Greenville. That bike was a little too small for me so it's hard to get a good comparison but it feels very comparable to the Raven, if not quite as light. I would say the Raven has the edge but I don't think I can live with the Raven's fixed (non-removable, non-adjustable, difficult to repair etc.) seat.

      Also, my brother and I did this route last Tuesday. I don't recommend this to be your first century ride in several years - I'll just leave it at that. WWW.TourdeTuck. com

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