28 October 2010

Right hook

Well it finally happened -- I was hit a week or so ago (Sunday, Oct. 17). After 10's of thousands of miles over the last decade or so, the odds were no longer in my favor.

To set the scene, I was riding the first part of my L-L-L Permanent out to the store in Gorman and back. Heading back home on the short, sub 1-mile stretch of Hwy 98. Noon. Traffic was light and visibility was excellent. Wearing my red, white, and blue RUSA wool jersey.

Just before I made the turn onto Kemp Rd., I heard a car approaching from behind. I caught a quick glance of her front bumper for a split second then she made a right turn directly on top of me. Hit my left thigh with the front quarter panel of her car, leaving a black mark between the wheel well and front door. Sent me into the ditch, landing on my elbow and rolling off the bike.

I swear to god, the first words out of her mouth: "I didn't see you". Clearly.

Maybe she was trying to figure out a way to set her DVR to record Wheel of Fortune from her JitterBug phone. Maybe she was daydreaming about lunch -- trying to remember how long the potato salad had been in the fridge -- was it one week or two… Who knows. The end result was, she simply wasn't paying attention and hit me.

I called 911 as soon as I could dig my phone out of my bag -- the sheriff & EMT guys showed up in about 5 minutes. The EMT declared nothing was obviously broken, but I should see my doctor first thing on Monday. For a few minutes, there was enough adrenaline going through me that I didn't notice the pain, but it didn't take long for my left hip and right elbow didn't take long to start hurting.

After talking with the sheriff deputy, I decided to try riding home. Only made it about a mile or two before I had to call my wife to come get me -- my elbow was already starting to swell and I couldn't support my weight with my right arm. By Sunday evening, it looked like I had a golf ball under the skin on my elbow and I couldn't bend my arm -- had to eat left handed. Ice and ibuprofen seemed to help, but it was hurting like pure hell.

Went to my doctor on Monday -- he took one look at my elbow and asked if I'd had it x-rayed. Since I didn't go to the ER, he ordered a round of x-rays. Great. I was hoping it wasn't fractured.

Doc called the next day to let me know it wasn't fractured, but to keep going with the ice/ibuprofen/elevation for a while longer. I was sore all over for several days from the violence of being knocked to the ground. It took a little over a week for my elbow to start to feel OK.

The worst thing about my injuries was not being able to pick up my son, Finn. I've only recently been able to hold him without my elbow speaking up.

In the grand scheme of things, I was lucky. I can think of a 1000+ ways it could have been worse -- much worse. Yeah, I had to deal with some inconvenience, and there will be more to come as the insurance claim comes together, but I'll be fine -- I'll live to ride another day.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing, my bike survived without a scratch -- I cushioned it with my body.

Scenes from the Commute -- Sunset at Lake Crabtree

20 October 2010

Greensboro 600k - Better Times A-Coming

Ever get a song stuck in your head on a ride -- can't shake it no matter what you do?

Well, on the Greensboro 600k last month, I had Jim and Jesse McReynolds' rendition of "Better Times A-Coming" stuck in my head -- for nearly 36 hours. As frustrating as that seems, it actually turned out to be a good thing.

That's the thing about doing brevets, especially longer ones, you can sometimes reach a really dark point -- even thinking about abandoning -- but if you can just hang in there, there's always better times a-coming.

Shortly after leaving the control at Chuck's house on the way out, I started to feel less than good. I'd ridden the first 200k a little too hard and not eaten enough throughout the day, and it was starting to catch up with me. By the time I'd reached the control in Carthage, I was feeling green. I ordered some food at McDonalds, knowing I needed to eat, but feeling like I couldn't. While waiting for the food, I popped a Tums -- and within seconds knew I was going to be sick. A mad sprint for the bathroom for several minutes of dry heaves, and that was that. I still really couldn't eat, but at least I felt somewhat better -- just got to keep the pedals turning.

From Carthage to the turn around in Fayetteville, it was touch-and-go with my stomach. With the encouragement and the offer to share his room from new riding pal, Steve, I was able to make it through a pretty rough night. I knew if I could make it to the turn around and get a bit of sleep, better times would be a-coming.

And after couple hours of good sleep and a hearty breakfast at the Waffle House, Steve and I rolled out for the final 200k back to Greensboro. Better times had arrived.

15 August 2010

Harrisonburg 300k - Foggy Mountain Ramble

Deja vu?! Did I wake up in France? Let's see, it's the middle of August - check. The sweltering heat was replaced by a cool misty morning - check. I'm about to go on a long, tough ride - check. And I have a cold - check.

After a summer of blazing hot temps, we were treated to cool misty weather for Matt's Harrisonburg, VA 300k. With temps forecast to barely make it into the mid 80's and a slight chance of showers, this was shaping up to be a great day in the saddle. Except for the cold thing.

After missing the whole brevet season this year with pneumonia, I decided work in a late season series and Matt's 300k sounded like a good challenge. On the drive up on Friday, I started getting an annoying post-nasal drip. When I woke up on Saturday morning, it was a full on runny nose and sore throat. Awesome.

Pal Bob O. had come in from the coast for the ride and we split a room at the Super 8. I wasn't the only one with morning ailments, Bob was suffering from acid reflux -- bad enough he was considering not starting. He tried breakfast at the diner, but things weren't looking settled.

So the ride, how did the ride go? Well, we had a very small turnout of only 5 riders: Matt, Bob O., Allan (sp), Aji (sp) and myself. We split up right before we ever started, rolling out while Aji was still in the bathroom. Within a couple miles, Matt had to double back and get his water bottles. Bob was suffering the stomach blues so Allan and I were in the lead and thanks to my superb leadership, we made a wrong turn and were off course within the first ten miles. Patsy had seen us go off course so she chased us down to tell us -- ended up with 5~10 bonus miles.

Back on course, we caught up with Matt about the time we saw Bob on the side of the road -- he didn't look good and would end up pulling out before his stomach got him into big trouble. Alan was putting down a good pace and we shed Matt after a couple miles then Alan started opening a big gap on me up Hankey Mtn. highway.

I managed to catch up with Alan and Aji at the first control, but we all rolled out separately. That'd basically be the theme for the day -- 4 solo riders on course. I managed to catch Alan at each control, but he was running a steady 15 minutes ahead of me. Alan and I did finally regroup in the last 25 miles and finish together at 7:40pm -- 13:40 hours on course (my computer showed 15.7mph rolling average). I'm pretty sure this is the fastest 300k I've ever done and certainly one of the most difficult -- if not THE most difficult.

Rawrrr! Rando Habanero takes a break at an Exxon near Natural Bridge.

My, what big teeth you have.

If you haven't ridden Matt's Harrisonburg 300k, I highly recommend it. It's a challenging but beautiful route -- lots of winding back roads and beautiful vistas. If you have any designs on PBP '11, I'd suggest checking out this route -- I felt the terrain was very similar to northern France. Lots of rolling hills -- nothing too tough. Ridewithgps.com confirms a little over 11,000 feet of climbing:

This brevet also marked a couple of firsts for me. I've done 50+ brevets/permanents -- gotten my card signed hundreds of times. For the first time ever, a store refused to sign my card -- sited it was "against corporate policy". So to the management at the Stop-In Exxon in Buena Vista, I'd like to cordially invite you to go fuck yourselves.

Another, slightly more positive first, I stopped at a house along the route to beg for water. The 70 mile leg from the first control to the second was very remote -- I'd only seen one open store and didn't know if I'd find another before the control. With around 25 miles to go, I was out of water and getting desperate. I'd stopped at a church but the faucet was dry -- I tried two houses but no one answered the door. The nice lady at the third house kindly obliged to fill my bottle from the sink and even brought me a cold bottle of water from the fridge. Coulda hugged her. And here's the kicker -- there was a store not even a mile down the road.

Post ride -- all things considered, I feel really darn good -- except for the cold thing. It's quickly moving into faucet-like runny nose and a hacking cough. Super Awesome!

29 July 2010

Scenes from the Commute -- Tournesol

A lone sunflower blooms next to the Black Creek Greenway in Cary. Wonder how it came to be there....
Also spotted this 'spidery' Cleome Hasslerana flower near the sunflower.

03 July 2010

A beautiful day in the saddle

Days like this don't come around all that often in July where the temp and humidity are typically racing each other to 100. We were treated to start temps around 60 degrees (almost wanted a light jacket!) eventually only warming to the mid 80's with light winds and low humidity. It was an absolutely perfect day to spin some miles with friends.

I found myself with a "bachelor's" weekend so decided I'd ride my L-L-L route and squeak my July Permanent in early. Mike D., Lynn, Alan and Branson signed on to join me.

Well, I should have taken a group shot before we took off -- within a couple miles, Mike D. and Lynn had broken off the front. We saw them briefly at the first control and again as they passed us on the way back in.
I spent the rest of the day riding with Branson and our local RBA, Alan -- a fella couldn't ask for better riding companions. Branson and I have both been busy with our new families and hadn't ridden together since last fall -- we spent the day catching up on how our little boys are doing.

Branson attacks on the Moore's Mill "wall".

The "Hard Man" of the day award goes to Branson who showed up for this rather hilly ride on a fixed gear. And here I was waffling between riding my bike with the compact double or triple crank -- silly me.

We had a great ride out to the turn-aroud control, arriving right at noon. I'm a big fan of olde-time country stores and the Leasburg Grocery is one of those places. Despite being a rather small store, they seem to do a brisk business (they're really the only thing out there) -- a steady stream of people hauling boats made their way through the store while we were there.
Alan and Branson relax and refuel at Leasburg.

The iconic Leasburg store.

We only had one mechanical mishap for the day. While descending Moore's Mill road on the return, my right pedal fell off! Fortunately, I was just starting to pedal again after coasting down the hill, or the outcome could have been much worse.

The seal or bearing in my right pedal was starting to seize up -- I was barely able to turn the pedal by hand -- it must have developed enough friction to back out of the crank arm. The crank threads were a little monkeyed up, but I was able to get the pedal threaded back in and continue on, though I was obsessively watching the pedal for the rest of the ride.

Overall, it was a great day in the saddle with some great company!

14 June 2010

A Sunday in L-L-L

Martin put out the shout for riding my L-L-L Permanent this Sunday so I decided to sign on along with Sridhar, John O., and Tim (see Martin's ride report). We all stayed together through the first two controls, but as the heat and hills piled on, we split into two groups. Tim, John O. and I spent the rest of the ride together, finishing in a little over 11 and a half hours.

You know what they say about the weather in North Carolina -- if you don't like it, stick around a bit, it'll change. And boy did it change. The day started off warm and humid and steadily got warmer throughout the day, topping out in the mid to upper 90's. By late afternoon, pop-up thunderstorms were unleashing their fury on us.

Overall, it was a tough day in the saddle with some weather extremes, but I sure enjoyed the company and the ride. Here's a few snap shots I took along the way:
Keeping it real in Red Mill.

I have a bit of a soft spot for turtles and helped several of them across the road on Sunday. I found this little fella -- barely bigger than a quarter -- on Stagville Rd. Undoubtedly the smallest turtle I've ever seen.

Go west, young man.

Martin spins a yarn while Sridhar relaxes at Hollow Ridge Grocery. This has to be one of my favorite control stores -- a nice shady area at the front as well as a big porch out back -- not to mention a good selection of munchies and sodas.

Ummmm, the bridge is still out on Charlie Long Rd. -- time to change the cue sheet, this one is going to be out for a while.

A sampling of the local fare at the turn-around control in Leasburg. This one is for you, Adrian.

The freshly re-paved section on Hester Store Rd. turned the heat up a couple of notches.

Tim and John O. relax at Hollow Ridge Grocery. By the time we got there in the afternoon, the heat and humidity were stifling -- no sign of rain in sight.

And while we were cooling down, up rolls this contraption.

Something tells me, this might be their "daily driver".

About 3~4 miles outside of Bahama, John noticed some thunder clouds starting to form behind us -- by the time we reached Bahama, the sky was angry-purple and the wind was really starting to whip up. We ended up taking refuge in a store until we though the worst of the storm had blown over. As we rolled down Stagville, Rd., the light mist turned into a torrential downpour -- it felt wonderful after baking in the sun all day. The rain followed us all the way in to the finish.