30 September 2008

Full Moon Lake Loop -- Nighthawk Postcards

19 June, 2008

A day late and a dollar short. I'm just getting this blog thing fired up so I though I'd start off with a ride report from a Permanent I'd done earlier in the year. As you may (or may not) have guessed from the name of this blog, randonneuring is my sport and what I'll primarily be rambling on about here. Enjoy.
June was shaping up to be a real scorcher. Several of us were needing to get in a permanent for the month. Mike Ross tossed the idea of a night time permanent out on the NC Randon list. The weekend of the 19th was calling for a full moon, and night time temperatures would be a nice break from the mid-90's we'd been seeing during the daytime. I signed on along with Sridhar -- the three of us rendezvoused at 7pm and rolled off into the darkening (and threatening) evening. 

Well, there was a bit of trauma and drama on the Full Moon Lake Loop. I don't think we made it a mile before the first mechanical -- one of Sridhar's head lights fell off. He retrieved the light -- no damage done so we rolled on. Twice before we made the first control, Sridhar's tail light popped off. The light was clipped to his bag in a way that made it rest against his rack -- when he hit a big bump, the light bounced on the rack, popping off the cover sending bits and batteries everywhere. At the first control, Mike applied a bit of duct tape and I repositioned the light so it wouldn't hit the rack anymore.

I wanted to use the restroom at the control before we rolled out, but there appeared to be some sort of "incident" with one of the customers in the restroom. The manager was having a "discussion" with the customer and I decided not to involve myself in the matter.

As we prepared to roll out of the control, I told Mike & Sridhar I was going to roll up the road a bit for a "natural break" and they'd catch me in a bit. Well, I soft pedaled along for a couple of miles, but didn't see them, so I just decided to ride my own pace.

No matter how many times you've ridden a course in the daytime, it's a completely different beast at night. I spent a lot of time squinting at my cue sheet & computer to make sure I didn't miss a turn. I felt pretty safe on the road alone, however, in hind sight, I don't think it was the greatest idea to strike out solo.

Traffic is usually pretty scarce on the Lake Loop and was nearly non-existant at night. I did have a couple of carloads of people yelling out of their windows -- I presume it was words of encouragement.

At around mile 61 (23:15), my phone started ringing, It was Mike Ross. The connection wasn't good and there was a lot of background noise -- sounded like he'd stopped off at a party. As he was telling me that Sridhar was down with terrible cramps, it dawned on me that the background noise was Sridhar screaming in pain!

Mike and I discussed options for getting Sridhar back home and he said he'd turn back and retrieve Sridhar with his car. I rolled on. Sridhar called back while I was in Boydton and I was very happy to hear his legs were starting to unknot.

Food and water on the Lake Loop can be tough on Sundays and was no better at night. I took advantage of "Dean's Fountain" in Boydton -- It's on the right between the last two buildings just before you make the left. The water was clear and tasted fine -- and so far, no ill gastrointestinal effects.

I know it's tough to believe, but Skipwith was a virtual ghost town when I arrived. I think the spiders and I were the only ones awake in Skipwith at 00:23. The vending machines were a godsend, but make sure you have some change with you. I must have spent 10 minutes trying to get the machine to take my crumpled dollar bills. I finally got two of them in the machine so I could get a bottle of water ($1.35) and a Mtn. Dew ($.55) with the change. When I went to retrieve my change and beverages, I was shocked by the number of spiders working the vending machine -- it was almost like something out of a horror movie!

Just an FYI for the information control at Skipwith, I don't think they are selling gas there anymore. They have the old pumps that only go to $3.99, and they don't have a price posted. I wasn't in the mood for gasoline when I stopped, so I didn't try buying any.

Besides fidgeting with the vending machine, my stop was pretty short -- wasn't much reason to linger.

The Mega-Uppy's on Hwy 15/49 at the right turn into Clarksville, appears to be a 24-hr place. I was OK provision wise, so I didn't stop, but it's good to know about for future rides.

It looks like the street fair in Clarksville was this past Saturday -- there was still a bit of flotsam and jetsam in the streets and bags of trash on the curb. I could hear a band playing in some club as I passed through Clarksville.

The postcard thing worked out very well and was fun too -- hope you enjoy the postcards, Mike. All of the post offices were right on course and I was able to find the office in Clarksville after only a couple of minutes of wandering around. Here's a look at the post cards I mailed in:

The rest of the ride through Stovall and to the final control was pretty much uneventful. The Hwy 158 Exxon was closed at 3:00, but no worries, we'd stashed a gallon of water in one of the U-Haul trailers. Topped up the bottles and finished the final leg.

For the most part, the moon was mostly obscured by clouds, but every now and again, you'd get a good, clear view. When I made the left at Kerr lake, I was treated to a beautiful view of the full moon with it's reflection across the water like a golden brick road. By 3:00, the clouds were really beginning to thin out and the moon was casting a ghostly blueish shadow over everything.

I made back to the fire station at 4:32 feeling pretty good. I called Sridhar, he was doing OK and was waiting at the Amaco near the state line. I loaded up and went out to retrieve him. On the way back as Sridhar and I neared the fire station, we caught Mike, he only had a couple miles to go and was looking good!

Humid was certainly the word of the evening. Even though it wasn't hot, I probably drank the same amount as I would on a sunny day. My glasses were fogging on a pretty regular basis. We maybe had 30~ miles of rain. Nothing too intense and it actually felt pretty good. The cool rain on the hot pavement, sent steam rising from the road giving an otherworldly feel to the ride. Kinda spooky!

Overall, a beautiful course by day, became a magical ride by night. All night long I was treated to a chorus of frogs and insects that beckoned me to take a nice nap.... Which is what I spent all day Sunday doing. 6hrs of TDF coverage and a comfy couch -- it doesn't get much better than that!

1 comment:

bullcitybiker said...

Great account, Byron! Can't wait to read more of your reports-