Sunday, May 3, 2009

"You two look terrible!"

Actually, it was shouted more like "ARRGH, YOU TWO LOOK TERRIBLE!!!", accompanied by a scrunched facial expression and slightly recoiled body language.

This was the greeting we received from the startled counter person at McDonald's at the conclusion of our 200Km (120+ miles) bicycle ride yesterday on the 'Showdown at Black Creek'. Alas, he was right.

On the other hand, we thought it was great. My riding companion (I'll call her "Jayjay") and I were still standing after having just ridden our second RUSA permanent, this one from North Raleigh to Black Creek NC and back, in just under 13 hours.

The ride got off to an uncertain start. Early in the week, Jayjay had injured a knee. We were not sure she could or should try such a long ride and risk getting stranded or cause long-term damage. She decided to go for it moments before the start. It turned out to be a good decision. She was able to finish, thanks to keeping the revs high throughout, as well as some good drugs. (Memo to self: I need to devise a portable ice bag for occasions like this.)

We had one mechanical problem. About 25 miles out, Jayjay's right bar-end friction shifter completely locked up. It had been hard to shift before, but completely froze today. After three or four unsuccessful shift attempts going up one hill, all forward motion had been lost anyway, so we stopped to look at it. I was able to force it into a central usable gear, so she could proceed shifting only the front chainring, effectively a two-speed bike. We decided to continue onward and work on it seriously at the Kountry Kwik Pik.

I looked for some light oil at the convenience store, but had to settle on a huge can of WD-40. This was actually a blessing in disguise. I started at the derailleur end of the cable and moved forward, spraying gobs of high pressure WD-40 into the sheaths as I yanked on the cables. When I got to the friction shifter, I unloaded much of the can into every opening. Finally the lever broke loose. Jayjay said it shifted better than ever. Woo hoo, success. I think the easy shifting made her knees feel better too.

As we made our way east with renewed vigor, the wind started to pick up. We were expecting thunderstorms today, so this felt like a bad omen. Every flag stood at attention, and of course the wind changed direction every time we turned. However, we only had to contend with the wind. The skies stayed mostly cloudy, and we never got more than a few drops of rain here and there.

As we approached the town of Black Creek, I started wondering where the body of water known as Black Creek was located. I slowed going over every bridge, trying to evaluate if it the water was black enough, or if it could be called a creek. I took lots of photos, but don't think I found it. Our next ride will be the "Search for Black Creek".

We ate lunch at a picnic table in the Black Creek Community Center, a delightful park right behind the fire house. Curiosity got the better of a young boy playing football, and he came over and spoke with us. He asked where we came from. He immediately turned and screamed to his friends that we had bicycled from Raleigh. General disbelief all around. Then he asked my age. Complete disbelief. His wary eyes accused us of duping him, and he scoffed and ran away to play more football. Yeah right, and 200K is only the entry-level RUSA ride distance...

As the clock ticked on steadily during our return trip, Jayjay expressed concern that we would not finish on time. She repeatedly insisted I continue forward on my own rather than wait for her, under the mistaken perception that I ride faster than she does. I eventually relented about 5 miles east of Youngsville, and sprinted off into the distance. Of course, this sprint depleted what little energy I had left just as I returned to the rollers in Raleigh. This is such a fiendishly great ride with the hills at the ends, and I blew it. I was in Slog City. I stopped some, I walked some, and for what little good it did, I refueled at the convenience store at Old Hwy 98. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise, as I stopped for one final photo at the Wakefield High School stopping point, that Jayjay caught up to me and we rolled into McDonald's together. What a hoot.

Oh, and traffic was cordial, dogs were tolerable, and my face isn't too sunburned.


And, as always, many thanks to the route designer for a great ride.


dean furbish said...

Congratulations on overcoming the mechanical and completing the ride!

I enjoyed the lively article and captioned pix!

Keep riding and writing!

Doctor on a bike said...

Hilarious. Congrats on the ride!!