Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tarwheel Century

Besides commuting I also enjoy long road rides. This weekend I went to Elizabeth City, NC to ride the Tarwheel Century. I drove down Friday evening to the campground listed on the web site. I had not called ahead because my plans had been uncertain and I only knew I was going for sure at the last minute. That was a mistake. They had no tent sites left. I drove back into Elizabeth City to get data service. They could make a Verizon commercial in this part of NC. The AT&T coverage was not good even for phone service. Some searching found me no campsites and cheapest hotel I found was $75. So I took a cue from Chuck of COHO cycles and found a quiet church outside of town and camped in their lawn/parking lot. I was gone the next morning before anyone knew I was there.

I was at the start plenty early, but about 20 minutes before the start I made a strategic decision to visit the bathroom. I was not the only one thinking this. But I made it throughout the line and was on my bike with 5 minutes to spare. I was not alone but it turns out the main group had already started. Still I started out of town in a group of about 30. About a mile in the group was slowing. I was on the brake gently when the guy in front of my braked hard. Don't do this in a large group when you don't need to. I left a little skin from my elbow on the streets of Elizabeth City. To his credit the guy did come back and check on me and apologize. I was ok in general and soon caught up to 8 riders that were moving along pretty well.

A few of them slowed a little and soon I was riding with 3 women from the Outer Banks cycling. We were cruising along nicely and chatting even as is started to rain.The rain cleaned my elbow nicely but it kept anyone from checking their cue sheet. It seemed to me that the riders in front had ridden this before, but it turns out that was not right. When we figured out where we were and headed towards the course we ran into some road markings. We figured out we were at mile 98, but we needed to be at mile 23. Fortunately since we were now on the course we ran into a sag vehicle. It was even a pickup truck that could take all four of us. This is were riding with women paid off. They sweet talked the driver into taking us to the proper mile marker instead of the first sag stop.

We were soon at the second stop and from here on I kept an eye on the road markings and the cue sheet. We headed out at a good pace, a little over 20 mph. But my partners were worried about the time and decided to take the turn for the 66 mile route. I came to do the century so I bid them adieu and pressed on alone. In a few minutes I caught two more riders, 2 more women, Sharon and Jannine. They were going to ride the 66 mile route but Sharon grew up in Edenton and realized they were close enough to check it out. They turned toward Edenton and I continued solo again. The wind picked up and of course it was mostly a headwind. I passed 3 riders spending a couple of minutes talking to them before moving on.

The next rest stop was at the Edenton water front. There I met up with Sharon and Jannine again. They said they decided to ride the rest of the century route and asked me to join them. I agreed, there was no one likely to be much faster at this stage and I will take good company over a good pace any day.

We fought a 20 mph wind which was in our face quite a bit and even nasty coming from the side. But we cruised on and rolled back into Elizabeth City for my first century in over 20 years.

Now I have until Sunday to be ready for the next one - the Raven Rock Ramble.

Location:Sas Campus Dr,Cary,United States

Tuesday, April 27, 2010