Hello everyone, I’m vacating. After spending last week climbing over 22,000 feet (including Saturday’s 6000+ feet), I find myself in the swamps of North Carolina. Here I have ridden on Monday and Tuesday covering over 60 miles but only climbing 400+ feet. This is a whole different world!
It has actually been a nice break from the climbing. Here it is basically flat except for these depressions here and there where the terrain descends into wetlands and then rises up toward more flat fields. This means you keep the engine wound up and keep it purring.
A couple of times I’ve been out and caught a nice tail wind. When you catch it right, you can fly along at 27 – 28 mph at wattage that normally would have you moving at 22 mph or so. That, friends, is fun!
As for Strava, this has been a desert. The closest Strava segment I could find was near the town of Whiteville. It would mean a 16 mile ride in 90+ degrees through swamps and cornfields to reach the 5 mile segment.
On Monday, I decided to take matters into my own hands to create a couple segments on stretches that I have ridden here over the years. They will probably stay my KOMs for years to come. I don’t see a large cycling community growing up here any time soon!
Tuesday, I decided to head toward Whiteville and give Richmond Tedder some competition. I happened upon his segment while looking for anything close by. I noticed the frustration in one of his comments on the segment, “Where are all the cyclists around here?” I would just ride over and give him some company!
It was around 9 AM when I rolled out. I was pleasantly surprised by the weather. It wasn’t too hot and when I rode along some of the shaded sections of Highway 131, I felt quite cool. Of course, when I rolled out into the exposed sections running between sundry crops, I felt the full brunt of the sun.
Still, it felt good to get in a rhythm and watch the impressively smooth asphalt pass beneath my front wheel. I covered the 16 miles to the segment in just over 40 minutes. Then I turned my attention to give Richmond a run for his money!
The segment started on a road called Silver Spoon Road. This would be a good section because even though the road was a little rough, I would have a nice tail wind. Then I would turn right onto a stretch of Highway 131. I knew I could fly along that smooth road with a slight crosswind with a little at my rear.
However, then I would then turn off onto a section where the asphalt was a more gravelly type. It had those ribs that often run across roads like these. I also would have a head wind on this section. Then there was a right turn onto a slightly smoother surface. The next right turn would put me back on Silver Spoon Road.
Sure enough, I started off on Silver Spoon with speeds up to 27 mph. I continued this after turning onto 131. Then I hit the wall on the turn onto Peacock Road! The combination of the road surface and the head wind dropped my speeds down to 23 mph and then 21 mph.
I put my head down to minimize the wind drag and before I knew it I was passing the turn onto Bill Hooks Road! I caught the entrance to the road in my peripheral vision and got stopped to turn around and get headed in the right direction. I knew that would cost me about 10 seconds.
Realizing that I was nearing the halfway point and that I would be picking up a tail wind when I made the final turn caused me to push a little harder. That allowed me to keep my speed for the section around an average of 23 mph until I had to climb a little rise. Before the turn, I was down to 19 mph.
Then I took off on Silver Spoon toward the finish. Going up an incline up from a low area where I had crossed over a creek I was still flying along at 26 mph. It was all due to the wind on my back. I watched the speed creep up toward an average of 24 mph for the entire segment. I knew that would be good!
Of course, I would have to wait until I got home to find out the details. Up until this point, I had averaged over 21 mph for an hour and a half. The sun was now climbing its way up to noon. I slipped into a more comfortable gear and slowly pedaled my way back to my parents’ home.
It was a good feeling. No need to go fast. Nothing to prove. No training plan to complete. Just riding through the summer breeze and looking at a section of the country that hasn’t changed much at all in the 40 plus years of my life.
It is so very different from Greenville in a multitude of ways. Sure, the terrain is different, but it’s more than that… and it is good for me. This is the one place where I seem to just be able to disconnect. So, if there isn’t another blog for a couple of days, you’ll have to understand!