I could still feel last week's 600K in my legs as I rolled from my house to the start of Dean's Benson Mule Pull 100K permanent populaire on Saturday morning. After a quick espresso and a saddle adjustment at Swift Creek Coffee I got going just a few minutes after 10am. The temp was in the mid-40's and warming, so once I did the first little climb on Rand Rd. I was unzipping my wind vest and after the climb up Barber Bridge Rd. the vest came off. I made good time to the controle at the Grocery Boy Jr. and then got back on the road to Benson.
I could tell by the flags and whatnot that I was making good time due to a tailwind, but I chose to ignore that fact until later when I'd have to deal with it head-on. Meanwhile I just enjoyed the ride. At the turnaround in Benson I had a quick snack and a fizzy drink and then got down to business fighting the headwind to get back to Garner. It had warmed up to above 60 degrees, and it was quite nice to be out in pleasant temperatures for a change. I stopped at the Grocery Boy again, and then one more stop to take a couple of pictures. Got back to Swift Creek Coffee at about 3:15 for a time of 5hr. 15min.
On Sunday I met Martin for a 7am start to MikeD's Showdown at Black Creek 200K. I've ridden with Martin quite a few times, usually just for the first few miles of a brevet until I'm off chasing the fast guys. Martin's smarter than that! I was looking forward to spending more time on the road hearing his stories about the Irregulars group that I've read about on his blog.
Even though the forecast called for nice temperatures later in the day it was pretty cold at the start, something like 30 degrees. It warmed up pretty quickly though, and soon we were spinning along and trading stories on a beautiful sunny day that felt more like spring than the dead of winter! At the first county line we had a joke sprint, but the sprints got more serious after that.
The only bad thing about the nice temperatures was that it seemed to bring out all the loose dogs. I actually witnessed Martin unclip, kick a dog with his left foot while still pedaling with the right! That's pure talent there, folks. Too bad I couldn't shoot a video of it- I was squirting another dog with my waterbottle at the time!
We made good time to the turnaround in Black Creek, and Mike was right that the store would be closed. We answered the info controle question and had a snack while I made yet another minor adjustment to my saddle position. This turned out to be the last adjustment it needed, once we got back on the road I could tell that I'd finally gotten the Swift into it's sweet spot.
At the last controle we each had a slice of pizza and a nice long stop, then got back on the bikes to get it done. Just as I had the day before, we were fighting the headwinds on the return trip so we took turns pulling. Back in Youngsville we started to hit a few hills. I would get a lead on the uphill, then Martin would pass me on the downhill side.
I'd done well in the county line sprints up to this point, but when we approached the Wake County line Martin caught me sleeping. Once I realized it was coming up I tried to close the gap, but just couldn't do it. Nice strategery Martin!
We got back to the McDonald's at the finish at 5:28pm for a total time of 10hr. 28min. Even if we hadn't started almost 20 min late that's a respectable time! I had a blast riding with Martin, and I'm sure he has plenty more road stories for next time!