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Carolina Century 2010 - Tomb's report

Before I forget: Mark your calendars for next year.  A2A 2011 (30 year anniversary) is October 9, 2011.  Carolina Century 2011 is October 22, 2011 (always the fourth Saturday in October).

Carolina Century web page:

[The permalink that points to the latest Carolina Century info is:

Map of the Carolina Century:

October 23, 2010

This skate report is going to be very different from most skate reports I have written.  Long story short: The day was beautiful and uneventful, and the skate went perfectly.  Just a great day to be skating.

All of the skaters (7 of us?) rolled out at 7:30a in very cold weather.  According to the thermometer in Clarence's car, it was 39 degrees out when we arrived around 7:15a.  Point it, it was cold.  Some of the other skaters added layers for the early part of the skate but I just ware long sleeves under my jersey, and kept that on all day.  My hands were cold, but that was my only issue.  Interestingly, Mark broke one of his two water bottles early in the skate.  It appeared that the cold weather made the plastic very brittle.

Before long, less than 10 miles into the skate, Mark, Jonathan, and I gapped the rest of the group.

The only drama on the day, and it wasn't even that big a deal, was due to our own mistake.  We (Mark, Jonathan, and I) missed the turn onto Pleasant Ridge Road in Summerfield.  Mark had hit a rock and almost fell prior to the turn, so perhaps we weren't looking for the turn markers as closely as we should have been.  When we worked our way back to the missed turn we did see that it was marked.

I looked it up on the map it looks like we went about 1.4 miles out of our way so we added 2.8 miles to our trip.  Adding that to the 102 miles and change of the official route, we skated approximately 105 miles on the day.  At our average (moving) pace of 13.8 mph that cost us at least 12 minutes.  But it really cost us more than that because we were going slow and trying to figure out what happened for a while.

Anyway, we skated 105 beautiful miles.  Started at 7:30a and finished at 3:25p.  Total time of 7:55.  13.8 mph moving average, 13.3 mph total average.  My GPS dropped out for a little while and didn't record the whole time but for the record it recorded the following:
Total Distance: 104.43 miles
Total Time: 7:33:34.67
Avg Speed: 13.8 mph (moving average, not stopped)
Max Speed: 46.1 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 134 bpm
Max Heart Rate: 158 bpm
Total Ascent: 8578 ft
Total Descent: 8048 ft (should be the same as the ascent)

For the sake of comparison, here is what it recorded for my 2010 A2A skate:
Total Distance: 83.81 miles (forgot to start it, was actually 87 miles!)
Total Time: 6:18:34.59
Avg Speed: 13.3 mph (moving average, not stopped)
Max Speed: 39.3 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 134 bpm
Max Heart Rate: 165 bpm
Total Ascent: 7650 ft
Total Descent: 7049 ft

Mark and I finished in an intentional tie.  I'm not sure how much Mark had left in the tank (and his ankle might still have been hurting from when he hit that rock in Summerfield) and maybe he didn't know how much I had in the tank (I did have a little more).  But I wasn't willing to test him, and in truth I didn't want to.

Mark did push a little on one of the final uphills just to see if was still strong at the end but I matched his surge.  I didn't fade on the final hills this year like I did two years ago when Mark deserved to win outright.  Anyway, Mark and I had skated together, taking our turns in the lead, just the two of us since the rest stop at Mile 21 (Jonathan couldn't keep pace at that point).  I think it was very fitting to end in a tie.

We were talking about A2A 2010 during the skate.  Eddy won with a time of 5:04:44, which is slower than the 4:30 range he is capable of.  Mark said that he heard that the lead group was playing games all day, breaking away at times then going slow at times.  Mark and I could have done that, but I wasn't interested.  With the slight wind at the end it would have been advantageous to be behind, in the draft, until the very end.  So we could have slowed down, trying to force the other to take the lead, then sprinting ahead at times.  Just not the games I was interested in playing, especially when we had worked together so well all day.  We skated 105 miles together (80+ miles just the two of us), both doing an equal share of the work.  A tie was satisfying to me.

Unfortunately for the "power challenge," we didn't have a scale at the finish.  I happen to love the power challenge for obvious reasons (THIS is something I can win!) and was disappointed we didn't have an official scale.  So, for the record, when I got home I weighed myself at 226 pounds (no clothes).  Say 230, at least, with gear and clothes.  Probably closer to 235 including the skates.

We did hit 46.1 mph on the fast downhill near what Blake calls Mount Trashmore (a landfill) on Freeman Road between Miles 48-50 on the course.  I think I hit 44.5 on this hill two years earlier.  Mark and I decided to go down together but we didn't fully commit to it, I guess.  I was in front and Mark wasn't right on me from the beginning.  But halfway down I felt him on my back and we managed to hit 46.1.  We had a slight headwind so I don't think that we could have hit 50.  Maybe 47 or 48 if we had stayed tight the whole way.  Maybe we'll get 50 in the future, with favorable wind and more commitment.

One comment on the routes: I think Blake is actually being too accommodating by offering so many options.  Any mileage you want to do, Blake has a route for it.  But maybe there are too many options.  People want to skate/bike together.  It is more fun when you have company on the road.  Too many options means that many people won't cross paths.  It also undoubtedly makes more work for Blake and other volunteers.  I happen to think that cutting down the options wouldn't hurt the event at all and would simplify things for the better.  Really doesn't matter to me because I like doing the full 102 mile option, but it is an observation I thought I would share.

I missed seeing my wife and girls during the rest stops this year.  They worked the Scalesville rest stop last year and it was fun to see them, even for just a short time, during the skate.


roadskater's picture

Dropped the rest of us after the first intersection!

Hey Tomb great report. You guys were gone before a mile was up, as I recall! It was brisk and we understood it, except I doubt I even got a full daylight photo of you guys. We saw Jonathan go off with you and I wondered how long before he'd be back to us, just based on this year being too busy for him to skate much. By the time we saw him he had made his choice for a shorter (still 33 miles or so) faster day. Hope he still had fun.

To your fine point on distances, I have begun emphasizing the 31, 51, 82 and 102 routes, and offered the 64 because it is a nice route that uses existing routes only. The 64 is a 102 attempt with 1 "bad" turn that brings you home on the 102 return route and happens to cut out a lasso of 38 miles, including the relatively flat ridge along County Line Road and then a long climb on Vance Rd and multiple stream crossings.

The main change that would be nice would be to have a decision point later on, but that's against the design philosophy in some fundamental ways, right or wrong. With the way the loops had to be arranged to do more urban sections earlier, it was necessary to divert after 12 miles so we can go west and do the southern sections out west early. This also impacts the supported bail-out philosophy too.

Basically, Scalesville Fire (RS 1 All, plus Metric 1&2 and Century 1&6) is where you can choose to

  1. go east or short (1st time = 21 miles; 2nd time on Century = 72 and what I have not said before is if you're doing the Metric and bail homeward that's a 44 mile route...I may add that just to piss people off, heh).
  2. go north for medium and long (31 miles and 51 miles, or on the way back on the century, 82 or 102 miles, and I haven't published it but the 31 becomes 54 if you add the "metric collar" to the route. (For those who don't know the eastern loop 51 is the head of the dog, and the western 51 is the neck, collar and body...look at a map and you can see it; the 31 is the dog face without ears, the 21 the dog nose). Other options I have played with involve cutting off one or the other dog ears (which northinsouth did). The idea of the course is that if you want to bail (as northinsouth did), I want the logical way home to be on a supported route so volunteers can find you and offer aid or at least enjoy your pain. :o)
  3. go west to do either the 13 mile metric collar add-on, or do the body of the dog to add 51 to whatever eastern loop you choose to finish with. Clarence has figured out his own private metric century by disengaging at Scalesville Fire, eschewing the rest of the 21 route that would make it 72.

One thing I had to sacrifice to make the route include roads I loved and the fast downhill and lots of river crossings was seeing the 9am cyclists and skaters who are doing the 51 or less. I really hate that! I love seeing the cyclists and taking photos and all that. But to make the route modular, scenic, smooth and to allow for bailing out from mile 63 and even much later but still having supported roads to follow home, I had to make the eastern part modular, with a 51 insert after about an hour rather than tacked on later in the main route. If the extra 51 were later in the course, bail outs would tend to cut that loop off in unsupported ways; as it is if you cut off the 51 in reasonable ways (not on us 158) you tend to be on one of our courses.

The other factor is having sunrise and sleep-in starts. I didn't want people to have to preregister to roll with us, but didn't want to try registration before the sunrise start as I have enough trouble asking people to show up early as it is (and getting there myself). The solution was to have a preregistered-only sunrise start, with registration after we are gone, and another rollout at 9am. I have considered delaying the second rollout, but for lower traffic most think 9am is good. I hope to implement a bad weather option however, that would involve another start time and late reg if the morning weather is really bad and the later day is excellent. We'll see about that, and this would be announced in the last days before the event.

I agree it's fun to see people, but then again, I don't see them at A2A after the start, being so slow. All routes but the 21/72 share the last 7 miles, and all the last 3, and I was hoping this would mean lots of people finishing on different routes at different speeds would get to see each other along the first 12 and last 7 (and at Bethany Fire).

The other constraint on the design is multiuse rest stops. When I first set out to do this, it was supposed to be supportable by just 3 main multiuse rest stops if need be, with extra known-friendly stores included at key points on the route. As long as we have volunteers we add more stops, so we had 6...actually 7...physical locations for rest stops that served 9 rest stops for the 102. One of our surprise stops became a full rest stop through hard work of the volunteers. I am not yet sure if we filled in my two other homecoming stops at -7 miles for all but 21/72 and also at -3 miles for all.

Oops. I thought I was going to give a quick explanation. I agree with your sentiments, but think it'll be this way for now. But yes, I recommend 31/51/82/102 as my favorites for scenery/mile with 64 nice too. 21 and 72 are nice enough but mainly are there to include people who don't quite feel up to the others, especially once out there.

I am sorry about the weigh in. I was out of volunteers and more importantly out of brain cells. Please remind me to collect data on the honor system on this. eebee and I took data but I'm not sure she'll want to publish. Among skaters you won the power challenge (or momentum challenge or work challenge, whatever it turns out to be, without getting into that whole subject again) among skaters!

eebee's picture

Yes it was cold!

My hands were completely numb for the first 2 hours, Tom. I only had fifty pairs of gloves at home in my closet. None in my trunk. Since you're a hockey guy from up north, I take comfort that you also thought it was cold that morning!

roadskater's picture

Northinsouth Mentioned Stuffing Newspapers in Our Jerseys

Going down past the dam early on (the third stream crossing of the day, after the S curve with the lake on the left, which was crazy beautiful misty), northinsouth said something to the effect of, "we need some newspapers in our jerseys like they do in the Tour de France!" He was right. And yes how silly we had arm warmers but no gloves! I carried socks in my middle back jersey pocket ("Socks?" I hear you say) but didn't wear them because I was operating a camera sometimes. I offered them once to eebee but she probably didn't know why I wasn't using them and was maybe waiting for a second offer? If I had it to do over I'd either wear them or insist on her doing so!

MikeB's picture

104 miles at 13+?.......NICE

Great report Tom and don't quite understand how so many skaters pulled off a century.  You mentioned maybe a 5 pound differential on weight with and without gear.  Personally when I'm all geared up (skates, helmet, gatorade camelbak, banana, phone & ipod, etc.) it's a full 12 pounds.

There were 4 other skaters that elected the sleep in start of 9.00am, mainly because my morning beautification process takes longer than anyone else's. 

You're spot on too.........the day couldn't have been better.  Our group finished 51 very nicely, although a kudos has to go out to Christine F.  David K. encouraged her to try CC and she was amazing:  new to skating, never been over 35 miles, never on these types of elevation changes, planned on a 10mph average and she easily finished first with seemingly plenty left in the tank.  Quite honestly I was gassed and staring at 'bonksville' on the gentle incline leading to the finish.  She was great.

CC does have an abundance of routes, that's for sure.  It's reassuring to know that a participant can bail and opt for a shorter distance.  Sorry we missed each other at the end and hope I saved you enough chili!


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