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NCBC (North Carolina Bike Club) Summer Rally Report: 40-Mile Inline Skate

skatey-mark's picture

This past Sunday, I skated in the annual NCBC Summer Rally.  I've done this event several times in the past and it has always been a good time.  All of the events that the NC Bike Club hosts are well organized, and I've always felt welcome as a skater to participate.  The cyclists are great too, many of them throwing compliments as they passed.  To some, seeing a skater on the road with them was definitely a novelty.  I'm also happy to report that I experienced no negative incidents all day, be it from cyclists, pedestrians, or drivers.


The event itself was somewhat bittersweet, with the recent passing of Bruce Rosar on everyone's minds.  Many cyclists (and myself) wore black armbands during the skride.  Most agreed that the best way to honor Bruce's memory was to get out on the road and be safe.  For those that didn't know Bruce, he was a huge advocate of cycling.  He was very active in promoting alternate transportation (cycling and other forms of human-powered transportation, like skating.)  He was also very active in promoting safety among the cycling community.


The weather was about as good as you could ask for, considering it's July in North Carolina.  There was a slight breeze, but not too bad.  It got a little warm towards the end, but it could have been a lot worse.  The route was pretty good.  There was some occasional gatorback, and a 3-mile stretch on US-64 that was a little dicey.


I did the 40-mile route which was promoted as "flat".  Now, "flat" is all relative, and this was more like "NC Flat" and opposed to "Florida Flat", for example.  There were several hills, typical of the routes that we normally skate in Apex.  This is the first year I've done the 40-miler.  In the past, I've always done the 60-mile route, which has some truly brutal hills. This was actually my first roadskate of the year!  So I didn't feel comfortable committing to 60 miles.  It was a good thing, too, because I was ready to be done around 33 miles!


Before the event, there was the usual assortment of bagels and fruit.  So I grabbed a Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel to supplement the bowl of cereal and Nutrigrain bar I already ate for breakfast.  I had diluted Powerade (fruit punch) in my CamelBak, several Gu packets and a couple packs of sport beans. I had a new brake pad on, but didn't have time to rotate my wheels the night before.  Plus, I had the ultra-hard Matter wheels on, instead of the more forgiving Bont wheels I used for A2A and Carolina Century.  I figured I could tough it out for 40 miles...


We had a moment of silence for Bruce right before the start, and then we were off.  My awesome girlfriend bought me a Polar RS800 HRM with the GPS accessory for Christmas.  I had a momentary glitch with the GPS, but resolved it before I got from the parking lot onto the road. I started somewhere in the middle of all the bikes, and it was pretty congested.  Fortunately, the bikes that passed gave me plenty of room.  Within minutes, I was at the back of a small pack of cyclists, enjoying a draft at around 18 mph.  I was enjoying the speed, but it felt a little fast for me.  I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain it for too long.  After a couple miles, I dropped.  I briefly drafted another bike after that (maybe half a mile at most.)  Then, the rest of the day I was by myself, nose in the wind.


The early roads were awesome.  Eventually we crossed US-64 and were on 751.  I didn't have a cue sheet - I was just relying on the road markings.  We came up on a turn and I saw it was Horton's Pond Road.  I've skated that road before (probably at a past NCBC Summer Rally, since the 40 & 60 mile routes hadn't split yet) and knew if was bad gatorback.  Sure enough, I made the turn and it was seriously rough.  I trudged along for 2.5 miles of that before I finally turned onto a better road.  Meanwhile, I became aware of some blisters developing on both feet.  Not a good sign, since I'm only about a 1/4 of the way done!


A few miles down the road, I came to the first checkpoint.  (14.9 miles).  It took me just over an hour to get there, so I was making good time.  (Especially considering I wasn't drafting.)  I had plenty of liquid left in the CamelBak, so I didn't bother refilling it.  Instead I just got a cup of water and ate half of a PB&J sandwich.   I followed that with an oatmeal-creme cookie.  NCBC does a really nice job stocking their rest stops...  :-)


A few minutes later, I was back on the road  The next leg was fairly uneventful for a while.  I hit a small bit of gatorback, but nothing as bad as Horton's Pond Road.  On one stretch of road, a bike passed me and was maybe 50 feet ahead of me when a baby deer darted across the road in front of her.  Nothing happened, but it was just a strange thing to see.  I'm not sure how often bike-deer collisions occur, but I'm sure it happens every now and then.  My blisters had been getting worse as the day went.  Although it did encourage me to concentrate on technique, so that I could minimize the amount that my heel moved in my skate.


Soon I came up to the turn onto US-64.  I remembered this stretch from years' past, and it's the one part of the skride I don't like.  It's even worse than the gatorback.  Cyclists have little trouble with this section, aside from the cars zooming by at 70 mph.  But the shoulder isn't quite wide enough to skate on, so you have to take little half-pushes.  I would look over my shoulder, and if the traffic was clear I would let my pushes extend out into the road for a bit just to stretch my legs.  But I never felt comfortable doing that for very long.  Fortunately the shoulder was wider on the bridges, and there were a few right-turn lanes where I could also stretch out and get some good pushes.  But mostly, it was just tedious and it lasted 3.3 mile (according to the cue sheet.)


At the next turn, I hit the Wilsonville Exxon, which was the 2nd checkpoint.  We often skate to this gas station on our own routes, so it's well known to me.  At this point, I've finished almost 27 miles, and my time is just under 2 hours.  I take about a 10 minute break here to refill my empty CamelBak.  (I didn't realize it was empty until I opened it.)  I also ate another PB&J sandwich and chatted with one of the guys stationed at the checkpoint.


Then, I started on the final leg, back to the start.  Fortunately, the rest of the route was well known to me, on roads I've skated many, many times.  The first 6.5 miles was on Beaver Creek Road, which is very nice pavement and has a nice scenic view crossing over Jordan Lake.  Then, a mile and a half on Old US-1.  Again, nice pavement.  It's about here that my legs started feeling particularly tired.  Perhaps because I knew I was getting closed, but I was definitely ready for it to be over.


Then the dreaded turn onto Shearon Harris Road, most of which is gatorback.  There is a section of smooth pavement in the middle to give a little break.  But for the most part, it's torture,  Almost 4 miles long, at least half (if not more) is gatorback.  And this is at the very end of the route.  As I'm skating, I realize I'll be very close to 3 hours when I come in.  I try to keep up my pace, but it's a struggle.  I finally see the "stop ahead" sign so I know the road is coming to an end.  I can't remember how far the start/finish is but I know it's close.  When I make the turn, my watch says 2:58 and change.  I can see the finish from where I am, maybe 1/4 mile away at most.  So I pick up the pace on the (fortunately) smooth road and turn into the parking lot at 2:59:50!


Total mileage was 39.7, according to the GPS.  That works out to 13.2 mph with stops.  Strangely, the Polar software says my average speed was 14.4 mph.  So I'm not sure where that's coming from.   My lap speeds (for each "leg") were 14.8 mph, 14.2 mph, and 14.2 mph.  So 14.4 mph might be pretty close to what I was averaging when I wasn't stopped.


I'm pretty happy with the results.   The blisters made it hard to enjoy the skate, but it was still a good time.  Now I'll at least know where my hotspots are for my next outing -- hopefully the Cup'n'Cone skride next weekend!


- SM - 


eebee's picture

Great Report!

I enjoyed the report, thanks Skatey-Mark. That is a lot of Gatorback! And very fast for 40 miles taking the brunt of the wind the whole time.
roadskater's picture

Now That's a Nice First Skate of the Summer!

Hey skatey-mark and thanks for sharing your impressions and experiences here. Often I work on maps and photos and forget lots by the time I don't write up my report! Photos are great but there are so many images you miss with the camera. It's a shame to lose those. The sight of a deer crossing in front of a bike in front of you must have been beautiful and scary, too. I would bet that toward sunset this would be even more likely. Sometimes when camping at state parks (particularly Morrow Mountain SP) in late Fall through early Spring, deer just meandering through the mostly empty camping grounds. Nice. Not so nice on the road, however. I'm amazed that your feet held up nicely enough considering no roadskating. It's definitely good that you were able to focus on form and keep your feet in good shape. I had wondered about that section of NC-64 and whether I'd be up to that. I think considering my physical state late last week, the answer would be not so much. I'm glad you were there, but think I did better at representing skating in the park than I might've on the road. My bpm/mi/hr settled in better on Sunday and Monday. My times were better (still in my usual slow range, but much less slow at a certain heartrate). I'm sure it was inspiring to see how many people Bruce mattered to, and still does. Because of him, I've learned a lot already. I had a few days where my own life and home problems took most of my attention, but I have to say I missed him today on a phone call related to all these cycling and skating issues...so much energy and enthusiasm...but I just pretended I could hear his questions and comments and that was a good feeling. I make it sound like I knew him well. Not so much, but well enough to miss him when the subject of sharing roads comes along. I'm sure you're going to report on the new Polar HRM/GPS. It's a dream come true a few years later, I hope. I switched over to the Garmin Forerunner 305 and that will likely be my budget for that for now. I know you know I want to know the details, and I am sure lots of people will be interested. Oh yes it sounds like you have it in the mode that calculates your moving average for speed. I always quote my time including stops, but sometimes it's better to tell the moving average (like when people ask what speeds you tend to average as a way of comparing that to bikes or autos). But I guess skaters would think in terms of average including time sitting at rest stops, curled up in grass wishing for sleep, or any other diversions, ha. How were the wheels on that Gatorback? What do you find regarding comparison among Gen 3 and Gen 4 Bonts in terms of miles per penny and other factors. I had trouble with the Gen 3 hubs but think the Gen 4 are more robust. Did you get to meet and talk with many cyclists either on the road or at the finish? Those are my thoughts and questions if you have time. Were you the only roadskater as far as you knew?

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