Ted’s NoSoX 2023 Ride

Just to start this off I could not have done this without the support of my wife Maria, she was tremendous, leading-up, during, and after.

It all started with just wanting to get back my cycling closer to where it should be to keep myself happy & healthy (mentally and physically).

So, i’ve been ramping up my miles and activities off- and on- road since January.

March I had a big MTB event which went great and I was looking for something to target May/June and Juan in the Raleigh Cycling Club posted posted up about NoSoX … simply put a short-axis transit of North Carolina from the VA border to the SC border. 150+ miles in one go. Informal, grass-roots, unsupported, just a small bunch of people doing big miles that most others would consider “excessive” … of course I signed-on to participate.

Lead-up to the weeks before included my biggest ride for a long time – a “hundie” where I road the Raven Rock Ramble route solo. I turned in a strong ride, finishing well under 7 hours even with stops for refueling, at an average pace over 15 mph … so even though I wouldn’t be able to have another big ride before the NoSoX as I had travel to San Francisco in between I felt like I was ready enough, even with a shoe problem to deal with. Turns out my good long distance shoes were finally wearing out and needed replacement, as the soles were cracking where the pedal cleat mounts. argh.

Lacking much time and with the current brick and mortar retail market having very limited shoe selections (e.g. pretty much store brand only) figuring out replacement shoes was a problem. In the end and after much research I went with a brand and style that had served me well for many years … just a current model and not locally available … so ordered a pair of Sidi Dominator 10 Mega to be waiting for me when I returned from San Francisco.

Returning from San Francisco a wrench was thrown in that the NoSoX organizer was backing out and cancelling the ‘event’ as he had Life Stuff going on and would not be able to participate. My sympathies to him but this was frustrating. There was a little email chatter about some others possibly riding anyway but nothing concrete. After a week of angst I decided – with support from my wife – to go ahead and do the ride though … as long as my shoe situation resolved.

Finally, the Monday before NoSoX my new shoes arrived and I was able to start putting some miles on them to see if they’d work out. They quickly showed their color as “excellent” in that I had no issues with them being comfortable fit, even with my thicker supportive socks. Through the week I managed to get just a bit over 100 miles of riding, some road and some trail, to make sure that the shoes were good to go and everything was set with my bikes – so all conditions green!

Saturday morning we woke early to the 05:00 alarm, finished final car loading, coffee brewing, and hit the road to Milton … it was a 90 minute drive to the start point. The sky was overcast and the air cool and humid, with a few sprinkles hitting the car on the way, but promised no real rain so *phew* – thanks! We arrived at the boating access point, saw no other riders as I had expected, so I quickly got ready to ride … turned on and enabled my Fenix 6x watch and HRM, turned on the Komoot routing on my phone, picked my Spotify playlist, we took a couple pics and shared a hug and off I went!

The initial miles rolled by mostly easily however for some reason my legs were just not feeling ‘strong’ or as comfy as hoped, so I took it easy on myself and just enjoyed the pleasant morning, the quiet roads, and the pleasant surroundings. As the miles rolled by and I warmed up the riding eased a bit, and my pace was pretty close to what I hoped so I was happy.

The only thing even slightly frustrating was the headwind that I was blessed with, giving me a 5-10 mph “breeze” to keep the sweat off my brow wasn’t appreciated! This breeze kept me company for about the first 50 miles, finally feeling like it ease off as I was arriving at Saxapahaw to my first planned meetup with my support team – yay Maria!

This pretty much set the pattern for the day, i’d ride and eventually meet up with Maria at a designated point to hear cheerful shouts, waving arms, bright orange t-shirt, and cooler of water. Refill my water bottles, maybe have some extra electrolytes, and off I’d go. I kept the stops short as I didn’t want to get out of the movement flow, it’d been harder to resume, and this worked.

Most of the ride was on decent country highways and roads, some rougher than others but no problem for the skinny 23mm tires on my bike. The nicest that come to mind are Saxapahaw (looks like a nice venue to go back for an evening meal maybe), Whispering Pines, and Southern Pines (such a strong Ft Bragg influence there though).

The last 30 miles or so after leaving Five Points were not the most attractive, and the headwind came back to my great frustration, so that was pretty much “get it done mode” by then.

Having finished it I’m feeling pretty accomplished – even if I didn’t keep my target 15 mph target – I must have had tailwind on the 105 I did at 15.4 mph for this 152 I only managed 13.8 mph. Still, not that far off.

Maybe I should have had more Red Bull? I did finally knuckle under sometime after mile 112 and picked up one (green) at a gas station and that clearly picked up my pace a bit. I don’t want to overly rely on that stuff, but I don’t feel at all bad about having one after more than 8 hours on the bike.

Would I do this again? Maybe, with a crew preferably. Done it once, don’t need to do it again to prove anything to myself, unless I wanted to try for a faster pace. Maybe.

Could it be done completely self supported – sure, as long as that includes leveraging the numerous convenience stores and such. I didn’t notice any public water facilities along the way, but there’s plenty of retail support so really feasible.

Now for the recovery, started it the day after with a short (8m) MTB ride to help flush the Bad out of the body.

07:15 (start) – Milton Boating Access, VA-NC border

10:30 (+3:15) 49 m – River Mill Cycles, Saxapahaw

12:06 (+4:51) 70 m – Siler City

14:20 (+7:05) 100 m – Carthage

15:24 (+8:09) 112 m – May St Bike Shop, Southern Pines

16:29 (+9:14) 125 m – Five Points Country Store, Raeford

17:38 (+10:23) 142 m – Sneads Grove Conv. Store, Laurel Hill

18:19 (+11:04) 152 m – Gibson, SC-NC border – Done!

11 hours, 4 minutes, 152.5 miles, Gibson NC

Technical nerdism …

Bike ridden was 2006 Isaac Cycles Pascal Carbon (no longer made) – very traditional old-school road bike modernized a little with Whiskey No 7 carbon handlebars with a bit of flare, for comfort but with traditional sized 700×23 tires, 2×10 drivetrain, rim brakes – mostly Campagnolo Veloce but with a touch of Record carbon on the crankset.

Safety lighting by Bontrager (Ion 200 RT front, Flare RT rear), managed by Smart Bike Lights on my Garmin Fenix 6x that changes lighting modes dynamically.

Navigation by Komoot on my mobile (Galaxy S21+ 5G), soundtrack by Spotify (on mobile) connected to Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headset – helps with sanity to have tunes but keeps my ears free for environment surround – I can hear most cars sneaking up on me.

Handily enough, all electronics handled the say on a single charge. The phone was down to 14% at the end, so it didn’t have another hour, but it was doing both voice-navigation to me (with infrequent map checks and messaging with my support) while playing Spotify (offline, locally cached tunes only). The Fenix had about 75% charge remaining, probably saved a lot of power since it was listening for HRM information from the Scosche Rythm+2 armband. I use the armband HRM even though it gives me a wierd tan line because it’s hugely more comfortable than a chest strap and much more accurate than the wrist-mounted HRM during activities.

Shorts by Pearl Izumi Attack Bib Shorts … never cut costs on that important point of contact. I’m also a fan of Assos Chamois creme to prevent chafing, enough said. Likewise, shoes were Sidi Dominator 10s, also pricey but it’s important that footwear for long rides to be Just Right.