By Michael Dayton
"Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning," or so the song goes. It's doubtful the songwriter ever stepped inside the Archdale Waffle House at 4 a.m.
The Archdale Waffle House is where Team Flèche Wound, without a trace of irony, dined on the "All-Star" waffle platter as its bleary-eyed and hungry members neared the end of their 239-mile Easter weekend jaunt in North Carolina.
The April 9 flèche, the first for all five members, was launched at 7 a.m. from the top of Grandmother Mountain. For the next 24 hours, the team traced a carefully planned route that, coincidentally, tracked State Bike Route 2, winding through North Carolina's Foothill and Piedmont region to the undisputed barbecue capital of Lexington.
Team Flèche Wound was led—and occasionally misled—by John "Captain Kirk" Ende. Other members included Rich "Go Faster" Bruner, Gregory W. "Dive Bomber" Schild, John "Game Face" D'Elia and Mike "Flyer" Dayton.
Schild and D'Elia, who reside in New York and Connecticut respectively, had been invited down to the Tar Heel state on the mistaken assumption that they would show up in "tip-top" shape and pull the team to its ultimate destination. However, during the pre-ride dinner and dessert-a-thon, the two Yanks came clean and confessed they had fewer than five rides each under their belts because of the, quote, "bad New England winter." Following a hasty and controversial team vote, Bruner was elected lead "draft horse" for the "team wagon" and remained on the point for the majority of the ride.
The brilliance of Captain Ende's leadership was evident from the start. The route dropped straight downhill, like a glazed brick, for the first 20 miles. The real fun began an hour into the ride. Dayton, being unusually alert for his age and that time of day, took the first "County Line Sprint" where Brown Mountain Beach Road crossed from Burke into Caldwell County. In a surprise to himself and his teammates, Dayton also captured the very next "Town Line Sprint." It was to be his last. Shortly thereafter, all hell broke loose. The team members initiated a series of indiscriminate sprints, soon charging for anything that didn't move, and a couple of things that did. Bruner bagged several "Community Watch" signs, while Schild nosed out D'Elia for the "No Fishing From Bridge" sign. As the miles piled up and the day wore on, the contests continued. Even barn silos became targets. Only when the sun slunk from the sky, apparently embarrassed by the display below, did the madness end.
Darkness rapidly fell like a sack of Quick Crete. The Wound crew found itself with only 80 miles left and decided to hunker down for the allotted time limits at the only late-night outposts in rural North Carolina, first at the "Tank & Tummy ("Fill 'em Both!") near Climax, then at the Pantry in Liberty, and finally at the Archdale Waffle House, where the team made an indelible impression on the wait staff by leaving a slightly inadequate tip.
Around 6:30 a.m., the team rolled into the control point at the home of ride host and fellow randonneur Richard Lawrence, who served up an exceptionally fine feast of eggs and pancakes. The breakfast table provided the perfect opportunity for Team Flèche Wound to serve up some "whoppers" of its own about the ride with members of another North Carolina flèche group.
In a lightly attended post-ride ceremony, Captain Ende distributed the following team awards: Most sprints participated in—Johnny D'Elia (427); Most Silos Won—Rich Bruner.; Best Captain—John Ende (3rd place); Most Powerful Sprint—Greg Rabina; Most Waffle House Calories:—Mike Dayton (2,700); Longest Nap—Rich Bruner (17 minutes); Good Sportsmanship Award—None; Most Wheel-Sucking—John Ende; Most Ass Kicked—Team Flèche Wound.