We headed out Hill and onto Waterloo. Curiously, after crossing Winchester the Walker Dude and Kenda Rick pulled away because after Jeff S dropped back from his turn at the front, none of the next two wanted to take a turn at the front. Considering the two were Poobah and I, it was a genuine stalemate. Da Boss tired of this and he and Mark C went around us and with that I had a wheel to suck and followed. The long hill out Waterloo is always a tough section so early in the ride but we caught the two while turning left on Slough. Maybe 15 had started with the A's but as I glanced back at the turn, things were strung out a little but not too bad. The Walker Dude kept pushing things and the pace was fairly high as we hit the first valley and the adjoining hill but still, there were many of us together. We screamed down the next hill, rounded the sharp turn at the bottom, crested the next hill and came to The Big One on Slough. Here, Boss just rode away from us, including Walker but he and Mark C gamely maintained contact and I was just behind, but cross-eyed from the effort. I vaguely remember coasting down to Amanda Northern and turning right but after that my only recollection is the pain. When we crested the last of the 2 big hills on A.N., it was Jeff S, Dennis and me and not too far ahead were Boss and Mark C. Jeff pulled all the way to Alspach where I took my turn. I can't express in a fraction of a mile the distance Jeff permitted me to pull, more like 100 yards or less before he steamed around me. I've grown accustomed to the humiliation and don't mind and am always greaful for a place in the line. Jeff's effort so far had put us so far ahead at Alspach that I could not see anyone else coming from behind.
It appeared we were gaining a little on the front two but soon we lost contact as we headed out Rock Mill, left on Royalton, right on Mt Zion, then Crumley, Shaw, Westfall and the hills just kept on coming. I was fortunate to occassionally get a gap on Dennis and Jeff on the hills and this allowed me some brief recovery time while they worked to catch up. Upon reaching Amanda Northern we went south to Ruff, on to Ridge and then over to Ringold Northern, then Royalton again and then back in via Cedar Hill. Jeff the Puller King pulled probably 95% of the time with me at 3% and Dennis at 2% although it would be fair for him to argue the reverse were true, Our average had hit 19.7 somewhere towards the middle of the ride and I worried I might drop below 20mph for the first time this year on an evening COP ride. Slowly the average rose and while coasting into Canal, the average officially hit 20 for the 43 mile route with a robust 2300' of climbing. Craig and Mark ended with an amazing 21.8mph average.
On a sad note, Steve O went for a training ride today and wrecked. Among his injuries were 10 stitches to a finger--OUCH!!! Knowing him, he'll be out in a couple of days. For those who want to ride Saturday but not all the way to Portsmouth, Mark C, Dan F, Flyin Tuna, Jeff S and others are riding to Chillicothe and back for 100 miles. Shoot me an email if interested. The route will be kind of hilly with Rocky Road included on the route.