The forecast was ominous and so many of us left early, plus I had to be back in Ohio Saturday night so I was anxious to get this over with. As some of you may know, I have been subjected to months of verbal abuse by Flyin Tuna. After fighting a very serious, almost life ending flu this spring, I came out for a tour in a very weak state and subsequently she pulled away from me on a climb out of Utica and has never let me forget it. In fact, several times she has gotten lippy about what she would do to me on a real ride like Mountain Mama. One of us had to be mature so I just stayed silent and endured the teasing and insults. After finally deciding to participate late last week, I began scheming what my plan of action would be. Flyin usually leaves the parking lot 15 minutes before the 8:00am start so I planned to be ready then but upon arriving, I learned she was this time leaving at 7:30!!!!! If she came across the finish line ahead of me, all anyone would talk about was she finished ahead of me, no matter what was the preceding time advantage. Outwardly appearing calm, I gathered everything I needed and rolled out around 7:40 with Flyin, Mark V and Jimmy.
The first climb begins almost immediately from the parking lot and is a nice 1.5 mile climb with a grade that varies between 5-10%. Not hard, just a nice climb on which you can maintain a high cadence. My plan was to get a gap on Tuna, maintain it through the short valley section and if maintained, it would be all over after opening the gap on the second climb. Unfortunately, I had not eaten enough so I was already hungry when the first rest stop was reached and I stopped for refueling but upon leaving, no sign of Tuna so I was in good shape and never saw her from there, so there Tuna!!!!! Chew on that for a year (I hereby retire from ever doing Mountain Mama again).
Along the way I was riding completely solo, unlike Mountains of Misery where you can jump in multiple pace lines for the first 70 miles. My only opportunity on this ride was latching onto Mark Waites (yeah right), a 3 man pace line with Mike Rea, (for maybe a mile at the base of a climb then the road steepened so forget it) and Ted M and Kevin Swabb at the start of some other climb (not a chance). That was it, what a LONELY, long ride but hey, I'm no stranger to that experience. Then there was a long time into the wind on Rt. #250 where I kind of soft pedaled looking for someone to come along but nooooooooooooooo. Finally stopped at the next to last rest stop with 3 climbs to go at mile 80. Joe G spent some time throwing up in a gully but got back on his bike and rode away.
The final climb is a little over 2 miles with an average grade of 8% and multiple switchbacks. Toward the top I began thinking, the only thing that would make this a worse experience is if Flyin Tuna came by me so I spent the final half mile looking over my shoulder but no sign of her, thank goodness. My total ride time was 7:20, It took me well over 4 hours to ride 50 miles but there are 6 tough climbs mixed in there, head wind, rain, no pace lines and weak legs...yeah, that's about the best I could do, 9900' of climbing and close to 6000 calories burned. Well, back to the fun at Canal and New Albany where I will turn this experience into slower riding and crawl to the end of the season.