Mark C and I arrived at the top and figured the rest of our group would catch on the descent but half way down, the two in the front (image), Tim and Cynthia, rode by and so I jumped on and enjoyed being pulled around with Rex catching on too. Eventually, Ricky also caught us and we hung together for a couple more climbs, stopping at the 2nd rest stop. Climbing the 3rd hill, probably the most difficult up to Moyer's Gap with several steep pitches and an average grade of 7.3%, 2 miles long, I heard someone coming from behind and a guy in a VA Tech jersey flew by. Soon, so too did another and then I was harassed by Dustin and Steve, a few more and things became quiet again.. I spent the 8 miles prior to the 50 mile rest stop in a group having Rick Miller and Joe G. While resting a bit at this 3rd rest stop I did the usual check of my condition and determined, as usual, the next 50 miles was going to be horrid. Also as usual, I had reached this point well under 3 hours so let's see, 3 hours in 50 miles, do that again......forget it. The back 50 is just brutal, 5 climbs, 3 in the last 18 miles and they are the hardest climbs save for the Moyers Gap climb already climbed.
So, turned on to the Snowy climb, about 4.5 miles and kind of cool to eventually break through the tree cover into open fields as we near the top. I was thankful for the cloud cover and cool temps that persisted all day. The next climb is about 9 miles, not steep but come on, 9 miles with an average grade of 5.6%. Some where in there, Ricky G caught and passed me and I did not think I'd see him again. I stopped at the 4th rest stop (mile 66) and saw Rex steam by and I began to wonder if I would be the last Ohioian, I began to wonder where Flyin Tuna was and panicking, jumped back on the bike. Riding at a speed that is best described as plodding, I got to the top of the next climb and did not pedal on the descent, just sat and coasted to rest the out-of-shape legs. I had plenty of fluids so I skipped the 5th rest stop where I spotted Ricky G and as it turns out, Rex too was in there.