We shoved off, behind a lead group of 10-15 led by Rick Miller. Our group, about 12, contained elements that made me confident, in time, we would catch Rick's group. Our group contained Hendra, Marty, Luke R, Lori, John Sada, Phillipe, Katsu, Steve Fields and others. The pace was one to keep the group largely intact and so Rick's group dangled out there even upon reaching Amanda and beyond. We made a right on Hamburg, a right on Meister and soon after crossing Hopewell Church, the catch was made and we became one large group.
There was a shortish, steepish climb along Meister and there at the base of the climb, someone crashed, apparently because he just hit some road slime. We continued on, a long line of cyclists, eventually reaching Clearcreek and then turning on to McDonald and that nasty climb. A couple of guys challenged Hendra and some thought it funny, wondering if the two had any idea who they were chasing. Predictably, Hendra reached the top first. Then we turned left on to Clearport Road and around mile 23, hit a gravel road that wasn't bad if you stayed in the wheel tracks. I found myself behind someone with little experience on gravel and we quickly lost the group, which was ok considering what came next, a big climb on Clearport and soon thereafter, the turn for the 107 route. I stayed straight of course, hooking up with Benton, the fittest Ecuadorian I know, Blair and a couple of others.
So far, the roads had been very familiar but from Middlefork, we passed the traditional left on Blue Valley for a left on to Carroll, a road I am certain I never previously rode and gosh is there a good climb there. Then we got on to Clapper Hollow for the descent down to 180, eventually climbing out of the valley for a left on 374, past Cantwell Cliffs before descending the ridge line via Starner and a brief stop at Clear Creek for water and bananas. This was a "climby" route so naturally we went up Snortin Ridge before coming right back down via Rich Hollow, up Revenge where it is always good to pass the prison and wave to my many family members who are staying there, down Christmas Rock and eventually back to the parking lot where we were treated to a bountiful display of food. OK, actually I did not go inside but later heard Roll served smoked salmon and many other delights. Good thing I did not go in as I would still be there, eating.