By: Nathan Wolfe; Cub reporter
Canal Wincester, Ohio -
At 6:30am this morning the alarm sounded as planned and the normal Saturday ride routine began. Coffee, Waffles, speak like a zombie, round up clothes, shuffle like a zombie, find keys, wallet, the usual. A quick weather check to determine the number of clothing layers to wear indicated temps right at 60 already... hmmm odd. My phone must be getting weather updates from California still. Grab rain coat, a couple extra layers, water bottles and out the door we go.
A quick drive over to the start got me there at about 7:15 and I was the first there... again strange. Normally the peloton begins to form an hour before... I have time to run and get another cup of Joe...
Back in the parking lot at 7:30 there were only a few and I figured for a light turnout. Probably from the cold or something. I parked, got out of the car and an I had an odd feeling that I’d forgotten something. Sure I’d remember it in a minute, I continued my readiness.
At about 7:40 cars began to flood the parking lot and the lot quickly filled and spilled over into the abandoned lot next door. WOW!!! What a turnout!! By the time the ride started there we too many to count. Many of the usuals: Flying Tuna, The Little Diesel, Style Queen, Satan Mick (who I proposed should be renamed to Eco-Mick as I discovered that he is a Wetlands Ecologist! It was shot down... I tried...) the Rossi Train, Kenda Janet and an entourage of Kendaites, Nathan/ Recumbent Dude (me), Mark V, Kevin, Dan and a TON of others.
There was a discussion about some of the missing usual folks like Pasor Mark and the Ox, but most of the conversation was about Mark, who, according to various accounts, stayed home due to either early onset of menopause or fear of Lyme disease depending on who you listened to. Nobody is sure, but the predominant belief was to just go with Oxley’s story of Menopause. Hope your feeling better Mark.
Bob did his usual rambling ride briefing, talking about how flat the ride was going to be and just as I began to zone out, either Flying Tuna or Dennis leaned over to me and said, “Is it me or does Bob’s bag keep getting bigger...?” Mother of Perl! Were they right! The bag hanging off the seat of Bob’s bike was large enough to put a litter of great dane puppies in and have room left over for a couple large boxes of milk bones and a gallon of milk! I think he stopped by a horse farm on the way to the ride and beat up a small girl riding a horse and stole her saddle bag or something. You can’t make this up. Real life is just too good.
The briefing finally ended and again a wave of worry crossed my mind that I was forgetting something... but we were commanded to leave the parking lot and the tide of people leaving the parking lot was as large as the flood of words that you will no doubt hear when you ride with Crazy George. Just not as funny. (Where have you been Crazy George?_)
Now, I forgot to get my ride map so no detail will be given other than to say we rode toward Hocking Hills at what was a plesant pace knowing what was ahead and it wasn’t too long before the climbing began. We went up, then down, up, then down, up then down, rinse, repeat....
About 20 miles in I had a strange feeling and began to discuss it with those around me. No not that kind of feeling, the kind of strange feeling where your body get all sweaty and you don’t need a lot of clothing... you know... HOT! I was HOT!!!! I realized that we had all left the parking lot with zero discussion of what to wear! It was unambiguously, short and jersey weather ONLY when we left the parking lot at 8am !! Imagine that!! Not having to wear 3 layers of clothing and shoe covers...
There was one noted exception. Kenda Janet. The sole person who left wearing arm warmers, but before 3 miles passed they were pushed down to her elbows. An inquiry as to why they were ever put on indicated that it was all about fashion and that she liked wearing them that way as they looked like those long gloves that gals wear to the prom. As Janet is one of the ranking females in the group, I accepted what she said as gold and moved on. As you know I don’t question the ranking females of the group. I just do what I’m told.
So we continued to climb and descend and about 35 miles in I was at the front, again zoning out, when the largest deer in central Ohio (a Thirty-Pointer!!) leaps out of the woods on my right side, flys by, missing the front of my bike by mere inches. I subsequently soiled myself and watched, stunned as this enormous deer hits the pavement and proceeds to slide around like it’s covered in ice. It falls to the road, scrambles back to it’s hooves and bounds off into the woods to the left. It it weren’t for all that time spent studying Mark W. display excellent bike handling skills by weaving through the peloton to get to the front at a red light I’d probably have never survived.
At 45 miles we rolled into Laurelville. You read that right, 45 freaking hilly miles until the first stop!!! Now I’m not one to whine, but I’d like to propose a new ride leader rule.
<whine> If you put together a hilly route that is more than 2 hours before the stop, at least indicate this on the schedule so that folks can take a 3rd bottle of water. I don’t think there was a cup of water to be put together between the 20 people I was riding with by the time we pulled into Laurelville... </whine>
On the other side of the coin, the ride was beautiful today. Sunny, green, quiet rodes, no Pastor Mark or Ox to wield the beat-down stick.
Laurelville was a hopping metropolis when we arrived and the Sunoco did a brisk business as many biking groups converged. The usual banter took place with lies being swapped and continued amazement expressed at the warm disk of the sun that climbed the sky.
Before too long, motions were made back toward the bikes and the sweaty cyclist of the Canal ride shoved off figuring for a 35Mph head wind, pop-up thunderstorm, tornado, golf-ball-sized hail or other weather calamity to arise. I am happy to say the very light and variable wind continued, the sun shone and the temps rose to about 80. The ride flattened out, the peloton decided not to hammer and a nice pace around 18-19 set in and people got a chance to actually look around at the beautiful scenery that makes up the hocking hills area. The ride back was less hilly than the ride out, punctuated only by occasional climbs and after 75 miles we were back in the parking lot with 4500’ of climbing, a bit weary but feeling good in the heat of the day. Plenty of time left to go home and cut the lawn for the first time in just over a week.
There was quite a lot of talk about the 8am ride leaving from Cyclist connection in Canal tomorrow. I expect a good turnout if the weather holds. Right now the weather man is saying 85 and very little chance of rain. Come out and join everyone.
Sorry for the lack of pictures on this one folks. I didn’t know I’d be filling in for Mark. I’ll bring a camera tomorrow just in case he is feeling under the weather