and Ricky G had moved on.
I rode over to the football field to use the Porta-Potty and upon exiting it, jumped on my bike crossed the gravel driveway, front wheel rolled into a tire track, front wheel abruptly stopped, back wheel lifted off the ground, I lifted into the air and unceremoniously, toppled over the front of the handlebars to the ground. My first thought was to jump up, look around and see if anyone had witnessed this incredible display of ineptness but whew, no one watching. I wondered if this was a bad omen as I
got back on the bike, knee bleeding.
Howeever, something stirred the beasts and the pace picked up dramatically. I was still in good shape as we approached Johnstown and survived the ramps into town. I bet we lost a couple after making the right turn because going through town the pace stayed very high and if you were not aware, you may have gotten caught out and dropped. We turned right on Concord, eventually reaching Northridge where we paused for a turning car. I looked back and there was Jeff S but no Dirty Dan. He was not the only person to have dropped. Our numbers had been culled and what came next would cut into us even more. Yep, a right turn onto the dreaded Stone Quarry, kind of a very mini Pickerington Road from around Canal Winchester.
I clung to Hendra's wheel, who had a rough race in PA last weekend, getting dropped on the first climb. Must have been a very fast group to drop Hendra that soon. We tore through the climbs, bombed the descent, hit the final climb and I had survived with the front group although Pete C and Jon Morgan put in a small gap on us. I was a happy guy, very, very happy and pleased with myself. Then we turned left on Louden, where I needed just a wee bit of let-up to recover just a fraction. But no, we turned quickly right on Liberty Church. I was a sad guy, very, very sad and displeased. By the second ramp, I was done. So, at mile 19 it was over for me with at the time a 23.4 avg.. Ahead, 3-4 guys turned left on Sportsman Club Road but I stayed on the route and hooked up with Mick, riding out to 661.
We decided to turn right here, cutting 2 miles off the route and hoping to rejoin the group but for some reason, Mick bombed that steep down hill prior to the right turn to Dry Creek and just kept going south. Never saw him again. I shouted to him to turn but a mower drowned out my warning. I got on to New Burg, looked back and here the beasts came. By now it looked like 14 were left, Doug Maconaha, Marty, Dave C, Jon, Tym T, Rich Lewis, Steve Fields, Terry G, Shannon, Pete C,... mostly it was a blur to me other than when Dave Chesrown came by he said, "Hey short cut cake."??????? I was bewildered that this would come from Dave. Before I got hold of Dave he was an anonymous cyclist but the exposure I have given him has turned him into an obscure cyclist and this is how he repays me? Et tu, Brute?
Oh well, a thick skin I have developed and I happily jumped in with the group, turning right through the school parking lot, left on Louden, right on Raccoon Valley Road all the way into and through Alexandria and out Jersey Mill. About 3/4 upp Jersey Mill I was flagging badly and dropped out, soloing the last 11 miles into the wind and watching the avg speed drop but still finished with 21.8 avg, 44 miles and 1500' of climbing. The leading A group finished with a 24.1 avg and 46 miles. Big thanks to Shannon for another creative route.