In total, maybe 35-37 for all groups and 10 of us rolled out in the "A" group with numerous catcalls directed at me, "See ya soon", "You suck", "Take up golf again", "You won't make it to the stop sign with those guys", etc.. It sounded like all those comments came from one guy, my buddy Ryan R.
We got on to Eastern Waterloo, then the awesome Pickerington Road. Some ride leaders keep the part of the road south of Winchester Road, off the routes because the 4 hills there are so daunting, some cyclists zig and zag and are all over the road, making it kind of dangerous. By the time we got to Winchester, some of us were gassed. In the lead up to the Winchester Road stop, even Steve appeared to be waning but Patrick came alongside and gave him a push to help close a gap. We crossed Winchester and hit the first hill and quickly, 5 of us dropped anchor, Steve, Kevin, Matt, Pete and me.
Routes like this expose the weak. No real drafting opportunity where one can sit in and hide for awhile, the gratient just doesn't care and so the other 5 quickly disappeared. Of the remaining 5, Steve made the best of it, putting a little gap into me but upon cresting the final hill, there was the first 5 waiting!!!!! Been years since I saw the "A" group do that and I suspect Patrick had a lot to do with it. All 10 back together, we kept going, making a left on Alspach then a right on Rock Mill. Kevin, not yet in the form of last year, dropped off, then Matt. I was doing ok but following super gutterer, Steve O and so, without the draft, I too dropped out at mile 13, figures. Matt came alongside and towed me in to Amanda. The front 7 had slowed a little and we could always see them but the light in Amanda did not cooperate and we did not catch back on.
Continuing south, we got on to Hunter and that debilitating long climb where Pete dropped out, along with Steve. The difference being Pete came back to join our merry band while Steve lone wolfed it. The three of us worked together pretty well, making a left on Sixteen, a right on Stoutsville, etc... Then, we reached a turn that is the usual turn north, I think it is Fosnaugh School Rd but it was not signed. Matt and Pete kept going west as I turned. Reaching the crest of a hill, I could see Steve and yelled back, "This way" but the Ashmores did not hear me so at that point, I soloed back in, finishing exactly with a 20mph avg, 43 miles and 1800' of climbing. No word if the Ashmores made it back in.