Rain moved through the area earlier in the day but upon arriving at the parking lot the pavement was dry the sky was a little overcast and the temp only 70. There would be no reason for anyone not to show because conditions were perfect. Around 5:30, the clouds lifted entirely and the temp rose a little but still nice and we lathered on the sunscreen. People began descending on me wanting to know where our ride leader, Mitch was. I kept assuring everyone he would show that he is normally a little late but very reliable. Up until 5:45 I clung to this story but the natives were getting restless and even I began to doubt the Engineer's arrival. Finally, Ryan called Mitch and announced Mitch had looked at radar and decided there would not be a ride. How one could come to that conclusion, while also being sober, is best left unanswered. I asked Mark C, he who rides these roads every day but Sunday, to come up with a simple, 40 miles route, in the absence of having maps. Mark announced the route to the group and so we shoved off, I going with the B group of Ryan R, Mark R, Jeremy, Rear Wheel Faller Offer Dude, Mark V, Amanda, Aggravating Dude Who Takes One Pull While in Freakin Aero Bars! and a couple other guys. The A group had Da Boss, Mark C, Steve O, Walker Dude, Jeff S, Dude with Jean Shorts, Tri Andrew, Tri friend of Craig & Andrew, Grand Poobah, Randy Brown and 2-3 others. Again, kind of a light turnout for a Canal ride.
We hit the slope on Waterloo and Ryan, fresh off his Mountains of Misery experience, rode to the front and dropped everyone but me. I suggested he ease up a little and so we regrouped, arriving in Lithopolis as one. Out Elder then Winchester we rode where a guy riding a tri bike took a turn at the front and promptly dropped into the aero tuck and motored away from Mark R. Being a new guy, I figured he would not know where to turn so let him go and sure enough, he eventually sat up, saw no one went with him and he returned to the peloton never to be seen at the front again. I was a mile into a pull and preparing to do so certainly for another 4-5 miles when Ryan came alongside and said, "Are you aware you have two seams going up your rear, one stitched and one au natural?" I was stunned and embarrassed by this and promptly dropped to the back from where I would never again to be seen at the front. Unfortunately, Ryan kept bringing attention to my clothing condition and appeared to be obsessed by it. Note to Ryan: I threw the shorts in the trash can once I arrived home.
Ryan was enjoying putting a beat down on the B group and we eventually lost a few people by the time we turned left at the school and headed for the hill on Ashville Fairfield Road. I figured Ryan would put in a good dig on the hill so I clung to his wheel out of the turn and sure enough, he picked up the pace and we dropped everyone by the time we reached the top but did regroup as there were no maps for people to follow. We worked our way over to Fosnaugh School Road and then Ridge and made a left on Cedar Hill. We reached the foot of the long hill on CH and I happened to be at the front and about 1/3 of the way up, Ryan sprinted around me and behind him but getting gapped a little was Jeremy, who said, "I'm not supposed to close that am I?" I managed to catch and draft Ryan all the way to the top where he ran out of gas. From there we all broke up with Ryan waiting for a new guy who would surely be lost and I waiting for him while soft peddling into Canal with 34 miles and 1400' of climbing and a very pedestrian 18.1 avg. I guess Mark C is to be congratulated for only missing the 40 mile mark
Meanwhile, the A group got cut up by the cross winds going out Winchester but were given the chance to regroup when Andrew's shoe came apart and was saved when Mark gave him a rubber band to wrap around it. The group got cut up again on the hill on Fairfield Road and then more culling took place on the climb on Fosnaugh School so it was down to Mark C, Steve and Walker dude. They then passed Poobah and Andrew on Cedar Hill, having short-cutted and then Steve left the route to get in extra miles. Mark and Walker arrived in Canal together with a 21.5 avg.