On Sunday, I hooked up with Dr. J's Sunday ride. It was only 30 miles but it pushed me over 500 for the vacation and over 37,000' of climbing. I was satisfied with this but still regret I did not make it back up The Fig, also did not climb Harris Grade over by Vandenberg Air Force Base and would have liked to get back out to Refugio and climb the paved side coming up from the ocean. I asked, Dave, the owner of Dr. J's about that climb and his reply was, "Dude, that is a knurly ride and tougher than the Fig." I suspected this and look forward to doing it next time I'm out there.
Had an afternoon off and walked around visiting various cafes and people watching. Lots of cyclists cruising by on the main drag, Mission Street. The best cafe is the Bulldog Cafe which is where all the cyclists meet and frequently start rides. I walked a circuitous route back to the hotel and stopped at a restaurant to order carryout since I had to take apart the bike and pack it. Many Solvang businesses have a facade that reminds one of a Danish village and this is one of Solvang's niches. Another interesting aspect is the businesses are virtually all locally owned. Pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants and miscellaneous shops have been in someone's family for decades in most cases. The only franchise is a Subway.
So, begin taking apart the bike at about 8:00pm and soon discovered the wrench that quickly takes my old pedals off does not work on the new pedals. Instead, a fairly large Allen wrench is required and I began to worry. Headed to the lobby where I was told the maintenance people were gone and the room where some tools are kept was locked and no one had a key. All businesses that might have the tool were closed but there was a Walmart 30 miles away in Lompoc that may have it. Argghhh. I went outside and began approaching people who looked like cyclists and inquired about availability of large Allen wrench. Everyone was helpful but no one had the correct size. Headed back to the lobby and after putting on my best hopeless/helpless face, the worker said he may be able to find a key for the tool room and soon he came out with a set of small Allen wrenches, all way too small. Headed back to the room to grab the car keys for the long drive to Lompoc. The phone rang, they had found two larger wrenches and EUREKA!!! one fit. All parts quickly came apart and the bike was packed.
Well, that's about it. When I reached home, a quick scale stop confirmed my worst fears, I had gained 5 pounds. The Danish pastries, 2 cans of Monster each day, large meals and a small quantity of wine had overridden the calories lost from cycling. I could have come out, ridden as I did and limit eating and emerged from the week at a summer weight but what fun would that have been? I would do it again and can't wait to do it again.
Today was the Solvang Double Century. They accept a maximum field of 550, which fills quickly. I got started late and when I reached their route, practically everyone had already gone by. I reached Los Olivos, then headed out Foxen Canyon Road and the long gradual climb to a corner that precedes a glorious down hill run. However, at the top, I took a minute to poke around in the weeds to see if I could find that rattlesnake I had seen last week. I heard what sounded like someone throwing up so turned to the road and in fact, there was a guy reaching the summit and gagging while throwing up. Gross. He saw me and said, "I knew I should not have eaten that." but kept going while making gurgling sounds and gagging some more. I jumped on the bike and enjoyed a 7-8 mile mostly down hill run to a small market at Garrey. After refueling, I proceeded to Santa Maria and stopped at Main Street Cyclry, to see if they had a special cork brake pad I needed. They did not but yanked the bike from me and proceeded to check everything. What great service.
I finally got my bike out of their clutches and confirmed what several have told me: My Bontrager crank arm sucks and I need a new Shimanno, my Bontrager wheels suck and my Look peddals are worn out (later, I stopped at Dr. J's and had the pedals replaced with snazzy new carbon pedals). I headed into uncharted waters west of Santa Maria. Very agricultural with vast fields of strawberries being picked, lettuce and other veggies. Through osmosis I felt better just soaking in all that vitamin A. I took Black Road south and geez, what a remote area, just wild California. I was headed to Casmalia, a very small village that has a market, except upon reaching it, I doscovered the market was closed. Headed over a small 2 mile climb and reached San Antonio Road, crossed Hightway 1 and got onto 135 and after several miles reached another remote town, Los Alamos. I was at mile 75 and headed up Drum Canyon Road, by far the roughest road I have ever been on. I believe this is where rookie pot hole fillers go to practice. I can imagine the conversation with their supervisors:
Trainee: Sir, I filled this pot hole but should I taper the edges, it is 5" above the road surface and may cause problems.
Supervisor: No leave it like that. My wife ran off with a cyclist and I want those SOBs to wear the edges down over time.
Anyway, it is a small climb of only 600' and then a glorious, if rocky, 5 mile down hill. Every bolt in the frame and my body needs tightening after that experience. Reached 246 and took it east, riding a tail wind and finally reached Solvang at 95 miles and 4100' of climbing.
I stopped at the bike shop to have the pedals replaced and chatted with the fellas. One guy said he had been out riding on Santa Rosa Road this week when a farmer stopped him and told him a mountain lion had crossed the road a few minutes ago. How cool is that? Another said he had climbed Refugio Road last week and saw a Bobcat. He told me next time I ride up the dirt portion, to pay attention to all the different paw prints. Because the area borders the Los Padres Forest of 2 million acres and also bordered by a large strip of coastal property, there is an abundance of wildlife. Gosh I love this place.
I ate at a good Chinese restaurant and then headed back out 246 to check out the Double Century finishers. Criminy, they were riding strong and some were finishing the 200 miles in under 12 hours. I kept retracing the route which included that dastardly Drum Canyon. By now, it was dark and I could see the head lights may up on the mountain. I really admired them.
Well, one day to go. I've hit almost all the major climbs and would like to join the group ride on Sunday but I also have not had a day off. What to do, what to do....
Ahhh, a day off with no more than a 20 mile spin around the valley. Talked to a couple from Cleveland who told me they made it up the dirt section on Refugio to the top, found a nicely paved road out to a array of satellites and came back. Told me the best views in the valley were up there so I had to check that out. On the paved portion of Refugio, crossed 6 streams, some of which were cascading over large boulders before leveling for the road crossing and then plunging down into a valley. Very picturesque and wild. Before this though, I passed a field that had just been baled. The aroma of freshly cut hay was strong and after our winter, was a great smell.
Finally reached the end of the pavement at mile 10 and started up. I have ridden on roads with a canyon to the left and a canyon to the right but never a canyon in the middle of the road. Packed dirt with rocks every where protruding through the surface made it a heck of a challenge to stay upright. I could imagine someone like Larry P or Ginger, utilizing their cyclecross skills, navigating the maze but I kept choosing the wrong lines and running up against 12" drops. Eventually though, I gained more experience and by the end, cumulatively, I spent about 95% of my time riding rather than pushing. I anticipated the dirt section being a mile but that came and went. I passed hikers and inquired the distance to the top and one guy said I was half way. No friggin way I thought. But, he was right. After 3.2 miles I reached pavement. Quite an adventure and I'm glad I did it. Gained 1400' and reached the turn, which continued up. The road narrowed and at one point, a glance to the right showed a wide expanse of the coast and ocean and a glance to the left showed the Santa Ynez Valley and mountain range beyond. I sorely wished my cycling buddies were there to see the awesome views. Words and images can not adequately describe or show it. One can only see it, not describe it.
The climb to the satellites is about 6 miles but after 4, I decided there was no point to going any further to a dead-end. Plus, my brake pads in the rear had been worn to a nub and the local bike shop did not have the cork brake pads I needed. I coasted back to the intersection and decided I did not want to walk my bike down that 3 miles of dirt so decided to take the paved option out to the coast and pick up highway 101. Some day, I need to come back and climb what I descended. It may be the toughest climb in the area. I finally reached the bottom and the beach and headed west on 101. I figured I would reach an exit I had driven many times before, that would take me back to Solvang, in about 4-5 miles....wrong!!!! By mile 7, of riding on the equivalent of I-70 with mostly trucks and RVs passing me, I pulled off the road. What to do, what to do. I called various people to find someone in front of the internet and reached my good fellow Steve O. While it took him awhile, after consulting Mapquest, he confirmed what I suspected...I was screwed. Another mile or two brought me to a tunnel that the locals call, "The Tunnel of Death" for cyclists...great. I pushed my bike, on a narrow raised concrete path with the deafening noise of trucks and cars resounding off the tunnel walls. good grief. On I went and finally, after 14 miles of joyless cycling on the interstate, I reach the exit. Reached the hotel with 46 miles and 4600' of climbing. Drove to Hitching Post for a steak and to check out the 2nd half of the Buckeye game. Tomorrow, as said on an earlier posting, is the Solvang Double Century. I'll jump the route and ride half.
There is a rumor going around that I am not in CA but instead back in Ohio, making up these stories while pulling images from the internet. Given my reputation, I can easily understand how this could get started. To put it to rest, I got out early and first stopped at a local golf course but the course did not have a cap with the course name on it so I bought a standard Titleist cap and went outside and found someone to shoot me standing next to a cart having the Rancho something or other name. I knew this would not be enough so I drove up the mountain and.....
...ran across some old friends and they were too happy to pose with me. My buddies put on full helmets and padding and .....
...plunge down this dirt path. I asked if they ride back up and they said no, it's too steep. What a thrill that must be to ride. Anyway, although a rest day, I'm going out Refugio Road where it turns to dirt for a mile and then back to pavement before coming to Reagan's Ranch. A couple from Cleveland told me there is a road up there that follows a ridge and has maybe the best views of the area. I kind of wanted to take it easier today because tomorrow is the Solvang Double Century ride, a route I will jump and get in maybe 110, but don't want to miss a chance on seeing something spectacular. I'll take my camera and post images later.
Epic day for cycling. Drove over the pass and down into Santa Barbara, parking at the Botonical Gardens on Foothill Road. Headed east to get to Mountain Drive which connects with Gibralter. I rode this a couple of times 3 years ago but had forgotten what to expect. After Monday's pathetic performance on Figueroa, today I was relieved to discover that what climbing legs I have are in much better shape. The 8% ramps felt like 4%, the 12% felt like 8% and the 18% ramps felt like, well, 18%. I've read this is maybe America's classic climb with incredible views of the coast, Pacific Ocean and in the distance the Channel Islands. I wish I had the vocabulary to adequately describe it all. Would have more images but jetisoned the camera today to save weight. Will have many more tomorrow.
Noticed areas had been burned from last year's fires but already had greened over and eventually reached the area where hang gliders leap into the abyss. Several cars around but I had just missed them taking off. For 5 miles it is continuous uphill before reaching a saddle and dropping a couple of feet over 100 yards before the serious climbing begins. Long, steep ramps with pavement deteriorating into a series of potholes, which adds character. The road drops behind the mountain and finally reaches the top, where it was windy and cold. Surprised to discover it's "only" 3000' and 6.5 miles. Got to the top at 1:09 and legs still felt good. Probably could have broken an hour if I had known the climb. The ride down was cold with my perspiration soaked jersey drying as I descended. Reached the bottom and found a market to restock and head west on Foothills Road to old San Marcos Road, a road that runs parallel to Gibralter a few miles away. Mostly 4-8% ramps with a wall or two buried in sharp switchbacks. Reached 154 where San Marcos ends, crossed onto Painted Cave and the next 2 miles is one of the steepest sustained climbs I've been on. Every time I glanced at the Garmin it was at 15% or more and the road narrowed to one lane in places. Arrived at a turn that on the inside had to be 30%. On the outside it was over 20%. Finally dead ended at Cielo Drive which joins Gibralter a few miles away. Turned around and coasted down until that turn and could not navigate it, crossing into the opposite lane and stopping. Wish I had a way of measuring it.
Anyway, reached 154 and did something really stupid. Decided to descend 154 instead of old San Marcos. Very dangerous with traffic going by at 65 down a steep road with views to distract the drivers and a berm that would sometimes give out, forcing me to ride directly on the road. Four miles later I reached the exit for Foothills Road and returned to the parking lot. Only 43 miles but 7100" of climbing. Think I'll celebrate by having a glass (or two) of wine this evening! All kidding aside, when I return home, I've got to lose 5 pounds gained on this trip. Normally, I fix a fruit smoothie or bowl of cereal for breakfast. Out here, I eat the cereal, hard boiled egg and danish pastry. Good heavens.
Today was to be a 100 mile day. Headed towards Los Olivos then onto Foxen Canyon and a 2 mile gentle grade climb before a screaming descent and eventually to Tepusquet Road. Throughout, fantastic views on both sides of the road. Tepsuquet is a valley road that begins climbing for 4 miles to the summit but gains only 1000'. You can maintain a good rpm with no steep pitches. Passed real live bufallo, wild turkeys, a snake that slithered off the road, other cyclists and then the top, where I did something stupid...coasted down the other side to 166 before turning around and climbing back up but some great views on the way, as shown below.
Regaining the top, I enjoyed a long coast down and upon reaching Foxen Canyon, stopped at a winery to refill a water bottle and sat to enjoy a cool drink and another great view...
Arrived back in Solvang with 96 miles and 6000" of climbing. Hope tomorrow is an epic day as I plan to climb Gibralter and Painted Cave on the Santa Barbara side of the mountain range. ALSO, NOTE THE SATURDAY RIDE INFO BELOW.
The Winter Metric Century Roving Ride lives on, despite or perhaps because of my absence. This Saturday, Jeff Schleup will step in and provide maps and doughnuts for a 10:00am start from Cyclist Connection in Canal Winchester. Jeff will provide an all new route that arrives at the Rushville Coffee House and then a return. Get out there and support the final Winter Metric Century Ride of the season and enjoy the great weather, friendship, pain and suffering during the 60 mile route.
Tuesday was to be a rest day but got an invite to join the 5:00pm club ride and had a good time with 15 others. Only 30 miles but with 3 significant climbs on some roads I had not ridden, including Long Canyon Road, a 2 mile 2-5% continuous uphill before ending with a "Savage Hill" style end with one ramp at 22%. In this area, hard against Figueroa Mountain, cows roam freely and sometimes scamper across the road.
I've been asked why I go to California to ride. In 5 years of coming here and over 50 days of riding, it has rained one time. Can't beat the weather. I've looked at Greenville, SC or Georgia but too many crummy weather days in March and April. Another factor are the roads and lack of traffic. This is overwhelmingly agriculture and so there is little traffic, except on weekends when the crowds from LA come up but the roads they travel are easily avoided. Besides Armstrong's Discovery team training here, so too have Team CSC and a month ago, Radio Shack's U-23 team trained here. College teams visit here for a spring camp and many organized tours originate rides from here including Cycling Escapes, Undiscovered Tours, Trek Travel, Planet Ultra, etc.. Lastly, the climbing, with Figueroa, Gibralter, Painted Cave Road, Tepsuquet, Jalama Road offering sustained steep climbing. Anyway, that's it. Today starts a stretch of long rides with a century today (Wednesday).
So, today was the day to take my first crack at Figueroa Mountain, or as the locals call it, "The Fig". I noticed a layer of maritime fog had moved in overnight but it always burns off by 10:00am and if you can get to the foot of the mountain in time, you ride into the fog and at approximately 1000' up you break through into brilliant sunshine. As I approach the mountain, the fog was already lifting, as shown above.
Here's a good image of a winery, winding road and the Fig in the back ground. The approach is rolling with no difficult climbs but some how, 1000' is gained prior to...
...the official start of the climb, as designated by the dead tree, the sign and usually some one has chalked, "The Start" on the road. This week alone, there are at least 3 tour groups out here and the organizers like to paint or chalk different road markings for inspiration to the cyclists. It takes me around an hour and thirty minutes to cover the 3500' and roughly 10 miles. I think the record is 57 minutes. Coming off the crummy weather of February, I wondered if I would be forced to unclip some where up there. I would like to show images of the way up, especially the packed dirt and stone section that adds character but to do so requires me to stop and I did not want to. Another cool section is, after reaching the saddle (shown in the image. That is not the top.) the road drops steeply around 500-800' and all that gain is lost but you cross 4 streams and the water that splashes up usually is welcome.
I labored mightily and became despondent when it appeared I was going to go over 1:30. Every time you reach the top of a switchback there is another and no sign of the top until literally you are at the top. Very strange. I cursed my winter weight, lack of cycling, steepness of the road, the effect of aging but suddenly, there was the last ramp, a grueling 18% stretch and I arrived at 1:30:27. Better than last year's first time by 5 minutes but behind my best time by a few minutes. Still, at the top the Los Padres forest of 2 million acres stretches farther than the eye can see and it feels great to stretch out under a lone pine and rest. Soon, others summited as the day sees many come up from both sides.
People come by the thousands to view the spectacular wild flower displays that exist on the sunnier southwest facing slopes. Here is just one of many patches of color and after remounting my bike a mile later I came across....
....a production company filming a zombie movie. One of the guys applying make-up had a T-shirt that said some thing about prostitutes atnd zombies but this movie is something about a dungeon and zombies. I asked if I could take an image and all said yes except the zombie who said no but I snapped anyway. They had a huge spread of food and drinks laid out and I hoped they would offer me a drink as I was out but they did not. I continued to coast down to the bottom, passed Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and soon reached Los Olivos, where I stopped to refuel. Only 49 miles but 5100' of climbing and that was enough.
After yesterday's epic, I slotted in with the group ride out of Dr. J's bike shop. Comprised mostly of what we would consider "B" riders and a large quantity of tri-athletes, including a woman who when she walked, her leg muscles shot out in every point on the compass. I was afraid of her. The tri guys were kind of arrogant, not like our humble tri's like Andrew, Nathan and Belinda.
We headed out for a 50 mile ride but I think 2 flat tires kind of took the steam out of the group. We reached Foxen Canyon Road and passed Fess Parker's Winery. Yes, that Fess Parker who starred as Daniel Boone and then went into California real esstate where he was very successful with 2 resorts and other properties. He died last week at 85, His winery kicks off a 1-2 mile climb and the group thinned. Toward the top the climb got steeper and there were 3 of us, including the Amazonian woman. We regrouped at the top and the Amazonian went off to take a leak except she suddenly stopped with a "Wow, take a look at this." We walked over and there curled was a rattlesnake. Cool! We hit the down hill and enjoyed a very long coast where it was decided we would cut the ride short and eventually reached Los Olivos, a tiny town 5 miles north of Solvang. We regrouped and headed up a very steep and longish hill on Ballard Canyon Road. I felt good and kicked it in gear and went around the Amazonian who muttered something that I took to be a compliment. It felt good to reach the top first. Ended with only 40 miles but that was ok.
I drove to Santa Barbara to hit Fasttrack, a bike shop owned by Dave Literri, Armstrong's former mechanic. He always has some neat jerseys and today was no different. On the way, I passed fields of beautiful orange, purple, white and yellow fields of flowers and always, Figueroa Moutain dominates the landcape.
Armstrong and Team Discovery trained out here prior to each of his 7 Tour wins. They would climb "The Fig" at a relaxed pace, coast down the mountain and then turn around and hit it at race pace. I climb it at a relaxed pace, coast down and hit a local restaurant.
Fastrack is basically a hole-in-the-wall crammed with bike parts and clothing. Dozens of bike frames and a counter that is covered with bike parts. Without a doubt, it's the messiest shop I've ever been in but it has character, including numerous jerseys signed by Armstrong and at one time, Dave rode for the US Olympic team.
On the Santa Barbara side of the mountain range is the climb up Gibralter. It's length, average grade and switchbacks make it a twin of the "Alpe". Maybe better with views of the ocean all the way up.
The morning low was 39 with an expected high of 75 degrees, I wanted to get started at 9:00 but it was still kind of cool so waited until 10:00am. About 3 miles into the ride I noticed my handlebars were in the 2:00 position while the wheel was at the 12:00 position...not good so I turned around and headed to Dr. J's, the local bike shop for a quick fix. Headed out Santa Rosa Road and cruised past several wineries including Sanford. A couple of decent climbs along the route and then reached highway 101 that permits cyclists so I turned south and after 3 miles, reached Jalama Road. This is a classic 14 mile route out to Jalama Beach and has some great climbs. Above is an image of one of many white oaks with Spanish moss that dot the landscape.
After 14 miles from 101 and very tough climbing, I reached an overlook that showed the remote Jalama Beach, a refuge for surfers and old Hippies. Very remote but the site is famous for the Jalama Burger, which I ate while looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Very nice! Headed back but while bouncing over one of the hundreds of road pot holes, my seat suddenly droped to the rear. This sucked and I could not fix, causing me to accomodate which put a strain on other body parts. Ended up with 81 miles and 5100' of climbing. I was pooped and felt just like after finishing that Bladensburg ride of a couple of weeks ago. I'm tired but will go back out tomorrow to ride with a local group of cyclists for a recovery ride. Much more cycling with massive climbs to come!
I awoke at 3:30am but strangely, getting up that early for vacation has a different feel from getting up that early for a business trip. Go figure. I knew the bike had arrived in Solvang the day before but still sweated out checked baggage that contained the shoes, helmet, pump, etc.. It all arrived with my flight via Chicago and San Fran, out of Columbus. The bike went together and a spin around the parking lot indicated all was good to go!!!! I gazed at the nearest spine that is a mere 800' climb and then looked at the Big kahuna, Figueroa Mountain with 3500' of climbing. I'll be up and down that several times so I can burn enough calories to justify all the food and wine I'll consume.
But First. At the Hitching Post, a upscale restaurant that was featured in the movie "Sideways", I assumed the role of a lounge lizard and camped out to watch the BUCKEYES in the first half against Santa Barbara. By half time, I was starting to wind down and returned to the Wine Valley Inn. Tomorrow, it's out to Jalama Beach for a very hilly ride.
This Saturday, the Roving Ride will start at Cyclist Connection, at 9:00am in Canal Winchester. The destination will be the Rushville Coffee House and a total distance of 55-60 miles. I will be out of town but a very able volunteer, Bob Allen, stepped forward and will be there with maps, directions and an encouraging word.
I will be in California for my annual cycling training camp. I'll post updates each day with images of the mountain passes I have to push my bike over, the group rides from which I'll get dropped (they all look like Craig Butler and ride like him too) and the screaming descents with smoke billowing from the brakes.
Ahhh, the sweet relief of the symbolic start to a new cycling season with the arrival of the Tuesday COP Canal ride. My psyche has recovered somewhat from the battering it took all last season from Peggster, Flyin Tuna, Steve, Craig, Ryan...well...just about from everybody. A mental cleansing has taken place during the long winter and I am good to go again, mentally if not physically. My cycling day got started a little early when a call from John the Dentist alerted me to a 3:00 start from his place and a promised easy ride. When I arrived, John was on the phone talking to Chris Harmon, the young man who dropped 200 pounds of weight on his face during weight lifting. He is lucky to be alive but did lose the use of an eye. Much reconstructive surgery remains and John will be involved in the dental aspect of it. Joining in the ride was Crazy George and Marty. George still has the heart problems and they appear to have worsened but he does not appear to worry much about it. I rode with them for 45 minutes and then looped back home for 25 miles and in time to make a PB & J sandwich and head out the door for Canal.
With a short window of daylight and with it the promise of a short route, I was surprised by the turnout. I counted 46 with others hidden behind cars so probably more than 50 were there. Undoubtedly first to arrive was Grand Poobah, to grab the premo parking spot. Here, Tall Dude admires Todd's clothing and bike.
Steve, Jimmy and Grand Poobah went for a warm-up ride before the official ride start, These guys are serious!. Also shown is Peggster, with her typical goofy facial expression when she sees someone about to take a picture.
With Donna unavailable, Peggster took over and as expected, showed she can slip comfortably into the role of Seargent of the Parking Lot. Barking out instructions and threats of banning for those who did not follow instructions, we were all suitably petrified and glad to escape to the open road.
I headed out with the A group, hoping to get far enough down the road that when I shot out the back of the peloton, I might stay ahead of the "C" group. Most of us have been whining about how out of shape and unfit we are but judging by the tans, some of us have been doing something outside. We headed out Waterloo and hit the long hill to its apex at Slough. A new youngster named Matt (in the foreground of the image above) went to the front and turned the screws and conversation ceased. I could not tell how many fell back but I was shocked I was still there. When we reached the deadend at Lithopolis, I hoped the kid would drop off the front before someone (me) got hurt. Oh yeah, sneaky Grand Poobah jumped the group at the stop sign and raced for the sign sprint win. Clearly he did more than drive the team car at Kenda's training camp in Georgia last week.
We worked our way over to Goodman via Elder, Berger and Richardson Roads. So far, fairly flat which is good for the first ride. Then we made a left onto Marcy and I saw the hill there but strangely, had begun to feel pretty good about my standing in the group and was unafraid, mostly. We hit the hill with Matt and The Boss at the front. Things broke up a bit on the hill and Poobah whipped through an opening to latch onto Boss' wheel and I to Poobah's. In the process, I struggled by Steve on his hybrid and I think the spectre of me ever passing him on a hill again will force him to bring the road bike next time. The pace slackened and the group reformed, including Greg Hall and Roy, two sandbaggers who had started with the B group and then leaped into ours for the balance of the ride.
Across #674 we went and hit the rollers there and then a left on Cedar Hill, where Boss took it easy on us and we remained together. We cruised into Canal with 25 miles and a 21.8mph average. Geesh, this is the first ride and already over 21, albeit a flattish route but still...geesh. Additional Notes: Amanda was there on her new Fuji frame. Others at the start were Mitch, Tri Andrew, Ross, Julia, Ryan R, Butch, John Morgan, Mark Rossi, Margarita Rick, Randy D, Pastor Mark & many more. If you weren't there you missed a good ride and hope you can make it next week. Oh yeah, Poobah grabbed the Lithopolis sign sprint and every other town, burg, village and hamlet's sign along the route. I think he is feeling better about this season than last.
That's correct. Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:00pm is the gathering of legends, has beens, never beens, wanabes, crazies (George), triathletes, duathletes, bisexuals and just plain very cool people like those pictured here (background not foreground). The famous COP Tuesday Evening Ride will begin. The start is behind Shades Restaurant in Canal Winchester. Wheels up at 6:00pm and no waiting for you Rick Holt. Despite my calf issue I will be there to document the event and should I fall from the A group it is strictly because of injury and not the extra 6 pounds and lack of fitness that causes me to do so. In case you are new to this event, it is open to A, B and C riders but as Peggester stated once, "I ain't wet nursing no weak riders!" so be prepared to read the map should you fall from your respective group.
While probably all of us were huddled over our trainers on Saturday, there was one guy who was not. John Gorrilla, showing dogged determination that has not been seen since Sissyphus was compelled to repeatedly roll a rock up a hill, raced in Croton. However, he rode his bike from Granville to Croton, raced and then rode back to Granville, all in pouring rain. As a friend observed, "Maybe the guy had his license revoked for something?" Without intending to, John is becoming a local legend. He also asked me to pass along that he was going for a 7 hour training ride next Saturday and all are welcome to join.
Flyin Tuna checked in from Arizona. She and Rod are on vacation in Sedona before heading to Grand Canyon for a couple of days. I tried to talk her into hiking down to Indian Gardens via the Bright Angel Trail, an easy day hike for an elite athlete like her but she sounded iffy on the idea.
Saturday, trying to recover from a strained calf muscle that surprised me during a Friday trail run, I bought wood and built a squirrel house. Following the directions produced a massive wood castle and I attached it to a tree. In some woods behind the house we have 8-10 of the critters but 2 red-tail hawks have moved in and I suspect the population of squirrels will be pared. I'll try to get some action shots of them taking up residence and post here. Saturday evening, the forecast looked so ominous that I did not bother to set the alarm. Woke around 7:30 without hearing rain, checked radar and hustled to the car with bike and clothes and headed to Canal to try to make the 9:00am ride.
Entering the parking lot at Cyclist Connection revealed Roy standing in clothing that suggested he was going for an outdoor ride rather than the spin class this is normally an alternative. Also there were Tall Dude and Ross. Franz showed up but only to do the indoor ride. The four of us headed out on damp roads but no standing water and no rain. We worked our way over to Baltimore and had a good ride going, still staying dry. Halfway back to Canal, with a heavier mist moving in and speculating heavier stuff may arrive, we headed back and ended with 29 miles. Not what anyone would want but a fine alternative to riding indoors.
I keep hearing persistent rumors that a Gran Fondo is being organized for the area. Now, many of you will think this is something to be eaten but in fact, the Gran Fondo is a long time tradition in Italian cycling culture. Levi Leipheimer lends his name to one each year in California. The Fondo is a large participation, long distance ride that is not a race but is timed and is for both pros and amateurs of all abilities.
Retro George Update--While there is no record of George having ever answered his cell phone or replied to a voice mail, I have it on good authority George is training hard on a fitness bike at some gym, as he does every year. I also heard he is working on new excuses, fearing the "heart racing" excuse has run its course.
Granville Cycling Challenge--Spring Version
Yes, I had so much fun last fall that I decided there should be a Spring/2010 version too. Larry P gave me the idea by flinging the above at me after Saturday's ride, suggesting it be one of the prizes. I'm checking the calender for a date that does not conflict too much with COP rides and will update later. I'm also thinking about charging $1.00 per rider to help defray the expense of prize monies and doughnuts. I also want to expand the prizes and figure out a way for the noncompetitive like Dennis and Amanda to win something. More later.
What a day for those who had the time and initiative to show for what promised to be way too much for most of us. What was I thinking when, out of town on business, I asked Flyin Tuna to make up a map for going from Granville to Bladensburg? This is a ride we typically do in July, not March after most of us have been off our bikes for a month+. However, they came, car after car of victims for Cindy's hilly route. The Boss, Craig Butler was there, Jeff S, Dennis, Todd Mullens, Ginger, Recumbent Dude, Recumbent Dude's sister-in-law Jill, Larry P, Lisa, New Guy Steve, Kevin K, Kenda Dave and John Gorrilla, a total of 15 cyclists. There was a slight mishap when Kenda Dave backed out of his parking spot to get a better position and barely scraped Todd's car. Fortunately, Dave's bike, which was attached to the rear of the car, survived and Todd's car had nothing more than a scrape.
John G was an interesting story. Having moved from Minnesota to Granville last year, he had signed up for the Cat 3 division in a race in Mt. Vernon, which started at 1:30. He planned to start with us, split off at the appropriate location, arrive in Mt Vernon to race and then ride back....LONG DAY! Rather than starting at 11:00. it was 11:15 before we headed out with a starting temperature of 28. The parking lot had never been scraped clear of snow so it was king of mushy and we were forced to pushed our bikes to the street and shoved off. Lots of snow and grit had accumulated on our shoe bottoms and it made clicking into the pedals kind of hard. We headed out 661 to New Burg to Dry Creek and on to Chattam, making a quick right and left on to Weaver & Preston before slogging up Renynolds and into Utica. Kevin K had cut the ride short and Kenda Dave cut it short too after we moved through Utica.
We pressed on to Bladensburg and finally arrived at Butler Restaurant. I found it interesting that all of the remaining cyclists chose to sit in Butlers rather than hit the gas station market. I think, no I am certain, most of us were suffering from a route that was too hilly and too long with the hills. We ordered a mix of breakfast and lunch items despite arriving after 1:00pm. Todd ordered scrambled eggs and TWO of the monster pancakes and, predictably, was unable to finish it all. We had a great time kidding with each other during "lunch" but the return route was not to be put off for long and we eventually rode out of Bladensburg.
The way back was the usual mix of pain and punishment as we headed south on Henpeck, right on Long Run Road, a quick left and right onto Pine View and I was suffering from the frequent ascents. I had ridden the day before because I expected some C+ or B riders to show and I thought I could relax at a slightly slower pace as the route sweeper but it was not to be today. Everyone seemed strong and I was not. Ginger, Craig, Dennis, Jeff and Larry had gotten ahead of us on Pine View and instead of turning right on Eden Church, they continued south. We were oblivious to this until Larry caught us and let us know as we headed down Martinsburg into St Louisville and then 13 and a right onto kind of a monster hill on St. Joseph. We ignored a utility truck with flashing lights at the base of St. Joseph and just before the summit, we were told we had to turn back because crews were simultaneously cutting up a fallen tree and repairing a downed power line. DAMN!!!! We continued south on #13 and got onto Dry Creek then crossed 661 to stay on Dry Creek. In the meantime, our group had survived Cindy's chain becoming wedged between the frame and sproket and Larry losing a spoke. With these mishaps I begain to wonder which would come first, darkness or me falling asleep on my bike. I was yawning frequently and noted some very pained expressions on other faces too. Finally, we turned onto New Burg, rode through Granville and ended up at the mushy parking lot with 63 miles and 4600' of climbing. All I wanted to do was crawl into my car and maybe sleep but Larry P's van needed a push to gain traction and leave. Larry called for volunteers to jump in the back of the van to add ballast and some uncouth guy yelled, "Cindy, there's a job for you.". We heaved the van out, dug out and shoved Jeff's van, dug and pushed Todd's car and even had enegy left to push out a stranger's SUV that had become stuck. What a day and gosh what a revelation for some of us to discover we are as far out of shape as we suspected. To their credit, it appeared Craig, Todd, Ginger and Larry are ahead of schedule and kicked our butts all day. Someone even said," Dennis is drafting off Ginger even on the uphills!' But then, so were most of us. I think this was the first day since November that I burned more calories than I consumed.