Steve O mentioned that Mark C was planning a ride out of his church and of course, with the COP ride a scheduled bike path event out of London, all I needed to leap at promoting an alternative for those of you wanting a hard ride through parts of Hocking Hills. As I think I have documented recently, Mark C has spent gigantic chunks of time running or cycling while burning calories and winning his bet with Steve O, to get below 165 by March 1. Therefore, imagine my surprise when on Friday, Mark C said he did not have "time" to come up with maps but if I wanted, he would call me with turn-by-turn directions. Subsequently, he gave me the directions and I produced maps that mostly faithfully recreated his intended route. As it turns out, the reason Mark could not make maps for his route is because he went trail running from Old Man's Cave to Ash Cave and back. Such is the life of a full time weight loss specialist. It would be appropriate if Mark's nickname was Jillian or maybe Jack Lalane given Mark's age.
Despite the cold start of 33 degrees at 10:00am, there were 20 of us at the start, including Dan Farley, Dustin, Younger Phenom Nic and dad, Ginger, Corvair, Flyin Tuna, Steve O, Mark C, Jeff S, Grand Poobah, Recumbent Dude, Dean, tri guy Tom, Fred, Engineer Mitch, March Mark, Kenda Janet, Trevor and the weakest of the weak, me. We headed out on a classic route that started with a right on Coonpath, left on Carroll Southern, onto Lamb....eventually Hamburg, Christmas Rock, Blue Valley, right on Old Logan and after 26 miles, rolled into the refurbished gas station on Route 33 and Clear Creek. Here, Grand Poobah spotted a dropped penny and dove to be the first to pick it up. Moths fly out of that guy's wallet during the rare instances when it is opened.
We headed west on Clear Creek and soon came to Starner, made famous mostly because Kenda Janet won the hill climb challenge and a $50 gift certificate a couple of years ago but to a lesser extent because this is where Lance Armstrong finally dropped his pursuers during his only appearance at Pelotonia. It also happened to be where the strong were to make the Starner turn while the weak were to take the short cut, a 57 mile option. I have a grossly undeserved reputation for taking short cuts and the few times I have taken one, have been subjected to harsh comments. Showing much more class than my critics, as I turned to take the long route as usual, refrained from voicing much other than an occasional shout of "losers" and "shortcutters" as 11 took the road too frequently traveled and the strong took the road less traveled (sorry Robert Frost).
I was surprised that 9 of us took the long route, including a fast improving Ginger, Steve, Mark C, March Mark, Grand Poobah, Trevor (who probably should have stuck with the shorter route as he was gassed), Dan, Jeff S and me. What followed was a route that produced astonishing views as we got onto Cantwell Cliffs Road, state routes of various numbers, Thompson Ridge Road and finally, into Laurelville, where we stopped for refueling at mile 49. This also happened to be where the route turned north and we would thereafter enjoy a great tailwind. In time, we reached Stoutsville and then FINALLY, rolled into the church with 85 miles, 4800" of climbing and a 16.7mph average. Sounds like there will be a ride out of New Albany at 10:00am on Sunday and another is planned for Wednesday, when temps are expected to exceed 70!!!! Don't forget to reset your clocks tonight.
Mark C gave me the turn-by-turn directions so I put them on a map and the route is 83 miles and there will be a 50-55 mile option. Stops at the new market at 33/Clear Creek road at mile 25 and Laurelville at mile 48. Also going through Stoutsville. Mark also agreed to push the start to 10:00am. So, those who are interested will gather at Gloryland Nazarene Church on Coonpath (about a mile east of #33) with a start time of 10:00am. 83 miles is a big jump for many of us who have been bopping around the countryside doing 50 mile routes so I'll lead a group at a "survival pace" and Steve O can lead a group at a race pace. Maps will be gigantic and easy to read.
If you are wondering who else is coming, I have heard from a broad assortment of cyclists so you'll fit in there somewhere and all are welcome.
I was determined to do a hard ride as I desperately need one. As mild as this winter has been, weekends have not been so nice and I am behind my peers (don't ask who my peers are as many are in wheel chairs or pushing walkers). Flyin Tuna told me she had gone for a walk during one of her many federal mandated breaks and she noted it was so windy the stop signs were gyrating wildly, always a sign of a strong wind. Fine I said but were the poles supporting the signs bent in two? No was her reply so I was good to go with a forecast of 20-30mph winds with gusts up to 40mph out of the south-southwest.
I headed out of the Newark YMCA, the traditional starting point and successfully navigated through downtown Newark, not always a simple task. Soon I arrived at the foot of the brutal Blue Jay Road and headed up and up and after 250' of climbing, reached the top only to encounter more climbs and more climbs and after 5 miles, finally reached Brownsville Road with 800" of climbing during that 5 miles. Rode the traditional Blue Jay route clockwise and over time, lots of time, reached Zanesville and the West End Market which remember, does not allow access to their restrooms so always cross route 40 and hit the "C Plus Market" where they are bike friendly. I still was in good shape and downed a Monster and Fig Newton. Note the first giant hill after Blue Jay is a 205' climb and the second monster climb is 210' and friggin steep. (you know to which I am referring if you have ever ridden around this area).
Soooooo, now went briefly east on 40 and then a right on Kopchak and the loooooooong stretch into the wind. As many of you know, Kopchak is famous for the debacle last year during which a homeowner who also owned dozens of wild animals committed suicide prior to releasing the animals. This made national and international news and I was on the lookout for a wild griz or baboon that may not have been caught or shot. I did see a wild squirrel but he did not seem very threatening and I plodded on, making a right on Ridge Road and feeling the full impact of the wind, made a left on Morgan and felt that wind even moreso, right on Coopermill and just kept slogging through the wind. Finally, I reached Mt Perry Road and headed north with a glorious tail/cross wind. Upon reaching 40 again, I took the 2 miles west to get to the market at 40/668 where they welcomed my purchase of yet another Monster and peanuts.
Wow, the creatures to which I refer to as "spring peepers" were out in full force producing a cacophony of noise produced by these little frogs that always signal the start of spring for me. I headed north on 668, passed Flint Ridge Park, down that long hill and reached Blue Jay Road again where......I turned left to attack it again. Good heavens!!!!! Blue Jay into the wind, just what I always wanted to do. Eventually, I crawled to the final summit and then coasted down to Newark, 65 miles, 5800" of climbing and a calorie burn of 3950...no way with that head wind so I stopped at multiple markets on the way home and ate Snickers, Almond Joys, etc...so I think I ended the day at a neutral point, calories burned to calories consumed.
Now for the real news of the day. Steve O's tickler about there being a century ride on Saturday produced an inquiry from two of the nations top cyclists, whose identify I will protect for now. Mark C, originator of the route, is waiting for confirmation on the wind direction before committing to a route but I should have it tomorrow. As I learn more, I will post but the route will start from Mark's church on Coonpath Road, south of Baltimore. More to come soon.
Wow, check out that Saturday forecast, sunny and upper 50's. Could it change so drastically that Saturday would be unridable? Why yes, very easily based upon the incompetency of weather forecasting but I'm betting it will hold and be good. Is it too early to do a century? Who will step forward and lead a ride that has a 100 mile option, a 60 mile option and an 8 mile option I can take should it be too windy? Planning on riding back and forth on Blue Jay Road tomorrow, at least 30 times and then doing the Blue Jay 65 mile route on Wednesday. It's getting late and I need to get in shape with the CA training camp only 3 weeks away.
So much anticipation in my cycling failure so I am happy to disappoint, sort of. Parked at Flint Ridge park but instead of Blue Jay multiples, I did repeats on the hills on Cook and Ballou roads. Cook Road hill is 190' elevation gain and fairly steep with 12-18% and three ramps while Ballou, which dead ends at Cook is longer at .7 mile and stays in the 6-12% range with 180' of elevation gain. Ended with 26 miles and 2950' of climbing. Windy tomorrow so not sure where I will ride but I must. Time is running shooooort.
Before I begin the description of today's ride I am compelled to comment on the string of vicious personal attacks on such a good guy like me, supposedly by the Kenda clan. However, after taking a step back and reconnoitering the situation, I realized what was really going on. You see, unreported from last week's ride was an exchange between Grand Poobah and I. Todd was bragging about winning the stop sign sprints and mountain top finishes while he was in Florida. I innocently inquired what was the name of the competition he had won and he mumbled something about it not really being a race, just a spirited group ride with a bunch of senior citizens and the mountain finish was in fact a highway overpass. To this I did what any immature 53 year old guy would do, I immediately inserted left hand under right armpit, pumped right arm vigorously, producing appropriate sound to mock Poobah's "accomplishment". Factor that into the fact that the Kendaites are far too classy to produce the hard hitting comments and it became clear what had happened, Todd had mobilized the checkers gang from the senior citizen group he dominates and got them to post those nasty comments about me. There, that sets the record straight.
Forecast for the start of Saturday's ride out of Cyclist Connection was 25-35mph winds with gusts to 40mph and 36 degrees at the start. The forecast did not disappoint but for some reason, there were 12 cyclists at the start, including Steve O, Jeff S, Kenda Dave, Dave Miller our leader, Eve, John Swope, Mark V, a late arriving new guy named Craig and 3 others who were so bundled against the cold that I had no idea who they were. Dave had a 35 and 50 mile route south to Ashville and so, off we went, with Steve O setting the pace towards Lithopolis. After 4 miles we reached Lithopolis with a crushing cross wind from the southwest. I celebrated the arrival into Lith by taking the sign sprint and then immediately turning the heck around. Talk about no fun.... I had brought running gear with me as that was my back-up had no one been there to ride so drove to Clear Creek Metro Park and trail ran 8 very hilly miles with 1400' of elevation gain. I'm at that point where I need both long rides to build cycling endurance and activity to lose lots of tummy fat so what I got out of today was good. Mean while, David Miller sent me the below to account for what happened after I abandoned:
I'll be anxious to read your take on today's ride. Keep in mind, most
everyone actually completed the ride. Six of us did the 35 mile route
and I think the rest did the 50 (only one of the 50 mile riders stayed
in Ashville to eat with us so I'm not 100% sure about the rest). Only
one rider abandoned after, what, 5 miles? The rest of us enjoyed a
fantastic tailwind on the ride back. Occasionally our speed even
dropped below 20.
I sent an email to Dave Miller asking for confirmation that the ride out of Canal is still on but it's kind of late so he may not see it. Judging by traffic to this site either 500+ people are interested in the Kenda abuse I took today or looking for information about the ride. I'll update in the morning if I learn anything and if you were here to read about the Kenda chatter allow me to reiterate that the Kendaites rule over this lowly cyclist.
Now looks like 25-35mph winds with gusts to 40mph for Saturday. I talked to Steve O and he said he was going to ride anyway and to think of the tailwind. Hope Dave Miller comes up with a route to make it so. Talked to Mark C and he may go trail running out of Old Man's Cave, whose trails tend to dry out better than others. I'll be making a game day decision but leaning towards riding.
Well, looks like Saturday will be very windy, with strengthening winds out of the SW. David Miller has a ride out of Cyclist Connection, Canal Winchester, at 9:00am with the route to be determined by wind direction so probably going to Laurelville and back for 60+ miles. That sounds good. My goal is to show up at whatever group has the largest turnout to maximize drafting opportunity. Must say the Facebook New Albany Training group is a bit of a bust. Must be one of those groups one joins but no one actively participates or most are warm weather cyclists yet to make an appearance on the road.