Red Head Bill Brings His Posse
Huge crowd, numbering over 70 for a beautiful evening for racing, yes, that's correct, racing. Red Head Bill brought his posse with him and add in the usual regulars like Mick, John Morgan, Walker guys, Terry, Marty, Poobah, Tim Tyler & Lisa, Aero Helmet Dude (the real deal not an imposter), Paul Stock...wait....where was Paul Stock.... I won't embarrass the guy by saying why he missed the start, however, I have a couple of battery powered clocks that I will bring to hang in the Port-a-Johns for everyone's use beginning next week.
Warming up has become a popular activity for those having the time. Here, Poobah returns and even Dennis went out for an extended warm up ride.
Don't see this every day. One of tonight's killers had a tatoo of Ohio on his calf. Maybe Jeff S will do one of the world on his.
Curiously, as the original frame brand name disappears from SuperDave's bike, he adds fresh decals to compensate.
I have no idea how many A's started the ride because I was intent on staying close to the front but I think there were 25+ who exited the parking lot for a hilly, by New Albany standards, 39 mile route. There were rumors floating that Da Boss was going to make an appearance but he did not. Too bad. Would have been a good evening to test himself against the area's best. We worked our way up to Jug where predictably, the pace ramped up and then made a left on Clover Valley and enjoyed a tail wind out of the SW up to Green Chapel. A quick glance back showed at least half of the crowd was gone and a quick glance at the computer showed why. I was in a good spot throughout and jealously guarding it from those who encroached, about 7-9 from the front. We reached Caswell, just below Johnstown and hit the long uphill section. I was surprised to find my legs felt good and I had no problem staying at the front but others were not so lucky and probably a wide truck coming down this narrow road had a negative impact too.
We reached Concorde going east and there was no let up. With a cross wind coming from right to left, we were stretched across the road from white line to white line. Had a vehicle come over a hill traveling in the opposite direction, all I would have seen is the grille but desperate were we to hang in there. Redhead Bill & Boys were absolutely drilling it and our average was well above 23mph. We reached Northridge and went north, hitting the hill. I think our group was down to 12 when Marty popped off, then Lisa...ok then me. At the top of Northridge, the front group was so close but so, so far away. Marty and Lisa came by and I jumped on as we made a right on Sportsman Club and hit that long hill. We came across someone who had dropped off the lead group but he was too gassed to join us. After turning right on Loudon, we gobbled up Mick and then 3 others who had fallen back. Now we had a nice working group and some idiot said, lets do the echelon and catch the front group....what was he thinking??? We did the echelon thing until it was my turn and I could not get ahead of the person who had moved left in front of me...echelon destroyed.
Now we were into the wind and I expected our average to drop, except it did not, these guys wanted to work. We went west on Raccoon Valley Road and then slowed as we went through Alexandria before heading out Jersey Mill and that multiple mile uphill stretch out of the valley. Then 161 where we came across Dennis and others and we all cruised back to the parking lot. My average was 22.8mph and 1250' of climbing. I don't know what the lead group's average was but would like to know.
Jeff S says next week we are headed south. That likely means hitting Col de Alward. Can't wait. I've gone on too long but several people have sent me emails or personally thanked me for keeping this blog going. For every day in April, the minimum number of hits to this silly site was 50 with days over 200 hits. Someone admitted they have become a bit of an addict and suspect it is because they like seeing their name in print. I think others enjoy reading about what they missed or like to read my perspective on getting frequently dropped. Anyway, glad you enjoy reading about our goofy exploits. Life is really going to suck when it comes time for me to take up golf again.
It was a cold and windy evening
Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour or so dedicated to the ceremony known as pre group ride. We discuss the weather, the route, why we feel weak, where is the weekend ride, how wild will be Poobah's ride outfit, how thorough will be the beat down administered by Da Boss, who's going to the post ride food stop, why does Mark C look so emaciated, why did some dude show up with an aero helmet...the camaraderie is a lot of fun.
While the temperature was 55 degrees, it felt more like mid 40s with the stubborn wind whipping through the parking lot just under 20mph. Still, the turnout was reasonable at 40 +/- for a 38 mile route with lots of climbing. Most of us wore long sleeved jerseys under a regular jersey, tights, full finger gloves and yet it still felt much colder than it was. Prior to the ride, Steve O was in search of TUMS, apparently feeling the effects of drinking chocolate mile earlier in the day.
Dennis and I hung back with the B group while a smallish A group took off. Our group was fairly large with a broad range of strengths. Unfortunately, there were several B imposters and the pace ramped up quickly, out Waterloo and then Slough. Reaching the base of Slough, I was at the front with 3 guys who I did not know but later learned one was Ted Minsky (spl?). I had not ridden with him in a long time and was not sure who it was (has he lost a lot of weight or something?). Anyway, he got me at the top of Slough and we coasted down hill and there was some regrouping as we reached Winchester road and headed east. On this stretch, someone took an unusually long pull before turning onto Kaufman. Ted eventually went to the front and maintained a strong pace up the long hill with me hanging on only because of the draft. At some point, we added two and our group of four made a wrong turn left (off Lamb maybe) instead of right. We crossed the covered bridge but I was in front and missed the turn onto the bridge, turned around and the other 3 were gone. Bummer. But wait...there was Poobah...and so he and I rode up Rock Mill to Royalton where we found Dennis. Our plan was to jump in with the A group when they came west on Royalton...but wait...there came Roy, Ross and another guy and Dennis and I made a split decision to join them.
Roy was wearing a long sleeve jersey that at one time when he was 14, probably would have fit him. Instead, this jersey hung half way down his back and his alabaster white skin shown brightly. Every time he pulled the jersey down, it immediately sprang back up. Eventually it occurred to me I had not seen skin that white since Nicole Kidman's porcelain white. Anyway, we grimly headed north into the wind of which we are oh so tired. I was shivering on the way back and then relieved to reach the warmth of the car. Sorry, forgot my camera so no images this time. Only 32 miles.
Catching Up & Testing Gloves
It's been a busy few days trying to catch up with work and I got a little behind with the ACTION Reports. So, let's get started. Big turnout Thursday for the New Albany ride. The very capable ride leader, Jeff S., had all 60 copies of his maps taken and that seemed about the right participant count. 24 A's headed out for a 40 mile route that took us north then east and down Hardscrabble to Raccoon Valley Road and back via Jersey Mill and the flat stretch on old 161. Some climbing going up Castle and elevation was over 1000' so it was not entirely flat.
My new pedals continue to confound me and at every stop I grapple with getting my foot clipped back in, causing me to drop to the back of the pack. Normally, this ideal drafting location is good for me but as soon as the front made the evening's first real acceleration on Miller, the group fractured in numerous places and I was caught way back with way too many gaps to cover. I sat up and soft pedaled and waited for the next group to appear, which was a massive group of B riders led by Dennis, who continues to shamelessly punish these good people.
Our group thinned out and eventually we had 5-6 people, including Catherine, who I hear has ridden little so far but making a good comeback. Back at the parking lot, Todd Mullens told me the front group had maintained a 23.5mph average and that was with the interruption of the stretch through Alexandria.
The forecast for the weekend did not look good so Jeff, Tuna and I rode out of Newark towards Bremen on Friday. To get an idea of the route profile, walk to your basement or garage and find a hand saw. Examine the jagged side....that's it.....the profile of the ride to Bremen. When we arrived in Somerset, my guilt over work that needed finished was nagging at me big time and I left the route for 51 miles while the other two got in 71.
Awoke Saturday to decent weather and a radar that indicated approaching green blobs were diminishing so I joined a very small group of 10-12 who showed for Jeff's Roving Ride. I rode with Susan, Ty Jordan, Tim F, Bob A and a couple others. The approaching green radar blob did not sufficiently dissipate and soon the road was puddled and I was soaked by the time I returned to my car. Probably should not have gone out after 5 straight days of riding but I had wanted to try out a new pair of prototype cycling gloves that were sent to me for testing.
I know the inventor of Bionic Gloves, an orthopedic hand surgeon who came up with an innovative way of improving the utility of various athletic gloves, including baseball, golf, hockey, weight lifting, etc.. He sent me a couple of pairs of prototype cycling gloves to test. The concept behind all the Bionic gloves is to off-load pressure from certain points on your hand, fill in the low areas between the joints and evenly spread pressure across the hand. I've enlisted Da Boss to test one pair and may try to get Tuna to try the ladies' pair. If you're curious about Bionic technology, you can click on this link http://www.bionicgloves.com/ I tested the golf gloves when they were developed and did not like the added material in the glove, which I thought detracted from the feel but probably that is not an issue with cycling.
Riding with Real Bs
I hit the Westerville ride but wanted to just burn some calories and save energy for an A ride on Thursday. Poobah, Hans and 7 others headed out with the A group and then a throng of Bs hit the Hoover Dam crossing. There was a guy wearing white cargo shorts with a blazing orange T-shirt and black belt, a guy with green shorts with camouflage accents who could maintain a perch between the white line and oblivion while also swerving wildly yet never falling off the road or crossing white. Amazing, kind of like how Poobah would ride if intoxicated.
Out of the crowd of 30, there was eventually a move by a few to separate themselves and a mad reshuffling took place and I joined in and we had 6-7 out front but as soon as we had a small gap from the large group, the pace slowed and we were gobbled back up into the hungry maw. We continued for awhile and I think eventually, there was some thinning when we hit a long 3% uphill section, the queen climb on the route. We arrived at a junction where those wanting the shorter 30 mile option made a right and those of us hungry for a lot more, the 32 mile option, turned left.
At some point, we had reduced the group to 10 and I was at the front with another guy on a long straight stretch when we approached a turn and we both yelled, "Straight?" and both heard, "Straight" as the reply. We got just past the turn and everyone was turning right and yelling, "Right! Right!". The two of us slowed and turned around and the pack was gone. Not very sporting of them. We eventually caught the group and eventually got down to 4 guys and finished with a 19.8mph average and 575' of climbing.
Since I am still carrying around an enormous winter doughnut, I was hoping for a flatter route and my desire was rewarded. Craig produced a route that shoved the mileage over 40 for the first time this young season, taking us east of Baltimore before looping back. Prior to the ride, I saw more new faces, including one guy dressed all in white with yellow accents riding a very nice Merxx bike. Dennis gave me the head's up that this guy (actual name is Patrick) used to dominate the Hilliard ride and Poobah later informed me Patrick used to be a Cat 1 and rode on the ONCE development team in Europe.....great.
Pastor Mark, taking advantage of Randy Daum while he was under the heavy influence of pain medication as he awaits surgery on his back, recently bought Randy's Lapierre road bike with Dura-Ace components. Mark raves about the bike's feel and performance.
Also riding a new bike is Franz, this very nice Cannondale and....
Donna (Sarge) is riding a new Felt.
Around 50 showed for the ride and a group of 18 A's headed out, a group that included Da Boss, Steve O, Pastor Mark, Hans (guy has a pair of calves that rivals Jeff S but far more defined), Walker guy, Jeff S, Dennis, Mitch, Ryan R, Andrew (making a rare appeaance) Grand Poobah, Patrick, etc... On paper and in fact, a very strong group and typically, I wondered how the heck I could hang with this armada. We got onto Basil Western and the pace ramped up and in single file with everyone hugging the white line. We were to turn right on Bader and as we approached an intersection, I slowed anticipating the turn but it was the wrong road and in an instant, I lost the wheel in front of me. I drifted out of the line and felt badly for Mitch as he was forced to close the gap. I caught on but at the end of the line, not good.
After Bader, we headed east on Leonard and soon approached a longish hill punctuated by 2-3 steepish ramps. A guy in front of me dropped out and I covered the gap but then another dropped and I lacked the energy to close. Reaching the top, there was a group of 5 at the front (Boss, Patrick, Poobah, Steve O and Hans) a small gap and then 4 more, a large gap and then me and who knows what was happening behind. We all turned left on Basil with Dennis and Andrew forming up with me. We reached the foot of a small climb leading into Baltimore and saw the lead 9 stopped at a light. Of course, by the time we reached the top the group was well east on the main drag and I had mentally checked out of catching them but then, my hero, Andrew stormed by tucked in the aero position and I jumped on with Dennis and damn if he didn't pull us to the leisurely paced lead group. I had mixed feelings about this because my legs were fatigued and these guys were probably going to spit me out the back and soon. But wait....there was some disorganization at the front and the leisurely pace continued and I began to feel much better.
We headed out Canal and the same core group of killers kept rotating off the front and we were flying. There were some abandonments on this stretch and I barely hung on before a turn out of a modest cross wind on Canal brought us into a slight head wind on Lake and I now enjoyed the benefits of pure drafting with no freakin cross wind. We turned west on Bickel Church and after a few miles I thought I might survive this, having survived pulls by Patrick, Boss and Hans. It wasn't going to get any worse than that. The rest of the route was mostly flat and we finished with the aforementioned 40 miles, a 22.3 average and a scant 900' of climbing. With such a route, about 9 of us finished together at the end.
Other Notes: Roy and Amanda rode the tandem, probably killing the B group but can't under estimate the power of the Rossi's, who were on their tandem too. Margaritea Holt, made his first appearance after an enjoyable run as director of play that premiered last week in Newark. For those wondering about Retro George, he is gainfully employed somewhere and apparently unable to make our rides, thus denying us of one of the area's quirkiest personalities. Ginger has been promoted within the US Postal System and is now at an office in Marysville and unable to make our rides but no doubt riding very strong wherever she is riding. Jeff S is hosting a Roving Ride out of Canal this Saturday.
Grand Poobah worked with Team Kenda at the Tour of Battenkill Valley in New York over the weekend. Here, Todd has given up the last bag of musette to Kenda rider on the left and then begins yelling instructions for proper echelon technique.
Team Kenda is interesting. There are the pro Kendaites riding in NT and then there are the top amateur Kendaites who populate our rides, apparently in training for possible promotion to the pro team.
It's not the best of times, it's not the worst of times, it's the in between times. Riding on a day like Saturday is better than a January day but not as nice as it soon will be. Large turnout for SPOT and with the forecast of gusts reaching 30mph, I emerged from my car with the goal of riding with whomever the Rossi's, on their windbreak tandem, rode. We had Recumbent Dude, Jill, Kevin H, Mark C, Jimmy, Flyin Tuna, Jeff S and the Rossi's for our 8:30am start.
The routes were many and there was considerable debate between taking the 72, 78 or 79 mile route. 100 miles were out of the question because a couple of us had to be back by a certain time but really, not much appetite for extending the ride later into the afternoon and facing stronger head winds. We rolled out and true to form, the tandem took a nice pull into the first windswept jog west. They were rewarded for this effort by Kevin H taking to the front and drilling it. As I was crouched behind the tandem I failed to notice a gap had opened but peaked around them, saw it and shouted, "Are you aware you have allowed a huge gap to open in front of you?" Mark R replied, "Yea and there's nothing I can do about it." I was certain my good friend Kevin a.k.a. Polish Pony, would not have inflicted this intentionally. I attempted to close the gap and did so only because a stop sign intervened on my behalf. We turned into the wind and Kevin glanced back, noted the beating to the group he had inflicted and bore on. Gone were Jimmy, Nate, Jill & the Rossi's. I rode beside Kevin and gently suggested he ease up so we could regain the tandem, at least. For this I was given the ultimate insult...he claimed I had lectured him using "Peggy's Voice".
What followed were long rides westerly into the wind and only until reaching Darbyville at mile 29 did the route head south and with the wind. We paused at a cemetary where a Port-a-John was located and huddled against a building, out of the wind, as some used the PAJ. We cruised into Circleville with 50 miles and an 18.4mph average. Stopping at Hardys, many of us refueled on hamburgers and fries. While there, John the Dentist and a guy I had ridden with on Wednesday's Westerville ride, arrived and I heard they are doing Calvin's Challenge in a couple of weeks and are preparing for it.
The ride back north to Canal was not fun and I was glad when it finally ended, 72 miles with somehow maintaining an 18.3 mph average and 2005' of climbing. Oh yeah, found two banana peels on my car when I got back. Funny.
SPOT & Thursday New Albany
I was asked to post a start time for SPOT so 8:30 is kind of an official roll out time. Those who have told me they are starting then probably would not want their names posted here but there will be a broad range of talent and things will get sorted out on the road.
After two consecutive A pace rides I rode with the B group on Thursday. While waiting for the start, I could not avoid a noticeable contrast between the Westerville group and the COP group. Overall, the COP Thursday group is much faster and fitter, despite evidence to the contrary shown here.
A large group of 21 A's headed out and maybe another 20 with the B's, out of a total of 55 cyclists as the start. In the B group were Roy (riding strong), Flyin Tuna, Recumbent Dude (riding behind him with your feet enjoying the draft is a thrill), Dave K, a woman just arrived from Palo Alto (wait until she hits winter here), etc.. Riding with the B's is in some ways harder than with the A's. There is an expectation the pace will be slower and mentally an adjustment is made but the pace is not that much slower and any thought of spinning through the countryside is silly. On the flats, the pace is about the same as an A pace but in hills, there is a noticeable slowing.
We went around the route, things got spread out some but still a nice group of 5-6 at the end with a 20mph average and 30 miles.
Grand Poobah and Dennis both told me they would ride Westerville so I headed over there to ride tonight....no Poobah and no Dennis. In fact, I recognized only a few of the 65+ in attendance, Franz, Jimmy, Todd Mullens (the guy who failed in his bid to eat 2 pancakes at our earlier Bladensburg rude) and that was about it. The A's were summoned and sent off and only 10 of us headed across the Hoover Dam. Funny story--two guys from England came to a seminar I was giving in Columbus a very long time ago. They saw the Hoover Dam was close by so drove there and stood on the top and asked a passerby if this was THE Hoover Dam, thinking it was the one holding back the Colorado River in Nevada/Arizona. No, they were told, right name, wrong dam.
Other than Todd M and the Walker guy who had initiated many attacks at last week's Westerville ride, there was another Walker dude and other young, fit looking guys but no one I recognized. I had a bad feeling. After 14 miles our average was 23.3. Too frequent stop signs and busy road crossings gummed things up but after 25 miles there were still 9 of us and I began to notice a few had begun to shirk their pull duty. Now, to be fair, I am a world-class pull shirker so I'm not pointing any fingers, just noting a sure sign that fatigue was setting in for a few.
We reached Red Bank and soon the only climb of any significance loomed on the horizon. Compared to the route so far it looked like Tourmalet. We reached the bottom and Todd began sprinting...too fast for me to match that acceleration but then the Walker guy jumped and I caught his wheel and by the time we reached the top, the three of us had a sizeable gap on everyone else. A few rollers followed and someone caught us and then we hit a final small climb on Red Bank, made a right on Walnut, a few attacks ensued, cut left on Cubbage and slowed for the turn onto the paved path that leads over the dam. 37 miles, 21.9mph average but only 910' of climbing. Fun evening.
Mayhem on the Road
Another windy evening for a ride but this time, something different...the wind was howling from the NE! I was late getting to Canal and then forgot to count the turnout but probably 45+. Prior to the start, I checked in with Recumbent Dude who just got back from participating in an Olympic distance triathlon in Miami (1 mile swim, 25 mile time trial and 6 mile run). He was still on an emotional high and was pleased with his results but made a rookie mistake of filling his tires to 140psi and then having them rub the frame during his ride. Hard to tell from the above image but the distance between the tire and fram is nil.
Seemed as if all the usual crowd was at Canal plus more newbies. Also there was The Boss, on his new Van Dessel custom bike. Very cool looking but did wonder why the word "Rivet" was printed on the frame but he says it weighs 15.5 pounds. Steve O, Dennis, Poobah, Kenda Dave, Pastor Mark, Ryan R, Mitch, Polish Pony, Kevin K, Peggy, Butch, assorted Walker guys, Tall Dude, etc...
Large group of A's headed out but I forgot to count, again. We headed out Waterloo Eastern and Lockville, passing what soon will be 6-7 spectacular crabapple trees (check it out in a few days) in someone's front yard. Curiously, Poobah slid back from the #3 slot and drifted back. Moves like this are never an accident and I wondered what motivated the action. That left me at #3 in line and soon, I was rewarded with a pull on Pickerington but slid out just before turning right on Jefferson and that long 4-5% grade hill. As I drifted back, I selfishly exploited a slight gap in the line and grabbed a spot about 6 back, rather than rotating all the way to the back of the peloton. We sped up Jefferson and I felt good as we made a right and then a quick left on Amanda Northern. Here, the group would no doubt break up over the following long climb punctuated by steeper ramps and false flats. Walker dude and The Boss punished us and soon there was only those two, Steve O, Pastor Mark and I. A quick glance back confirmed the obvious, carnage. We reached the summit and coasted down to the stop sign.
I was gassed and beyond the red zone, whatever that is. We rode to the turn at Salem Church and I knew I risked getting cuffed on the side of the helmet but I meekly blurted out, "Should we regroup a little?" Ha, Ha, Ha...The only response to such a ridiculous offer, motivated solely by my desire to be a nice guy, of course, was Mark saying, "No, make them work for it". Mark took a long pull at the front but I looked among our select group and wondered, would I hang with The Boss when he took a pull, with this maniac Walker guy when his turn came? The answer, NOOOOO. I dropped off on Sitterly, only 10 miles into the route. Too quickly, Poobah, Ryan and Mitch came by but I had not sufficiently recovered to hang with Poobah who was drilling it at the front (thanks buddy). Then Jeff S came by and I jumped on and managed to recover in his slipstream (thanks buddy).
Ahead, Poobah had dropped Ryan and then Mitch and no one willing to yield to form a group but eventually Jeff, Ryan, Mitch and I grouped and began working together. Kevin H, a.k.a. Polish Pony caught us and now we had a nice working number and we caught Poobah. I urged everyone to ban him for having previously burned out the group but could not round up a consensus and he was grudgingly accepted. We tried to do the echelon thing but Pony kept getting his right mixed up with his left and Poobah became quite agitated and fell back, maybe cursing us as he did so. Anyway, after facing a long stretch on Winchester into the wind, we reached Lithopolis and then Canal, with 35 miles and a 20.6 average. The Boss' group had a 21.7 average. Not sure if those 4 hung together to the end.
The cross winds create dangerous conditions and it is no surprise that the gusts could cause a wreck. First, Century Mark touched a wheel and went down hard. Soon thereafter, a new guy turned to look behind him and his bike went off the side of the road and while trying to hop back on apparently went down. Kenda Dave, immediately behind, was able to bring his bike to a stop before running over the guy. Be careful out there!
I was a late arrival for Woodstock. Actually, I was in the area in plenty of time but closing that last 5 miles proved a challenge. Anyway, arrived just as Poobah, Oxley, Flyin & others were departing and followed soon thereafter by the Kendaites. I signed in, grabbed a "map" and headed out at 9:15. Later, I heard Craig Butler had made an appearance with the Van Dessel custom carbon fiber bike and regretted having missed seeing it.
Soon, I caught up with Kevin K, Dentist Brad, Scott and Fred. We thought the route was not marked very well with some turns identified with one marking in the intersection. We eventually got onto Africa Road and thought it odd that so many cyclists were coming in the opposite direction. We stopped and took our first look at the map. That's odd, the route was not highlighted, just a confusing array of arrows. Others stopped and we put our collective mental abilities together and determined we were off the route (actually, we were not but how would one know?). We headed west and saw other cyclists turning onto our road and eventually made our way to Delaware where we discovered we had somehow missed 16 miles. While stopped, there were around 25 cyclists, most scratching their heads trying to figure out the map. Finally, someone suggested there was a missing page and a northern loop was missing (not true). We decided to make the best of it and try to follow the road markings. At times it seemed we were riding in a square but made our way to Galena. We had spent about 2 hours riding and more than an hour stopped, looking at the map. I had had enough and headed to Westerville, finishing with only 48 miles.
In the parking lot, I heard someone call the ride the WWE (Worst Woodstock Ever) but that was a little harsh, maybe. Also heard them lamenting the extended riding through housing developments. Being a ride leader is largely a thankless job and I have sympathy for anyone who volunteers for the task. However, when I arrived in the parking lot at the end of the ride the Kendaites presented me with a chocolate Easter bunny as a small demonstration of their appreciation for my efforts at organizing a couple of rides this winter. What a nice touch and I hear it calling me frequently from its perch in the refrigerator. I've already started on the ears.
After Tuesday's Canal ride, in anticipation of the Thursday New Albany ride getting rained out, Poobah and I decided to tackle the Westerville Wednesday ride. When I entered the parking lot, hard by the banks of the wind swept lake, there was Dennis and I recognized a few others. Maybe 35 people with lots of B and C, maybe even D cyclists milling around.
The ride organizer handed out COLOR maps! How cool is that? I hung off to the periphery of the group chatting with Dennis and a couple other riders and missed the pre-ride announcements but heard the order for the A's to head out and so joined a group of 10-11. In that group were Poobah, 3 Walker guys, "Mike" with the Jelly Bean kit on, Joe Niccum, Dennis and others. We all stayed together for the first 15 miles and the pace was not too difficult, but of course we were riding with the wind, heading north and east.
We turned to the south on Clover Valley road for a long stretch and began to do the echelon thing, fairly effectively, but a few guys dropped off and we were down to 6. We headed west on Jug with a nasty cross wind and continued to echelon. I took my turn at the far left of the right lane but one of the Walker guys next in line did not rotate to my front but instead, stayed on the white line and drilled it...wtf I uttered. I swung to the right but there was no room in the inn for me, just another guy riding right of the white line and I sat up, gasping. There are no written rules in our group riding but that move was at least unsporting, right? I soldiered on into the wind but a light had stopped the 5 at #62 and I caught back on. A couple of others also caught up and we headed back into the cross wind but this time, I selfishly held the #2 or #3 spot, always guaranteeing some protection and was able to cover all the attacks, usually initiated by this young Walker dude. The protection kept me in a group that reduced to 4, including the rejuvenated Poobah. We crossed the dam and returned to the parking lot with a 19.8 average for the 33 miles. See everyone on Saturday for the Woodstock ride. We've got a group leaving at 8:00am and one at 8:30 for those wanting a slightly warmer start or who need a little more time to drive. Grand Poobah is leading the 8:30 ride and I believe the Kendaites are coming for that time too, with Dennis and others. I have to keep my participation time secret because if I announce it, it will drive too many to the other start time.
Cross Winds & The Popped Spoke
Strong winds with gusts in the upper 20's greeted us as we met in the parking lot behind Shades. I counted 45+ cyclists for a 33 mile, mostly flat route.
Lots of new riders joining our ranks but the pre-ride talk seemed to be about one of our veterans who has made only one appearance at the Tuesday Canal ride, Craig Butler, a.k.a THE Boss. Speculation is he is training so when he returns, he will kick our ass as usual. Some thought his new Van Dessel bike has been completely built and he is putting it through the testing phase. Whatever the reason, most of us are anxious to see our old friend but also wouldn't mind if it is to be on a bike, the day is in November.
Of course, no pre-ride is complete without someone dropping a banana peel in my car while I am taking a rest room break. Normally I find one in my trunk but now in the front seat ON MY FREAKIN HELMET!! This is an outrage.
Mitch gave a professional route description and we shoved off, with 16-18 going off with the A's. We headed out Waterloo and that long uphill with a kind of strong pace conspired to drop a couple but almost all hung on until Lithopolis. We headed out Elder and the wind did not seem that troublesome. I took a pull at the latter end of that road and continued on a downwind (of course) stretch before peeling off at Berger. I thought my ceremonial pull would put be in good stead with the group for the remainder of the ride, but I was wrong.
The westerly route on Berger introduced us to the first strong crosswind coming out of the SW. I was at the tail end of the group, just behind Dennis and felt very sorry for him because the guy in front of him was sucking the edge of the road, forcing Dennis to ride exposed, with me tucked comfortably to his right. I figured that could not last long and once we turned south on Richardson, the cumulative effect of the wind had taken its toll on my good buddy and he dropped off. We hung a right on London and thus began a too long stretch on an exposed road with the crosswind cutting the peleton to pieces. The person taking the pull was well left of center so that provided room for 4-5 cyclists to his right, drafting out of the hell-wind. Those unfortunate to be behind that echelon and not drafting were doomed. Jeff S pulled out and I bridged a small gap to rejoin what was left of the group. Soon Kevin H pulled off and then Ryan R did too and I pushed ahead to grab the wheel of someone riding right of the white line, denying me a draft opportunity.. Soon, I folded like a cheap suit and as a group of 5 or 6 moved away, I saw Grand Poobah sitting comfortably in the 3rd position. Later he would admonish me for putting myself in my predicament. Others in the group were a Walker guy, Steve O, Mark C, John Morgan and some other guy.
Kevin and Jeff came along and I grabbed their wheels and we continued on a long stretch into the wind before turning east on 752 and finally, out of the frontal wind, although it was still more crossing than helping. Finally, we reached Goodman and headed north and down wind. FANTASTIC. We turned east on Duvall and an odd sound was made from Kevin's bike. He thought he had hit a rock and I was content not to disabuse him of that notion as I watched his rear tire wobble, probably from a popped spoke. He did not appear to be in danger and the brake pad seemed to only rarely make contact with the wheel so only out of consideration for Kevin, I decided not to make him worry and stayed silent. Except, he eventually figured it out and stopped. Jeff stopped with him and I kept going. My lack of mechanical expertise is well known so there was no point for me to stop and stare.
Finally reached the parking lot with a 20.3 mph average and a measly 1100' of climbing. The lack of climbing was more than made up by the head wind. After the ride, a friend came over and said he could not mention names but told me someone made the claim, "Mark Wilson would draft a wheel chair." Why yes, I would if it was going fast enough and going in my direction. I suspected either Jeff or Kevin made this assertion. I noticed each of them has the peculiar habit of taking a turn at the front but not motioning when they are ready for the person behind to take over. I guess most can tell when the person at the front is about to pop a gasket but I'm always admiring nature's beauty and am oblivious to the signs. Instead, I rely on the front person to drop to the side and motion with the hand. Without this, I figure they like the challenge of a 10 mile pull.
Good turnout, considering the forecast route was certain to turn off those who prefer something a little flatter for this time of year. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see Team Kenda well represented with Kenda Janet, Paul, Rick and Dave. Also suprised to see Dennis making a somewhat rare appearance for a Saturday ride and sporting a very nazzy watch that, not surprisingly, matched his frame. Dude is the best dressed cyclist in central Ohio with maybe Grand Poobah a close second with those high polish white cycling shoes. Damn I always feel shabbily dressed around those two!
Also there were Larry P, Lisa, Amanda, Steve O, Ryan R., Mitch, Randy D, Evie, Tuna, Jimmy, Dan F., Mark V and a couple others, including the host, Mark Clingan. Mark gave new meaning to route description when, at exactly 9:00am he began a lengthy dissertation about the route with the presentation ending at 9:10. Most of us were glassy eyed by then but gosh what a good description that included turn-by-turn, dogs to watch out for, where to eat, potholes to watch out for, problematic dessents, problematic asscents, where loose women lived, the speech had it all.
Amanda making a final adjustment on new bike.
We shoved off and hit Rainbow, where Steve O began goading me, urging me to show off those "California legs." I made a sneaky attack from the middle of the pack and won the KOM points on that big hill on Rainbow but in so doing discovered my legs felt very tired. Must have been a hangover from the intensity of the Thursday evening ride, or at least that's what I hoped. I spent the rest of the route tucked safely in the pack and ignored Steve's other provocations, "You sure don't climb like someone who climbed over 30,000' last week" (sad but true). We cruised into Sugar Grove for a quick stop at the market and headed into the meat of the route. One problem, I was the parent on call for the day and my cell phone begin ringing. I had to stop to see what was left in voicemail and the pack disappeared up Oppssum Hollow and it took me awhile to work my way back into the main body and thankfully the leaders stopped at the end of Risch.
We regrouped and shoved off on Wild Cat, then Kreabbaum a quick stint on Big Pine and then a right on some road called Krinn Unger. The wind had begun to pick up as we coasted into Grandma Fayes on 664 for a break at mile 39. Note prior to that the Kedaites had taken the 50 mile cut-off and several of us talked about taking the 66 mile loop but all turned south for the full 83 miles. As we sat at Grandma's the wind picked up with multiple swirling dervishes that knocked bikes over and sent stuff flying. The highlight was watching Flyin Tuna chase after her helmet as it skittered under some cars. The forecast had been for 40+ gusts and no doubt we experienced it. Grand Poobah consulted radar and it showed a line of showers approaching. He, Dennis, Larry and I were the first to leave and headed up a nasty climb on 374 and then turned on 678 toward Gibisonville. By then, Larry had to stop to take a call and Dennis had hung back so Poobah and I worked together along Cantwell Cliffs and stayed straight to get to do the "V" of Big Cola and Little Cola, except we bypassed that to stay on Starner, This is the climb, coming in the opposite direection, where Armstrong dropped the last of the guys who had hung with him at the start of Pelotonia.
At the bottom of Starner, Poobah headed east for Lancaster and I headed back onto the route, having enjoyed a nice tail wind. Now, the route began bending west and the wind turned into a monster cross wind that several times threatened to push me over. The stretch along Amanda Clearport was brutal and I reached Amanda somewhat in a state of shock from the required effort and wind. After recovering, I shoved off just as others began arriving. They had that 1000 yard stare look to them from their effort along wind-swept AC road. Demonstrating a certain amount of ineptness, I made a wrong turn, ended up riding on 33 for 1/2 mile and finally reached the parking lot on Coonpath with 83 miles. Great route and great scenery. Also had 5800' of climbing.
Grand Poobah, hiding while he injects himself with a cocktail of drugs. How else to explain his "Incredible" improvement?
The Thursday New Albany COP season started tonight and we had a good turnout of 45. Driving over I wondered how I would stack up, how the acquisition of the marsupial pouch and weight gain would effect me, if the lack of high intensity group riding would work against me, if I would have to endure the humiliation of Flyin Tuna dropping me, would using my winter beater bike drag me back, would I get there in time to grab the prime parking spot, etc...
I recall last year, everyone came out of hibernation with their winter legs except for Group Killer, who had trained at high intensity all winter. Whenever he rotated off the front, there was a dramatic drop in intensity but after observing the parking lot this afternoon, I suspected there were some in close to mid-season form. Bill, riding a green Madone, is a Cat 3 who has qualified for Cat 2. Redhead Bill, three Echelon guys, Walker guy, a rejuvenated Grand Poobah, Dennis, Recumbent Dude, Jeff S, Greg Hall and a variety of new young skinny guys. Also there was Flyin Tuna, Mark V, Tim F and making a surprise visit, Jim Richardson. Jim has apparently conquered his health problems and it was great to see him on a bike.
Recumbent Dude, heading to Miami tomorrow to begin preparation for a triathlon. I'm concerned his lack of experience will hurt him. Doesn't the pointy end go in back???
The route was 35 miles and a group of 15 A's headed out. The wind was strong out of the southwest but I suspected that once the group was cut up by the turn around, some of us would be suffering individually or in small groups on the return into that wind. We got on Jug and the pace picked up, I took a turn at the front and whoever was immediately behind me dropped off and I enjoyed a brief period of riding alone out in front and speculating wildly (and unrealistically) that I was Group Killer. Soon the others caught on and we maintained a high pace into Alexandria, onto Raccoon Valley and then turned left onto the ramp that signals the start of the 1.5-2 mile climb up Hardscrabble.
I jumped into the 2nd slot behind Green Machine (did I already say he is a qualified Cat 2?) and he picked up the pace, putting me quickly into the red zone and soon pulled away. The only comfort I took was no one was going around me either. Green Machine looked back to survey the damage. The answer: PLENTY!. He eased up and Redhead Bill steamed by and caught on, so too did Poobah and I grabbed Poobah's wheel. Redhead Bill can't match GM's accelerations but he can build to the speed and soon, he and GM were off the front with Poobah, I and Rich an Echelon guy hanging in there a little back. I frantically watched the horizon for a sign we were almost at the top. Finally, we reached it, GM, Red, Poobah, Rich and I. Poobah suggested we ease up to let some others catch on and I readily endorsed the idea. Kind of surprisingly, Recumbent Dude was first to catch on and then an Echelon guy and one or two others. We headed west on Concorde, south on Castle and got onto Miller and the long series of uphill ramps there. Green Machine powered away with Bill. I kind of blacked out then from exertion but I recall jumping on someone's wheel but made a bad choice. GM, Red, Poobah and Echelon Rich got a gap and there was no freakin way of closing it. To give credit where it is due, Poobah has come into the season in remarkable shape and at 57, he easily wins the strength to age ratio crown. I'm thinking about making a crude plaque out of pine, inscribing it and giving it to Poobah as the age/strength ratio champ for 2010. No one is going to be close to that award. Geez. Anyway, I slowed a bit, an Echelon guy caught me and we worked the remaining 10 miles together into a tough head wind. I watched my average slip from 21.8 at the start of Miller to 20.9 at the finish in New Albany and 35 miles. Not bad all things considered. Going through my mental file cabinet of those who rode and those who usually ride but did not make it, I can't see anyone beating Green Machine. Poobah exclaimed, "He's a Cat 1 quality rider."
Saturday Ride in Hocking Hills
The official Winter Metric Century ride series is over. However, there is a great ride available for anyone who wants to join. We are departing from the Gloryland Nazarene Church at 9:00am. The church is located just east of 33 on Coonpath Road and a couple of miles west of #158. We are headed through Lancaster, into Sugar Grove from where a short cut would give you 50 miles, or head farther south for 63 or ride the full route that includes Kreasbaum Road, Big Pine, 664, 374, Big Cola, Little Cola, into Amanda and back to Coonpath. The full route is 83 miles. I've already heard from cyclists who will attend that are in the A, B & C category. Mark C has cue sheets and I have huge maps. There is a rumor that Flyin Tuna is bringing OJ and I may bring a couple of cream filled doughnuts for everyone to fight over. Forecast is 79 degrees and cloudy so should be perfect weather. Hope to see you there.