The infamous Blue Jay Roving Ride began as the brainchild of Tim Faigley. He ably managed the ride for a few years before tiring of it and turned things over to Cindy B, aka Flyin Tuna. Cindy struggled with the project and at the last minute, realizing she was in way over her head, begged me to intervene. Helping the disadvantaged has been a life time passion of mine and although the challenge of covering for her ineptness would prove a heck of a chore, I have stuck with it.
Anyway, the direction the route historically took was clockwise. Last year, we took the counterclockwise direction. Although the elevation gain was of course the same, the 2-3 major climbs were longer and not so steep in the counterclockwise direction. What direction do you want us to run the route this year? The "Old" way (clockwise) or the way of last year's ride (counterclockwise). CAST YOUR VOTE IN THE COMMENTS FIELD AND WE WILL GO WITH THE MAJORITY.
Andrew, one of the premier try athletes, or is that tri?
Jamie, aka Group Brawler, and also the anti style queen. He puts in an ernest effort for nothing to match, deliberately choosing garish yellow handle bar tape to clash.
Considering radar and the forecast, there was a decent turnout for the Spring Hoot, a 50, 60, 80 or 100 mile route of fun and hills. We had to apply plenty of peer pressure to get Dennis to come but he did with the words, "I know we are going to get wet". Our group consisted of the aforementioned weather bug, Steve O, Tuna, Ryan R, Group Brawler, Andrew, Kevin H.,Jeff S, and Mark C. One problem, Jeff discovered his hard slide on Thursday's ride had removed rubber and the casing was showing on his rear tire. After canvassing the parking lot, we found no extra tires so Mark C came up with the idea that we would ride to his house, make a tire change and jump back on the route. Because Dennis, Group Brawler and I were only chancing the 60 mile route, we stayed on course while the others exited right, soon after the ride started.
Having to receive a couple of calls eventually put me out of our group that had swelled to 4 with the arrival of Dan. I rode into Amanda with 25 miles and just ahead of a wall of showers. To the north, the skies were very dark and no doubt hammering the start of our ride, preventing an escape directly back to the parking lot. Jamie had been nice to wait for me in Amanda but I urged him to continue without me as I contemplated what to do. So..... I vegged out at the gas station waiting for Mark C's group to come in and talking to a variety of people as they came and went. Partially through my second Monster (Lo-Cal) Mark and friends arrived, having spent some time under a porch roof waiting out a shower. By now, 45 minutes of lounging had taken their toll on my desire to ride coupled with a forecast from Ron that the next significant group of showers would arrive out of Indy by 12:30. Flyin Tuna had organized an escape route out Amanda-Clearport Rd/Revenge/Stoney Hill and back to the start for about 50 miles. Just past the turn onto Hopewell Church Road at the top of a climb on Amanda-Clearport Road, it began to pour but thankfully, the church there had a nice porch where we stayed dry and where a map check gave me guidance for the directess route out of this. I headed north on Hopewell Church and ended the ride with 46 miles and 2600' of climbing.
Later that day, I received a call from Mark C and the conversation went like this: MC: "How many miles did you guys get in." MW: "Well, we...." MC (cutting me off mid sentence): "Let me tell you about our ride." MW: "Ah, ok." MC: "Jeff S and I rode 110 miles and only got rained on two times." MW: "Only two times? Who else rode the route?" MC: "No one else could hang with us, except Andrew but I could tell he was struggling and it was no surprise when we stopped to eat in Bremen, Andrew kept going to avoid the humiliation of being dropped by me." MW: "Your new found cycling power is exceeded only by your lack of humility." MC: "Also, Jeff S dropped like a rock on all the climbs behind me." MW: "Gosh." MC: "Don't forget to put this in the blog." MW: "OK". MC: "Well, got to go. Talk to you later."
Had wrangled an invite from the Kendaites to ride with them on Sunday but was deterred by the 20mph west winds and spent most of the day at a graduation party playing volleyball, corn hole and baseball. Maybe the weather will cooperate next week.
I have consistently thought the Tuesday Canal rides are the best combination of route quality and strength of cyclists but this year, that is no longer the case. More on that later. First, around 45 showed for another interesting route produced by Jeff S (NOTE: There will be a summer solstice New Albany ride on the 24th). I cruised the parking lot with Dennis doing warm-up laps that don't seem to help us prepare but do allow us to verbally spar with the usual hapless subjects like Flyin Tuna.
The turnout was light to start but as usual, closed at the end and produced the usual strong crop of A's, led by Billy Campbell, Red-Head Bill, Paul Stock, John Morgan, Dave Chesrown, new guy in OSU racing kit, Mick, Colnago Ron, Rick (Savage Hill), Dave Tygler, Gus, Jamie Group Brawler and other young and fit guys. Dennis, Jeff S and I headed out too for a total of 18 A riders.
Also at the start were Tri-Mike, making his first appearance this year, Dan, Kenda Paul, Gary, Reckless Amanda, Roy, Tuna but no SuperDave and curiously, still no sighting of George and where the heck has Grand Poobah been?
We worked our way over to Beech where Group Brawler and Billy C rode took a pull at the front. It was my misfortune to be immediately behind them as they seemed to fight to see who would fade first and the pace was torid. Finally, just before turning onto Miller, they peeled back and so did I, completely gassed and unready for a pull. The pace was well, pitiless, out Miller as first one and then another different guy took turns with no let up. The route so far had been flat and I needed a hill to recover a little. We rode east on Duncan Plains, crossed over 37 to Castle and soon, Jeff S sat up and so too did Dennis and I. Seems like we three are always riding together and we overtook Colnago Ron and soon thereafter, Rick from Savage Hill. I took a turn at the front only to be passed by Jeff with, "You're hurtin our average." comment to add spite to the humiliation of being passed while pulling. I shrank behind him and suffered silently but eventually his pace slackened and I yelled, "Jeff is starting to suffer. Who's going to take his place." and Ron took off and we finally reached Dutch Lane, turning right. At times, it appeared we were gaining on the front group and I thought about sprinting from the group with a, "We can do it" yell but decided to preserve the energy.
Somewhere along Dutch Lane, everyone was pooped and I finally took another pull, this time staying up front for a mile. My hard work was rewarded with these historic words from Jeff, "Nice pull." I shall remember this night long after I have forgotten nearly everything else in my memory. I glowed with the rare recognition from Pull King. We kept a high pace down Louden and prior to turning onto Stone Quarry, our average was still in the upper 23's. I took advantage of my girlish weight to create gaps on each of the hills, rest and then jump on when the four came by. Reaching Northridge, we turned left but then went east again on Hardscrabble and roared toward the stop sign at Racoon Valley Road, where Jeff overcooked the approach and went into a semi-controlled slide as a car passed inches in front. In my typical spot directly behind him, I too slid but we both stayed up. If it's not Amanda with her car or Jeff on his bike, my safety is under assault.
We reached Alexandria and out Jersey Mill where it became clear our pace on our little group was taking its toll but we maintained a strong effort and lit out on old 161, finally reaching the parking lot, chests heaving. 44 miles, 22.2mph average and 1550' of climbing. The lead group's average was 23.1 and Group Brawler, who had hung on until Stone Quarry finished with a 22.6 average. Jamie, having ridden both Canal and New Albany rides several times noted the Thursday ride is much harder than Canal. Canal has one Criag Butler but New Albany has like 9 of them, as each pulls off the front, another just as strong takes his place and you must be able to maintain a remorseless pace throughout.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning". With apologies to Winston Churchill, the quote could also be applied, with some stretching, to the ascent of Group Molester, who tonight demonstrated he has taken another baby step toward group domination, assuming former Euro pros do not show up and Da Boss continues to prepare for various ultra crazy running events instead of focusing on cycling.
Everyone nervously waited for Amanda to arrive, knowing no one would be safe until her car was in park.
The heat emanating from the asphalt, coupled with the direct sunlight caused many to scamper for the small area of shade at the end of the parking lot behind Shade's Restaurant. As I sought refuge there, I could not help but note the shaded area was mostly populated by the slower B & C cyclists while outside the protective cover of the trees, mostly A's were basking in the sunshine. A psychiatrist would probably have a field day with this scene or as Butch observed, "Intelligence and strong cyclists are mutually exclusive."
The Sunshine Boys
Another good turnout and more new cyclists, including a rare but welcome visit from Patrick, the former racer with European racing experience. He seems rather quiet and is content to ride with whoever is in front, rather than ride to the front, look back and stare and ride away with contempt, as most of us would do if we were in his shoes.
A hilly start to the route of 44 miles and the split in the group was bound to come early as we cruised out Waterloo and approached the multi-hill stretch of Pickerington Road. I slotted in behind Jeff S and doggedly hung on through the first two hills but looking up, noted that Da Boss, Jamie, Mark C and Patrick had got a sizable gap on us. Uh Oh, Jamie riding away was not good but not much I could do about it. Steve O began pulling away so I tagged along and we struggled to the highest of the peaks with a temporary gap on Ryan R, Jeff S, Dennis and 1-2 others. I was toast and unable to pull through and drive the pace Steve had set so just drafted behind him as we crested the final climb and coasted down to the stop sign, where we were joined by Ryan and Jeff S and another guy whose name I don't know but wearing an HTC Columbia jersey. We reached Alspach and turned left. I took a pull and just as I was rotating off the front, the HTC Dude jumped from the pack, began sprinting and yelled, "We can do it.", implying we could catch Jamie, Patrick, Craig and Mark C, who were visible on the horizon, as are the Rocky Mountains from several hundred miles away. It seemed pointless and I was unappreciative of any effort that emerged from the rested rear while I was in need of relief after a pull. The charge went no where but did succeed in creating a gap that I was unable to close. Soon, my good cycling buddy Dennis arrived and through mostly his monster pulls, we finally caught Ryan, Steve and Jeff in Amanda (HTC Dude had turned off the route). In Amanda, there was Craig, having drifted off the front out of consideration for a marathon he is running this weekend in PA.
We headed up the long hill out of Amanda, headed over to Justus and reconnected with Ryan R, who had cut the route a little short after the climb out of Amanda. This move subjected him to heavy criticism, some of it said in his presence (it's a tough group in which we ride). Eventually we got on to Cedar Hill and throughout, Craig was taking it easy on us and we all stayed together except for a couple of steeper sections but always we regrouped and finally reached Canal with a modest 20.5 average and 1950' of climbing. The front three of Jamie, Mark C and Patrick averaged 22.3 but clearly Patrick had been the strongest.