Kick off is at 7:30pm thiss Thursday, New Albany ride is at 6:00pm.
This is a conundrum unless we can accommodate both rabid fans like me who also want to ride and those who could care less and want to ride a regular route. I have not checked with Jeff and Jeff but maybe Jeff S can have a 20 mile "Sprint" distance alternative with a first place certificate for the first person back in the parking lot who adheres to the route (I'll make the certificate and provide the cash prize). The sprint distance participants will be back around 7:00 and can get to where ever they need to get in time to watch the game. We'll call it the 20 mile Buckeye Blitz.
A huge turnout for the Blue Jay ride in a parking lot that was scheduled to also host a couple other events later in the day. As president and CEO of the Blue Jay Ride Commission, I had instructed one of the Commission's low level flacks (Flyin Tuna) to check for conflicts before committing us to this date but.... Anyway, since our group was first there, we got the plum parking spots. Here, Logan downs a pre-ride snack. Logan recently came in 2nd in the Ohio 15-16 Junior Road Race Championship. The murmurs in the crowd are his coach made a tactical error that cost him 1st Place. I heard Logan focused too much on guttering the guys behind him and forgot to sprint for the finish line.
Kenda Janet in her pre-ride garb, establishing a new fashion statement. I saw Cindy and Rod shopping at Wal-Mart for a matching burgundy with leather elbow patches.
Too bad Mark C was not here. Marty sporting a Mountain Dew jersey, Mark's favorite pre, post and during the ride drink.
Geez, a full team of Dewers.
There were 60 signed up for the ride, including 10-15 who normally don't show up for the Saturday Roving Ride but word got out there was going to be a race pace group and this had Da Employee licking his chops. Rather than the usual routine of riding ahead of us, waiting, ride, wait, etc... he might be pushed at least a little.
A few people paying attention to Cindy's last minute announcements before shoving off. After June's humiliation of leading people into a dead end in Newark's downtown maze, something of which I was reminded by several people, I drifted to the back and meekly followed. My bike, which I unaffectionally refer to now as "The Edsel" had arrived back from CA and I put it back together late Friday. Early I noticed something was rubbing but typically, I accepted it as another challenge to be surmounted as we headed out Blue Jay Road. The chain was clacking in between the rear sprockets but usually found one to cling but I was unable to advance the chain to the 27 but what the heck, it's only the Blue Jay route. Not to be missed, was the usual squeaking and ticking noises too.
The route is the route and no one needs a turn-by-turn description but something was not right and my legs were very fatigued as early as the turn onto Brownsville Road. My thighs ached and so, I drifted to the back of a group with Kevin H, Cindy, Dan, Beth, let a gap develop and then....exited to the bike path. I won't lie although I am tempted to. Some say this section of the bike path is just as hilly as the road route so it's not like it is flat, plus with tree roots popping through the asphalt, it's very rough so some would say my route was even harder than the road route. Somewhere in there I picked up a mighty thorn and later, my tire flatted. Oh, you should have heard the squeals of delight as people passed me and recognized who was sidelined. Cindy's group passed and I heard "Wish I had a camera" followed by Cindy's horse whinny like cackle which passes for laughter. I checked the tire and did not find anything so installed the new tube and began pumping but nothing. By this time, two of the finest in the peloton, Mitch and Ryan, stopped. Meanwhile, Kendas Todd, Paul and Janet approached separately and I was thrilled to see them approach, figuring at the most I would be loaned their bike or at the least they would fix mine but no....they just squealed with delight like everyone else. Oh, how I have alienated the group and I can't figure out why???? Ryan found what I did not, a 1" spear that had also flatted the new tube. Mitch gave me a spare and they took off and I finished and began riding. By now, every one had passed and I was last out on the road. I eventually caught up with a few people and coasted into the market in Zanesville. Craig and company were long gone but lots of good people were still there.
Now this is funny and so typical of my beloved Kendaites. Paul forgot his cycling shorts and jersey. Fortunately, Janet had an extra set and so Paul squeezed in but one could not help but notice the tan line on the legs.
I headed out with Mitch, Ryan and John and we had a nice ride over to the turn onto Morgan, going south. By now, my adjustments to the derailleur had made the situation worse and the chain was only holding in 2 sprockets while also jumping out of them for no apparent reason. I urged my small group on while I fiddled with another adjustment and.....looking at the map.....saw if I went straight I would be on Rt. 40, thus bypassing that southern stretch. I jumped on the Edsel and eagerly headed to the short-cut with my creaking bike and aching thighs. I felt like a 50-year-old going on 82. This really sucked (maybe it has something to do with riding in the scruntched up position after the seat dropped on Thursday). I eventually arrived back at the Y with 58 miles and 3800' of climbing. I ran into Da Employee and he briefly described his ride before heading out for a 3 mile run via the bike path. Sounds like he was not pushed too much as he said the pace was moderate with Logan hanging on until Flint Ridge, John Gorilla and Marty hanging in there other than when the hills got steep but typically, Craig does not like to brag so I couldn't get much out of him, although he did say his average was 20.5.
Later, Steve O called me and was lost, apparently being the only person to have taken the 95 mile route. By using Mapquest, I was able to guide him in to Newark. Hey, did you know Jeff S' birthday was Saturday? Well, time to throw more money down the bike mechanic hole and try to patch (I've given up on fixing) the Edsel.
If you were unable to make it to the Thursday New Albany ride, you missed a great evening of cycling. The parking lot was packed early with the cars of people who were attending a football game so it was hard to discern how many cyclists were there until everyone convened for Jeff's pre-ride announcements. Steve Oxley, who someone dubbed "ToeClip" rode up with Pastor Mark, who was making his first visit in several years. By the way, I've been asked why I call Mark C "Pastor". Is it because he really is a hell raiser and I gave him that nickname to be funny? No, as hard as it is to believe if you have ever ridden with him, he really is the Pastor at the Gloryland Church on Coonpath Road.
ToeClip cruises the parking lot, there in the middle, looking for Women of the Thursday Canal Ride, according to Dennis.
Later, ToeClip was again cruising while we all monitored his movement to see if he was having any luck. By the way, someone said I should not be so impressed that he rides so well on the cross bike. I was told while the bike does have knobby tires, he has actually taken a file to the part of the tire that hits the pavement so the rolling resistance is the same as road tires. And, get this, those tennis shoes, they have carbon fiber bottoms so they are very light weight. Finally, that creative Dennis made this observation, "It's not that we should be so impressed with how fast he rides the cross bike. It's really more about why he doesn't ride his road bike faster than the cross bike". Interesting.....
As you can well imagine, a guy of my enormous popularity receives dozens of Facebook friending requests each day. As you can tell by looking at my Facebook friends list, early on I was not very selective but have since significantly raised my standards. Recumbent Dude's request came in with many on Wednesday and only after several private emails begging me to accept, I finally did. I'm not much of a Facebook user so don't waste your time going to my unimpressive page.
Wow, when finally the flock gathered, there were 60 people and some very strong riders. In the 24 who comprised the A group, Sumo was there again, all 230 pounds of him and geez, can he ride hard. If he lost 30 pounds he would be an elite climber. Also there was a member of the US national time trialer team, John Morgan, Colnago Ron, Marty, Tim Tyler, John Gorilla, Terry, Mick, Dennis, ToeClip, Mark C, Jeff S, and the B group, holy mackerel, there was Flyin Tuna (OK, maybe not holy mackerel but still...) Jon the Dentist, SuperDave, Dan, Farmer Mike, Recumbent Dude (they say he put in a monster pull up Northridge but just as impressed as the #2 person who did the same pull since no drafting behind the low rider),
We headed out old 161, south on Babbitt and worked our way over to Cable. The pace was high and someone or sometwo at the front were sprinting out of the intersections, making life very difficult on those at the back. It was a night one had to pay attention or the group could get away from you. In fact, after turning onto Cable, 5 of us got held back waiting on a car to pass so I shrieked "Hold Up" which someone interpreted as "Attack". I tired from a short pull, then Jeff S took over and only a stop sign a couple of miles down the road allowed us to bridge. Not very sporting of those who initiated the attack. We made a left on Headleys and Dennis, surprised to still see me I guess with my beater bike still there or maybe he thought I was still hung-over from wine consumption said, in a shocked tone, "Good job hangin in there." I think he said that several more times too. We made a right at Patterson and the few hills there and then a right on old 161 where the pace moderated. I was feeling good but my seat had begun to drop either from all that added weight gain or having not tightened it enough after making a pre-ride adjustment or Nathan sabotaged it. Any of the 3 possibilities carries equal consideration.
We got onto Jersey Mill and I drifted to the back just in case the downhill section caused a problem. I was able to count cyclists as I went backward and we were down to about 18. In fact, a gap did develop but not between me and the group but a guy in a nice Pelotonia jersey got gapped but we caught on in Alexandria but I did not like putting in that effort before Northridge. Anyway, at the start of Northridge, our average was 23.4. Pretty good pace up Northridge but I think a couple of guys were holding back because they thought we were going all the way to Sportsman Club Road so when I yelled, "Left", prior to Concorde, there was some grumbling and questioning of my sound memory. Turning onto Concorde our average was still at 23 and we proceeded to a left on Castle where someone drilled it all the way to #37. My seat had drifted almost to the top bar and my small thigh muscles were very tight but still ok. John G and maybe Tim T took the bike path left to return to Granville. At that exact moment, the funny guys at the front drilled it. I was caught out and could not catch the tail end. Sumo went around me, as did Pelotonia and I was thus a lonely man, as the group chose not to turn on 310 and a right on Miller but headed on out Duncan Plains. Later, at the left onto Beech, there was Dennis, having pulled out of the group to make sure my beater bike had not blown up on me. What a guy or he just wanted to antagonize me. We reached the parking lot and I had a 22mph average. The lead group, apparently it had gotten strung out a bit, was at 23.4 with ToeClip and Mark C having hung in there, of course
Ahhhh, the dreaded last day. Sometimes one is on a vacation and toward the end, can't wait to get home. For me, out here, I become somewhat melancholy on the final day and try to soak in every view and place in a sort of memory reservoir from which I can pull until I come back in about 6 months. Anyway, ran into a trail runner on the dirt section on Refugio who said there was a group ride out of El Rancho Market on Sunday mornings at 9. I had read elsewhere it was a favorite starting place for tri-types. Unfortunately, this group ride has dried up and no one showed. No worries, I headed over to Dr. Js for the 10:30 group ride.
A small group of 15 gathered and a mix of locals, tourists like me, young people, old people (one guy was 72), men and women. The ride leader is Dave Chavis, the owner of the bike shop. I've ridden with them before and they typically start with a grand ride and it gets whittled down and short cutted so..... MY KIND OF RIDE!!! Except, Dave announced we were only going to the base of Figueroa, 12 miles away. Normally I would have voiced dissent but Dave takes good care of my bike when I'm out there, putting the bike at the front of the line when I walk in with a mechanical, so I have to be very careful. Pace was so slow had time to take the group ride shot.
At the base of the mountain, back in the canyon, it was hot so we rested in the shade. Two couples came walking down a path, in a hurry, and said they had been chased by a rattlesnake that had slithered out on the path ahead of them and turned in their direction. I wanted to go and get an image for the blog but decided against it. The return was a sprint but most of us hung in there as we rolled into Los Olivos. A debate ensued with all but 4 of us taking the hilly route via Ballard Canyon Road and the rest taking the flat route. I won the KOM points up the big climb on BCR, nipping the 72 year old at the top. Woohoo.
Packed the bike and enjoyed hitting a couple of cafes, including the Bull Dog Cafe, which is the traditional start place for most group rides starting in Solvang. Inside there is a ton of cycling memorabilia, including signed jerseys from Armstrong and others. Monday morning, I got an early start to the drive back to Vegas to catch my flight. Made a couple of wrong turns and began to panic. Had to make a couple of calls to people who had internet access to help guide me out. Then arrived at the brink of the Mojave Desert and made the 180 mile run at warp speed. Highway patrol can't be bothered getting out of their cars in that heat if you aren't driving over 100mph so it's good. Actually made up a ton of time and arrived an hour early so hit the airport bar for a drink, naturally.
Trust me, its a real buffalo but saw it too late in the day to get a good shot.
The above is an image of the mountain range I was to reach today, via Refugio Road's dirt section, coast down to Refugio Beach (paved side) and then turn around and head back up...and then down the dirt section. Not a lot of miles but should be good climbing.
The marine layer hung in there longer than normal this morning so I kind of waited it out until 9:00am. Heading out #246 in mist and with arm warmers on, 2 miles later it was brilliant sunshine. Passed the Chumash Casino (Indian operated casino that locals can't stand) and then got to Refugio Road, turning right, passing Kalayra Winery, a few dry stream crossings and finally reaching the end of the paved road and a big ole "Road Closed" sign, signaling the start of a 3.25 mile rugged stretch up dirt and rock pocked "road". Except, I'll be, someone took a blade to the road and filled in the 12' gullies that ran in the center, right and left section of the road. That's great except they filled in the gullies but did not pack in the material and so my wheel was frequently spinning out. It was just like riding through a sand box. During the duration of the uphill dirt section, I probably pushed the bike 60% of the time and it took forever to reach the top, which I finally did.
Reaching the paved, down hill section, I enjoyed the vast views to the coast and ocean. Yes, the view from Snowy Mountain in WV is nice but come on...coast, beach, Channel Islands, ocean..heck, even the oil drilling platforms are beautiful. The ride down was rough, as is normal with a road that is nothing more than a series of patches but after 5 miles of steep descent, I encountered 2 miles of modest down hill that led out to the beach where I stopped, at a market and drank a suger-free Monster, Gatoraid and ate almonds., while watching the beach combers and wildlife.
As soon as the beach is left behind (via a well worn path the locals created to avoid paying the $10 entrance fee at the ranger station) and scrambling up a short slope to acquire the road, the climb begins but very gently and after 2 miles, only 200' is gained. Then the mountain kicks in and a little under 5 miles of constant uphill later, the top is reached with 1700' of more climbing. Lots of switchbacks with steepish ramps. At the top of this very remote area, I found two cars parked with a few people looking at a map. Both parties, separately, had followed GPS directions to reach Solvang and their devices had led them to this dead end. I told them they would have to go back down the way they came, head 15 miles north via the 101 before reaching an exit that would really take them into Solvang. I descended the dirt section and retraced my route with 39 miles and 4400' of climbing. Next is a group ride out of Dr. J's bike shop
Outside Mattie's, a popular local restaurant.
Anyone ever watch the movie "Sideways"? There is a scene in the movie where a local is given the part of performing a wine pour for the two main characters. "Chris" the wine pourer works at a local winery.
Sun setting in the valley.
Thursday's ride stuck with the plan. I figured the route avoided the deep cuts into the canyons and I would be able to avoid the 100 degree temps that rule. Mid 50's at the start and kind of chilly, then cut up Ballard Canyon Road toward Los Olivos and it got hot, then out Foxen Canyon and into the breeze off the ocean via Santa Maria and it got chilly again...amazing temperature variation throughout the day. Passed this large field of flowers.
After 15 miles I gained 1600' and then a glorious and long down hill of 8+ miles, passing Foxen Winery on the right, then many fields of various veggies and then rolled into Garey at mile 28, where the bird house looks remarkably like the store at which I stopped. Worked my way over to Tepsuquet Road and into that canyon where it gradually became very hot. 3.6 mile climb gaining 775' and very moderate most of the way but the flying bugs and flies were bothersome and I was anxious for the down hill during which these pests would disappear.
Retraced my route back to Los Olivos and stopped at the market for a cup of crashed ice and sugar free Monster. Geez, did that taste great. All told, had 6 climbs of more than 200' and ended up with 83 miles and 5500' of climbing. Fairly uneventful day, as planned. Friday was a rest day and walked around Solvang, sipping a little of the local brew, drove out to Refuggio Beach to ensure there was a market open for Saturday's epic ride up the 3 mile dirt and rock section before reaching the top where Reagan's ranch is located, dropping down to the beach to refuel and then climbing what may be the hardest climb in the area back up the paved side of Refuggio and then following the ridge up to the satellite display. Views up there, with the ocean and coast on one side and the valley and mountains on the other are the best anywhere.
At Refuggio Beach, these kids successfully caught and released a sea gull.
The area is over run by these squirrel-like rodents. At the time I took this image, there were 5-6 within my field of vision, along with the gull.
There are many hawks that survey the fields looking for the squirrels. It's a target rich environment.
The forecast high for today was 85. The morning low was 52. I farted around adjusting my seat, adjusting the brakes, the derailler, etc.. Finally got out of the hotel at 9:30. Briefly thought about taking arm warmers because it is much cooler at the top of the mountain. Very comfortable starting out for the 15 mile ride out to the start of Figueroa Mountain, where 1000' is gained. The grape vines look far different from March, now having leaves and these round purple and green things hanging from them.
I noticed it was getting warmer as I got farther away from the coast and into the valley canyon. Stopped at the base of the climb to eat an energy bar and take a couple of gulps of fluid. As is typical, soon another cyclist came along and he too stopped. Good guy from San Lois Obispo and obviously a strong rider. I was anxious for him to start first so I would not fall prey to the tendency to work harder to stay ahead. He took off, I waited a minute then I took off.
Gosh, it was hot and seemed warmer than low 80's. Note where once it was green, now it is brown. I hit the lower slopes hard because I wanted to break my best time. Eventually reached the 1 mile dirt and rock section and it was so dry, my back wheel slipped quite often. A couple of cars came down and rose huge clouds of dust. Finally broke over the saddle and coasted down, losing 500' before bottoming into a shady area with numerous creek crossings and there was the Obispo guy, having stopped for a refresher break, which I thought odd, emerging from the shade. I stayed about 50 yards behind him up a very long straight stretch of ramps and false flats. Close to the top of this section, Obispo pulled off again to rest. I was sweating profusely and not feeling so good so I stopped too. First time, after 10-12 times up the mountain I had stopped. I asked him what the temp was and he said at the bottom it was 101 and now it was 94!!!!!! A big UH OH went through my wind. Worse, I was down to half a bottle of fluids. I could not stop sweating and my eyes were filling with sweat and burning. Plus, some type of damn fly kept swarming me and lingering on my back to sting or bite. In a word I was freakin MISERABLE.
After climbing for around 8 miles I was down to a couple of swallows of fluid and began thinking I should turn around and coast to the bottom but there was that dirt section to navigate down hill and then the 15 miles back to civilization or, keep going, reach the top and coast a couple of miles to the ranger station. I kept going. I stopped again and then, trying to conserve the fluids, BEGAN PUSHING MY FREAKIN BIKE. Stopping for a rest is one thing but pushing my bike up the hill?!?!?! I was bummed. Reached a flatter section and rode some more then stopped and rested and enjoyed finally a cooling breeze. I should have taken images of my frantic face, which would have looked like death warmed over. Finally, after 10 miles and around 4000" of climbing/pushing, I reached the top.
Rather than stop under the lone pine tree for a break as I normally do, I kept going because I was out of fluid. I reached the ranger station and they opened two bottles of water and filled my bottles while good naturedly complaining about the lack of a good forest fire to put out. I asked what the temp was and they confirmed low 90's, this 3000' above the mountain floor. Obispo and I coasted down the black ribbon of newly paved road which also radiated heat and as we drew closer to the bottom, the wind was like a blast furnace. Passed Jackson's Neverland Ranch where people had stopped to look at the gates. What would they expect to see, Michael's ghost? Arrived in Los Olivos and the market there and absolutely drained a Monster and then another drink. Legs felt terrible and I was slurring my speech (more than normal). Late afternoon, I jumped in the car and noted the temp was 80, then 4 miles away up a canyon, it was 86. Need to rearrange my plans I guess. Oh one more thing, the harvest of fruits and veggies from CA are delayed because of unusually cool weather. I don't get it. There is a city 25 miles away where the high was 70 today. Huge variance depending on proximity to the ocean and canyons surrounding the mountains.
Visited Dr. J's bike shop and of course got a jersey. Cool place.
I could come up with something uncreative OR, throw it out there to the quickwitted types who can do a far better job than I. Take a shot in the comments section with your effort.
Leaving Las Vegas and driving over 200 miles across the great Mojave desert. Car temperature got up to 110 and glad to be driving a rental with low mileage. Would not want to break down out here. Eventually, the mountains were summited and then a long run through I think the San Bernardino Valley too...
...the ocean and then a quick turn to the north and over another mountain range into Santa Ynez Valley and the cycling mecca. Bike was is good shape out of the box and good to go.
Meanwhile, back in Ohio, the Canal ride was being held and I hear around 40 people were there for a flatish ride of 44 miles. Mark C sent me the below version of events: We missed you tonight Mark. The parking lot was strangely subdued without your animating personality. We rode to Baltimore, turned north and then came back. Without the hills, Da Boss is rather ordinary and just one of the guys. Heck, even Grand Poobah hung with us and get this, even that lard belly Dennis did too! I dominated of course. Steve O was hanging on with me but had there been any hills I would of cut him loose like a string from a balloon. Well, that's about it. We finished with a 22.8 average but it could have been faster if I had had had any help from the drafters.
Steve sent me the above picture and said it was blurry, just like how I view the parking lot after a hard ride...funny.
Amanda, reacting to getting out of her car and seeing she had not run over anyone this time.
Ahhhh, the excessive opulence of a Vegas hotel, in this case the Venetian.
Tough day today. Arrived at a driving range at 9:ooam and it was hot. Couple of hours went by and it got hotter. Could not believe how many golf pros came out to hit golf balls. Long story why I am here so won't go there. Around noon, I was convinced it had hit 100 so called Flyin Tuna to confirm but she could not figure out how to access weather.com. Local confirmed we had hit 100 and the expected high was 107. Yesterday, Vegas was the hottest spot in the US. Of course, it is dry heat. Attend a golf show on Tuesday morning and then high tail it to CA.
I approached the Ridge Runner Ramble from Granville and hooked up with the group at the top of Stone Quarry. Here. Mark C, Steve O and Jeremy, who forgot to sprint to get into the frame, were rapidly cutting through the field.
Did not appear to be a huge turnout but here is SupeDave and in front of him Recumbent Dude. Also on the route were Kenda's Janet, Paul and Rick, Todd Mullens, Mitch T, Cindy, etc.. Probably only 5-8 people did the long route on this very humid morning. I took so many shortcuts I ended up with a paltry 40 miles but partly I had an obligation to meet family in Zanesville that afternoon and packing for my trip to Vegas/California and guess what.....I'm in Vegas right now. Vegas is not really my cup of tea although it is fun to get a group together and play blackjack but otherwise I always find Vegas depressing. I can only take seeing so many old, overweight blue hairs perched on stools pulling slot machine handles before it begins to get to me.
Oh, it was 106 degrees when I arrived but did not feel as crummy as when I left Ohio this morning at 78 degrees and 450% humidity.
When I was a youngster, one of my favorite movies was "The Guns of Navarone" with Gregory Peck and other stars of that era. I know, by today's standards it is kind of campy but I was reminded of this movie by I think Dan or maybe Tri-Mike when, after observing Flyin Tuna's sleeveless and partially backless jersey, they spouted, "Gosh look at those guns", an obvious reference to the muscled limbs of Tuna. It was so hot and humid I kind of wished I was wearing a similar outfit. Even Dennis was affected by the heat, driving topless, having shown off for the women who drive 161 during rush hour before his arrival.
Mark V made a surprise visit, having begun to ease back into cycling and in the background is "Sumo". Sumo used to be a regular at the New Albany ride but class schedule interrupted his participation but he is back. Dennis once asked him why he rode and Sumo said it was because he was too small to participate in his favorite sport, sumo wrestling.
Now this is ironic. Recumbent Dude wearing a climber's polka dot jersey. Next you know I'll start wearing a solid white one for best young rider. The small shaded area became so crowded we began rejecting new arrivals if they did not have an invitation.
Another late arriving crowd and I forgot to count but over 60 and a strong group of a and A-/B+ people. I had packed my bike off for CA and as of Wednesday night, had no back-up since my secondary bike has been living in the back of Rick Miller's workshop for a couple of months waiting on a part. I hit the trail for a long run Wednesday night and then Rick called Thursdaymorning and had switched out the part from one of his bikes and so I was good to go on my winter beater bike, Legs felt kind of fatigued so I skipped the A group that looked pretty fast. However, after they left I looked around and the A- group looked too fast to. Dennis, Jeff S, Dave Chesrown, Kevin H (Polish Pony), few young guys I don't know but young and skinny always has potential for strong too, Tri-Mike, SuperDave, Tuna, Amanda, Dan, Brain Damaged Gary, Recumbent Dude, German Franz (not to be mistaken for Asian Franz), Sumo and as we left the parking lot, there had to be around 35. It was a huge crowd but one had to be careful in such a large crowd....don't get caught too far back as Dennis warned me. Actually, the thought crossed my mind that getting caught behind a gap would be a good excuse for taking a leisurely stroll around a fine route by Jeff.
We dropped south on Babbitt and the pace was fairly light. The highlight of this stretch was seeing Amanda take a pull on the left side and Cindy on the right. I drew everyone's attention to this rare pairing of two of the female titans of the peloton. I began taking bets on who would tap out first but also figured pride would cause both of them to blow up before being the first to fall back. Each put in a nice long pull and dropped back about the same time. We then got onto Cable and that rough stretch and by now the group had thinned somewhat but still, there had to be 25+. We made a left on Headley's Mill and a couple of attacks ensued and then a right on Patterson with that long stretch of mostly uphill. Dennis had gotten to the front at the bottom but did not push it and most hung on to the top where we turned right onto old 161, eventually reaching 310 and Jersey Mill. I drifted to the back here just in case the pace exceeded my ability to pedal but arrived with 11 others in Alexandria. We next hit Mounts and another long stretch of mostly uphill all the way to Hardscrabble and there we were down to 6 people, Jeff S (taking it easy prior to a hard ride in WV this Saturday), Kevin H (regaining his form), German Franz and those two young and skinny guys. We got to Northridge where Kevin did something curious, with a car approaching from the left, he bolted across with me yelling "Clingan!!!" However, instead of moving to the right side of Concorde, he stayed in the middle and the car turned and almost took him out. Some of the guys were muttering unpleasant comments about Kevin but I defended him by saying loudly, "Who brought that guy out" and "Man that dude is dangerous, let's ride alongside him and shove him over." What are friends for, right?
Kevin took a long pull but also a very moderate one and a few people managed to catch back on and we continued on to Johnstown, down Caswell, over to Green Chapel and on in with 40 miles, a 21.2 average and 1150' of climbing. On the way in, we passed Paul Stock, Colnago Ron and Gus, fixing a flat. Otherwise, I don't know what the A group did or if they even followed the official route.
The A group had a healthy turn-out of 12. Check out this group of greyhounds....well.....almost all of them are greyhounds.
Da Boss showed up and I asked, "Since you rode so hard Saturday, are you going to kick our ass as usual or something different?" He chose something different. Now, apparently, some people are smelling blood because of Craig being the bridesmaid at a major century ride,again. One classless individual even suggested the pressure got to Craig when he was unable to execute a simple chain shift that led to his 2nd place finish. In fact, someone even threw out the term "Choker". This is absurd but I am obligated to report what I hear.
Steve O, Contador's brother, Ted M, Dennis, Claude, Paul Stock, Poobah, Luke "The Kid", couple of Jenis guys, couple of B-1 guys, couple of other young guns and I headed out on a nice route put together by Craig. You may have noticed I did not list Da Boss as a member of the A group. Craig had run earlier in the day and so headed out with the B's. The look on the B riders, when they realized who would be in their midst, was similar to the look of a gaggle of turkeys when the farmer with the ax suddenly shows up Thanksgiving morning. On the other hand, it was also similar to Jack Nicklaus showing up in my Sunday morning foursome. For someone like Amanda, it was a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with royalty. Mitch, Ryan, Jeremy, Mark R, Kevin H and others went out with the B group.
It was an unusual start to our ride with seemingly no one wanting to take responsibility for setting the pace. It was as if without Da Boss there to lead, no one knew what to do. The pace was very moderate and at one point, Steve speculated Craig would catch us from the B group. The route had a flattish beginning out Waterloo and into Lithopolis and then east and on to Elder and Winchester and slowly, the pace began picking up. After Saturday's effort, I was curious how I would respond but everything seemed normal. In other words, legs are too weak and lung capacity too small. We made a left on Perrill and then a left on Saint Paul and so far roads very flat. No attacks, everyone seemed mellow and I was happy to draft towards the back with fellow back drafters Dennis and Ted (who was also recovering from Mama). We made a right on Goodman and a quick left on Madison Walnut and somewhere in there we began to hit more substantial rollers but throughout I don't think anyone was dropped. Ringgold Northern and then Winter finally brought us out to Cedar Hill. At Todd's urging, Luke had attacked on Winter but we covered and maybe a Jenis guy was dropped in there. Note to Luke: Ignore Todd except when he asks you to slow down.
Gosh, the humidity was high and I regretted not wearing a full zippered jersey so I could liberate myself from the dripping mess. Fortunately, thin clouds umbrellaed us from the worst of the sun. We turned right on Cedar Hill and then left on Westfall. I think our average had now crept up around 22 after the slow start. We paused at Amanda Northern and I wondered about abandoning the pace for a slow ride back via AN but kept going while we hit Rockmill and that series of climbs. Ted, who had been content to draft and recover, suddenly put in what can best be described as a death pull. Paul jumped on then Steve then I and we gapped the group a little with maybe a Buckeye jersey dude in there too. After the first significant hill, the road moderates before rising again. Here, Ted ran out of gas and I was spewing hydraulic fluid out of every connection. Paul, Steve, Buckeye Dude and one other went up the road followed by Ted with me clinging to his tire and we stayed that way to 188. The thing is, most of the other guys, although getting dropped on the hill, came back strong and went around me after crossing 188 and a large group formed again up the road and all I could do is gasp. It was all such a blur but my group riding ended at mile 29. Claude and I rode together to the top of Rock Mill and I could see Dennis coming up. Dennis and I rode in from there and finished with an average somewhere between 20 and 21. My Garmin had failed to pick up the satellite and so my readings were goofy. We had 42 miles and 1500' of climbing. Steve O and a few others finished with 22.5 average.
Post Ride. No one wanted to sit close to this woman. So ferociously was she attacking the sandwich, people near by were afraid of getting in the bite range. She looks vaguely familiar....I wonder.....
The location for Mountain Mama is in Highland County, Va, which the locals call "Switzerland of Virginia". It's kind of on a plateau of mountains and valleys and as such, the temperatures are cooler. For our start, the temperature was in the mid 50's with an expected day time high of 76. In other words, perfect for what I and 334 others had signed up to do; ride 100 miles over near perfect roads with little car traffic and climb a promoted 13,000'. As soon as I got out of my car in the parking lot, I spotted this fixed gear bike. The bike's owner rode the 100 mile route.
Lots of Ohioans I recognized including Ted M, Steve O, Mark C, John S, Flyin Tuna, Da Boss, Greg D, Joe G, Mark Waites, Kevin S and Frank S. At least twelve Central Ohioans had made the 6 hour drive to labor on the roads of VA and WV.
Hey, there is a recumbent dude but not The Recumbent Dude. On the first descent, off Jack Mountain, this guy swooped by me going at least 50mph and I never saw him again.
After a ride organizer repeatedly told us this was not a race, we were all sent off with the blare of a horn and an atmosphere that sure looked like a race. Not for me though, my goal was not a time but just to finish. I had prepared for this ride by not preparing and was certain I was going to pay. The descent off the first mountain can be a little dicey (a woman died there a few years ago after going left of center and crashing into a truck. I'll never forget a man standing over her and imploring, "She's still breathing. Mary, hang in there") so at the start I hung with Steve and Mark C up the first 1/2 of this 1.5 mile climb, which starts almost immediately after leaving the parking lot. I parted ways with them with a "See you later" as they pulled away. However, they were not gapping me too much so I caught up, passed and gave Mark a long stare before dropping back again. I arrived at the top in maybe 30th place and began the somewhat technical descent. Soon, people were roaring by me at a pace I could not fathom being able to maintain, safely. Not just coasting but hammering. After a couple of miles and now half the field ahead of me, I began closing on two riders and I'll be....it was Mark and Steve. Steve was using this ride as a training ride prior to "Bridge to Bridge", where he'll put in a good effort on this timed ride. Mama is not a timed ride so without the threat of having your time posted on the web site, some people take a more relaxed pace and enjoy the rest stops, including Mark C.
We began climb #2 of 2.4 miles and I dropped back, then dropped my glasses on the descent, stopped to grab them and caught on to a nice group of 6 and we worked together to the first rest stop at which I stopped at mile 30. Hey, here was Mark, Steve and Flyin Tuna. Word was Da Boss was in one of the first 1-2 lead groups, way, way ahead of us. The rest stops had a great mix of energy drinks, fruit, hard food, energy gels, etc... Cindy left, soon followed by Mark, Steve and I and as the road rose, I faded back with another, "See ya later". This 3rd climb is 1.9 miles but the steepest of the nine. One ramp close to the top is 21% with several others in the 12-16% range. The next rest stop was at mile 50 but there is also a store at mile 60. Climb #4 is 1.6 miles and much of it is just 4-6%. I passed the 50 mile rest stop, hoping instead for a long break at the market where I could enjoy a Monster. Now we were at climb #5, the Snowy Mountain climb of 4.2 miles and an average grade of just 4.9% but still, that long distance of climbing....what's that.....the first twinge of cramping in my right leg....uh ohhhhhhhh. I missed the market but 4 miles later there was another market and I stopped. No Monster there but a Mountain Dew is about the same and hey, here came Mark and Steve again and soon, Tuna rolled in as well.
I was a beaten man and confessed to Steve I was not going to make it. Even pacing myself, coasting whenever I could rather than pedaling, not hammering but the long and sometimes steep climbs were taking their toll. Plus, there was virtually no group riding throughout. Everyone was spread out. Climb #6, Allegheny Mountain and 4 miles of an average grade of 5.6%. My left leg began to cramp and my back began to hurt. God, I was coming apart now with a upper left leg cramp, a cramp to the side of my right knee, a middle back ache and hit the 82 mile rest stop half out of it. Hey, there was the fixed gear guy and Tuna too. I had kidded her earlier in the week that my goal was to beat her and now that was looking even more daunting. I drank a keg full of Heed energy drink, ate a peach, mixed fruit, fig newton and then, while Cindy went into the outhouse, I leapt on the bike and got a head start. He, he, he.
Climb #7, 3.3 miles and average grade of 6.6%. Occasionally, I would stand and stretch and found that as long as I did not push it too much or face any ramps that were too steep, I could keep the pressure off and keep the cramps at bay. Half way up the mountain, I glanced back and here came Tuna!!!! Nooooooo!!!!! I picked up the pace as much as I could risk and held her off and then bombed the descent as fast as an ultra conservative descender could bomb. As soon as thre bottom is reached, you immediately start right back up climb #8 of 1.6 miles but now an average grade of 7.1%. Glancing back, no Tuna, whew. Half way up this climb, again glancing back, here she came again. Woman is relentless. Still, I held her off and at the bottom of the mountain, stopped at the final rest stop at mile 94. More good volunteers, as there were at every rest stop. There is a road that takes you around this final climb but it adds 5 miles so forget that, I'd rather climb another freakin mountain then add an extra 5 miles to the overall. I turned to fill a glass for another drink of Heed and with my back turned, Cindy leapt on her bike and rode away. Sneaky!!! By the time I got everything on and clipped in, she was long gone. I did not panic, setting a higher pace than normal as I began the 9th and final climb, 1.7 miles but an average grade of 7.8%, 16 switchbacks with some steep ramps in there.
Slowly I gained on her. However, I over estimated the distance to the summit and she got there first, about 25 yards in front. She had an advantage now, lower profile and all that mass for the descent. I just refused to brake where normally I would and got within a couple of yards. Speed was too great to pedal so it was just gravity and superior bike handling skill that would settle this "race". Finally, after a couple of miles, I could see the Monterey sign and, folding my body around the bike frame for minimal air resistance, piped her at the line. She was laughing , as was I over the funny end to a long day.
The actual climbing is exactly 10,000' on my Garmin. No way it is 13,000'. My rather pitiful average speed was 14.9mph but not having to flag down the SAG wagon was an accomplishment. My ride time was 6:44, total time well, 7:20. SAD and two hours behind Craig's time. Mark C has checked in with his time in the comments section below which closely mirrored Steve's. Would like to know more about Craig's experience but he's so humble I probably won't be able to drag much out of him. Age is going to catch up to me soon. I may train and see what I can do on this ride next year after finding my results from '03 and '04 when last I did Mama. Slightly faster this year. Go figure.
As I drove out of town, riders were still coming in and I saw the last one descending off climb #7 at 4:20. Long day.
Full report with images tonight but Craig Butler and 2 others separated from the field with Craig finishing 2nd with a total time of 5:19. While impressive, of more significance is 2nd at Cheat Mountain, 2nd at Mt Mama the guy just can't get over the hump. Farther back (actually much farther back) was a suicidal down hill run for the Monterey sign sprint between Flyin Tuna and I. Steve and Mark had ride times of around 5:20 but lounged at the rest stops, finishing at total times of around 6:45. I have to confirm as I was kind of out of it when they were talking to me.
After weighing the options of "Ride the Darby" or a couple of rides out of Canal or vicinity, the blog decided......drive to Monterey, VA and do Mountain Mama!!! I know, some of you are thinking, "But Mark, you have short cutted every hard ride and have not done anything over 80 miles since March and now you're going to do a 100 miles with 13,000' of climbing?!?!? My goal is to avoid the big cramp and have to SAG in, as my good friend Kevin H did last year. I asked Kevin what he would do differently and he said start a lot slower, pace yourself and don't stop for the Mountain Dew at that store. Rather than start early with Tuna's group, I'll probably start at the official start time of 8:00am, enjoy all the food stops (they'll be running out of food by the time I get there), enjoy all the nice volunteers and take lots of images for the blog. Next stop, the luxury of the Hermitage hotel in Bartow, WV.
Something happened earlier today that gave me the choice of either skipping tonight's ride or riding with a slow group. With the crushing obligation to provide silly, irrelevant, irreverent and poorly composed content, I chose the latter rather than the former option. More later on why I was put in the predicament in the first place. Anyway, a decent turnout for our New Albany happening although those who are doing that meat grinder Mountain Mama on Saturday (100 miles with 13,000' of freaken climbing) were not there, choosing instead to save themselves for the big Saturday challenge. Here though, Roy, not riding Mt. Mama but also not riding tonight, tells everyone within earshot what he would do to them if he was riding.
I forgot to count the start quantity but probably 40-45 with lots of strong A's including Red Head Bill (making a rare start with us), John Morgan, Colnago Ron, Mick, Terry, Dennis, Jeff S, Gus, etc... Also a strong B contingent of Tri-Mike, SuperDave, Amanda, Kevin H aka Polish Pony, Recumbent Dude (remembering all necessary equipment), Farmer Mike, etc.. and then a not so strong B-/C group of Jeff Fallen, a bunch of other guys and....me!
Often I am asked, what is the difference between the A and B groups and so tonight I can answer what is the difference between the A and C group. Well, first, on average, the C people are heavier. If you rode with me tonight and consider yourself skinny then I am not referencing you. I'm just taking the average here. Next, the average C rider is older, more like around my age. The bikes are, on average, not as high-end as A group bikes. I saw some steel anvils out there. The cycling clothing is not as nice. The C people eschew fancy kits and go instead for T-shirts with the pocket in front for storing smokes when not riding. HOWEVER, there are improvements too. For example, the typical conversation amongst the A people is, "Dude, where ya racing this weekend". Or, "Dude, where did ya place last weekend" or, "I'm looking for orange pedals. If you see a pair, let me know". The C group is much more cerebral. For example, because they ain't riding that hard they talk alot such as, "I finished reading a book last night that was written in Dadibi, a language spoken in northern New Guinea. I can speak 12 different languages". One guy was talking about the salvage value of smelting old Russian titanium missiles. To top it off, our ride leader, Jeff, was incredible. Whenever we approached a hill, he would bark off the hill's average gradient and distance. I am not making this up. I am contemplating gaining 30 pounds and sliding into this group. What is worse, to be one of the weakest A riders or one of the dumbest C riders? Heck of a choice.
Lastly, could you take the time while riding with the A group to take pictures? Heck no. These C people are fantastic. We did a robust 31 miles with a 19.2 mph average. Then there were the "others". The A group started together, Terry did not like Jeff's very good route and the Alpha Male took most of the A group on their own route, finishing with around a 22 average. Jeff S and a secondary A group did the full 40 mile real route and the fast B group came in with an average of over 21. For the first time this year, the route went by my humble abode but since I was enjoying the C group, I missed that part of the route. NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY. Why did I violate my promise to only ride with A groups from now on in an effort to regain my form and fitness? Tomorrow (Friday) the Blog is on the move and I will report from a remote location to reveal where the Blog has gone.
At the end of the ride, I was taking about the Miyan Calander with one of the C riders while the mentally challenged A and B riders talked about what they were going to do this weekend.
Mitch O sent me this note about a Saturday ride alternative:
The plan is to meet at Mark's church (Gloryland?) off of Coonpath Rd. Al Moor will bring maps of the spring HOOT ride. Timing is for an 8:00 a.m departure ... give or take. The church will not be open. The pace will be casual since all the heavies, except Schluep and Hollingshead and of course you Mark, will be doing Mtn. Mama
A tad bit humid for the Canal Winchester start but thankfully the clouds usually shielded us from the sun. When they did not, the parking lot was set to boil and most of us gravitated to the shade.
Some of us are clearly not excited about being here. Kevin H on the right and trying to get back in shape after too much work time.
I counted approximately 45 at the start. Seems the numbers dwindle a little as the season wears on. Gone are the days of a crowd of 60-70. However, the turnout among the A's is very good with more new riders showing.up. Three B1, two Jenis, Buckeye Planet Dude turned Walker Dude, the phenoms Luke and Nick (15 and 13 years old respectively), some young kid in Bike Source kit, Billy Campbell making a surprise visit, Paul Stock, Mark C, Jeff S, Steve O, Grand Poobah, Dennis, Eric, Alberto Contador's Brother, Mitch, Ryan (masquerading as a B rider tonight) and of course Craig Butler (masquerading as an A rider when the dude should be racing in Europe).
Also there, barely, was Amanda, furiously pumping her tires and assembling her bike, with Jeremy, Yawning Roy, Kevin H, Mark R and others making up a very fast B group. I think it is the C riders that have largely abandoned the Canal rides, probably deterred by the evilly difficult routes but tonight was different and also very intriguing with a super flat first 1/2 then super knarley middle section and then a long run in via Cedar Hill. At the end, I expected an elevation gain of less than 1000' but we actually got in a respectable 1300' of climbing on this 40 mile route.
Mitch and Ryan. Ryan (on the left) is such a good guy. After the ride, he told me how much he was glad to see me and thankful that I made the long drive down to enrich the ride experience.
And so it began. Humiliated by my recent showings and downward spiraling of fitness, I headed out with the A group and was #21 in a group of 21. Hey, was that Paul Stock violating the warm-up rule with a virtual sprint from Canal to Lithopolis??? Rolled into Lithopolis after the 3 mile uphill with a 19.8 average. We rolled through town and headed out Elder to a right on Lancaster Rd. left on Pike. right on Airbase, going farther east than normal. We got onto Lockbourne Eastern and a very long stretch at a high rate of speed. One of the B1 guys was very strong and with he and Da Boss taking most of the pulls, there was not a lot of relief. At one point, I was third in line with the strong B1 pulling and another B1 in 2nd when the 2nd B1 pulled out of the line and waved me through. I managed to close the gap and just then, the lead B1 pulled out but I could not then take a pull. He looked disgusted and went back to the head of the line and hammered more, with me drifting into the middle somewhere. I don't think I have ever engaged in any other activity in which one is subjected to so much humility...maybe hitting a golf ball out of bounds on the first tee with a crowd watching, but that's about it.
We turned onto Hagerty and our average had been inching up into the low 22 area but now we approached some up and down sections, jumping briefly onto 188 before a left on Ringold Fairfield and topping out at what is the highest point in Pickaway county. It was on this climb where Da Boss just rode away from everyone and in so doing, as Phil Ligget would say, "Stamping his authority on the peloton", as if that was ever in doubt. More hills approached and where once I felt good, I began to feel bad. I have the power, I just don't have that pesky endurance part of it. I drifted back from the pack as we approached Cedar Hill and glancing back, saw Dennis a small distance back. This spurred me to put in one final dig and I caught back on to the group while pulling Dennis as we coasted down the beginning of Cedar Hill. I slotted in behind Billy Campbell, who must not be riding as much because he appeared to be struggling. On one of the rises along Cedar, I finally spit the bit, at mile 29 so things are improving a little. There were 11 still with the group when I popped and in the run into Canal, a few more fell out but for those who finished in the main pack, the average was 22.7. Riding the last 11 miles alone cut into my average but I ended up with 21.4. I'm on the comeback trail.
That was fun. Lots of folks heading to West Virginia for the Mountain Mama ride this weekend. Mitch is setting up an alternative out of Gloryland Church and will have more details later.
After winning the Cat 4 race at Westerville on Saturday, Ginger Ballard raced again on Sunday on a crit course in dowtown Columbus and won again. I was there to witness the event with a camera that had lost its charge so I was unable to take images but am trying to get a couple from someone for the blog. Ginger used to ride with us frequently on the Thursday New Albany and weekend rides but a job transfer took her to Dublin. After the ride, she credited mostly me (ok maybe others too) for having pushed her to get better and get into racing. The Cat 1-5 women were all sent off together in this 50 minute race that included many climbs up a cobblestone street before a straightaway leading to the finish line..
After a couple of laps on this .82 mile course, a couple of Cat 1/2 women got away and remained away until lapping the field. At this point, it appears one of the women from the lapped peloton jumped in with the lead two and these three stayed away for the balance of the race. Meanwhile, as I watched several trips up the course's lone hill, it appeared Ginger was setting pace and putting in a dig once in awhile to test the others. Satisfied they would not be able to hold her wheel on the climb once a big effort was required things settled in. The peloton of maybe 8 dwindled down to 5 for the final lap, Ginger opened the spigot on the final climb, gapping the other gals and sprinted across the line for the win.