Steve O, guzzling an energy drink and Mark C, chomping on energy beans, wait patiently for the arrival of the stars of New Albany. some of whom were fashionably late. To be fair to Mark C, he engaged in some manual labor earlier in the day, doing something that did not engage his cycling muscles so he was exhausted by the time he arrived at Canal.
Grand Poobah, shows Logan and Nick where to attack. Alas, the young phenoms more then met their match this evening. Even the finest coaching wasn't to make a difference.
Sun was especially intense so the shady area quickly filled. NA Marty, violated the "No Ringers" pledge by bringing Gabe (on the right), a Cat 2 racer who just got back from competing in the nationals. Also note the guy in the background with the black helmet and the huge mouth, Ryan R. He yelled at me across the parking lot, "Are you riding with the 6:00pm group?"...."yes" was my reply to which he shouted, "I hope you brought a big enough generator to keep your light going after dark." Funny, very funny.
Getting a count is hard because people began leaving the parking lot for their 53 mile journey as early as 5:20. One group left at 5:30, got to the edge of the parking lot and then doubled back, leaving again at 5:45. Combined, probably around 60 participated in the Summer Solstice ride that goes to the top of Revenge and back. Because the 18 mile route down to Amanda is relatively flat, I figured I'd hang on to that point, take Hopewell Church as a small short cut and catch back up to the lead group on Westfall to see who was there.
A group of around 25 left as part of an "A" group at 6:00, including Dave C, Marty, Billy C and this Alberto Contador lookalike (Gabe) representing the Damn Yankees while the lowly Brewers were represented by Steve O, Mark C, Logan, Nick, Jeff S, Ryan R, Todd Lee, Paul Stock, Amanda, John S, Nathan and a bunch of others who did not look like they were anything more then cannon fodder (I include myself in this group so don't be offended). We headed out Waterloo and upon crossing the 4-way stop intersection and heading up the ramp, already cyclists were being shelled. A left on Slough and a right on Sitterley and then out the rollers farther weaned the group and I noted Dave, Marty, Gabe and Billy were taking turns, turning the screws on us. Mark C was spending way to much time in the back of the group and appeared to be struggling, along with the rest of us.
By the time we reached Alspach, turning left, a couple of gaps had temporarily opened between the front 4-6 and everyone else. The gaps had closed but the signs were there, a grenade was about to get thrown into our midst and sure enough, the jets were turned on and I had to sit up at mile 7, watch as others shot out the back, including Nick, Jeff, Nathan, Todd and others. In fact, after crossing Amanda Northern and reaching the end of Alspach, everyone had dropped except for the NA 4-some, Steve O and Paul Stock. Everyone else.....GONE. One of the NA boys later said, "We put the wood to those guys." They wanted the Canal Brewers to know where the real ride was each week.
This group of 6 reached Amanda with an average at 24-25mph and kept going out Clearcreek Road, crossing Hamburg and finally, reaching the base of Revenge. Gabe and Billy C reached the top first with a fairly sizable gap over Steve, followed by either Marty or Dave and then Paul. I have no doubt that Gabe and Billy could have pressed the gap and finished but there was some regrouping at the top other then Paul did not make the group so they were down to 5.
In the meantime, Ryan, Todd and I had ridden out Delmont and gotten back on the route on Westfall and waited at the top of the climb where the tower is. We waited 10 minutes without seeing anyone so continued on to Cedar Hill, stopping at the top of the "big" climb and soon a group approached. Steve O was hanging in there, but not sure Gabe was being put into the red, here giving us the thumbs up. Marty, Dave and Billy were there as well and this group of 5 finished intact with a 21.3 avg. I thought perhaps Steve was being carried as the token route knower but that was not the case. He was there because they could not drop him so the reputation of the Brewers, although bruised, was preserved, such as it is. Too bad Da Boss could not make it but then, the Yankees could have brought another 3-4 who are as good as those that came. The Yankees are seriously deep and I stand by my original claim, far superior to the Brewers.
Steve O, realizing he was in the shadow of greatness, post ride asks Marty and the ringer he brought in (Alberto Contador's brother who supposedly drops Al on all the steep climbs) for their autograph.
Off Topic: Some of you knew a recent visit to a dermatoligist to have a couple of spots checked out had resulted in the removal of 6 "interesting" moles last Friday. I am pleased to say a call today informed me two of them are "abnormal" but not cancerous so I am in the clear.