The Blue Jay ride is a shared effort of ride leadership between Flyin Tuna and me. Typically, the division of labor is she produces roughly 50 copies of maps with wording too small for anyone to read and then stands by her car while people sign in. Typically, I spend 5 freakin hours marking the route and creating inspirational messages on the road such as "Oxley Sucks". This year, weather and a tight schedule prevented me from getting out to mark the route but to make up for COP's deplorable effort at promoting the ride, I launched a full scale PR campaign that undoubtedly saved the day when it comes to participation. For this, Tuna publically tried to humiliate me prior to the ride in front of the entire peloton, which is not unusual for her. I don't know why I have carried her for so long like an albatross around my neck, an anchor, a square wheel, etc....
Anyway, pretty good turnout of around 50 cyclists, including a couple of the New Albany storngmen like John Morgan, Dave Chesrown, Pete S and Jon Sada. Also there were the Canal Brewers, Steve O, Mark C with pinch hitters Jeremy, Jeff S, Mitch and John Swope. Free agents were there such as Larry P, Dennis, Grand Poobah, Mark V, Brad the dentist, Lisa Tyler, Larry's Lisa, Beth Hale, Kenda's Paul, Janet & Dave, etc... The latter are hopeful they'll get called up to the "Bigs" but it is unlikely to happen so they will toil in obscurity instead. Also, I have to clarify an important point. I have referenced Mark C and Steve O as being the heavy hitters from Canal, the only real "A's" from that crowd but of course missing from this list is Da Boss, Craig Butler. Craig has focused on running this year and has, get this, 2000 running miles so far and only 400 cycling miles. He has been an infrequent participant in the Canal rides and when there, has hung back. Under normal circumstances, I would have identified him as having no peer either at Canal or New Albany but.....
So, we rolled out, headed through downtown Newark, in dire need of repaving, reached the foot of Blue Jay, had a less then enjoyable time gaining 800' out to Brownsville and rode on to Zanesville. The lead group rode conservatively and all hung together for the most part. As a true ride leader, I hung back and made sure people made the turns and in general was a great ambassador while Cindy selfishly rode as fast as someone at that level of fitness can ride, ignoring her leadership obligations. By the time I arrived at the gas station, the lead group was gone but I had a fun time cavorting with Todd, Kenda Dave, Janet, Dennis, Larry the Legend & others. You know, the camaraderie of these rides, the goofiness, the razzing, the put-downs, the occassional candor are, for me at least, a very important part of the enjoyment of this entire experience. Were it just the pain and suffering, I'm pretty sure I would not do this activity.
The Kendaites, Todd and I headed out of Z-ville, reaching Ridge where we turned west and after some consulation, Todd, Dave and I decided to forego the southward turn on Morgan and to stay straight on Ridge to Route #40 where we went west and then picked the route back up by turning right on Mt Perry. The three of us became separated and eventtually, I soloed in with 61 miles and 4800' of climbing. Meantime, the lead group broke down to Dave C, Canal Oxley, Canal Clingan, John Morgan and Craig Butler....yes....Da Boss!. Steve took the lonely longer option, ending up with 100 miles while the others continued on to Blue Jay, Craig, amazingly, continued to ride hard and eventually, it was he and Dave C who finished together with Canal Clingan and John M finishing together behind them. Everyone else was strung out behind these four. The average mph for the lead group was 18.2 so for that route, that's pretty good.
Not at the Blue Jay ride was Marty, who rode the 100 mile, 13,000' of climbing Blood, Sweat and Gears in Boone, NC. I hear he turned in a terrific time of 5:21 to finish 49th out of 562 cyclists. My investigative assistant reporter has done some digging and using a Deep Throat source within the New Albany Yankees, Dave C and Marty are probably the best climbers with maybe Marty having inched ahead. For flat to rolling terraine, consistent with the New Albany routes, Rich Lewis, John G, Pete, John M and Marty may be the best with Dave in there too. This does not include some of the other strong riders who show up. So, the Brewers do have their big bopper, Craig Butler, behind him is Steve and slightly behind him is Mark and then just a bunch of Punch & Judy hitters. The Yankess have a very deep line-up with an all-star bench too.