The group that travelled to West Virginia to compete in the Cheat Mountain Challenge came back with a souvenir. Last year, our Craig Butler finished 2nd with a time of 5:38 and the event organizers used an image of Craig and the 1st place finisher on their promotional materials (the black cyclist images). Mitch and Peggy unfurled the banner last night as a surprise for Craig. This year, Craig was not as prepared for the event but still had a good showing, finishing 6th with a time of 5:50. Note the 7th place finisher was another Ohioian, Mark Waites. I’ve ridden with Mark before and can recall he has a winter conditioning program so intense and comprehensive that he is probably in better shape in March than in August. In fact, there were many Ohioians populating the upper reaches of the results list. Steve O finished 34th at 6:45 and Andrew was at 39th at 6:57 and at 70th was Mitch the Engineer at 7:44. Somewhere in there would have been Jeff S, whose time was not yet posted. There was a staggered start with an 8:00am group, an 8:15 group, etc… but a few cyclists took the events name seriously and cheated, starting in early groups, thus giving themselves a 15 minute head start. Members of our cycling fraternity also rode in the long metric century which at 71 miles had over 8000’ of climbing! The Peggster turned in a fine performance of 6:23 for 37th place.
I could tell by the Peggster's expression she was in a bad mood, probably freaking out over returning to the classroom to teach our children. This, plus Donna had departed early and had given the awesome responsibility of being the Ride Queen to Peggy. I tried to keep my distance, and did so until she loudly announced we were to follow the painted parking lot markings and leave the lot in the proper direction. Being nonconfrontational, I meekly asked what would happen if some of us did not. It seemed like a logical question and of course I had no intent to disobey “the Queen”. Well, she turned to me and verbally attacked like a rabid cat. I was defenseless, I mean with the age difference (she’s older) and the female thing, what could I do? I sucked it up and accepted the, “Listen you #$*#$, I’ll wring your @#@#% neck”. My head was spinning but at one point I do remember her making a comment about never inviting me to Cheat because I could not be trusted to honor the “Code of the East” (roughly translated, what happens in WV stays in WV). This was too much, considering she had previously practically begged me to come on this week’s trip but again, I was the bigger person and kept turning one cheek after another. Finally, exhausted and spent, she eased up and sent us out to start the ride. Whew!
Smallish turnout again, maybe 35 for a flatish route of 40 miles and 1300’ of climbing. 17 started with the A group, including Retro George, rolling in at the last minute. The pace was not bad as we raced into Lithopolis, out Elder, right on Oregon and left on Berger, with a fairly strong SW wind. South on Richardson and some appeared to be straining. A gap opened in front of me at some point but I was able to cover it. There was a new guy wearing a brown shirt and I watched him warily but he appeared to be ok. We turned right onto London that has a short, kind of steepish hill. I was locked on to Mitch’s wheel but looked up and a sizeable gap opened in front of “brown”. Not good. George went around and I briefly considered suffering behind him as he would no doubt ride at a pace to catch the front but decided riding with Mitch would be more fun. Pastor Mark did make the jump and they soon disappeared over the horizon. Mitch, “brown” and I rode together until Brown dropped off and then Mitch and I were alone, he taking long and strong pulls and me doing my part with a 100 yard pull here and there.
Each year, there is one day in late summer when a type of bug must hatch adn fill the air. There were thousands of them, most of which impacted on Mitch as he rode bravely in the front. We finished with a 20mph average and upon entering the parking lot, I saw Peggy and coasted up to her, anticipating an apology and in her way she did, with a squirt of her water bottle. What a pal.