At least it did not rain. Other than that, the Summer Solstice ride had pretty much every thing else, Hell wind, heat, humidity, lost cyclists, etc... I asked Mitch Tallan what brought him out on a day like today and he said, "It's a fabled climb, like the Gavia in Italy or the Tourmalet in France. All the greats come out for this one." OK, Mitch did not really say that but what else would bring cyclists out to ride in this gunk? I was there simply to record the event so I had to be there but if not for that, I'd have stayed at the pool. Between those leaving at 5:00 and other start times, about 40 very brave cyclists showed up for the ride.
Above, Steve O, holding the coveted Jackson Insurance jersey for the KOM winner at the top of Mount Revenge. Steve has been very generous with gifts this year and the blog would be remiss in not highlighting this fact. Water bottles, caps, jerseys have been handed out each week to the sprint sign champ and tonight was a bonus with the KOM prize.
The 5:00 starters were only 4. The 5:30 Flyin Tuna group had approximately 13-14, Ginger, Poobah, Cindy, Mitch O, Reynoldsburg Dan, Tri-Andrew & friend Sam, Ryan Roe, Dennis C, David S & a couple more. The heat affected my memory so I apologize if I forgot someone's name. I was worried that starting at 5:30, with a break at the Amanda market would not give me a suitable head start, plus....
...... I had to carry Poobah's water bottles! Our group for the most part did not ride too hard during the 17 miles to Amanda but we did split at some point short of Amanda.
Arriving at the market, I looked at our group and they did not look good. Flyin T was ashen faced and covered in sweat, plopping onto the bench. The heat and humidity had taken its toll. Except, Poobah ignored the stop and kept plodding forward. I wanted to stay for a long time but had this nagging feeling that the 6:00pm release of the hounds of hell were gaining on me so I refilled my bottles, grabbed a Snickers and took off, finally reaching the summit at a couple of minutes before 7:00 at mile 25.
I stopped in the shade and waited, waited some more, wondered if everyone had taken a short cut but then 3 heads bobbed over the final rise and David Smith took the B group summit win. Unfortunately no prize for that. Soon, others approached. Everyone looked beat. Then I waited some more and not until 20 minutes after I had stopped, did the A group arrive, led by Mitch Tallan. Now, here is a composite of what I have heard from a variety of A group members.
We did not stop at the market but the pace was very relaxed so everyone mostly stayed together. In our group was Jon Morgan, Todd Mullins, Steve O, Mitch T, Dustin, Mark C, Brian, Randy Brown, Paul Stock and others, mostly keeping together to the base of the climb. Here, Jon M led a surge but that opening ramp sent most to the back. Mitch was leading at the top of the first ramp and then only Jon hung with him to the top of the second rise but after that, Mitch pulled away and a second group formed of Mark C, Jon, Steve and Dustin. Revenge has multiple false flats and even a short down hill section so the challenge is to stay in front and not allow people to bridge up. Mitch arrived over the final rise with a sizeable gap and thus won the jersey but was suffering from cramps. Unfortunately, my camera had problems or I had problems working the camera but the only image I have is of the follow group, already past me with Bruce Rogers the interloper on the left, wobbling after trying to run me over.
Mitch stayed away through mile 38 when he passed Flyin Tuna. Thereafter, there was some regrouping. Now, meanwhile, Poobah had run out of water and in desperate straits, stopped at a farm house where a farmer's wife gave him water and perhaps something else but he'll never tell. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Dennis G aka Astana Dennis and another guy missed the turn on Christmas Rock, reaching the white stone wall past the prison. The other guy, dressed mostly in black and maybe having only one water bottle, later bonked but Dennis hung with him. Water was kindly donated by strangers and they arrived back in Canal at 10:15pm, having ridden in the dark for close to an hour.
Back to the A group. At the turn on to Amanda Northern, suddenly and without warning, Dustin leapt from the group!!!! What a daring move. The rest of the group watched, eyes blinking and disbelieving this was a serious move until it became obvious, hey, he's got half a mile on us! Steve O, demonstrating a magnanimous side and a real team oriented guy, held back from chasing as he claims he had prior knowledge of Dustin's intent and did not want to drag the others up to Dustin. I want to believe this but I'm a little skeptical, just a little. Anyway, Dustin stormed over the Slough climb, roared down the Waterloo straight away and took the sign sprint and the overall win. Finished with a 21.5 avg and 52 miles. Exhilarating end to a long ride. Jon Morgan confided to me that it was the toughest ride he has experienced this year.