Tri-Andrew's Sugar Grove ride is always a popular destination and I think what makes it especially so for me is that with Savage and Chickencoop only a couple of miles away, we don't have to climb them!
Here, Andrew barks out turn-by-turn directions and even recommends we eat at a place in Bremen that, unfortunately, is not open anymore. Hey, there's Peggy, arriving a little late with Gus.
Roughly 65 of us rolled out, including Jeff S, who revealed to me after consultation with COP's enforcement division, he has been granted "Black Cards". If a cyclist is given the "Black Card" he is banned from COP events and shunned. Now that the authoritarian Jeff is back for the Thursday New Albany rides, replacing the permissive Jeff, he will bring law and order back to the Dodge City of COP evening rides.
The first climb arrives soon enough and upon reaching it, Steve O and the dude with the white Mellow Johnny jersey surged to the front. I caught up at the top and was relieved they chose to ease up and we soon had a nice group rolling up and down the rollers that populate the ridge line along Horns Mill and Zwickle. Steve was content to ride at a pace that kept us together all the way to 93 where Steve, Gus, Peggy, Kevin H, Mark C, Mellow Johnny, Recumbent Dude, Andrew, around 12-14 of us steamed through various small burgs before reaching New Straitsville and Ed's Carryout, a classic small town cycling stop.
Here, Mark C with a Mountain Dew and not one but two Hershey chocolate bars, retreating to the fire escape to eat in peace.
Things were not so peaceful at street level. Five locals have their own chairs from where they spend the morning watching life, as they know it, pass by. I unfortunately did not get to witness the incident but somehow, Kenda Janet took one of the local's chairs or said something that enraged the man and he stomped off to his truck and left. Soon Janet wandered over to my spot on the sidewalk and began berating me for having created a negative stereotype out of the Kendaites. She wanted to know why shortcutting was a bad thing when done by the Kendaites but not when I do it which she claimed was just as often. The woman even called me a hypocrite! When arguing with Janet, one is mindful she is smart enough to be the president of the local MENSA chapter so strategies that would normally be successful when arguing with Flyin Tuna won't work with this brainiac. I considered her question and answered thus: "Janet, Kendas short cut because of weakness or fear of the route. I, on the other hand, am a humanitarian shortcutter and there is a large difference. I look to see which group, long routers or short cutters, would most benefit from my presence and then that group which would benefit the most is the group with whom I ride." You know you have won an argument when the person with whom you are arguing begins calling you names. Instead, Janet walked her bike across my foot and while doing so, shoved on the seat to cause extra pain.
So, a large group departed for the 96 mile route while Tri-Andrew, Tri-Luke, Tri Luke's wife, Brad the Dentist, SuperDave, Kenda Janet, Dave and Paul and a couple others, left on the 76 mile route. We briefly stopped at mile 38 in Moxahala, discussed the brutal stretch coming up on Marietta Road and then shoved off, arriving in Bremen at mile 57. Janet had recovered some and began verbally jabbing me when I asked if that is the only jersey she ever wears and if after each ride does she just take it off and stand it up in a corner or does she sometimes wash it? She's such a good sport. Beth and Evie arrived and told us Bauman Hill Road was closed so we all agreed to short cut the short cut route and head down Savage, which we did, finishing with 70 miles and 4000' of climbing.
Here, Jeff S sent me a view from a ridge from the long route, while they were waiting for others to form back up. They finished with 93 miles and 5800' of climbing