Ahhh, the sweet relief of the symbolic start to a new cycling season with the arrival of the Tuesday COP Canal ride. My psyche has recovered somewhat from the battering it took all last season from Peggster, Flyin Tuna, Steve, Craig, Ryan...well...just about from everybody. A mental cleansing has taken place during the long winter and I am good to go again, mentally if not physically. My cycling day got started a little early when a call from John the Dentist alerted me to a 3:00 start from his place and a promised easy ride. When I arrived, John was on the phone talking to Chris Harmon, the young man who dropped 200 pounds of weight on his face during weight lifting. He is lucky to be alive but did lose the use of an eye. Much reconstructive surgery remains and John will be involved in the dental aspect of it. Joining in the ride was Crazy George and Marty. George still has the heart problems and they appear to have worsened but he does not appear to worry much about it. I rode with them for 45 minutes and then looped back home for 25 miles and in time to make a PB & J sandwich and head out the door for Canal.
With a short window of daylight and with it the promise of a short route, I was surprised by the turnout. I counted 46 with others hidden behind cars so probably more than 50 were there. Undoubtedly first to arrive was Grand Poobah, to grab the premo parking spot. Here, Tall Dude admires Todd's clothing and bike.
Steve, Jimmy and Grand Poobah went for a warm-up ride before the official ride start, These guys are serious!. Also shown is Peggster, with her typical goofy facial expression when she sees someone about to take a picture.
With Donna unavailable, Peggster took over and as expected, showed she can slip comfortably into the role of Seargent of the Parking Lot. Barking out instructions and threats of banning for those who did not follow instructions, we were all suitably petrified and glad to escape to the open road.
I headed out with the A group, hoping to get far enough down the road that when I shot out the back of the peloton, I might stay ahead of the "C" group. Most of us have been whining about how out of shape and unfit we are but judging by the tans, some of us have been doing something outside. We headed out Waterloo and hit the long hill to its apex at Slough. A new youngster named Matt (in the foreground of the image above) went to the front and turned the screws and conversation ceased. I could not tell how many fell back but I was shocked I was still there. When we reached the deadend at Lithopolis, I hoped the kid would drop off the front before someone (me) got hurt. Oh yeah, sneaky Grand Poobah jumped the group at the stop sign and raced for the sign sprint win. Clearly he did more than drive the team car at Kenda's training camp in Georgia last week.
We worked our way over to Goodman via Elder, Berger and Richardson Roads. So far, fairly flat which is good for the first ride. Then we made a left onto Marcy and I saw the hill there but strangely, had begun to feel pretty good about my standing in the group and was unafraid, mostly. We hit the hill with Matt and The Boss at the front. Things broke up a bit on the hill and Poobah whipped through an opening to latch onto Boss' wheel and I to Poobah's. In the process, I struggled by Steve on his hybrid and I think the spectre of me ever passing him on a hill again will force him to bring the road bike next time. The pace slackened and the group reformed, including Greg Hall and Roy, two sandbaggers who had started with the B group and then leaped into ours for the balance of the ride.
Across #674 we went and hit the rollers there and then a left on Cedar Hill, where Boss took it easy on us and we remained together. We cruised into Canal with 25 miles and a 21.8mph average. Geesh, this is the first ride and already over 21, albeit a flattish route but still...geesh. Additional Notes: Amanda was there on her new Fuji frame. Others at the start were Mitch, Tri Andrew, Ross, Julia, Ryan R, Butch, John Morgan, Mark Rossi, Margarita Rick, Randy D, Pastor Mark & many more. If you weren't there you missed a good ride and hope you can make it next week. Oh yeah, Poobah grabbed the Lithopolis sign sprint and every other town, burg, village and hamlet's sign along the route. I think he is feeling better about this season than last.