Quite a group of happy cyclists to be given a beautiful day to make up for last weekend's abysmal weather. This normally low key, off-season ride was given a small boost of anticipation when Jon Sada called me to inquire if Steve O was going to ride. Reading between the lines and knowing Jon's ultra competitive nature, I surmised Jon wanted to test himself against the finest our group has to offer (with Craig B focusing on ultra trail running marathons the title falls to Steve). I then called Steve to alert him to this possible challenge and give him reason not to ride the cross bike.
Rolling out of Carroll, Todd realized he had forgotten to fill his water bottles so burst from our pack, rushed into a restaurant, then into the restroom and returned before we passed through the light at #33. There were about 14-15 in our group. After 5 miles, we arrived at a fork in the road and a message that invited those who wanted an extra hill to proceed straight while those who thought this option lunacy could turn left on Amanda Northern. I of course instinctively turned left as did Dennis, SuperDave, Jimmy, Flyin Tuna, Ryan R, Dennis' friend Jeff, Grand Poobah and Larry P while Steve O, Dustin, Jeremy, Sada, Mark C and Jeff S went straight.
As we approached to the west of Amanda, Steve O, Dustin and Sada caught and passed us while a little later Mark C caught and stuck with us as did Jeremy and Jeff S. Eventually at around mile 25 we reached the store in Oakland to find Steve, Dustin and Sada waiting. After the normal hijinks, we left, shortly after the lead three had already departed. A few miles further at the Clearport/Drinkle intersection, Jeff S, Ryan, Tuna and Mark C took the 75 mile option while the balance, having hooked up with 4-5 other cyclists, chose the 60 mile option. I endured the usual cacophony of insults, thrown mostly by Ryan, for having chosen the shorter route but it's the off-season for me now and I'm looking for even shorter routes then normal.
We arrived in Sugar Grove and soon Steve and Dustin arrived and after a few minutes, so too did Sada. Apparently their pace had finally taken its toll climbing a very tough Buena Vista and then again at Revenge. Still, Jon hung in better then any of the rest of us but considering who is the rest of us I guess that's nothing to get too excited about. After a welcome break at the Sugar Grove store, here Todd congradulates Dustin for hanging with Steve, we headed out where I surprised everyone by taking the going out of town sign sprint.
Good grief, then it was up Savage, down Carpenter and then up freakin Chickencoop, where Julia stood at the top snapping pics of the survivors, led by Larry P. Larry was loafing for the most part due to a cycle cross race on Sunday but showed when motivated, what he is capable of. The rest of the route was a blur of more climbing and pain and the Carroll high school parking lot was a welcome relief after 62 miles and 4400' of climbing. It appears we will ride out of Canal at 5:00pm again this Tuesday and note Mark C, Jeff S and Cindy are riding out of Mark's church on Coonpath on Monday. All are welcome.