Considering the ride description probably kept a few away, the turnout was great with 50-55 at the start. Lots of new faces so that's always good. Here, Flyin Tuna, last year's winner of the slowest cyclist, gathers who she thinks will be in the running for this year's title to give them tips on where not to attack, where to get lost, how to slide back and disappear around a corner...all the skills necessary to contend for the turkey award.
Paul Stock arrived with the polka dot climbers jersey. Unfortunately, the first winner of the GCC, Woody, was not able to make it.
A good turnout of between 50-55 with many "elite" climber types. The Kenda's especially were out in full force and Kenda Janet asked me if I liked the fact she was able to get them all out....then 2 minutes later Kenda Dave asked me if I liked the fact he was able to get them all out. Anyway, besides Kenda J and Dave there was Paul, Stepfano (just back from working Tour of California), Mario and "CT" fresh from a 2 week training camp in Spain. I took the immediate climb up Thornewood out of the route and instead did a work around the hill that took us by the middle school on Burg and then out New Burg up and over the hill down to Dry Creek where we made a right. The pace had been moderate with Rob Rhodes and an Olympus guy setting the pace. We reached #661 and did the jog over to Chatham and then the pace picked up through the ramps and hills and by the time we reached the top we had a nice group of 2 Olympus, Paul Stock, Rhodes, one other guy and me and I thought, let's not let the others catch on let's go.....except as we crossed Chestnut Hills Road and hit the down hill, I suddenly went from feeling good to horrible. Great, 16 miles and I'm toast already.
I couldn't keep the pace and as we approached Marion/657, Dennis, Nathan, Mark C and others caught up. We headed out Weaver and I struggled to stay with this group and frankly was distraught over my pitiful endurance. The lead group of 5-7 got away but in what became the theme for the day, they missed the left turn at the bottom of the hill to stay on Weaver and kept going. We made the turn and approached the hill on Reynolds. I struggled up the hill while being passed by everyone with a heart beat. I mean, there were people passing me that I haven't seen pass me in years but the worse was yet to come. Mean time, the lead group, realizing their mistake, had turned around and caught us and a large group arrived in Utica together. Some of us hit the gas station on the left, some on the right. I was alarmed over my performance and thought the only way I was going to stay in contact with the front group (so I could give the prizes to the winner at the end) was to grab a snack quickly from the station and then take off to try to get a sizeable head start so out Blacksnake I headed. Unfortunately, my early exit gave me hardly any advantage and the herd soon approached. I was swarmed for a moment and quickly it moved on up the road and all I could do was gasp. Others began arriving, some I had not seen since the parking lot including Mitch and......Flyin Tuna.
Prior to today, my most humiliating experiences associated with cycling were 1) receiving a swirly from a couple of Walker dudes at the Port-o-John at New Albany and 2) having my a** kicked by Grand Poobah in the parking lot at Canal Winchester. Normally, these are things from which one would never recover but I persevered and hardly think of these moments. To this list I can now add, getting freakin dropped by Cindy B. She pulled away from me up Blacksnake and there was nothing my sad sack legs could do about it. I just about tossed my bike into the ditch and called my wife to come pick me up. I know, I know, no one will have any sympathy for me and in fact, most of you are grinning just reading this. The group made a left on Cooksey but I stayed straight, making a left on Hull which would save me a few hundred yards and in fact I got out onto Bell Church just behind the lead group. Soon, dozens approached and passed me including, yes you guessed it, Flyin Tuna for the second time thus welcome to the 2nd most humiliating experience of my cycling life. I reached the intersection of Martinsburg road and everyone had stopped there but no one bothered to look at the que sheet or the map. They were just looking at each other and blinking their eyes with the expectation someone knew where to go but until I came through, going straight, only then did they start up again.
I was at the back of this group by the time Purity Road was reached and after a couple of the super rollers, not only had I lost contact but I came to the realization I was going to have to take the short route if I was also going to be at the end to award the prizes so I did the 46 mile short cut route with 3200' of climbing. Soon, may others began streaming in, having also taken the short cut. I changed, ate a doughnut and retraced the route to see where everyone was. I quickly came upon Mark C and Bruce. Unfortunately, while Mark was in the restroom in Utica, the group left and he emerged to find himself alone. He tried to catch on but got off the route so had to pack it in. Soon there after, I came across the 2 Olympus guys.......
.......followed them back in and awarded them the prizes for finishing first with a 17mph average and a total ride time of 4:10 for the 65 mile route.
I went back out and found Mitch and Tuna. They were a little exasperated with what they had witnessed out on the road by the leading group who could not or would not look at the que sheet or map. The group stopped frequently at intersections, immobile until someone came along and told them what direction to go. At the rest stop at Wilkens Corner they were told to make sure they turned left at Loches and upon reaching it stayed straight on Purity going who knows where. I guess if I do this ride again I'll go out and mark the route. Also understand the big climb on Houdeshell had a gravel section in the steepest portion of the climb and here, Dennis fell while trying to stand and pedal. Most just got off their bikes and pushed them up....sorry about that.
One guy ended up with 74 miles for the 65 mile route and while waiting for the last person to come in, some of us gathered and decided to give the turkey award to the last finisher of the short route rather than the long route and so, Eve was awarded the slowest cyclist award. Well, that's about it. I have the story from Mountains of Misery with Ryan and Steve and the Rocky death march in 90+ degree temp is on the agenda to report later.