Enough with the parking lot stuff and on to the action out on the road. We rolled east on Broadway, past the farmer's market and a few other booths where people are selling goods. I think that is Blair on the right. Initially, Tym Tyler rode away from us a few times but always came back as his plan was to ride with Lisa. Being a good husband denies one the opportunity, probably the likelehood, of winning this meaningless event and the coveted stuffed tiger.
The pace quickened as we rode the long hill out Burg and New Burg, where I stopped to snap the above image of about 20 of us in the group. After taking the image, I thought how stupid I was to have lost the pack and had to work hard to regain it. In that group were Rob, Dustin, Tym & Lisa, Woody, Larry P, Jeff S, Blair, Steve O, Kayla, Kevin H, Mitch O, Flyin Tuna, Eric the Dispatch Photographer, Adam, Dirty Dan, etc...
We rolled into Utica with some pausing and others not. Those who paused headed out in a group of around 8 and we enjoyed a moderately paced ride out to Purity and then hit the super rollers to the turn left on Pine View where we paused to regroup. Here, Jeff S selflessly broke up a home-made energy bar. It tasted at least as good as Cliff Bars or Harvest Bars and so with his permission, I bring this amazing recipe to your attention, which he pulled off this site: http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/do-it-yourself/2013/04/how-to-make-energy-bars/
6 ounces pitted dates (1 cup)
¾ cup whole raw almonds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Anyway, we shoved off and eventually arrived at Rainrock, turning right then a left on Pinewood and regrouped at Reform. Here I was faced with a dilemma, keep going with the group on the 75 mile route or escort an easily confused Kevin H through the 66 mile route so he could return in time to make a family event. The pull of honoring my journalistic obligations to get back to the parking lot in time to interview the winner was in the back of my mind so I agreed to ride with Kevin, good guy that I am. We rode south with the gang, looking for Montgomery Road but never saw it, arriving at the stop sign at Licking Valley Road. Hmmm how'd that happen but later learned my cue sheet had left out a turn to Smith Chapel prior to Montgomery. So, we hung a left on McCown, made a couple of map checks, ran into Rob, Dan and Dustin and arrived at Wilken's Corner and the market. Along the way, Rob heard me use Dan's name and Rob asked, "Dan, what's your last name?" Upon hearing it Rob commented, "You're the Dan whose records I keep breaking on Strava." Dan agreed that yes it was him and to which I think Kevin commented why would anyone want to break the records of a guy riding the TJ Evans bike path. Ha, ha, ha that was a good one. Rob was also letting me know that he was going to gift the win to either Dan or Dustin but I informed him that the event had a long line of unknowns as winners and I needed someone with his pedigree to win. Above, Rob and Dustin wait for Dan, as Kevin and I soaked up the sun and downed a Coke.
Dirty was conflicted, about with which of us he should ride but I shooed him away, urging him on to his destiny, a greeting with greatness but a mere 22 miles away at the finish line. Emboldened, Dan shoved off with Rob and Dustin and at but a mere 21 miles from the finish line, slid out the back and soloed home for a very impressive 3rd place finish. A little ahead, Rob and Dustin battled it out on the final climb on Loches, as decribed two posts down, thus Rob stormed away for the win with a long solo effort. Meantime, Tym and Lisa rode by as Kevin and I exited the market so we caught up with them and had a great time drafting off Tym for roughly 20 of the remaining 22 miles. After arriving in the parking lot and determining the winner had left to meet a baby sitting obligation, I drove out to see what I could see.
Kayla and Steve topping out on the New Burg climb. I asked if there was anyone behind them as really, I was stalking the last place finisher so I could snap the image with the "winner" holding the turtle and then get out of there.
I ran into John and Adele, out for a run while pushing their baby.
Larry P and argh...forget this guys name., also on New Burg.
I came upon the Eric the Dispatch Photographer group and debriefed them. Sounded like Beth Hale, Evie, Tim, etc... were still back there but they had gotten off the route a few times. Sensing that if I went farther back I may run into cyclists who would be angry about the cue sheet, I immediately disqualified them for going off route, thrust the turtle into the hands of this group's weakest, snapped the image and now finished with my obligations, rode off into the sunset.
I am already thinking how to make next year's event better and may turn it into an invitation only event. This event needs a different kind of winner, someone who will be universally accepted as a true champion, someone with wide respect and the real bonifides, yes, this event needs me to be the winner. Wonder if I can get a mailing list of the area's "C" cyclists?