What the group lacked in quantity it made up for with quality. Jeff S, SoupDave, Dennis and I rolled out of the parking lot at 4:55, wanting to get a small head start on a 40 mile route with official sunset at 7:03pm. We had hoped Kevin H and Tuna would make it but it's a long drive for Kevin and I think Tuna gets scared off these things because of concerns about holding the group back, which is, of course, irrational.
Because a smallish group was expected, I put together a route that had a few dicey spots to which one would not want to expose a typical large COP Thursday crowd of various riding abilities. We headed out old 161, making a right on Babbitt and worked our way over to Cable and then up Alward, before going out Hollow and after that long stretch, making a right on York and crossing a very busy Rt. #16. We got on to Deeds and made a left at Gale and approached the route split where we could go right on Granview to make 40 miles or go straight for a shorter 34 mile option. We paused (in front of my house but no one noticed the pink flamingos, car on cement block or various other porcelain figurines that populate the front yard) and briefly contemplated what to do. With the wind coming out of the west, we turned to the Little Diesel and waited for his thought since the burden of pulling us would fall on him. Jeff grunted a, "Let's go that a way" and we embarked on the 40 mile option.
We flew down Granview to Silver, making a right and quick left to bring us back onto #16 where we rode the berm, crossing the on-ramp and over the bridge, into Granville. At the light, I suggested to Jeff that if he needed help at the front during the long ride in, I would be the 1/4 mile fill-in, Dave the 1/2 miler and Dennis the 3/4 mile man. Instead of making a right onto Raccoon Valley Road, we stayed straight onto the new bypass, Moots. Mostly flat with one longish hill and where we discovered Dave, having hit his peak last week and failed to get in a good ride this past weekend, has begun the off-season decline. We hit #37, briefly going south before making a right onto the other new bypass, an outreach of old 161 signed as Worthington Road. Not a good stretch of road with the wind coming still strong out of the west/northwest but as long as I stayed behind Jeff, I didn't notice too much.
161 is closed after 310 but earlier I had scouted the road closure and discovered bikes could get across, and we did without incident and continued on to the parking lot, arriving at exactly 7:02 with 40.5 miles and a 20.1 average. Discovered two other cars I recognized from past rides and the maps I left on the windshield were gone so others had ridden but started later than we did. OK, probably will try this next week on Tuesday if some of the Fairfield boys/girls can make it. Sounds like Dennis and Jeff are game.