Steve O mentioned that Mark C was planning a ride out of his church and of course, with the COP ride a scheduled bike path event out of London, all I needed to leap at promoting an alternative for those of you wanting a hard ride through parts of Hocking Hills. As I think I have documented recently, Mark C has spent gigantic chunks of time running or cycling while burning calories and winning his bet with Steve O, to get below 165 by March 1. Therefore, imagine my surprise when on Friday, Mark C said he did not have "time" to come up with maps but if I wanted, he would call me with turn-by-turn directions. Subsequently, he gave me the directions and I produced maps that mostly faithfully recreated his intended route. As it turns out, the reason Mark could not make maps for his route is because he went trail running from Old Man's Cave to Ash Cave and back. Such is the life of a full time weight loss specialist. It would be appropriate if Mark's nickname was Jillian or maybe Jack Lalane given Mark's age.
Despite the cold start of 33 degrees at 10:00am, there were 20 of us at the start, including Dan Farley, Dustin, Younger Phenom Nic and dad, Ginger, Corvair, Flyin Tuna, Steve O, Mark C, Jeff S, Grand Poobah, Recumbent Dude, Dean, tri guy Tom, Fred, Engineer Mitch, March Mark, Kenda Janet, Trevor and the weakest of the weak, me. We headed out on a classic route that started with a right on Coonpath, left on Carroll Southern, onto Lamb....eventually Hamburg, Christmas Rock, Blue Valley, right on Old Logan and after 26 miles, rolled into the refurbished gas station on Route 33 and Clear Creek. Here, Grand Poobah spotted a dropped penny and dove to be the first to pick it up. Moths fly out of that guy's wallet during the rare instances when it is opened.
We headed west on Clear Creek and soon came to Starner, made famous mostly because Kenda Janet won the hill climb challenge and a $50 gift certificate a couple of years ago but to a lesser extent because this is where Lance Armstrong finally dropped his pursuers during his only appearance at Pelotonia. It also happened to be where the strong were to make the Starner turn while the weak were to take the short cut, a 57 mile option. I have a grossly undeserved reputation for taking short cuts and the few times I have taken one, have been subjected to harsh comments. Showing much more class than my critics, as I turned to take the long route as usual, refrained from voicing much other than an occasional shout of "losers" and "shortcutters" as 11 took the road too frequently traveled and the strong took the road less traveled (sorry Robert Frost).
I was surprised that 9 of us took the long route, including a fast improving Ginger, Steve, Mark C, March Mark, Grand Poobah, Trevor (who probably should have stuck with the shorter route as he was gassed), Dan, Jeff S and me. What followed was a route that produced astonishing views as we got onto Cantwell Cliffs Road, state routes of various numbers, Thompson Ridge Road and finally, into Laurelville, where we stopped for refueling at mile 49. This also happened to be where the route turned north and we would thereafter enjoy a great tailwind. In time, we reached Stoutsville and then FINALLY, rolled into the church with 85 miles, 4800" of climbing and a 16.7mph average. Sounds like there will be a ride out of New Albany at 10:00am on Sunday and another is planned for Wednesday, when temps are expected to exceed 70!!!! Don't forget to reset your clocks tonight.