And so it begins again, another start to a cycling season with the first group ride out of Cyclist Connection on Saturday. We gathered under cloudy skies, wet roads and an unusually moderate temperature for any day in January.
Grand Poobah was so excited to renew friendships that he hugged first all the women in the parking lot and then....
....began working on all of the men, including Lincoln. Yes, Ryan Roe, after watching the movie "Lincoln" was so inspired that he began growing a beard. He bought himself a stovepipe hat, long coat and when not wearing cycling gear, could double for Abraham. The physical similarities are remarkable and Ryan says he is joining a Civil War re-enactment group.
There were 30+ at the start and it had the feel of a reunion as people renewed cycling friendships. Brad the Dentist, David Smith (winner of last year's Granville Climbing Challenge), Silent Dave, Jeff S, Kenda Janet and Kenda Dave, Flyin Tuna, aka Honey Boo Boo, Steve O, Dustin, Eric the Dispatch Photographer, Chuck L, Beth, Engineer Mitch, the Rossi tandem, Mark C, Poobah, Brent, Pete, etc....
We shoved off on a 60 mile route to/from Somerset. The pace was friendly at the start but of course, the usual suspects went to the front and began to pick up the pace. I, like probably most, wonder how I rank with my peers on the fitness scale after so many weeks off the bike. Apparently the month hiking in AZ was good cross training and I held up OK. The group was whittled down to 15, then 12, then 9, we hit some hills a few miles from Somerset and Pete (on the left) got away followed by Dustin (on the right) with me drafting behind him and then Eric (middle) and others. Dustin flatted and then I got passed by Eric before we reached the gas station.
Soon, Poobah arrived after giving up the chase on the way in. His two weeks spent climbing the sand dune in central Florida has given him a leg up on most of us, coming in 4th. Todd was nice enough to give me one of his training routes from FL and I'll be down there this weekend for a few days prior to working a golf trade show.
Although a few people had taken the short route to Thornville the Kendas made it to Somerset but soon whipped out the map, plotting a short-cut. Alas, the shortest way back was to follow the route. All of us were a mess with mud splatted jerseys and bottoms but the air was drying and the way back we found the roads to be almost dry.
Mark C, with his road bike in the shop, had to ride this mountain bike with slicks. The extra weight didn't seem to slow him much, suggesting he is in great shape once the road bike returns. Steve O also hobbled his performance by riding his cross bike but he too seems close to midseason form.
I was beat and chose to ride back with a group that shared my interest in easing up a little. Word circulated at some point that Flyin Tuna had stopped for a mechanical so Mitch and Jeff turned around to see if they could help, finding her finishing a flat fix and escorted her back to Canal.
Mark C did most of the work on the way back and eventually we overtook......what's this.....Dustin???? Yes and so I asked him of Poobah was still in the front group. His reply, "It's bad enough that you caught me but asking if Todd is ahead of me is too much!" But, he was and at the end, I yelled to Dustin to practice up before he comes back out to ride with us. Yuk, yuk. Anyway, finished with 60 miles and an average just north of 18mph. It was great to get out, see everybody and find out how much our fitness level has deteriorated.