Jeff S and Dennis. Here in the sunlight and prior to the start, Jeff looks normal. Later at the food stop at "Grandma Feyes" above Old Man's Cave, Jeff's shirt was soaked with perspiration and with the high beams on, appeared he was auditioning for a wet T-shirt contest.
The Margarita Twins. Rick on the left has been known to arrive early for a ride by spending the night before at a local pub, staying out until 2:00am and then sleeping in his car at the ride start. Steve O on the right has begun drinking heavily because he hangs out with Rick.
Nicknames are given based on circumstances but can never be given because the individual insists they be called something. In this case, Amanda O likes to be called, "Hot Mama" and while few can argue that point, I am waiting for her to do something really stupid so her official nickname can be granted. For example. many ask why Cindy B's nickname is Flyin Tuna. Cindy and her husband watch Discovery channel every night. One day, during a ride, Cindy was telling me about a Discovery show about the fishes of the sea and how fast each could swim, with the tuna being especially fast. As we crested a hill, with tears of boredom streaming down my face, Cindy picked up speed and screached, "look at me, I'm a flyin tuna!" Thus a nickname was born.
Rallying around for the start. The route attracted climbers and out of the 31 cyclists there, me, Dennis, Randy D., Jeff S and Cindy were the only ones over 150 pounds. Otherwise, everyone else had the prototypical man's head on women's body type look with guant cheeks, ribs protruding and not an ounce of fat....what was I doing here?
Woody Patrick organized the 1st annual Mark Bell Memorial Ride, starting in Lancaster on Bovine Road. Judging by the turnout, weather, route and just good people, it was a great success. Now, about the route...holy cow. I should have looked at the on-line link Woody provided of what was one of Mark Bell's favorite routes. Sure, I expected Christmas Rock, Revenge, Snortin Ridge, Jack Run and the Rock House climb but those are mere speed bumps compared to the Tourmalet-type monsters on state routes 374, 664, 56, 999, etc...
As mentioned above, the route brought out central Ohio's climbers, plus a few wannabees who just came out for the fun and workout. At the start there were 30-35 cyclists including Todd Lee, Dennis, SuperDave, Flyin Tuna, Amanda, Sarge, Retro George, Jeff S, Larry P, The Boss (just back from a vacation in PA), Steve O, 4 Jenis guys, Mitch T, Margarita Holt, Randy Drum, Lisa A, couple of Team Echeloners & others. The sun was out at the start, hot temperature and high humidity for a very hilly 70 mile ride having a 54 mile shorter option.
We rolled out Bovine, making a right on Hamburg and a left on Christmas Rock. I was content to hang in the back for a recovery-type ride day but ahead was Dennis, looking back at me with that smirk, and so I had a dig and got somewhere in the middle of the field riding with Dennis and others. We cruised along the ridge to the downhill on Revenge and then over to the Snortin Ridge climb. Pretty uneventful all the way over to and down Jack Run with Randy D pulling us along and then up to Rock House where a large group was waiting. The blue sky had been temporary and as we waited for folks to fill water bottles, I heard someone, as they checked their phone screen provided weather radar, exclaim, "Rain's coming."
A large group of us took off, with another group behind. Our group had Mitch T to keep the pace fairly high but he was not pressing things too much and we mostly stayed together until Larry P and others rode by from the 2nd group. We jumped onboard and rode hard to Conkles Hollow along 374 and after summiting a huge climb, screamed down hill and ended up at South Bloomingville with lots of empty store fronts and also having missed the short cut turn at Big Pine. Damn! Making a left on 56 we worked our way over to Ash Cave and 374, then past Cedar Falls and finally stopping, after another giant climb, at the turn-off for Old Man's Cave. Another climb brought us to Grandma Fey's store and we stopped to refuel.
As we arrived, Craig's group had just left and it looked like it was he, 2-3 Jenis, Steve O, Randy Brown, George and a couple others (I'm waiting on my spies from that front group to give me a report that I will post here later). We hung around the store and pretty much everyone decided to bypass one loop and take the direct route back to Lancaster. The climbing was taking its toll and the weather was very overcast and threatening. We were already soaked in perspiration and so as we left the store it began to rain lightly but it was a welcome relief with the rain temperature being about the same as the sweat temperature. We worked our way back over to Rock House and then to Jack Run and that infamously steep climb. My condition had been deteriorating rapidly and as we rode towards the hill, but not yet to it, I first fell off the wheel of Margarita Holt, then Lisa A and another guy and soon was last in the field. I crawled up Jack Run losing more ground to those ahead and figured my mechanical issue with the bottom bracket rubbing was contributing some extra resistance. The rain now was not pouring but steady hard with thunder but no lightning. Prior to the climb up Revenge I got off the bike and rotated the pedals backward, curious to gauge the resistance....geez, ok maybe it was contributing a lot to my demise. I limped into the parking lot and was surprised that George's friend Big Gear was right behind me, securing the last spot. 65 miles with 4950' of climbing but it sure seemed more than that.