Perhaps the lightest turnout of the year, with only 40 at the start. For the middle of July, could not expect a nicer evening with a start temp around 80, light cloud cover, low wind, ok, that humidity was up there but still, ideal conditions. I spent the time leading up to the start to try to organize a strong B group of 6-8 who would work together, average 20+mph and ride the entire 61 miles. I was turned down cold by everyone but I was especially disheartened by Poobah's reaction. This former champion, once known as the Wapakoneta Stallion (born in that Ohio village), is but a shadow of his former self and told me he's already done lots of ambitious rides. To that I replied, "Yeah but that was 20 years ago. What have you done lately?"
Good B turnout of Poobah, these two, Kevin H making the long drive from the Canal area, Mark R, Farmer Mike, John Sada, David Smith, Astana Dennis, Tri-Mike, Retro George, Denver Dan, Mark V, Nathan, etc... Quite a bit of excitement out on the road with the B group, more on that later.
Shanon alerted the group that water was available at the end of my driveway at mile 30. I confirmed this and told all the property was easy to locate because there are pink flamingos and knomes in the front yard, scattered among two old cars sitting on cinder blocks.
Disappointed with my failure to organize a strong B group, I headed out with the A group, comprised of Rich Lewis, Marty, Dave C, Shanon, Euro Patrick, Muscle Dude, Tym T, Gus & Peggy, Ron, Jon Morgan, Kyle W, Doug M, Terry & others, about 20 of us. I carefully scanned the crowd for the purpose of calculating who I should not place myself behind because if they drop, covering the gap takes too much of my limited energy. I found only one person that may pose a problem and slotted in front of him.
We headed way north, via Green Cook, all the way to Duncan Plains and along the way, a couple of people were dropped but I was still in good shape and spent the time analyzing the group. Simplistic yes but there is a small group of guys who continuously rotate off the front, stay at the front and who are there at the end. There is a medium group of guys who hang in the back with me and who also are there at the end and then there are the hangeroners like me who are not at the end. Brilliant analysis, no? Oh, then there is a guy like Euro Patrick who takes pulls at the front, drifts back and then just rides out of the slipstream before riding back to the front, having not really taken a break. He's one of those guys who I suspect is probably stronger than any in the group but seems content to hang with the group.
We got on to Edwards where Gus had a flat. I got caught out but Patrick pulled me back to the group. We rolled in to Johnstown, got caught at a couple of lights and rolled out via Concord. So far, the pace had been fairly high but not killer or did not seem so, so I clung to the back. Surviving the rollers along Concord, we crossed Northridge, getting on to Hardscrabble and then bombed the mostly descent down to Raccoon Valley Road, turning left. Meantime, the B group approached the sharp right turn on Hardscrabble and this description from one of the cyclists best describes what happened:
It's pretty gravelly there so the normal shouts of "GRAVEL!!!" go up. As we're making the turn a car approaches rapidly from the right (the direction we're turning). Shouts of "Car Right" go up and just as I complete the turn a cyclist (On a Bianchi - Don't know his name) goes down and slides under the side of the still moving vehicle. I am not shitting you at all. The driver broke hard and stopped before bike and cyclist were crushed.
Our average speed had taken a hit rolling through Johnstown and I don't have my Garmin set to pause when stopped yet our average was consistently above 24mph. As we approached the hill on Moots Run, now heading west, I told Ron my goose was probably cooked on this hill but about half way up the climb I still was in good shape so.....I......attacked!!!!! Well, not in the truest sense of the word but I did pass a few guys, reached the upper echelon of the group, suddenly lost all power and upon turning on to Outville, just ran out of gas....sad. So, at mile 26 and with a 24.1 avg, I soloed to the water break on Gale Road where I caught up with Ron. I endured insults from my son about why I was not with the lead group, parted with Ron who continued on the full route and limped back to the parking lot, finishing with a 21.7 avg. and 49 miles. Not sure how the front group finished but maybe some one will comment.
Check out this jaw dropping, awe inspiring route, developed by Shannon for the Thursday New Albany ride. 60, that's correct, SIXTY miles for the A route. I don't see any obvious places to refill water bottles unless it's in Johnstown at mile 11 or, the route goes by my house at mile 30 so I guess I can run a hose out our driveway to Gale Road. Feel free to stop, water will be turned on and just pull the handle. I'm on the corner of Gale & Granview on the left. I'll try to put a sign out front.