The ownership of ride organizer rotates each week among Peggster, shown here barely in control of the surging mass of cyclists wanting to sign up, Mitch and 2-3 others. Tonight's route was a classic. Note the guy on the left in the background. He lives in Cleveland but gets down to Columbus for our ride once a month and tomorrow is in Cincinnati for a group ride. Business takes him to each city and he knows when and where to go for a ride. He was very complimentary of the route and riders.
Check this out, another Van Dessel bike made an appearance by a new guy. Too bad Da Boss was not there to compare with his model.
5 minutes prior to the start, Donna shrieked an order for everyone to gather so they began to stream toward Peggster's car. I counted 45 people, a good turnout considering the green blob approaching on radar from the west. Kevin H loves to have his picture taken while Jamie usually shirks the tremendous opportunity.
Early on, the crowd was populated by the usual crowd of Steve O, Kevin H (Polish Pony), Mark C, Jamie, Grand Poobah finally coming back to us, Jeff S, Kenda Dave (here not wearing his official team kit so this may be a violation of his contract), Dennis, Paul Stock making a rare appearance, Patrick (Euro Racing Dude), Mark on the Prince bike and made famous by the "We can do it" attack of the week before, Ted Miensky, Ryan R, Mitch, etc.. Frankly, the ranks had been kind of thin at the top the last few weeks but suddenly, arriving late were three B1 guys, Walker guy, Buckeye Planet guy, Rick the Savage Hiller and other strong looking cyclists. Uh Oh, well, I was committed to riding with the A group but began looking at the map for the short cut options.
We took the long grade on Waterloo, left on Slough and right on Sitterley. I took a turn at the front when suddenly, Walker Dude streaks by me...what the....grabbed his wheel and held on to Lithopolis Road, where I drifted back a few spots for better drafting. Walker kept the pace high to the top of the climb and I began the inevitable march toward the front for my turn again, this time behind Grand Poobah. It came to Poobah's turn and he suddenly began sprinting. I am almost certain had someone else performed that manuever, he would have received strong admonishment from Poobah. I let him go, others did not and I grabbed someone's wheel and soon we all regrouped. It was going to be that kind of night with a couple other guys attacking, covering, again and again. We had turned right on Marcy and left on Cedar Hill. The pace slackened up the first long hill and then crossed Royalton and faced the steep hills where Patrick put in an attack and things broke up dramatically. Patrick and Paul got a gap over the top and I was in good shape with Mark C, Steve, Jamie and Ryan, Some more regrouping before the final climb up to Ridge Road where at the top, there was Patrick, Paul, Mark C, Steve Ryan, Jamie and me, just the ordinary people. We headed out Ridge toward Amanda Northern and one of the B1 guys caught on with us. Soon we approached Rt. 22 at Amanda where the group paused for a car but I sprinted, bunny hopped the vehicle and raced toward the city sign, just beating Steve O.
Now the route was going to become much hillier and at this point our average was over 22mph at mile 19. Out Amanda, making a left on 22 and a right on Hamburg, where we mixed in with some of the other A's who had taken the Westfall Road short cut. Soon we approached dreaded Delmont. Clearly, a couple of the guys pushing the pace at the front had no clue of what awaited them around the corner after a long stretch on Delmont. I was guzzling water, tightening shoes, removing glasses and combing my hair to prepare. We rounded the corner and ugh, there it was. After the ride, Jamie revealed his strategy, which matched mine; start slow and preserve some power for the end. A few people slipped around me and I panicked a bit but began picking up the pace on the second ramp and caught Steve at the top, which produced the usual digging observation, "Wow, this is a shocking development". (thanks buddy). Patrick, Paul and Mark C had a gap but we got a group of nearly exhausted Steve, Ryan, Jamie and me. As if that Delmont climb was not enough, after a modest downhill, another long climb brings one out to the top at Stoney Hill. The four of us were strung out a little but Ryan and I made the mistake of not pushing on the down hill to 22, Jamie and Steve got through while we had to stop. That was that. We continued across up the other hill and turned left on Crumley and another freakin hill. By now, some regrouping was taking place and eventually, we got a good group of Ryan, Dennis, two B1 guys, the visitor from Cleveland, Mitch, Kevin H and 1-2 others.
The route continued onto Mt Zion, Lamb, Coonpath and also, it had begun raining. Oddly, I have no idea when it started I just recall getting soaked, if not from what came from above then definately from the cocktail of water and grime from below. Reaching Pickerington Road, we got more climbs, where Ryan and I battled for KOM points before reaching Waterloo Eastern and finally, after 44 tough miles, the parking lot. Our average was an even 21 with 2200' of climbing. The front group consisted only of Patrick, Steve, Mark C and Jamie (Paul Stock dropped his glasses and dropped out) with an average of 21.6. Talked to Patrick afterwards, he raced on the Virginnia Tech team and joined a Cat 1 team in Greenville, SC. He crashed in 2001 and thus ended his racing days. Still does not appear to be seriously challenged by our pace but he says he is.