I had not ridden the Tom's Trillion tour prior to today but discovered it is a great route with smooth roads (2 exceptions which weren't that bad) and good views. At the parking lot, it appeared if it were not for the contingent from Columbus, no one would have participated. In addition to our group of 12, there were 3-4 of "The Others" but not many who I could ID as being local or from Athens. Our group was comprised of Steve O, Pastor Mark, Dan Farley, Flyin Tuna, Dennis, Ryan R, Mitch the Gentle Hobbit, Jimmy, Mark/Karen Rossi, John S, Jeremy and yours truly, Also there was Mike Rea but we did not see him after the parking lot.
We shoved off at 9:00 with temps around 42 degrees and light winds out of the SE. There was a kind of significant climb in the first "inning" that brought us into Albany at mile 21. We ran into Peggster, Butch, Evie and....
Beth Hale.There were a lot of discussions about how far each of us were going and I noted that Tuna and Dennis were talking about 81 while Mark & Karen were talking about 67. I decided to arbitrate this discussion by bringing the short cutters together with the long short cutters to see if they could arrive at some mutual distance agreement. I am proud to say I helped solve the problem and it was decided that all of the short cutters would ride the 81 mile route.
Then we all left but I decided to be social and ride with the Rossi's and hung back with them while everyone took off. Frankly, I kind of thought that while we would drift back on the climbs, we would more than make up for it with that tandem smoking a downhill. Alas, Mark & Karen are not in good form yet so we never saw the group until the 81 mile cut-off. There, Tuna and Dennis were waiting and they seemed surprised I did not cut the route short but I was determined to ride the long route and bid them farewell. Please note that as soon as they left together, Tuna dropped the Rossi's (this after talking them into riding the longer short cut) and dragged Dennis with her. What's up with that?
I rode alone for awhile but rounding a corner I saw the gang off to the side fixing a flat. Surprisingly, it was Steve's thick cross tire that had picked up a nail or something similar. They all seemed surprised to see me and I asked why the lack of faith in me. Mark C replied, "We do have faith just not in you." Hmmm, one would think that after the last two weekend rides of 100 miles in 30mph winds I'd deserve better but I do have a history to overcome. Anyway, with rain forecast for 8 of the next 10 days, I feel the need to bank miles. I kept going and arrived at a store in Chester at mile 54. There I found a tack and placed it on the cement next to me and tried to convince first Mitch and then Steve to take a seat but each saw the tack.
We packed up and headed off. Someone asked Dan F to go full throttle and he put the hammer down, I think staying at the front and pulling for the entire distance. Couple of times he rode away from us on a hill and had to wait. Geez, the good news is he must weigh only 135 and there isn't any room to remove more weight while I can lose another 7-8, Mark C could probably lose another 10-12, Steve O could lose around 2 and Ryan could lose 20-25 so there is where we could close the gap on :Armstrong". After that burst of 10 miles, the aforementioned were still hanging in there but I had enough and dropped back, riding the next 10 mostly alone until rolling into Shade at mile 74. A local entertained us with stories about his motorcycle racing escapades. Most of us were looking a little fried by now as the climbing was taking its toll.
I was counting down to when the route hit the bike path at mile 94 for the final 12 flat miles. So, 20 to go to the path. I left the store a little ahead of the group but it was 6 miles before they caught up and then it was the 4 cyclists described in the previous paragraph. I had the good fortune to have ridden through some nasty climbing before they caught me and what was left was mostly rollers. We began rotating through the front and I was behind Steve at mile 90, ready for him to drop off and I was anticipating taking my first pull of the day. We were half way up a small climb and Steve was not pushing it very hard when suddenly, Mark C attacked from the back. Fatigue caused me to snap and I called him a, "You yellow-bellied Sapsucker, stop sign jumping, intersection leaper with a mom who wears combat boots!" I was surprised I had the breath to spit all that out. We caught back up and darn if I didn't find myself at the back of the five and no longer a threat to pull for several more miles.
We reached the bike path and for the first mile it was good to ride flat ground but then the monotony of the path set in and I wished we were on the open road. I fell back with a couple of mile to go and missed Steve taking the parking lot sprint win from Mark. Finished with 108 miles, 17.3 avg and 6010' of climbing. I must say, I'm glad I'm not riding in Mountains of Misery in 4 weeks. If I was, I'd be very concerned about riding a 100 mile, 10,000' climbing event after struggling on today's route. If I was riding MOM, I'd be looking to give my credentials away to someone.