Eve was a lonely, female as none of the usual female suspects showed up for Saturday’s Canal Winchester ride.. No, Sarge, no Flyin Tuna, no Canal Susan, no Kenda Janet no Hot Mama, not even a cold mama….…just Jeff S, Pastor Mark, Steve O , Mark R, Tim F, Ross, Bob Allen and Wily Veteran Todd. Even Todd had to be coaxed to join us as initially, even with electrically heated shoes, he was put off by the 28 degree start temperature.
The closing of the Rushville Coffee House caused Bob to opt for last Sunday’s hilly route down to Stoutesville. We started out Winchester, drafting behind Eve at a pace with which I was satisfied but soon Pastor Mark, Jeff and Steve jumped around and so too did Mark R, Ross and Tim and then after turning onto the hills on Amanda Northern, things settled out to a group of Pastor Mark, Jeff, Steve, Todd and I. My multiple layers of clothing, perfect for a medium paced winter ride, were soon yielding buckets of perspiration for the high intensity pace Steve O was setting and I volunteered my plan to drop back. Except, no one was back there and I spent a lonely several miles between Steve’s group and the others I could not see. Turning left on Royalton, I still had Steve and gang in sight and after topping out at Rock Mill & Royalton I was surprised to find them waiting for me—what a great bunch of guys! I decided to hang with them and soon we were cruising through the tough route with Steve, curiously, jumping out of our pack midway through each climb to claim fictitious KOM points. Eventually, I commented how impressed I was with his demonstration of summiteering but noted the rest of us, as worker bees, contributed to his success. Pastor Mark, aware I had not yet taken a pull, observed I was more like larvae rather than an actual adult bee. Very funny but also very true. Towards the end of the outbound route I took a decent pull up a long hill, turning things over to Todd who hammered for a mile and then Steve took over for the balance of the ride to the Shell station in Stoutesville. By then we had 34 miles and 2400’ of climbing.
We walked into the market to find Mark R, Eve, Ross and Tim preparing to leave but Mark R was talked into staying behind to join us. The usual verbal jabs were thrown around and I noted how life someday will really suck when age prevents participation in this fun group of cut throats whose competitive zeal is only modestly muted by the off-season. We enjoyed a wind aided return but got split up and eventually Todd, Pastor Mark and I reached the base of Cedar Hill. Todd pulled up the first ramp and rotated back, leaving me to pull. I’m no dummy, well alright, but smart enough to recognize city sign sprinting 101 tactics and calculated Todd expected me to pull for 1/8 of a mile, then Mark would put in a monster pull and Todd would swoop around for the sign sprint win at the end. However, I was feeling good and pulled all the way to within 100 yards where, predictably, Todd took the Lithopolis sprint. I shockingly continued to pull all the way into Canal where Todd and Mark gifted me the win there. We finished with 55 miles, 3300’ of climbing and temperatures for most of the ride in the 40's and finishing in the low 50's. Great day for a ride and so too was Sunday but with a nasty SW wind. Still, a smallish group of 14 showed up including Dennis, Jeff S, Trek Echelon guy, Savage Hill guy, Canal Susan, Dentist Brad, Tim F, Bob A, Donna, Rick from Cyclist Connection, Mark R and a couple of others, including.....
.....a guy who spent the 30 minutes leading up to the ride start warming up on a trainer. Now, that's serious preparation. We headed directly into the wind via Winchester, jogging onto 188, a quick right and then a left on Stoutesville-Oakland Pike back to Stoutesville, where I have spent more cash at that Shell station than any other place in the last few weeks. Although the route had options for 45, 55 and 65 miles, a large group of us took the 45 mile direct route back. 46 miles, 2000' of climbing and yet again, a brilliantly sunny day with a start temperature at 52 degrees and an end temperature close to 60!