You've got to enjoy the parking lot scene prior to the New Albany Thursday ride. There is a good buzz about it, the chatter, the personalities, the pre-ride tension, observing who is there but also who is not there and the impact it will have on my ride. For example, I got an early look at Thursday's route and shuddered thinking what Rich Lewis and Shannon would do to me but.....neither was at the ride so maybe I'd be able to hang. In Shannon's place as ride leader was Jon Morgan and the people swarmed his vehicle to sign in and.......
....examine the route, critique it and calculate where they would have problems. Steve O drove up from Canal and was on his cross bike. Dennis asserted I could not hang with Steve even if he were riding a trike. Funny but likely true.
Here, Billy Campbell prepares while Poobah seeks advice from Garth Prosser. Poobah: Garth, is there any hope for me? Garth: No dude, you need to take up ping pong. Garth has had multiple high finishes in the famous Leadville 100 trail ride, at least 10th in one race and maybe higher finishes as well but always a solid top 50 place.
Farmer Mike, the largest land owner in Licking County, has returned. Tonight brought out a lot of the "Petunia" cyclists. You know, the guys and gals who are never seen during the winter but come out to join us about the time petunias begin to bloom like Paul Stock, Ron, Claude, Katherine, and Mike, all making their first Thursday appearance. The usual claims are made, "Oh, I have not been riding at all", or "This is my 11th ride of the year" and then they proceed to kick our ass.
Denver Dan on the left had a couple of guys bail on joining him on the drive to TN to participate in the 3 State/3 Mountain Challenge so if you need a ride and/or hotel room for this ride, let him know.
I forgot to count but probably 50-55 cyclists and 23 rolled out with the A group, including Marty, Jon Morgan, Dave Chesrown, Garth P, Chris Grisvard, Tim Tyler, Billy Campbell, Paul Stock, Mitch Tallen, Steve O, Doug McConaha, Poobah, Katherine, Christian, Terry, Mick, Muscle Dude, Eddy, Claude, Kenda Dave, Ron, Reynoldsburg Dan...I think I got everyone, what a memory! So, we rolled out old 161 with the usual surges and pauses, reaching 310 but kept straight through all the way to Alexandria and upon arriving at the stop sign, our average was 25mph. Turning left then a quick right on Moots, someone hit the gas on the ramp and that culled the herd a bit and upon reaching the flat, we were down to 14 cyclists. Unfortunately, Paul lost a chain and Garth had a flat so we soft pedaled for a bit until Jon and I consulted each other and decided, screw them let's go! We entered Granville with a 24.4mph avg and would have been interesting what it would have been without the slow down.
Then, a left at Thresher and as you can imagine, the herd then was really thinned. About half way up I got steered into the side of a car so lost some momentum but at the top, I was still in the front 7-8 at the left turn on to Burg Street but spewing hydraulic fluid and forced to ease. Muscle Dude came around me and charged on and so too did Mitch T but I could not hold the wheels. Rode through the rollers on Burg, through the stop sign on to New Burg and then Eddy, guy wearing deep blue jersey, passed but still not the right fit for me (in other words, he was going too fast). I waited patiently and half way up the ramps, glanced back and here came Steve O and Doug M and I jumped on, riding with them out Dry Creek where Muscle Dude and Eddy had slowed to wait for us, now we had 5 and a good working group. Noted my average then was 23.4mph. Steve O had the good fortune of being motor paced after dropping off on 161 by one of the usual Thursday regulars who was driving around in his van and jumped in to help.
We stayed straight at the stop sign rather than turning left but realized our mistake and got back onto the route, got up the hill and turned left on Battee, where Steve O, rode away from us but not sure he stayed on the route thereafter. Craig, Eddy and I turned left at Hardscrabble, right at Raccoon Valley, rolled into Alexandria, out Jug and there spotted two guys ahead of us. We could not close the gap, until much later where we joined up with Paul and Mitch, then finished with 39 miles, a 22.2 avg and a surprising 1350' of elevation. The "Marty" group finished with a 23.3 average. So close but yet sooooo far for me.