So, there I was, waiting for the Sugar Grove ride to start when the Kendaites Paul, Janet and Dave invited me to shove off with them, a couple of minutes early. Receiving this invite is roughly equivalent to an invitation to become a member at Augusta National. On the other hand, the Kendaites have a bit of a reputation for, yes shortcutting but also getting lost. I quizzed them about the route and they rattled off the first few turns and said the first was at mile 7. I believe in giving people a 12th chance so I forgot the reputation and past experiences and headed out.
Shortly after reaching the top of the first climb, we arrived at a possible turn at mile 3 and THEY TOOK THE TURN?!?!? I asked to no one in particular, that I thought the first turn was at mile 7 but no answer was forthcoming and like a typical lemming, mindlessly followed, coasting over a cliff. We reached a deep, dark hollow and each of the Kendaites had a puzzled expression on their face. I tried to be understanding but geesh, lost at mile 3? Fortunately, a tandem arrived and led us out. While the group was above riding a ridge, we exited the hollow via a long and steep climb but rejoined the main pack.
Emerging from the depths of a hollow, I found myself in the midst of a good group of usual suspects and drafted them in to New Straitsville at mile 26. Marty Sedluk, Steve O and Dustin had come and gone by the time we got there. Marty, in addition to today's 96 miles rode a grueling 115 mile route out of Utica on Sunday.
There is a good argument for doing a touch and go at stops like these but on the other hand, it's also fun to mingle with the locals and enjoy the camaraderie with Mark C, here buying his energy drink and food or....
.....stand on the sidewalk and as Flyin Tuna walks toward the fire station to use the facilities, yell, "Don't let her in, she leaves the toilet seat up." Or, as two guys later walk over, yell, "Don't let them both in at the same time!" Childish, yes, immature, yes and I was disgusted by the behavior of my fellow cyclists and record it here only because I have an obligation to report the news. Above, Tuna strides back from the rest room while the great Pathfinder trys to figure out how he is going to get out of town. Maybe Kenda Paul should instead be known as Kenda Tonto or "The Great Pathfinder" or "Lewis & Clark".
The locals, who seem to be the same people occupying the chairs in front of the market every year, looked at my map and observed the long route took us along the "rim of the world" and so....
....it did with this image not hardly the best and not the only great view on the way to Portersville via 78 and 555.
Portersville is a hopping place once a year, when those few of us willing to ride the 96 mile route descend mostly in one fell swoop. Even Poobah made the long route and with him was Kevin H, Mark C, Flyin Tuna, Nathan, Dean, Jason, Andrew C, Jimmy, Mark V, John, TriAndrew, Chuck, Jeremy and a few others. There was even a tandem doing the long route and Kevin said Poobah was cheating on the Rossi's, drafting extensively. One guy, whose name I forgot to ask, even admitted in private after glancing around to make sure no one was listening, that he has begun reading the blog. The last time that happened was last year prior to a Thursday New Albany ride and I've never seen that guy since.
Exiting Portersville, we eventually went through Moxahala before getting on Marietta Road for a long slog to the west with lots of climbing and lots of sun exposure. Poobah had basically collapsed half way up the first climb on Marietta out of Moxahala and because I had twisted his arm to stay on the long route, felt responsible so I soft pedaled and even stopped once but I never saw him and guessed he was napping out there somewhere. At Bremen, we huddled in the shade and contemplated where else we wish we were. That we maintain our sense of humor by mile 83 is a testament to how easily we can be humored. From there, it was more hills, Lutheran Church, Bauman Hill and then I tapped out, taking a left at Crawfis and down Savage in to Sugar Grove and the parking lot. I already had the "Kenda Dividend" and did not need more miles, finishing with 95 and 5800' of climbing.