I arrived early for the Summer Solstice ride, maybe around 4:45. I did not want to miss the 5:30 roll out of the weak, infirmed, slow and others who wanted an alternative from the hammer pace at 6:00pm. It was hot, humid and very windy. Already there were Grand Poobah preparing for a warm-up ride, Dennis, Tuna's car but no Tuna, Group Brawler, Jeff S and a couple of others. I noted the tape on my handlebar was beginning to unravel so I entered Shades Restaurant to beg for a strip of tape. Entering the seating area, much to my surprise, there was Flyin Tuna, wolfing down a huge order of nachos. So that you have the proper image in your mind of this scene, imagine a ravenous bear, emerging from winter hibernation, finding a rabbit sitting in front of the bear's den with a bottle of steak sauce sitting beside it
It was not difficult to recruit a nice working group for the 5:30 start. Dennis, Cindy, Kevin H and Nathan were early volunteers and soon we had Poobah, Ted M, Kenda's Dave and Paul. Also caught Nathan wearing yet another wild pair of shoes.
I failed to convey the ride rules to the entire group, the most important rule being we start at 5:30 so we can ride at an easier pace and keep the group together. Poobah and Ted smoked us out Waterloo and we dropped the Kendaites and at some point Jeremy and Tall Dude had latched on and they too were gone. Even Flyin Tuna was under pressure so I began whining about the purpose of the 5:30 start but to no avail. Out Rock Mill we went and looking back, I saw Tuna, Nathan and two others had dropped back so to show solidarity to the true believers of the 5:30 start concept, I dropped back with them. We reached the intersection of Royalton and there came Kevin H via Royalton. Apparently he got stuck at the light in Canal and by heading out Amanda Northern, had cut about .20 miles from the route and was able to catch. We rolled into Amanda with a 19.7 average, not bad considering the wind and took a break to refuel. TO BE CLEAR, IT WAS ONLY THEN THAT I DISCOVERED THE KENDAITES HAD DROPPED BECAUSE HAD I KNOWN I MOST CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE FALLEN BACK TO SUPPORT. TRUST ME.
From there, we stayed on the traditional route, up Revenge, down Christmas Rock (where Jamie later crashed into a culvert) out Stoney Hill, Westfall and then in via Cedar Hill. Note prior to the start of Revenge, Kevin and I hung back with Tuna because we have seen movies about what happens to single women on red neck roads and later, as we neared the prison, we rode with Poobah because we have seen movies about what happens to lonely men outside prisons. We finished with a 19mph average and afterwards, the competitive side of me regretted having made efforts to slow the group and keep everyone together. Considering the group's potential, we could have ramped things up considerably but then, that would have violated the spirit of the 5:30 start. Soon, Jamie came coasting in with Steve O, Euro racer Patrick, Randy Brown and 2 others. Da Boss, with another marathon run this weekend was a no show and Mark C was somewhere on the drive from Florida. Pre ride, Jamie had guessed the pace would be moderate until Revenge and he was correct. I think their average was an even 21mph and we all had 2500' of climbing on the 53 mile route. We finished in 2:52, Jamie's group finished roughly 2:30 I think. I know the group as a whole and especially at the top end is riding much faster then 5-10 years ago when an under 3 hour summer solstice ride would have been stellar. Now, it's achievable even with one member of the group doing everything to put the brakes on.