Now we arrive at Saturday morning and COP's Fall HOOT ride. Todd Lee, aka Grand Poobah, the dean of central Ohio cycling, was brought out of retirement to create a new route, map and mark the roads. Given all his experience, coupled with all the "constructive" criticism doled out (maybe heaped) to us ride leaders over the last several years, we were all expecting a perfect ride.
As I was standing in line to sign in, a woman asked if the route was marked. Poobah pointed to the ground and I looked, but saw nothing but asphalt. I stood to the side, saw nothing, dropped to all fours and yes, there was a dark green mark. Hmmmm, naturally I assumed the best and concluded Poobah, wanted to challenge us. After a season of following road markings that contrast starkly with black pavement, Poobah used a very dark green paint that blended in nicely with the road. Very creative I thought but don't think others shared my optimistic conclusion.
Around 15 of us rolled out, including Steve O, Adam, Ricky G, Tri-Andrew, Flyin Tuna, Kenda Janet & Paul, Jeff S, Michele friend of Andrew, Mark & Karen Rossi, Dan, etc... Soon, Flyin Tuna flatted and our group split between those that pretended they did not hear the shout of "Mechanical", those that did hear it and were too close to pretend we did not hear the shout and those who are always looking for a reason to take a break and so gladly stopped. Immediately, Tuna assumed the helpless woman role, fumbling with the tire levers, appearing not to know how to remove the wheel from the frame, etc... so Andrew intervened and did all the work until, I jumped in and.....
.....pumped up the new tube. My main concern was getting the psi high enough so that it could withstand the pressure to which it was about to be subjected. At 150psi I was too exhausted to continue and hoped the tire would hold. During the down time, many of us were scanning the map and I commented, "Nice map" to no one in particular. Karen R noted it would have been helpful if the road names were on the map. Hmmmmm, I concluded Poobah had thrown another challenge at us by giving us a map with a highlighted route but no road names. Probably he thought we knew the area so well, road names were not needed or it would promote on the run, group discussion and decision making. I don't think too many shared my opinion.
We rolled in to Bremen and peered into a restaurant, seeing the Kendas and others sitting around tables but decided we'd stop at the gas station market instead. Here, Andrew's friend Michele pulled out a peanut butter and jelly mix stuffed in to a hot dog bun. Great idea! The extra bread would protect the contents and not be that smashed goo that Janet pulls from her pocket.
Leaving Bremen, we got on to a flatish road through a valley and enjoyed that a lot. Soon, all the hills the route had avoided could no longer be avoided and we got onto the Bauman climb and others before finishing with 67 miles and 3000' of climbing. Nice route and I for one appreciated Poobah's effort at mixing up the usual routine of huge well marked maps and bright road markings. However, the best part of the day was discovering that the advertised 100 mile route had been reduced to 67. It don't get no better than that.