The threat of rain and probably diminishing daylight, conspired to keep the turnout very light, around 22. However, Donna delivered maps that had a route that more than made up for a lack of distance with plenty of climbing and our ride was thankfully bereft of rain, just very humid. No Craig to torture us, just Steve O assuing the role of strongest cyclist with a supporting cast of Mitch, Dennis, Pastor Mark, Kevin H., Jeff S, Greg H., Amanda & others.
I rolled out with the A group and upon reaching the corner, looked back and was stunned to count only 5, Steve, Mitch, Dennis, Jeff S and I. For sure, I was a pilgrim mixed in with a gang of cutthroats. Probably the other usual A’s were still nursing soreness from KCBC or taking it easy in anticipation of this weekend’s fun on CFC and thus making a large group of B riders.
We headed out to Pickerington Road (earlier I had tried to talk Sarge into running the route counterclockwise to put off this climb to the end but no luck) and began the grind up the hills, thankfully turning left on Coonpath and enjoying the rolling terrain while drafting behind Jeff. We hit the hills on Lamb and Mt. Zion before turning right onto Royalton, all still together. Just then, my chain dropped but I was unable to coax it back on by shifting. I yelled (maybe whined) that my chain had come off and Dennis promptly went from 4th in the miniature peloton to 1st, which seemed odd and they soon disappeared over the rise. After manually guiding the chain back on, I headed up the first Royalton climb and once over the rise, was very pleasantly surprised (shocked would not be an exaggeration) to see Steve waiting for me. He tried gallantly to pull me to the group but the two tough Royalton climbs took their toll and I faded a bit but was again surprised to see the others had paused at Rockmill. Like I’ve said many times, what a great, considerate bunch of guys!
We headed west to Cedar Hill and I even pitched in with a pull or two to demonstrate my gratitude. We arrived back at the parking lot with 1400’ of climbing, 28 miles and a 20.3 average. Afterwards, Amanda tried to sneak a banana peel into my car but was caught. I must have had my back turned at some point because later I found it in the front seat. This was the next to last Canal ride and so the sun is setting on another season of suffering and good fun. I don’t know what the heck I’m going to do to fill this void.