Can't blame you if you anticipated a rainy Thursday New Albany ride, the signs were all there and at 4:30, weather.com had the ominous red bracket around the 6:00-8:00pm slot for severe weather. Over time I have come to appreciate weather.com forecasting sucks so it was no surprise that at New Albany, the air seemed to lack the humidity needed to generate the storms. Someone said they had talked to someone who said a large green blob was headed our way but those with the iphones showed no such activity so I reluctantly withdrew my bike from the car and discovered I had a flat. Someone suggested that was an omen.
Light turnout of course which is too bad because whether my comments about the Canal "A's" being analogous to the Milwaukee Brewers had anything to do with it or not, Canal's top twosome, Mark Clingan (Canal C) and Steve Oxley (Canal O) showed up. They claimed they had already discussed coming before reading the perceived insult but that is one strange coincidence. Anyway, I was disappointed when none of the upper echelon "A's" showed up, no John Morgan, no Logan, no Marty, no Dave C, no Rich Lewis, neither of the Trek dudes, no John Gorilla, no red head dude, no Tim T, no Trek Ron, no Muscle dude, mostly just schleps like me and Canal O & S already know what it's like to beat me like a rented mule.
Forty people finally showed up and around 18-20 rolled out in the "A" group when suddenly, Dave Chesrown came rolling in so at least there was one strong A to go with Jeff S, Paul Stock, Canal O & C, Jon Sada, Lisa, Savage Hill Rick, Terry and some anonymous other guys. Jeff set an up tempo pace out #161 and after the Beech intersection, Canal C took a turn. You know the sound the peloton makes when everyone is turning the pedals at the same rpm and there is a kind of pleasant humming sound? Then, this harmonious moment is upset by the sound of the buzzing of someone ramping up the rpm and first we were passed on the left then a buzz from the right and then we were swarmed and a pack of 4-5 gapped Canal C and I couldn't help but yell, "I told you so."
Canal O & C worked feverishly to catch back on and after a couple of miles, most of us regrouped but there were a few casualties and our group was somewhat reduced. A long light at #310 allowed others to jump back in and with the change of light, something extraordinary happened, instead of turning left to head down Jersey Mill, we continued straight. Woohoo, a new route but there is a downside to this, no one had bothered to look at the map so Jeff and I were the only ones who knew the route. We made a right on Watkins and hit that modest hill with fury and things got broken up with Dave C and a Trek guy gapping us but they didn't know where to go and slowed. I was still hanging in there when we reached Hollow, making a left and then a right on York, crossing #16 and approached Beecher. A couple of us screamed "left" but the front 5-6 just kept going straight. We cruised east on Beecher, allowing the lost to catch us and eventually hit Gale, making a left and then a right on Granview and eventually rolling into Granville. I coasted alongside Canal O & C and opined the best evidence this was not a normally paced "A" group 1) I was still there and 2) our average was only 22.4, down by 2mph compared to where we would normally be.
We headed out Raccoon Valley Road but upon reaching Hardscrabble, the 11-12 still in our group turned right, I stayed straight so at mile 25 with a paltry 22.5 avg I soloed in. The "A" group headed up the multi-ramped road, crossing onto Concorde, into Johnstown and down Caswell and then in. They finished with 46 miles and a 22.2mph average. The heavy hitters from Canal hung in there all the way but so too did most of the others. The Milwaukee twosome were pretty smug after the ride and singled me out for a couple of choice insults (I thought a Pastor was supposed to be above this?). Probably the best analogy is the Milwaukee Brewers go into Yankee Stadium for a game but the Yankees sit their stars and bring up a rookie from the minors to pitch. Milwaukee wins the game and then brags about it. Maybe there will be a second game soon.