Friday was RBC’s ride #362 from Victor to Naples, 73 miles with a 44 mile short cut. A combination of nice weather and Independence Day brought out a big group. At first I had planned on wearing my Sun shirt but a work email the evening before irked me so much that I changed to the blue and white Specialized shirt. Looking over the group that is assembling I see that his Wayneness has graced this ride with his presence. I ride over to chat. Wayne did the Michigan National 24 hr race. He came in 6th in his age group completing 353 miles which I think is entirely impressive. I ask Wayne how it went. Turns out he was not pleased with his performance having done 400+ miles in previous years.
Everybody is ready, everybody has signed in and Paul has given the little pre-ride ride-leader speech and we take off. Someone next to me whispers: “Wow, I thought someone would start the anthem.” And I think, yes, how come I didn’t hear the pledge, the anthem or another declaration to the land of the brave, of the free? But then, several are in stars and stripes themed outfits. In any case, we’re off and pedalling. After a few turns we’re on School Road and it looks like an accident happened further on. A car hit a deer. The deer lies on its side on the shoulder of the road still alive coughing.
About 12 miles into the ride we are on Wool House Road just after the split between the 73 and 44 mile rides. Kevin contracts a flat, pulls over. One by one we turn and regroup around him. Kevin frees the front wheel from the fork and goes to work. Paul, Wayne, Dennis and I look on giving very helpful advice. Wayne challenges Kevin to complete the repair within 30 seconds. Why 30 seconds? Because that’s the amount of time Wayne’s cell phone can record video. Kevin puts in the new tube, connects the pump. He’s leaning the wheel against his legs and so pumps towards himself, if you will, pulling on the pump handle instead of pushing. “Hey,” Dennis exclaims, “that’s the first time I see someone doing it the same way as me!”
Two club cyclists come us by, one a woman. Wayne looks over as they pass. “Who is that?” he asks, gets on his bike and rides to catch them up. “She got married two months ago!” I call after him. We poke some more fun at Wayne then Kevin is done and it’s time to ride.
When the road starts up hill and Paul together with Dennis pull onto the side road I recognize it from last Saturday’s ride. Then I had a hard time on Miller Hill. Actually that morning I never really woke up, called it a day in Bristol Springs and swung back to Canandaigua. This time the climb goes smoothly. After regrouping we go down Seneca Point Road. While steepish the decent is not so difficult but I have a hard time and don’t feel at ease. So I am a bit behind the group when we start to go up Hicks. On Route 21 on our way to Garnett Hill I work hard to stay close behind the last wheel in order to start that climb in the group instead of behind it. The first mile up Garnett Hill goes easy but Paul’s talk about showers at the top worries me a little so hold back a little. After a bent the gradient goes up to 16% and hovers between 9-13% until the right hand turn into the park. Kevin passed me just after the 16% stretch and I keep him insight. We make the loop through the park, didn’t see any showers and we’re back at the entrance. No Paul though while he is definitely ahead of us. A cell phone call to Paul, “Where are you?”, solves the mystery: he rode on to Naples.
Lunchtime at a gas station annex convenient store. I get coffee, some bars and a bottle of Gatorade (“Chocolate and caffeine, I’m all set”). We chitchat. Paul describes his family (don’t remember how the topic of children came up): “The first three were quiet, the next four were much louder.” Seven children… they don’t make women like that anymore as my colleague Nancy said when talking about her family. Paul also says that he had one gear left on Garnett. One gear left? I am not talking to that man anymore. I unscrew one of my drink bottles to refill the Gatorade level. I notice that little things are floating in the bottle. Time to run them through the dishwasher I guess but I am thirsty, still a lot of cycling to do and I pour the contents of the Gatorade bottle into it.
Paul is itching to go; he’s been here for a while after all what with not waiting for us at the top of Garnett with his one gear left. It’s of course a climb out of Naples on Route 33. I am typically a slow starter after a break and fall behind. Some miles further the group is kindly waiting for me. A little later we turn onto Mosher, another climb. Steve and I ride side by side. Ahead Paul is chatting with Kevin while the road creeps up to 10%. When it gets steeper Paul accelerates away. Steve’s response: “This is just too painful to watch…”
Next is a cool, fast plunge into Honeoye. On Allen’s Hill Road we form a pace line. This road undulates a bit but nothing that steep. My main difficulty is that I am not good at speeding up these little climbs. I manage three, four times to stay in the last wheel but I have to go near flat out to do so. The fifth time my thighs are burning and I let go of the group. We’ve done about 56 miles now. I’m quite content riding the remaining 16 miles or so in my own tempo. Music starts to play through my head. First Boudewijn de Groot. [“Hoe sterk is de eenzame fietser die kromgebogen over het stuur de wedstrijd wint? Zichzelf een weg baant?” And later: “Maar liever dat nog dan een bord voor de kop van de zakenman, daar wordt ie alleen maar slechter van.”] I know, not very original but I like the song. Later also “Aint this America” sings through my head but I don’t get any further than that one line and keep wondering who it is by (Bon Jovi, Skynard Lynard? Still don’t remember) which is followed by Neil Young moment (is his Blu-ray disk out yet?).
On Baker Road I see a cyclist ahead of me. If he’s from the club then it looks like he’s missing the left turn to Cox Road but he’s too far ahead to shout and I’m not going to chase. Then right on Parrish and nearly home. Next is, I think, Strong Road. But no, Route 14 comes first and I am very disappointed. Time for another Hammer gel! When eventually I do turn onto Strong I think: “But I know Strong Road! I like Strong Road! It’s part of one of my favorite rides, #123. Such a nice number for a ride!” On ride #123 I zip down Strong. Now a bit of the zzzipp has gone, I must admit, my legs are tired, but then is the right turn to Dryer Road already and a little later I am back at the start, Dryer Road Park.
Chat a little with Steve then pack everything up, the bike back on top of the Mini. I switch on TomTom. I more or less know the way back but it is soo nice to let you guide by a helpful piece of electronics! On to home, a little nap, a shower followed by a Peroni beer with the Mexicana pizza at Cibon’s. Yum!
The Google Earth file of the ride is here for your pleasure.