Escaped To, Then Pedaled
In June I Escaped To The Lake, but Saturday I Pedaled The Lakes.
Actually, the Mercer County Trails Association’s Pedal the Lakes century has nothing to do with BikeMS’s Escape to the Lake charity ride, other than the vaguely-related names and about half a mile of Harmonsburg Road in Linesville… And the fact that I participated in both rides this year.
God Light on Tanner Road
All the cool kids hang out at the spillway
I rode the small-town Pedal the Lakes in 2016 as reported here, but skipped it last year due to a showery forecast and the organizers’ refusal to provide a GPS cue sheet. This year’s forecast was almost ideal, and they not only provided a GPS track, but updated it twice during the week leading up to the event to account for detours around last-minute road closures. Well done!
Saturday at 5:20am I hopped into the car for the quiet 100-mile drive to the start in Greenville PA. After checking in and changing into my cycling kit, I rolled out promptly at 7:05am.
It was a clear and beautiful morning, with a damp mist hovering in the valleys and refreshing temps in the high 50s to low 60s. I rode easily through the rolling Pennsylvania farm country, enjoying an unnoticed tailwind for the first 20 miles.
That breeze became more noticeable after we circled Conneaut Lake, crossed the Pymatuning Reservoir spillway, and turned south into a headwind. Although I was still making good time, it was a bit of a slog getting to the second rest stop at mile 42, hosted by the Lago Winery in Jamestown.
There I enjoyed two rejuvenating and delicious slices of pepperoni pizza and half a blueberry cake donut. I (and a couple other riders) responded enthusiastically when one of the older volunteers asked if any of us were using that newfangled GPS thingy they’d provided. I also got to chat with fellow Pittsburgh randonneur Jim Logan before we each headed off separately.
Five miles down the road, I crossed the border into Ohio. Temps had cracked 80 degrees, and my progress was incrementally slowed by Ohio’s typically unpleasant (but cheap!) oil & chip road surface. I didn’t see another rider until I pulled into the next rest stop at mile 62. When it provided neither ice nor shade, I chose to press on, despite my growing fatigue.
After another segment without encountering another rider, I reached the 81-mile stop after noon. Again there was no ice to be had, although I surreptitiously fished a small handful out of the Gatorade jug.
Setting out on the final segment, I crossed back into Pennsylvania and tiredly crawled over the final lumps back to Greenville. I finished with 101 miles at 2:20pm, matching the 7:15 clock time from my 2016 ride, despite riding four fewer miles. Among the supplies at the finish was cold chocolate milk, which I downed very gratefully.
That completed my second century in six days, and my sixth century of 2018, which ties the number I completed last year, in 2017.
Overall, it was a beautiful day to get out and enjoy the rolling Pennsylvania farmland. Although it grew hot and I suffered a lot of fatigue, it was nice to get the miles in, and it makes 2018 feel like less of a wasted year. It was a fitting way to bid farewell to August, and to kick off the more relaxed and pleasant autumn cycling season.