Akron in the morning
An early morning ride
River Styx Cemetery
Sunday morning I was on the road shortly after 4am, piloting Inna’s mom’s car. After unloading in the Copley High School parking lot, I was in the saddle 15 minutes before the official 7am start.
Continuing my string of good luck with this year’s major events, the weather was ideal: a blissful 72° after a cold front passed through overnight, leaving high, broken cloud cover that gradually burned off, but kept temperatures from getting higher than the mid-80s.
I stopped briefly at the semi-official donut stop a mere 11 miles in, then rolled on, not seeing a single rider until just before the 25-mile rest stop, when one rider suddenly came around me at the Seville town line, then raised his hands as if he’d defeated me in a sprint… before a whole pack of club riders followed.
On one painfully-rough oil & chip section, two guys passed me and got a half mile on me. But I caught them up on the next meaningful climb and left them a half mile in my wake, not to be seen again until the mile 50 lunch stop. I may not have the raw power to compete with the locals on the flat, but—coming from Pittsburgh—I was dropping them right and left on the short, steep rollers.
The next section was brutal, with no rest stops from mile 50 to 80, and it was made more discouraging by the fact that the route had changed substantially this year, and inexplicably eliminated the FREE ICE CREAM stop at the Dalton Dari-ette!
Then came the cluster. At mile 60 a couple of us reached a crossroads where the painted arrows on the road completely disagreed with the course on our GPS computers, which had been updated to reflect detours around several recently washed-out roads. We stopped in confusion while two other groups also stopped. We decided to follow the arrows, but stopped after a mile when it was clearly not taking us in the right direction. We tried to flag down the sag wagon as it drove past, but they ignored us! So we turned around and followed the GPS route, which seemed successful. Tho it added a couple miles to our day and wasted 15 minutes dicking around.
While the morning had been comfortable and easy, the clouds had burned off and we turned north into a pretty steady headwind, making the second half of the ride a hot, slow, exhausting slog. At each stop I begged for ice, thankfully never being turned away.
Up to this point, each segment felt (and actually was) substantially longer than the previous one. But the organizers’ poor rest stop spacing turned beneficial because the final two segments were a mere eight and twelve miles long! Even so, my strength depleted rapidly until I limped into the mile 88 stop, recovered briefly, then set out on the final short leg back to Copley.
I pulled into the high school with 106 miles at 2pm, exceeding a 7-hour century by exactly the amount of time we had been delayed by the poor road markings. Overall, it was a pretty good day in the saddle, but a lot more challenging than I’d expected.
This was my sixth century of 2019, which is especially rewarding because that’s as many as I completed in the entire year last season!
It was also my last big ride before a week-long break that neatly splits my year in two. When I resume, things get really busy, with potentially six more centuries in eight weeks before everything winds down and summer ends… or Dirty Dozen training begins...
But with the successful completion of the ABC century and a stellar first half of 2019, I can now enjoy a well-deserved break from events and training for events. I’m very much looking forward to it!