Having made my own “Four Rivers” century two weeks ago, the Labor Day weekend bought a “four lakes” century: the annual Pedal the Lakes tour up in Mercer County, which skirts Conneaut Lake, the Pymatuning Reservoir, Mosquito Creek Lake in Ohio, and the Shenango River Lake.
Pymatuning Reservoir dam gatehouse
Foggy Conneaut Lake @ 8:15am
Amish convention @ Pymatuning Reservoir spillway
With the holiday marking the transition from summer to fall, my previous rides in 2016 and 2018 were my last 100-mile rides of those years. There wasn’t much visible evidence of autumn this year however, which pleased me!
The day provided perfect riding weather. Skies were clear with some protective high clouds, and temps that began at a cool 54º only climbing to a pleasant 70º. I continue to marvel that I’ve had wonderful weather for every one of my rides this year with firm calendar dates: none of last year’s inescapable rain.
There weren’t a lot of highlights to go over—just a whole lot of farmland—but a few memories stand out: brownies at the first rest stop, on the shore of a very foggy Conneaut Lake; a mysterious gathering of Amish families at the spillway for the Pymatuning Reservoir.
The “lunch” stop is always a favorite, in an attractive little farm/barnyard-turned winery, with delicious catered pizza! I downed a slice of ’roni and another of sassage (sic) while chatting with some local riders.
After riding west into Ohio to the 60-mile rest stop near Mosquito Creek Lake, I was concerned about turning back east into a headwind, but that was nothing in comparison to the horrible chipseal roads, especially the 8-mile stretch of Bradley Brownlee Road, which every rider complained about at the 80-mile stop.
Thanks to the cool weather and being at peak form, I didn’t find myself suffering very much, which made even the final 20 miles of riding a joy. With another week of healing, my achilles was slightly improved, and reliable except for hard out-of-the-saddle efforts.
I ticked over 100 miles in a surprising 6h44m, then rolled back into Greenville feeling very strong to collect the chocolate milk they stock at the finish. In an elapsed time of 6h52m, I shaved a surprising 23m off the pace I logged in 2016 and 2018.
That completed my sixth century in six weeks, and eighth in ten weeks. It was my twelfth century of 2019, which is double what I did in 2018 and 2017. Putting that another way, I’ve done as many centuries this year as I did in the previous two years combined! And so far as I can tell, it’s my 85th lifetime century.
I enjoy the Pedal the Lakes ride for several reasons. It’s inexpensive, and the flat terrain is an invigorating relief from southwestern Pennsylvania's usual punishing hills. By Labor Day, the weather is just starting to cool off, providing ideal riding conditions, and an opportunity to look back fondly on the memorable rides of the high season. At the end of summer I'm still at peak fitness, but don’t feel any pressure to push myself harder than is comfortable.
As the last organized century of most years, Pedal the Lakes is a transition point, where I can enjoy being in top form, allowing myself to take it easy as I begin the de-training phase of the cycling year.
And so it would be now, except I don’t think we’re quite done yet...