Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ashland-Mohican 300k - The Saga Continues...

Indeed, the Rando gods were keeping things interesting for us. Again, riders traded "travel safe" farewells.  Within one mile of leaving the control, we turned onto Hill Street. To say that Hill Street contained a hill would be a misnomer. For a good while after this control, I felt quite ill. I think it was just the combination of a head cold and continued exposure to the cold weather was just wearing on me. Bill was able to keep me in good spirits. It was also becoming a frequent habit to get to the top of the hill, stop, clear my glasses and continue. Bill was also having a couple bouts with cramping so he started taking Endurolytes. Halfway through this stretch we were talking a lot less because it was loud due to the wind and rain, the roads had a lot of cars and even though we both had fenders - the water was jet spraying pretty far back.

We eventually arrived at control 4 in Loudonville. By now, we had been through Ashland, Medina, Coshocton, Wayne and Holmes counties. After a while, it just all becomes alphabet soup. My GPS stated in was low on battery power. Prior to leaving the control, I hooked my portable AA charger to it; good thing I just put brand new batteries in it the night before. Bill took my queue sheet to put in his handlebar bag map pocket (his was yet another casualty due to the rain). If the GPS croaked, we could fall back on the queue sheet exclusively. When getting our control cards signed, the female cashier asked "Why in the world would you decide to ride today"? I replied "Sometimes we are just given dates, and it's up to us to show up or not. We decided to show up and make the best of it". The lady replied: "You poor souls. You keep warm and travel safe ok"?

Just prior to leaving, Toshiyuki and crew arrived. Just to make sure the Rando gods still loved us, Bill asked again "Are we done with the hills now"? Toshiyuki with a grin said "No. There is a pretty nice climb out of Mohican coming. Big hill". Everyone traded the traditional "travel safe" which applied even more now due to the continued rain, slick roads and the remaining day light was rapidly disappearing.

My AA battery charger was totally geeking out my Garmin. It was turning off and on non-stop, so I put the charger away. We turned onto State Rt 97 and found the "big hill". It wasn't so steep that the lungs were bursting, but it was large and steep enough to just make things drag out even longer. We arrived at the information control which was Pleasant Hill dam. Instead of trying to get our brevet cards out and take a chance getting cold again, we both agreed to memorize the answer and promptly moved along. It was about this time that the rain actually stopped and we remained dry for the remainder of the day. The temp also was just starting to go up a little as well. Remind you, this was about 8 PM.

We made a quick turn through Perrysville in which a guy yelling out of a jeep said "Hey! Hey, I need to talk to you"!!! I stopped and turned around to see who was talking and was preparing myself mentally for something bad. Normally, when I hear someone yelling out of an automobile, I generally just keep moving and try to avoid any possible conflict.
Driver: "Is there a bike marathon going on or something"?
Jonny Rando:  "There is a group of us doing a 188 miles. We will end up by 250 and 71".
Driver: "Holy shit. I saw a group of guys coming out of Mohican".
Jonny Rando: "Yeah, that's our group too"!
Driver "Wow, I never see people riding up that particular road. You guys are crazy! Good luck and be careful ok"!
Jonny Rando: "Roger that, have a good night".

With my GPS unit dangerously close to completely dying, I would get to the next turn as soon as possible to keep us on the correct path. Bill was keeping track of what road we were currently on incase the GPS died and we had to rely on the odometer. At this time, the sun was long gone and there was no moon or star light with the cloud coverage. I counted at least 5 frogs I ran over. It was impossible to dodge them all - they were simply everywhere in the Mohican area and they appeared mesmerized by our headlights.

At one point, Bill slipped off the road and went into a ditch. Bill must be made of granite, because he quickly popped up without a scratch on himself. The bike and it's zip tied fender was also in good shape. There were two times that we took a wrong turn while the GPS was shutting it self off. I could get it back on just long enough to realize we took a wrong turn, prompted by a quick "what the F$&#!", we quickly backtracked. In total, we did an extra 3/4 mile in the last stretch which wasn't bad considering. We finished at 10:02 PM. While getting our card time stamped, the lady at the Motel 8 assured us that our entire group was completely mental and that we should all have our heads examined.
We rode to the back of the motel to where Bob's room was. We had been instructed to slide our cards into a weatherproof envelope that was taped to the door and to sign a sheet so that Bob would be aware of who arrived back safely since the weather was going to be bad. The envelope and sheet was missing?!?! What the hell?!?! I look into the window and what do I see? Bob is watching TV and drinking Yuengling. Upon intensive interrogation, Bob stated that his common sense overtook his desire to ride in the cold rain. At least someone in the group was thinking correctly. Since Bob was back, it was possible to take a shower prior to heading home. It felt great since I smelled and looked like utter death. Bill and I both headed home vs. staying over night at the hotel. How good is Bill's endurance? After 16 hours on the bike, he was driving home to Fort Wayne which was just over a 3 hour drive.

At the end of the day, 12 of the riders ended up completing the brevet.

Post ride thoughts:
  1. Despite not being an overly impressive time, one has to consider the weather, terrain, dangerous road conditions and the fact that we both had pretty rough periods in which we didn't feel great. It was fun to ride with the likes of Bill and other fine randos with whom we kept bumping into throughout the day\night at the controls.
  2. It would have been impossible to ride a three wheel recumbent on this route due to the condition of the roads in Amish country. I'll have to use the road bike to finish this series since the remaining rides build off this route.
  3. Dare I say, the entire day there wasn't a single bad driver or rude person and the Amish are insanely polite.

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