The weather in Ithaca has been spectacular in the past few days, a great excuse to get on the bicycle and ride. Today a 72 mile loop was on the calendar, taking us through Speedsville, then south of Weltonville onto SR38 up to Newark Valley. In Newark Valley the group split and those of us longing for more miles continued on Rock St to Maine, heading north to intercept SR38 once again, this time in Berkshire. Glen Rd took us back to Speedsville and familiar surroundings. The mileage was just right, the weather was just right and the company was just right.
This morning I woke up at 8am, with plenty of time to prepare for the 9am start. However, somewhat exhilarated by the 3-1 victory of the Brazilian soccer team over Argentina (in Argentina) of the previous night, I totally forgot about the FLCC ride. With yesterday's win, Brazil is officially qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and continues to be the only nation to have played in all World Cups, starting in 1930. I better not start talking about soccer. In any case, I woke up to turn the alarm clock off, puzzled by why it was even on, and went straight back to bed. At 9:06am I jumped off my bed and realized that I actually had a ride to go to, and that I was already way too late. For a moment I debated on driving to Speedsville for the shorter version of the ride, but in the end I got out of the door as quick as I could and began to chase. This was not my idea of starting a leisurely Sunday ride.
I left on an empty stomach and was not warmed up at all for the effort I was putting out. While on SR79 I debated on whether it might be faster to continue straight instead of taking a right turn onto Brooktondale Rd. I decided to stick with the cue-sheet. However, I was already going up Old 76 and hadn't seen a single FLCCer. I was hoping to catch everybody before reaching Speedsville. For a moment I was frustrated. I had ridden past the start at 9:16am, and I assumed that most had left no earlier than 9:05am. Maybe even later if Gary was there. On the other hand, the same Gary usually takes off pretty quick once the ride begins. There were no major climbs, so the group would remain pretty cohesive. Just as I passed Caroline Center I saw a cyclist around the curve. A strangler! I was filled with hope. I approached whom I believe was Anne Shapiro. I inquired about the rest of the group and to my dismay she said nobody had passed her, and that she was expecting it to happen at any moment. I was perplexed. Had the group taken a different route? After a couple of minutes riding with Anne, I saw a contingent of riders in my rear-view mirror. I had gotten ahead of the group! They decided to take Ellis Hollow to avoid riding on SR79. Whew! I was happy to be part of the ride. It was a smaller group than I would have expected on such a beautiful day, comprised of Stewart Wolsh, Sam Kolins, Eileen Penner, Ruth Sherman, Wayne Gottlieb, Mike Richter, Jim (yellow jersey and old-school Camelbak) and Eric from Waverly, whom I had seen for the first time on a FLCC ride.
We soon were in Speedsville, where we met another first-timer, whose name I did not catch. She was not quite ready to roll, so some of us decided to stop at the nearby gas station to use the bathroom. While there I also bought some Gatorade and an ice cream cone for breakfast. By the time I got back on my bike it became apparent that I would not be able to negotiate a few extra minutes to eat my ice cream. Eating ice cream while you are trying to chase is not very pleasant. I ate as quickly as possible and Mike helped me catch up to the rest of the group. By the time I was settled in the pace line I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a picture. I pulled my camera out of my jersey pocket and turned it on. The lens didn't budge. Oh, silly me I thought. It was in "view" mode. I selected "camera" mode and turned it on again. The lens didn't budge. Oh no! It occurred to me that I had removed the battery to charge the night before and forgot to put it back in the camera. I asked the other riders if any of them had a camera. Unfortunately not. This is why the ride report has no pictures, so you will just have to rely on my lack of adjectives to express how beautiful it was.
Eric was off the front for a good portion of the time we spent heading south on W Creek Rd. I later learned that he was attempting to ride without ingesting carbs, to force his body to use reserves. I spoke to Eric about randonneuring and riding 220+ miles on consecutive days with 3h of sleep. I thought about BHVers Bill Fischer, John Fessenden, Mark Sheehan and also Blaine Chamberlain, who at this point were hopefully enjoying some sleep after their 24h Fake Fleche in and out of Pennsylvania. I had planned to join them, but canceled my participation an hour or so prior to the start.
Left turn on Blodgett Rd. We had reached the southernmost point of the ride. I was talking to Mike when suddenly the water bottle of our addition in Speedsville came loose and hit the pavement. Mike barely dodged the fallen water bottle with his front wheel, the rear wheel having less luck. I observed as his rear wheel went over the water bottle and the cap flew off. Fortunately Mike didn't loose control and nobody was injured. Loose water bottles can be a hazard. After the water bottle was collected we resumed the ride on 38 towards Newark Valley.
Once we reached Newark Valley Ruth, Jim, Wayne and the Speedsville addition decided to cut the ride short by remaining on SR38. They missed the best part of the ride. While some of us visited a gas station for fluids, Stewart rode up Rock St to find a pee spot. Sam did the same later. Eileen then commented about how male riders are careful when in the presence of women. I then plugged-in an advertisement for "Go Girl," a female urination device that allows women to pee standing up without any special skills. I have witnessed some women who can urinate in an upright stance with more precision than most men, but I will not get into that. You can read more about this extraordinarily simple, yet wonderful device here.
We were on the lookout for Sam as we rode up Rock St. "Sam, where are you?," could be heard as we climbed. Finally we spotted his bike and immediately thereafter Sam popped out of the bushes. Rock St continued gently up and then rewarded us with a long and fun descent. Steward rated this road among his top ten in NY. A great addition to the FLCC calendar.
The ride resumed along Tiona Rd after a brief stretch on SR26. The scenery was quite breathtaking. Pavement was in good condition and the rolling terrain provided quality exercise. The group split a bit, with Mike and I hanging a little further back. The beauty of the landscape contrasted with the not-so-beautiful properties and a junkyard along the way. With the rest of the group moving out of sight, I decided to chase. A few rollers later I joined them until we reached our first and only cue-sheet issue. The cue-sheet had us going on Tiona Rd, which becomes Kechumville Rd and then Barnes Rd. However, Kechumville Rd does not really become Barnes. Barnes is a seasonal road with a steep descent on gravel. The main road (Kechumville) bends right where Barnes begins. I was looking forward to some dirt, but decided to not voice my opinion too strongly, as most in the group were on 23's. In the end Barnes won and it was a fun descent. I did hit the brakes briefly as it got pretty bumpy, but otherwise I let the Sam Hillborne roll freely. We regrouped a mile later and proceeded on Hartwell and Turkey Hill Rd into Berkshire.
In Berkshire Sam manifested his discontent for missing the local Chicken BBQ and Bake Sale, which took place yesterday. Funds were donated to the Ruppert family. Maybe our president David Ruppert knows something about this. We all left Birkshire longing for BBQ Chicken, or at least I did. Berkshire Rd brought us over the ridge and back to SR38, where we then took Glen Rd into Speedsville. In Speedsville we stopped again. The "man with the hammer" was hovering around Eric. French cartoonist René Pellarin, under the pseudonym Pellos, depicts this man in the cartoon below magnificently. More about him and some of his cartoons can be found here.
The man with the hammer did not bother any of us and we made it to EHP at about 3pm. Stewart would still ride 22 miles before reaching the comfort of his home tallying 116 miles for the day. For all of us this was the first time on the Newark Valley - Main ride. A new addition or not, this ride is a great FLCC event.