Wet and foggy mornings always make me a bit nervous before a road ride. Limited visibility, increased stopping distance on rain-slickened roads, and those damned lane line paint stripes. I hate those things. Thank god I have serious rubber on my Kenda Kountach road tires! This was exactly the scenario yesterday for the fabled "Prospect Ride." This one is a local Columbus favorite, and yesterday was my first time doing it.
It's amazing how much coffee I can put down. It's even more amazing that I can get my hands to stop shaking long enough to start my Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 computer before clipping in and riding. The crew was on time and had even eaten prior to the ride today, which typically equates to much more satisfactory average speed. Forty six to fifty miles was the projected distance, and we were ready.
Departing the parking lot of the Olentangy High School parking lot on the corner of Sawmill and Home Rd., we rolled north and west down Hyatts Rd. to Section Line Rd. Clark-Shaw Rd. provides a nice drop in elevation down to Riverside Drive where we roll north.. I had never even driven this far north along the river, so I was pleasantly surprised by the undulating terrain. Large expanses of farmland were occasionally interrupted by sweeping bends in the river. Cavernous barns dotted the landscape, the faded names and dates of the families who built them barely visible through the weathered wood. A ten mile per hour tailwind driving hard from the south propelled us along Riverside Drive at an alarming pace. Look for the historic Oller Cemetery as soon as you hit Riverside Drive, it's amazing. Grave markers dating back to the early 1800's I am sure hold a lot of secrets.
River Road becomes Klondike Road just after crossing Rt. 42, and parallels the river all the way up to Marysville Road. Klondike dead-ends into Marysville Road, so you need to make a quick left/right combination and continue north on Warren/Warrensburg Road (same thing). There is a funky corner at Rt 172 and 173 where you can make a mistake, crossing the river and ending up on Ostrander Rd. Don't do it. Veer right (north) and stay on 172 (Warrensburg Road). I will include the link to the corner in question here..
In very short order and after a right turn, look for the LEFT turn on Hodges Road, just at the crest of the short hill. This is a nice stretch, with scenic vistas of the water and large, custom homes. One of the nice things about this ride, is that the residents along these roads are used to seeing cyclists. In many cases, they will wave from the porch, or even offer fresh water for us like the fine folks at the Warren Presbyterian Church! Just look for the cooler on the corner and help yourself. The church sits at the intersection of Hodges and Rt. 37. Make a quick left on to Rt. 37, and take the first right back on to River Road. This section is nice. No turns for a long time, and just big farms everywhere.
The next turn comes in the apex of a corner with Watkins Rd. Take the left and continue north, staying as close to the river as you can. Be advised that the road from here on in to Prospect is marginal at best, and in many cases seems more like a Tijuana toll road than a frequently used roadie route. Chip-n-seal, manure covered and even sometimes more gravel than pavement lies beneath your tires. Once here though, you are so close to the halfway mark! You will dead-end in to Main Street, where a left turn places you on the path to the trusty "Dexter's Market." On the corner of Main Street and Water Street, Dexter's is the jam for a restroom and all the junk food and drinks you will ever need to satisfy the calorie debt. Look for the old artillery piece at the American Legion post! This is 23.5 miles.
Be advised that the return is more downhill than up, but is still hilly and usually means you face a sizeable headwind blasting from the southwest...exactly the direction you are headed. Ride with a group and paceline it home for the most efficient use of remaining energy stores. I am lucky enough to have bunnyhopping skills, and thusly managed to avoid disaster by jumping a dead opossum in the road.
Be prepared for the final short-burst ascent up Clark-Shaw, then cruise out the final couple of miles to the car and go eat some tacos.
See you on the road to prospect!