Monday, December 14, 2015

The Prospect Ride

   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..,-83.1664689,254m/data=!3m1!1e3

   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!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Fall And Winter Backbone Style.

A little airtime over a camera never hurt!
 With such a mild fall and winter here in the Midwest, the miles have been racking up when normally they are dying a painful, abrupt death. Jeff and Josh have been ripping it up in Kentucky and West Virginia since the mountain bike trails are still perfect. They have dropped some amazing fall foliage photos on us over the past three months, and managing to teach people how to mountain bike with frequent skills clinics at Greenbo State Park. Super awesome dudes!
 Josh even managed to pound a 100 mile group ride with the boys and girls of A.C.E.....ON HIS MOUNTAIN BIKE!
100 miles. On a mountain bike. Dick.

Jeff, as usual, makes people feel bad about themselves while leading the train through the singletrack trails, as seen below.

     Ara was doing great in the So Cal Cyclocross Series, even looking to take the overall series victory! He then found out that an earlier crash was causing blood clots in his knees. This removed him from the series final, and I'm pretty sure he was not happy about that. The docs released him, he did a few short recovery rides, then BAM! Clots came back. He is still dealing with them, and we wish him all of the best.

Beautiful shot from Phil Beckman.

Mark Thome has been landing on the podium for the Over The Hump Series, and blowing up his HRM on the Fullerton Loop in the evenings. Amazing to think that one could be THAT OLD and still ride a bike!! Hahaha...his son and Backboner Mark Thome just had HIS first child...that we know November. That makes Mark a grandfather. Old bastard.
Mark Thome thinks it's a biscuit.
Charles has been racing his Subaru like a freak, and bringing home ALMOST as much bling as he did racing downhill mountain bikes! Check out this latest medal..pretty sweet.

Randy, asleep holding his nuts.


October along the reservoir's single track near Westerville.

The ol' 26er hardtail still works. Go figure.

I have been doing what Randy Rush does...drinking beer and being surly. It's in the contract. Seriously. The riding in and around Columbus is certainly the best between September and January. The leaves are popping, the air is cool and dry, and mosquitos aren't the size of pterosaurs. The road miles for me have been racking up well, with roughly 2400 miles between September and November. Most of it was rolling the country farm roads, but at least this year it was above freezing on most days....except two Sundays ago. See the hail in the photo below...
That's hail.

Admittedly, the cold days last year were awful. Negative 11 degrees is not fun to ride in. It beats CrossFit, don't get me wrong...but it's still not ideal. All of my rides begin and end on bricks, and all bricks seem just a little bit harder and less forgiving on days that are that cold.
Carpel Tunnel? You betcha'!

The open country roads appear quickly from our home here in Westerville. Vast swaths of flat, glacial scraping turned in to corn and soybean fields await me, just minutes from home. Open skies give you at least a fighting chance of seeing the approaching, almost daily storms that roll in from August to November. There are not many places to hide out there, so the reality of having to lie in wait snuggling up to deer ticks in a swail is legit. The trees are amazing though in the fall, and worth every bit of risk. The Cuyahoga National Park roads and trails are perfect in the fall and winter.
Big sky, beautiful roads.


Vegas Bob has moved to Santa Rosa, CA. He has been racing in his new home town, and has also been very active in the high school mountain bike racing scene as a coach! He has also been consuming large quantities of beer. Star Wars is coming by Christmas as well, so there is a good chance he will be found somewhere without pants, in a storm trooper helmet. Just sayin'.
Vegas Bob, carb loading.

 All things considered, it has been a magnificent year to ride bikes, from the left coast to the right coast and everywhere in between. Hope you all are out enjoying it while it lasts!