TOSRV Training: Pre-Easter Ride to Hiram

The route (roughly):

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NOTE: We took the Portage Country trail from Judson to the Franklin Connector, and then the Stow Bikeway to get back to my house at the end, but this stupid mapping program does not include bike trails and I can’t accurately show that when mapping the ride.


Min: 988 ft
Max: 1286 ft
Ascent: 1286 ft
Descent: -1270 ft

I decided to dedicate the last four Saturdays leading up to TOSRV for training. I purposely kept my schedule empty for the next several weeks for this specific purpose, leaving Sundays open for going to church if I feel like attending since I know I’ll be missing more services in the summers due to two-day rides and that’s really all right with me, I don’t think God or the Divine Spirit or Whatever cares whether or not I attend church, I just know that going makes me feel better throughout the week and my mental sanity is really important to me right now when everything else seems up in the air. So, anyway, I’m focused on TOSRV and training for it.

This Saturday’s ride I had planned two weeks ago–rain or shine, but probably would have called off due to snow–and invited Michael. Initially, I thought of making it a club ride, but then I decided I didn’t want all the hassle of having to organize people and a lunch stop and worrying about people getting dropped. No hassle if I just invited Michael and we did it ourselves, which actually turned out quite nicely. The route is roughly 60 miles, it turns out; I thought it was 55, oh well. Anyway, it basically involved going through Aurora and using Eggleston Road to catch Parker and my favorite Portage County scenic back road, Winchell Road.

Winchell stretches about eight miles and goes through some pretty farm land and residential areas, eventually ending up in this little tiny nowhere municipality called Hiram Rapids. From there you can catch Route 700 into Hiram and climb one nasty, but short, hill right into the campus. I always take the tour of campus by turning on Hinsdale and riding through Dean and Hayden to 82. A good place to stop and rest is the new convenience store which was a useless abandoned gas station when I was a student–how we could have used a place to get coffee, junk food, and beer that didn’t involve needing to own a car to get to! They get all the cool stuff when you leave, like the new building for an entirely new writing department that includes a new major in writing that wasn’t available when I was there. Damn them!

I’m not going to pretend it was an easy ride yesterday. It happened to be very windy with a nice brisk NNW facing wind that nearly killed us both on the first leg of the ride which included a several mile ride up Stow Road directly in the wind. We did a little bit of drafting, but I have to admit that I backed off in spots because I really can’t stand riding that close to anyone’s bike, even Michael’s bike, because it just gives me a headache to have to watch someone’s wheel while also trying to propel myself. I am just not built for working on teams. It makes me especially nervous to draft behind someone on a hill because I need to go my own pace in those situations and I can’t be worrying about what the guy in front of me is doing. Needless to say, Michael took the wind head-on for the entire course up Stow Road practically. I wanted to take a turn so that I didn’t have to stare at his wheel the whole time, but he never backed off. Probably I would have driven him nuts with how much slower I am going up hills than he is.

I guess I didn’t really realize that my route was that hilly. The last time I’d done it was July 4th last year when I lead the ride for ABC. It hadn’t seemed quite as difficult then. It’s hard to make a real comparison of the difficulty of a ride early season if the last time you did it was in the middle of the cycling season. Regardless, I thought the route was great, but it was a lot of slower climbing. What can I say? We Hiramites didn’t call it Hiram Hill for nothing!

I’m proud to say that I actually was dressed appropriately for the weather (I usually over dress or under dress at this time of the year). I wore my warmer leggings and three layers of shirts–one thermal undershirt, a wicking underlayer, and a breathable warm shirt that I often use for skiing. I did not get too hot, nor too cold except when riding down Route 305 after enjoying a toffee coffee and a Clif bar at the convenience store in Hiram (I brought the Clif bar; they did not sell them at the store). But 305 is a big, fast hill, so on a day that topped off at 48 degrees, it was understandably a chilly descent.

From Hiram, we rode into Garrettsville and took my favorite route back towards home, using Hankee Road and then Asbury to 303. I was really amazed by how little traffic goes in this direction. It was very peaceful and pretty on this sunny day. The roads, of course, weren’t of the greatest conditions, but that’s basically what you get in Portage County (which someone from my bike club once referred to as “Poortage County”).

All travel southward was great. You couldn’t feel any wind hardly whatsoever. Even better, I actually started to feel hot. Travel east or west had a difficult cross-wind. It was slow going at parts, especially on the long stretch of Lake Rockwell Road to the outskirts of Kent, but I really felt pretty comfortable. Michael, on the other hand, was having a down day, which is a sad condition which afflicts all of us from time to time. I had one last Thursday when I failed to climb Columbia Road in the valley on a club ride. I beat myself up for the rest of the ride, through the evening, and even the next day at work. That’s how serious we road cyclists take our riding. I’m especially hard on myself because I like to claim that I can play with the “big boys.”

We didn’t break any speed records (our average was 13.5) but we did the entire route as planned. When we rolled into my driveway, we were about a mile short of 60 miles. So, naturally, we got back on our bikes and circled my neighborhood along this route I discovered that is a little over a mile from my house and back. I’ve used this route a few times to top off a ride where I came close to an even “five.”

At the end of the ride, I felt I could have done another 20 miles, despite the wind, so I’m getting more confident about my shape for TOSRV which is really less hilly than the ride out to Hiram. Still, I’m aiming to fill my next few Saturdays with progressively longer rides, with the exception of next week’s Think Spring ride with my club. I think I am going to do the 33 mile route, but then ride to the start location at the Ledges Shelter in CVNP, which should give me about 16 extra miles round trip from my house. If I have to, I’ll make an extra circuit somewhere to tack on enough miles to get myself to 50. The week after Think Spring, Michael and I are tentatively planning the route we did in Lake County last year which, I believe, was something like 62-65 miles. We had a nice stop at this restaurant in Madison where we both enjoyed really good chocolate shakes–that’s definitely an attraction I’m looking forward to this year! The Saturday before TOSRV may be a 70-80 mile ride in Wayne County (unless we come up with something better). Either way, the weekend before TOSRV must include a longer ride to ensure that we are ready for the two days of 105 mile riding.

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my first 60 mile ride of the season. My legs feel a little tight from work, which is good. I woke up this morning feeling really great and pleased with myself. I enjoyed the scenery and the sunlight–it was such a welcome change even though it was still colder than I would have preferred. I would probably have had more trouble motivating myself to such a ride in the past. I have to admit having Michael there to do it with me also pushed me to go. It’s easier to bail on yourself than someone else.

Of course, we partook in the usual post-ride binging, trying a new restaurant in Kent called The Bistro on Main in Kent. A little pricey, but I had the best swordfish I think I’ve ever eaten (perhaps only eating breakfast and a carb bar all day influenced my thoughts, but I don’t think so). As an added bonus, Michael Stanley was eating dinner with some people (wife? mother-in-law?) a few tables away. I, of course, would never have known what Michael Stanley looks like, but Michael is a big fan. A local celebrity, if you will, dining in the same restaurant. Also, Michael Stanley Gee is supposedly a Hiram College graduate, so Michael and I kept joking that I should stop by his table and ask him why he snubs alumni events and does not have an account on “HiramSpace”–our online social networking community for alums.

I didn’t bother Michael Stanley, but I did notice Michael’s eyes glancing over in that direction every once in awhile. I admire his constraint for if that had been Bono sitting casually at a table just a few feet away, I don’t think I could have contained myself… Let’s just say that it wouldn’t have been pretty. But then, I remember the time Diane ran into Greg Dulli on the street outside of the Grogg Shop in Coventry, and though I also love Mr. Dulli, I hung back while Diane bravely walked up and shook his hand. So maybe I would have just admired Bono enviously from a distance…

Anyway, I was at a church dinner this afternoon for Easter, so any benefit I got from riding yesterday has been officially blown away. Especially once they brought out the hot apple pie and ice cream… (can you see my salivating??) I’m starting to think we cyclists have some kind of eating disorder… exercise and binge, exercise and binge…


6 thoughts on “TOSRV Training: Pre-Easter Ride to Hiram

  1. I don’t remember your Hiram ride last year as being unusually hilly (I think there was a steep climb to the college and another on the return through Mantua, unless I’m confusing a couple of different rides). What I mainly remember is the headwinds. Anyway, nice ride.The current plan, if it happens, is to ride from Toledo to Akron with Jim Birt on Mother’s Day while you people are on TOSRV. That’s about 130 miles, which is 7 more miles in a day than my personal best. It’ll only be possible if there’s a good tailwind that day.

  2. You’re confusing the return trip from Hiram from two different rides. There was one I did in October 2007 that went from Tinkers Creek park to Hiram, and so then we had to go through Mantua to get back. The July 2008 ride took us back the opposite way down Asbury so that we went through the outskirts of Ravenna through to Lake Rockwell Road. That’s the ride I did this weekend, except instead of going on the bike path in Kent for extra miles, we headed home from the end of Lake Rockwell.It was good a ride, though!Wow!! 130! I dont think I’d ever want to do more than 100 in a day. I did 110 the first day of TOSRV last year because we went across the bridge into Kentucky, and then we used our bikes to get around town… Good luck with that route!

  3. WOW, Michael got to eat dinner in the same restaurant at the same time as his hero MICHAEL STANLEY? I’m surprised he didn’t rush the table! :)Now, Heidi, what you may not remember about that Greg Dulli encounter is that although I seemed rather suave and collected, whatever came out of my mouth was absolute dribble and caused Greg to give me the, “Am I gonna have to call the cops on ANOTHER psycho fan?” eyes.

  4. Hmmm… Swear to God, if I ever encountered Bono, he’d get an ear-load of dribble. I am sure he’d call the police on me. I’d be all, “Your music inspires me. I think you’re a lyrical genius.”Bleh!!

  5. Cool route through my old neck of the woods! I lived up the street from Hiram Rapids after grad school, and of course grew up nearby. I didn’t get out and bike around the backroads much, but they were nice to explore when I was learning to drive in high school. I did do some fun offroad biking on the four-wheeler trails, < HREF=",+oh&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.28395,-81.124206&spn=0.012899,0.020857&z=16&iwloc=A" REL="nofollow">in the woods between the railroad trail and 82<>.

  6. Scott, yes, I know. I think of you every time I pass Abbott Road. ;)Winchell Road is awesome. You can get up some other roads from that direction too, like north on Chamberlain. It makes me want to move out there… ‘Course, I’m probably just saying that cuz I ride the valley too much and am getting bored with it… I’d probably get bored of Winchell and all the surrounding Portage County roads if I lived out that way too…

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