Great Memorial Day Weekend

Michael, me (with cue sheets), Brad,
and Todd on ABC Memorial Day Ride

I forgot that I had a flag and therefore didn’t end up putting it up outside my house. However, I did enjoy thoroughly the fruits of the long weekend. We had the most perfect weather all weekend–sunny and in the 70s for the most part. So, naturally, I took to the bike each day. It turned out to be one of those weekends where I just felt so complete and happy at the end of it. Life is good.

Saturday morning, I made myself wake up early to hook up on the ABC 9am ride. One of our faster riders was leading a second ride to compliment the usual social ride (which I normally don’t do because it’s too slow). Plus, the ride leaders for both rides had rescheduled the start location to Country Maid, the very spot where I was leading the Adopt-a-Highway cleanup activity later that day at noon. The thought was that anyone who wanted to ride, and then hook up with my clean up activity could easily do so. So I figured that I ought to get up early to ride too.

We did a nice 33 mile ride into Richfield and then Hinkley along ambling country roads with very low traffic. Some nice slow climbs, my favorite of which was Hinkley Hills Road (Route 606), which turned out especially nice since a section of the road was out and cars were detoured off the route. On bikes, detours usually mean very little if you can walk your bike around a bad section. The bad section in this case was right by the intersection onto which we would have entered the road, so we just walked our bikes around the missing slab of pavement, and then rode on. I’m so glad we did because the slight grade was very nice. I love slow climbers–that was what I did best in Colorado–because you can pace yourself and you don’t have to worry as much about keeping yourself going. Once you find that pace, you’re good. I don’t think I bottomed out on my gears any time on this ride. In fact, I’m starting to notice that I’m using my granny gear less and less in situations in which I would have done so in the past. It’s amazing how I’m finding my pace in the middle ring. Not that I would ever want to be without my granny. I still need it often and especially on steep climbs.

Anyway, Saturday was a beautiful morning for riding. It was warm the whole time and I was comfortable in my Keen sandals. After the ride, it warmed up really quickly, leaving us sweating and hot during the highway cleanup. I’m proud to say that we had a pretty good turn out of about 15 or so people–some people who hadn’t rode but had come up just to help! The Country Maid owner informed us that we were all to receive a free ice cream and drink after the cleanup, which I didn’t know about as I’m the new chair for this event, so it was a good deal all around. I had a pistachio ice cream in a regular cone and a Diet Coke, both of which hit the spot on that hot day. (Country Maid, for you out-of-towners, is a local ice cream shop and apple orchard. There were lots and lots of delicious homemade ice cream flavors there, it’s a local favorite place to get ice cream.)

Sunday my mom was coming over to help me plant some more flowers around my yard. So after church, I took a quick 21-mile ride before she arrived. This was just a quick route along the bike trail to Route 303 into the Peninsula. From there, I went to Truxell for an easy climb out of the valley where I did not let myself bottom out on gears (actually didn’t need to but I did use granny) and I sprinted (stood on my pedals) in my highest ring on the last two rolling hills at the end of the road in an attempt to strengthened my leg muscles. I was really surprised about my endurance. I mean, you do roll off of other small hills into those hills, but usually in the last few feet, I end up going to my middle ring. So instead of doing that, I just stood on my pedals in a low gear on my big ring, and pounded it out. Nice!!

Mike, Michael, me, and “Shirtless” John
donned in our ABC attire on Memorial Day Ride.

Monday was the annual ABC Memorial Day Ride, which I was attempting to lead again this year after last year’s crushing failure (long story, but let’s just say that I must have been insane to try again). Fortunately, this year, you couldn’t ask for better weather! It was a little chilly in the morning so instead of my Keens, I wore my new Sidis. The route was to be 57 miles, as tradition dictates, and, because it starts at Stow City Hall, I decided to ride to the ride since I only live 1.8 miles from there. (I just learned it was 1.8 miles.) So ultimately, I ended up with 62 miles (I only had to ride 3/4ths of a mile around my neighborhood to top off the mileage).

The ride was an enormous success, so I’m relieved. The only issues that occurred were 1) I forgot to make a sign-in sheet so no one was “signed in” and 2) I had printed 30 cue sheets and ran out. Fortunately, one of the women there had access to a photocopier in the police station so it turned out okay. I guess next time I will just print out 50 cue sheets. I honestly did not think more than 25 people would show. Stupid me, the weather was great, so of course the ride would be highly attended. Sadly, my counter part leading a 35 mile route at the Aurora High School (which we were to meet up with along the route) only had four riders. I’m thinking our little cycling group is becoming a bunch of long ride sort of people.

I was a little nervous about what everyone would think because I changed the traditional route on the return trip from Garrettsville. In the past, the route would leave Garrettsville via Route 82 and then take Route 82 back through Hiram, and up a hill lovingly referred to as The Wall. The thing is, that road is a little too busy these days and there are long unshaded stretches that offer no protection from the heat of the sun. Not to mention, there’s a long slog along Diagonal Road back into the Stow area. I just thought the route could use some tweaking. So I rerouted from Garrettsville along some quieter, shadier, more scenic roads–Freedom/Hankee to Asbury Road, Asbury to 303 for a few miles, then to Cooley and more backroads. I’m familiar with a lot of these roads and find them much more enjoyable (with the exception of the miles on 303).

The route turned out to be very rolling. I hadn’t realized how rolling Pioneer Trail is out to Hiram. Minus the horrible pot-holed condition of that road (which we’ve learned to expect out of Portage County), it was really sort of fun. Add to the first part of the route the part I added and it makes for one rolling ride. I had us head back to Stow via Lake Rockwell Road from Peck, which is pretty rolling too.

To be nice, I actually routed the ride along a mile stretch of the Franklin Connector–a bike path–from Judson Road to Spell. I called this segment the “leg relief” because it, like most of the bike paths around here, are pretty flat. Of course, to get back to Stow, there were still a few rollers on Call Road. All and all, I would not have called this ride an easy ride, despite the lack of The Wall. There was a lot of climbing of steep small rollers. A lot of downhill, too. But I will admit that my legs are fitfully sore this morning. Nothing bad, just that wonderful feeling of having done some work. I think my legs were quite strong for most of the day and again I was proud how often I stayed in my middle ring while climbing.

Interestingly, some people who knew the area suggested that next year I route part of the first part of the ride along Winchell Road. I have mentioned Winchell in the past as being one of my favorite roads because it’s pretty. My favorite part is when you go through the little “town” of Hiram Rapids. There’s a church there and it just looks so quaint. Winchell is less hilly than Pioneer Trail and slightly less potholed. I don’t know, I’ll have to consider it. Though, still, if I did reroute, that means we’d enter Hiram along Route 700 from the eastern side, which, really, has a fun short hill that I do like to climb (it’s kind of hard for a short hill–definitely need granny for that one). It’d add some mileage onto the route… but who doesn’t want to do an even 60 miles?

Well. I’ve got ideas. I know a lot of these roads now and there are so many possibilities. I was really pleased that everyone seemed amenable to the route change. I was afraid I’d get all sorts of flack because a lot of people in ABC have problems with change. I personally get bored if the same route is used year after year without any alteration. The best rides do do little modifications throughout the years. I think that’s why rides like XOBA and GOBA are so popular, because you can ride them every year and never get bored with the same old, same old route.

I guess I’m stuck leading the Memorial Day Ride for the next several years (or at least while I’m living in Stow) since no one else seems to want to do it. Well, I suppose I don’t mind after this year’s success. I’m getting my confidence back about riding leading. I just have to learn to shut out the hecklers and haters. My dad always says that you can’t please everyone so I figure I just need to listen to the majority. After this weekend, I realized a few things I need to correct for the future in both the Memorial Day Ride and the Adopt-a-Highway cleanup so hopefully the next time I do both, I’m better organized. I’m less detailed in my organizing which always bites me in the ass. But I do like taking leadership roles here and there. I guess I just feel that when I belong to an organization that I enjoy, I should assist where I can in order to keep all the great spirit going. If no one does anything, then there wouldn’t be a club like Akron Bicycle Club. So in that spirit, I’m attempting to contribute.

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