If you aren’t one of my Facebook friends or you weren’t with me all weekend as I obsessively checked the TOSRV website for online registration to open, I am writing to announce that I once again signed up for my annual lesson in suffering and torture. I’m rider #104, meaning that I was the fourth to register just 18 minutes after the registration went online yesterday morning, for TOSRV.
Those of you unfamiliar with this ride, TOSRV is a legend in the Ohio cycling community. It was started in 1961 by a father and his (two?) son(s?) who would ride from Capitol Square in Columbus, Ohio to Portmouth, Ohio (on the river) each year at Mother’s Day to, I think, visit his mother. I guess they started recruiting a few other crazy friends… and each year more and more people joined them… until it became this crazy organized ride of mass proportions. In the 1990s, I’m told the number of riders was close to 6000 and that the ride actually closed out. As it is, today, TOSRV is about 2,000 riders and it feels like you’re never alone. And it’s not just nutty riders like me–people who ride 4,000 miles/per year–it’s everyone, from casual riders who only ride this one ride each year to people who ride tons more miles than I ever could. It’s pretty amazing.
The thing about the ride that makes it torture, however, is the challenge of the weather. It’s always held over Mother’s Day weekend; early May could bring about any sort of weather in Ohio. My first year, it was sunny and in the 60s on Saturday and rainy all day on Sunday. Yeah, 105 miles in the rain is really a test of will. Last year, the weather was warmish in the 60s and 70s both days; however, there was a nasty headwind both days. I love how Mother Nature turns the wind in the direction you’re doomed to travel each day…
Anyway, in this history of TOSRV, there’s been all sorts of “interesting” weather. Snow flurries included. The route itself is fairly easy with one section of small rollers that I find easy but which makes all the flatlanders bulk. The real challenge is getting enough riding miles in during March and April (they recommend you come into the ride with about 400) when the weather is equally as variable so that you can do 100 miles that early in the season. It’s a big push to get ready for the ride. If the ride were later in the year, it would be much less challenging. Though, I would point out that any time you do 100 miles and then follow it up with another 100 miles the next day, it’s a challenge. At least for me.
I don’t know what it is about the ride that makes me want to do it every year. I think it seems “fun” in the chill of January when I haven’t touched either bike in two months. I have to admit that one can cheat–a 50 mile/day option, the “half TOSRV” which starts at the midway point in Chillicothe. I’ve never had a desire to do it. (If you complete the half TOSRV, you only get a red sticker on your completion certificate; real completers get gold.) 50 miles would definitely be much easier at that point of the year… But I think the torture, pain, and suffering I endure on the ride is part of the challenge that makes the ride fun.
I suppose this year I will spend a great deal of riding alone. I don’t paceline and the people from ABC who are going are in the hammerhead contingent. I always persevere. If the headwind is really bad, I’ll be in trouble. But I think I can do it just fine. I don’t want to be forced to wait on anyone or slow anyone down. I hate all the pressure of riding with other people. The person I used to ride with consistently was the same pace as me so there was none such pressure.
The registration for the MS 150 also went up this week. I haven’t registered yet. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to do it or not. Probably. It’s just so hard to beg people for donations–every year I get less and less money. Pretty soon I’m just going to have to pay the $250 minimum donation myself. I want to keep doing the ride because I support the cause with all my heart… there’s a very spiritual aspect to this ride that compels me to do it every year. So I’ll probably sign up despite all the donation-gathering woes.
Next up is registration for STP (Seattle-to-Portland ride) which opens to the public February 1st. I’m looking forward to this summer’s trip to try a ride over on the west coast where the real hills are. I know I can handle this ride because I kind of know what to expect. And, in a lot of ways, I may be expecting more than what this ride is. To west coasters, it’s a comparatively easy ride. I’m going to rent a bike. In fact, I was happy to be referred (by Matt from the Cycling in Seattle blog I read) to a bike shop that rents road bikes and it turns out they have some Giants. I plan to bring my own saddle and pedals so that I’m not too uncomfortable on a foreign bike.
Anyway, after the ride, I plan to go to some of the wineries in the Williamette Valley. I’m thinking of taking the train back from Portland to Seattle. And visit with Sarah and Alison if possible. It’s been several years since I visited Seattle and even longer since I was in Oregon, so I’m looking forward to the adventure. I expect to spend a lot of time on my own again, but I’m okay with that. Maybe it will inspire some haiku and memoir writing. I’m usually most poetic when I’m out exploring the world.
So, here’s to the dreams of a fun (more solitary, probably) summer of cycling…