My bike club puts on two major cycling events per year–The Absolutely Beautiful Country Ride in July and the two-day Roscoe Ramble in August. While I’ve done the ABC ride every year since 2008, I have only done Roscoe Ramble one other time, in 2007, and I only did the shorter 55 mile route. I’ve been meaning to do the ride again, but other commitments got in the way–my trip to Colorado with my dad in 2008, helping to pour wine for Emerine Estates at Vintage Ohio in 2009. At the start of this year, I immediately set aside time on my calendar to ride in Roscoe Ramble with the intent this time to do the full 75-mile/day route.
What I remembered most about this ride is the inexhaustible beauty of the landscape. And, also, the completely exhaustible climbs that took you through the best parts. I stated after my first Roscoe that it was the hardest ride I’d done since returning from Colorado. As I went into my second Roscoe this year, I figured I’d overstated the difficulty of this ride because back in 2007, I was still a very new rider who had only one year prior switched to a fully road bike. I reasoned with myself that I’d succeeded in far more challenging rides since then–Fredericksburg Library Roll, Fall N Leaf, Millersport to Loudonville on XOBA (which nearly killed me)–so perhaps I was over-estimating the difficulty of Roscoe.
So in the week preceding the ride, I foolishly rode my bike just about every day that week:
- Monday, I rode to work.
- Tuesday, I jumped on the weekly ABC ride and elected to go up Oak Hill Road instead of the normal route which goes up Major.
- Wednesday, I led the weekly ABC Revere Ride, selecting the Harter/Parker route with the long slog up State Road in Hinckley.
- Thursday, I opted out of riding to de-stress from work where I’d been delivering a training class on-site to customers–totally out of my comfort zone. I originally had intended to go to the ABC ride, but I wisely changed my mind because my knees ached from the day’s stress.
- Friday, I rode to work again, which included the alternative climb up Columbia Road instead of Snowville.
Not the best plan for going into a hilly ride week. Especially since Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday included putting in some overtime hours to prepare for the training course I was delivering so I was mentally as well as physically exhausted going into the weekend. Once again, I totally underestimated the ride and overestimated my need for rest and recovery before a big ride. I had broken one of my cardinal rules, which is to never ride my bike the day before a big ride.
Needless to say, the first day of Roscoe was a bit more painful for me than it should have been. My legs protested the first climb out of Canal Fulton and it was a rough first several miles. Then, somewhere along the way, I was able to find a comfortable spinning pace. I wouldn’t say I was in the best form of the season–I was just in a manageable pain zone. The route was the same (or very similar) to what I remembered from the first day of Roscoe that I’d done two years ago, minus the 20 extra miles from Canal Fulton. However, I’d done many of those roads out of Canal Fulton on other rides, so I was kind of familiar with the area. Around Kidron, there was an abrupt change in scenery as I entered the rolling hills of Amish country.
I remembered that after (the most excellent) lunch (at Miller/Yoder Farm) there were some steep rollers. And I was right. Including a very long climb out of a valley that had somehow slipped my mind throughout the years. Normally, I would have enjoyed that climb. But with my legs feeling a little out of sorts and the rising heat of the day (it was approaching 90 degrees as the day wore on), I just wasn’t feeling it. Not that such feelings caused me to abort my climb; on the contrary, I pushed up the hill as normal except that I didn’t play around with trying to hold out longer in harder gears. I have to admit that the climb was definitely worth it–the scenery at the top of the world was absolutely beautiful as we rolled atop that ridge. I didn’t stop to take any pictures, though, because the heat really bore down on you whenever you stopped. The generated breeze from cycling was really the only reprieve from the heat.
The riders were really spread out at this point. A lot of the people I’d started with were no longer with me. Michael and I ended up keeping each other in sight, stopping occasionally to rest from the heat. About six miles from the end, while we were resting, Bob W (aka TDB) caught up with us and we all ended up riding to the end together. Bob pointed out “Cow Corners”–which I’d somehow missed the first time I’d done this ride–a small cross-roads marked by a tacky statue of a cow and sign boasting a population of 20 or something. It was a landmark on our maps. My eyes must have been blurry the first time I did Roscoe or something.
We were the first to arrive at the campground. We began to unpack our stuff as other riders rolled in. It turned out that less than 10 people had chosen the camping option of the 120 some riders. Where’s everyone’s sense of adventure, anyway?
After setting up camp and showering, TDB, Michael and I went to Roscoe Village to retrieve our free ice cream and enjoy the air conditioning. Then we pretty much spent the next few hours before dinner hanging out in a (air-conditioned) wine bar. I originally had thought it might be neat to catch a ride on one of the canal boat demonstrations, but I think the heat and all the hard work of climbing with protesting leg muscles had gotten to me and I pretty much just wanted to stay in one place. And drink wine. Eh, a girl’s got priorities.
It rained during the night, which was really no big deal since my tent was reliably water-proofed (which I did after XOBA last year, even though this was my “relief” tent, the one that saved me from a leaky tent). I was thankful it didn’t thunderstorm; instead, I had dreams of hurricanes (!!) that tore through the campground forcing us to take shelter in the restrooms. Needless to say, my sleep was not entirely restful. I kept waking up every hour, fearful of hearing thunder. I don’t handle thunderstorms very well in my house, let alone in a tent…
I had feared it might rain the following day, but the morning just yielded fog under cloudy skies with wet ground. It was still reasonably warm out, but the clouds were keeping the sun from heating things up too much, so it was a comfortable low 80s–a little sticky due to the humidity of it having rained, but it wasn’t really that bad.
Our departure from Coshocton was not the route we’d gone in 2007, but it was still provided some climbing. We rode a good 10 miles along the very lonely State Route 60 which had impressively little traffic and provided rolling to steep hills along the way. The scenery, especially with the fog on the fields, made the ride very pleasant. My legs felt better than they had the day before, now ground to submission from the previous day’s ride. The route was nice all the way into Killbuck and not at all as hilly as the old route.
I admit that I kind of wanted to conquer the old beast that had taken me back in 2007–the famous Stucky Rd–but alas, this was not to be on the new route. Instead, once in Killbuck, the route took us on all 15 miles of the Holmes County trail. This is the third time I’ve used that trail, the second time I’ve done it this year. It’s not very interesting after you’ve done it once. I found myself the most bored on this segment of the ride than I was throughout the rest of it. I just get antsy on flat bike paths. There’s not a lot to look at–trees usually block the view. I can take a bike path in small spurts–I use one when I commute to work and for warm-up before dropping into the valley. But there’s just so much traffic you have to get around–walkers, toodlers, oblivious people weaving in and out of their lane. And the constant, steady spinning. It just drives me nuts.
It was during this leg that the group I was riding with just went all out on speed. I think we all wanted to get through those 15 miles as fast as possible. We didn’t really form a paceline–we all seemed kind of anti-drafting–and we did, in fact, pass the paceline containing two ABC friends, Beth and Tom. Beth kind of beckoned me to pull if I was feeling so strong, but I was having none of that. I pushed a hard gear and pulled away just to prove that I didn’t need no stinkin’ paceline, risking injury to my right knee which was feeling a little bit sore after the bike path grind. But I didn’t care.
After we got off the bike path in Fredericksburg, things got interesting again as we head off towards Apple Creek. Some more rollers with some steeper climbs. More Amish buggies.
Interesting side note: On bikes, we are always passing Amish buggies. I’ve determined horse-drawn carriages are not the optimal way to travel. If I were Amish, I’d use a bike instead and become a bike courier. How do you fetch the doctor in an emergency if your carriage only goes 10-13mph?
After Apple Creek, where we enjoyed a great lunch of sloppy joe’s at the local Methodist church, the land started to flatten back out to the terrain with which I’m familiar as we went through Orrville and along some roads used on the ABC century ride I did earlier this year. Canal Fulton, being at the bottom of the valley, allowed us a nice downhill return.
Overall, the ride was still as fun as I remembered it. My only complaint is that the scenery was more interesting on the old route, even though the old route was just as challenging–if not more–than the first day. I think you sacrifice scenery for making a ride easier. Although, all the guys who did the old 75 mile route said that the 20 mile leg back to Canal Fulton on the old route was really boring. I can’t attest to this myself, as I did that short 55 last time and it was pretty right to the downhill end at the Amish restaurant in Wilmot.
There was an alternate route offered that did not go on the bike path. I’m pretty sure I’m going to take that one the next time I do this ride… The scenery is so much nicer in those places where you have to work for it. Next time, I’ll play it smart and stick to my rule of not riding the day before a major ride and then my legs won’t be as tired as they felt this time around. Then I’ll be completely prepared and enthusiastic to conquer the alternative route.