Well it has been a while. During the hot and humid month of July, I only managed to ride the bike 5 times, one of which was Thorn TT which was round #1 of NEO Power Series. Somehow I managed a 3rd place finish in the 36+ expert class. Happy with my result, I promptly took the rest of the month off. Feeling refreshed after a nice break, since August 1, I have been riding every day and doing some big rides (4+ hours) on the weekends.
Last Sunday, Bob Rodgers and I hatched a plan to ride to Zoar via the towpath, race the Zoar Road Race promoted by the fine folks at Stark Velo and check out the infamous Zoar Harvest Festival. I have always wanted to ride the entire length of the towpath which goes from Cleveland through Akron, Canal Fulton, Massillon all the way to to Bolivar/Zoar. The first and last time I attempted to ride to Zoar for the road race, I had multiple flats, got lost, was detoured off the towpath due to a "floater" in the canal and ultimately missed the race start by over an hour.
So this time, I studied google maps, planned some re-routes where path ends, and found an eager companion in Mr. Rodgers. I left my house at 5:15am Sunday morning on the road bike and met Bob at 5:45am at Rockside and Canal. Bob did the lions share of the pace making early on as I enjoyed his draft at 20mph+. Obviously the route is pancake flat, however, to maintain 20+ mph, requires steady pressure on the pedals.
Early on my legs felt like total garbage (10 hours of training the 4 days prior probably had something to do with this). I was suffering sitting on Bob's wheel as he effortlessly pedaled along at 20-22 mph. Fortunately, after a few hours my legs started to feel better and better, and I was able to do my share of the work.
There were some new sections and a long bridge south of Akron by the big lake. Somewhere around Akron I had a rear flat, which we chnaged quickly. The towpath gets a little rough, sketchy and rocky in Stark County and Bob might have been regetting his ride choice - carbon Orbea and Zip 404s - but he was too tired to complain.
We kept the pace steady and covered the 78 miles from Rockside Road to Zoar in about 4:35. Unfortunately we arrived about 20 minutes late for the start of the 10:00am Cat 3/4race. We were a little dissapointed but felt better after cleaning up, changing into street clothes, and having a few cold ones at the beer garden at the Zoar Harvest Festival. Thankfully, my wife and kids came down to pick us up and to check out the festival. All in all a great summer day.
Next year we have to leave a little earlier or ride a little faster. If you want to join me next year, be at Rockside and Canal parking lot at 5:00am the Sunday of the Zoar road race. I will make the race next year!!