Maybe it was the 5 to 6 inches of snow on Saturday afternoon. Maybe it was the wet roads. Maybe it was the strong SW headwinds along Lake Erie. Whatever it was, there were, once again, no finishers this year. We made the best of it and at the end of the day we ended up with 55 miles and 3:45 ride time followed by a few beers, snacks and past dinner.
As the week went along, the forecast became more and more ominus. Projected attendance was dropping as several "maybees" turned into "no, I sleeping" or "no, I'm too well to attend." Such is life....in February....in Cleveland.
Undaunted by the conditions and logic for that matter, 3 of us took the start, albeit late at 9:38am Sunday morning. My riding companions for the day would be Dave Bartels and Brent Thompson. First timers, newbies with lot's of enthusiasm and time. Yes!! We were steely in our resolve and determined to bang out the 106 mile ride. Our resolve was furthered by the hope of meeting Derek Wilford in Euclid (to pull the 20 mile headwind section along the lake) and/or Bob Rodgers in Strongsville (to pull us the last 40 miles), but they found other (not better, mind you) things to do.
Things started well with a nice tailwind and Brent riding strongly pulling us at 20mph east on Gates Mills Blvd and then North on River Road to Route 6. As we made our way north further into Willowick to Euclid we began to dread the inevitable....the 20 mile stretch along Lakeshore Blvd......during which we would face a 15mph+ headwind.
As the ride host, I felt compelled to put my nose in the wind. So I did. We pushed hard thru Euclid into Cleveland trying to keep a decent pace. I showed my companions the secret beauty of Bratenahl. During this time I was unfortunately and unknowingly putting the hurt on my companions.
After about 30 miles, my companions began asking about food options in semi slurred broken sentences. This is not good sign, I thought to myself. I forgot to send the memo informing them to bring some food. I informed then about the the cool Toboggan Chalet in Strongsville at mile 60 and their menu of delicious oddities including burger dogs, warming fire and such. They were "not crazy" about waiting that long, so we stopped in Cleveland along St. Clair.
Reality was also setting in at this point (30 miles and 2 hours) such that after dissappearing some Wendy's cheeseburgers and chili, we collectively reevaluated and adjusted our ride plan for the day.
We ended up rolling thru downtown Cleveland into the flats and by Steelyard Commons. We jumped on the towpath at Harvard and headed South. It was plowed!! We were considering riding south to Bedford Reservation, but decided on the shorter option which was to head up the Warner Road climb to E. 93rd to Shaker Square and then to my house for some beer, snacks and pasta.
It was a good day in the saddle with some good friends. We drank a few beers and had some good food. This is not and easy ride, especially in February. All I can say is, better luck next year.