When I arrived at the Scholars Inn Bakehouse at the new start time of 10am on Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to see so many cyclists waiting to ride. I had cycled into town from home to meet the group, as I do most weekends, often writing about the morning’s efforts here on these pages. I also passed several riders heading out of town on Cascades. The Cutters were assembled at the Bakehouse as well, preparing for a 100K around Lake Monroe.
The ride was single file and hard after Firehouse hill and some didn’t make the cut off after the rollers on Anderson. Secretly, I was hoping that the group would have flipped a collective switch, marking the end of the road season with a more subdued effort. But that wasn’t the case on the open roads of Anderson. The group included Fred Rose, Jeff Thompson, Kevin Hays, Mark Powell (showing excellent form from several recent wins!), Tom Chorny, Myron Lewis, Colin Allen, Cameron Johns, Fritz, Lyle Feigenbaum, Liz Cobb, Brett (AEP), Lynn Allen and Me. Liz and Lynn opted for a more controlled ride. Fritz, Brett, then Lyle (recovering from a recent crash) separated after the turn onto Low Gap. A small selection managed to make the leadup to the small grades before the Low Gap ridge, keeping the pressure high. Rose, Thompson, Powell, Hays, Lewis and Chorny made the first group with me, Cam and Colin left to chase through the forest. The leaders chose to relax the pace after the exit from the climb and the three of us were able to rejoin with a moderate effort. We then settled into a two-up pace line all the way to Martinsville. So we were glad to be the recipients of a reasonable pace. Rose and Chorny split off at the Low Gap turn and continued on Mahalasville. Things picked up again on the way back, largely due to a tailwind and the looming hill in the distance. The action began in earnest on the Low Gap climb heading home with Powell, Hays, Lewis and Thompson pushing the pace up the climb. Allen nearly made the bridge but came back to Cam and then I caught them on the flatter parts of the descent with the help of super-domestique Lewis who came back to retrieve me! The race was up the road, and we caught glimpses of the trio occasionally in the valleys of Anderson but we had run out of real estate.
The four of us were in a well-disciplined paceline trading pulls, albeit unequal, with Lewis doing yeoman’s work at the front. I conveniently missed a turn at the front on the final pitch before the finish line, allowing Allen to double-up and reluctantly set up the leadout! Johns was split from the group and lost several bike lengths on the small rise. Lewis was getting bogged down from his super-human effort while Allen ground his big gears from a long way out. I was on his wheel when I heard Johns improbably reconnect with us for a three-up sprint for 4th place! I waited for the 150m marker and came around Allen on his left in a 53×12 after being catapulted from the ramp-like approach to the finish. I was going hard out of the saddle when Johns eased up alongside me with 50m to go. He was still accelerating through the line while I was left holding onto only distant memories, admiring one of the new crop of riders ready to take our places.