With the vauge notion that I might actually complete a full SR series this year, I decided to head out to Pgh for the 300K version of the Puppies and Kittens brevet. This one starts further west on the (ahem) idyllic Neville Island and runs considerably further out into Ohio (to Hartville, to be exact).
Seven riders started, but only a few miles in, we lost Chris B., who came in from the DC area for the ride. We figured a mechanical had stopped him, so we soft pedaled a while, but he never showed up again (turns out Chris did do an abbreviated ride; but his brevet card left behind at the end of the day suggested he was fairly well doused in rain at some point…)
The rest of us made good time out to Koppel (first controle), and to Petersburg OH (just over the border), but not long after we turned due west to head to the second controle south of Youngstown, we noticed the wind went up and the pavement quality went down. We didn’t slow down – just gritted our teeth a little.
About the pavement…Calla Road has now entered into the collective conciousness of Pittsburgh area randonneurs. It will heretofore ever be THE standard by which all other bad pavement is judged. “hey, this is half as bad as Calla”, or “quite whining, you should see Calla!”. You get the idea. We must have passed at least 5,000 holes going each direction that were of the size and depth that would end your ride one way or another, if you were to hit one head on, at normal riding speed. A taco’ed wheel, severe road rash, broken collarbone, etc. would ruin your day.
The one saving grace was that the vast majority of these severely potholed stretches were very quiet / almost car-less, so we could zig-zag as needed (which was near to continuously). However, there was one 3 mile bad pavement stretch on Western Reserve Road that almost made me cry. That is a very busy, very narrow road, and the road was in horrible shape. Not Calla bad, but close in some spots. That was NO FUN. it would have been no fun even without the potholes, but the combination of these factors made it near-deadly. I would say this was the scariest road I have been on in a pretty long time.
Now, we were SUPPOSED to re-trace that portion of the route going back, but one of the guys (Bob Rich) that was on the ride used to be an Ohio state trooper and lived in that area for about 20 years or somesuch, and thought he knew a good alternative. So, on our second stop at the Sheetz near Youngstown, he called his wife who then looked at online maps and confirmed what he was thinking. So, bottom line, we now have a much better route in that area now. It added about a half mile but the alternative route was nice (reasonably quiet and good pavement and flat-like). I will never ride Western Reserve Road again.
I should mention the weather. We didn’t see any rain. The forecast was pretty ominious the day before, but it changed mere hours before the start. All we saw was light sprinkles a few times here and there. Dan B. commented on our good fortune about 5 miles from the end, and then it started sprinkling no more than a minute or two later. I think it was M. Nature’s way of saying “Ok, I let you off the hook on this day, but that doesn’t mean you should antagonize me.” Luckily, she stopped short of teaching Dan a lesson.
So it was grey the whole day, except we were treated to a beautiful sunset view as we crossed the bridge going onto Neville Island, one mile from the finish. The sky was technicolor orange and red. A nice final touch to a good day on the road.
The Random Lesson Learned: I need to give an external urinary catheter a try. There is little cover out there in rural Ohio farmland with which to do one’s business. Why not just hold it to the controle? Holding it is what I did do most of the time. But I found that quite distracting and, of course, uncomfortable. Trying to hold a distended bladder closed while dodging potholes was a little too much. I figure the urinary catheter would be the ultimate in convenience. Piss on the move without doing anything than relaxing your pelvic floor. I don’t know why, but I sure was pissing a whole lot on this ride. Why not do what triatheletes do? Huh? Nope. Sorry. There is no way I could piss myself on the bike (purposely). Taping a rubber thingy on my manhood is waaay better. Ok, I’m done now. Thanks for listening….
By the way, credit for the idea goes to Dan Fallon, who certainly has put it to practical use:
Results: 7 starters, 6 finishers.
Pics: Sorry I took none. Forgot my camera. Dan B. took one, apparently….