Got the bike ready and my gear on and waited for everyone to show up. Never happened though. Think we ended up with a total field of 11 riders. What happened to the race I remember? With the small numbers, they collapsed the field into a single start. I think we had Cat 1, 3/4, 5 and Master's riders.
11am the field rolled out. Wasn't as nervous as I had feared I would be, maybe because 5 of the 11 riders were Team Athens. Out onto route 124 from the Wilton Civic building and the pace picked up quickly. I was actually surprised by the initial pace. I was expecting a much easier start considering the miles and amount of climbing ahead of us. About a half mile in I was already off the back. Wasn't long until Katsu came off the lead and drifted back to me bringing me back into the pack. The ride down 124 was uneventful and onto 325 we turned. Occasionally the field would accelerate and then slow. Found myself in the middle and on the rear. Katsu continuously kept an eye on me giving me a needed push at one point.
Rolled down the hill into Vinton and onto route 160 back towards Wilkesville. Not to far out of town I found myself struggling to maintain the pace of the pack. As the chase vehicle pulled up to the group, I pulled to the right to give him room. When I did, I hit a pothole with enough force to rotate my bars in the clamp and knock one of my bottle cages loose. I immediately fell back. I tried to force the bars back, but they would not budge. One hard effort to try and catch me back up got me up alongside the chase car, almost to the last bike as we rolled over Raccoon Creek, but the road turned and then climbed and the pack just left me.
Pushed on into Wilkesville. Honestly, I was ready to quit. I was disappointed, I could not see the pack anymore, I did not have tools to rotate my bars back. But Sean's wife convinced me to keep going, so out I rolled up to 689. It felt really awkward with my bars moved. Riding on the hoods was uncomfortable. Sat in the drops a lot, made the big climb up just past the old Southern Ohio Coal offices. By the time I was at the top I could hear the sweep truck behind me. I thought I would at least ride back into Wilkesville. It was only another 15 miles on roads that I ride all the time, but by the time I was at the orchard, I waved the truck over and threw my bike in the back. I was already 4 miles behind. There were lots of volunteers making the race happen, even shutting down sections of road for us. Just did not make sense to keep pushing just for pride's sake.
I am disappointed I did not finish, but I am glad I raced and look forward to doing it again. Made it home just before the storm hit and in time for a birthday party for my oldest (who will be 16 on Thursday) and my youngest (who will turn 1 on Tuesday).