Saturday was damp and chilly. There was a rest stop at mile 9 that I passed by because who needs to rest at mile 9? The next rest stop was in Circleville. I ate a cup (possibly a full measuring cup) of the most delicious peanut M&Ms in the world there. I was happy to stop at that point because I had been trailing a guy from the beginning who seemed to be about my speed when another guy said, "on your left," and cut in right between us. No big deal, but his jersey was ugly and his raincoat was insufficiently opaque. So it was an aesthetic upgrade as well as a chance to ingest chocolate.
The second leg went by quickly, it seemed. I got to the lunch stop in Chillicothe a little before 10:30. There was a nice band playing and I grabbed a PB&J although there was a lot of other stuff to eat. Part of the reason I signed up for this ride was to see if I thought I could do 200 miles in one day this July, so I was in a bit of a hurry to move on—I got a late start because the truck for my luggage was delayed. Everyone waiting with me seemed to think this was perfectly normal: "Yeah, there's always a problem with the trucks," a guy said LIKE IT WAS NO BIG DEAL. I tried to arrange my face to project the same indifference, but I was feeling a bit anxious.
The next leg was hilly. None of the hills were terribly long, but I was struggling on more than one of them. Fortunately, there was very little car traffic and the rain had pretty much stopped. Waverly was the third stop, and your choice there is to scale a steep set of crumbling concrete steps or ride up a switchback hill to get to the goods. Most of the riders were wearing those clack-clack-clacking bike shoes with clips on the bottoms that made the stairs especially treacherous, yet all but the hardiest elected to skip that optional incline and risk injury or embarrassment for their Gatorade and (yes!) peanut M&Ms.
The last leg was the least fun, but at least it was flat. The ride organizers had given us maps in lieu of cue sheets, and those maps were practically unreadable. I was depending on riders in front of me to know the route, supported by fading yellow arrows painted on the road surface at turns. So I knew I had 27 miles to go, but it seemed like a lo-o-ong 27 miles. The sky never cleared, and we were riding toward dark clouds. Storm sirens blared at one point, but nothing awful happened. Then I got to West Portsmouth, which I wanted to be Portsmouth but apparently you just can't rush these things. Finally I reached the end at 2:30. I asked myself the 200-miles-in-one-day question and decided the answer was no.
In Portsmouth you're on your own for the evening. There was a party in the park, but no obvious place to get information about where my luggage went. I just kept asking people in TOSRV tshirts and got lucky the fourth time. They sent me to the LIFE center, which seems to be a gym associated with a hospital. Everyone was very nice, but I was feeling super alone and uncomfortable. You put your sleeping stuff down in a huge room next to a whole bunch of other people, which is when I remembered that I don't really like other people, so yuck. I walked around Portsmouth, got some stuff to eat at Kroger, and went back to the LIFE center. If someone had offered me a ride back to Columbus that night I would have taken it, no question. I was disoriented and unhappy, although I must mention that the hot showers at the LIFE center were fabulous.
I was relieved to leave at sunrise and the ride back to Waverly went without a hitch. It was cold, but dry and I had learned to appreciate this. The next leg, the hilly one, was fine as well. I was at the lunch stop by 10:30 again, and only flats to go! I was feeling great, because it seemed like I should be back around 2:30 again, right? Jennifer was in town (she'd flown in earlier in the week to take V to a concert) and needed to get to the airport that night. I figured I would have time to hang out with her when I got back. So, so wrong. It turned windy. Really windy! That slowed things down considerably. By 2:30 I hadn't yet reached the rest stop in Circleville. And when I got to that little rest stop, the one nine miles out that I disdainfully blew by the day before? I stopped to gratefully grab a few more life-sustaining peanut M&Ms and catch my breath. Almost there...
...and then I got lost. Seriously, maybe TWO MILES from the end, I followed the little painted arrows and they took me across a bridge and stopped. There were about ten people milling about that point, and we split up and went three different ways to try to get to the real end. My group (I followed two guys who had ridden last year) first went to Bicentennial Park but there didn't seem to be anything there, so we went back to the hotel where our luggage was supposed to be. It was there, so that was the end. An awkward end, but whatever. By that time it was after 4:30. I did have a little time to say bye to J, and she and V had made cupcakes: half for B's birthday and half for Mother's Day. They were all exquisitely decorated. Clearly, some time was spent on Pinterest in my absence.
So all I have to do is stay in shape for a couple of months and I should be okay for the Seattle-to-Portland ride, although there is a mile-long seven percent grade on that ride. Taxi?