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Friday, July 17, 2015

Cleveland Cincinnati Cleveland 1000K

My original plan to ride a Texas 1000K brevet in late May was cut short due to the unrelenting severe thunderstorms and flooding south of Dallas.  Conditions were such that I was reluctant to drive in that area, let alone ride a bike, so my wife and I turned around in West Memphis AR and returned home.  Shopping for another 1000K candidate within a reasonable driving distance turned up the Cleveland - Cincinnati - Cleveland (CtoCtoC) event hosted by bike-ohio.com on July 9-12.  This brevet is new this year (only the inbound 500K was offered last year).  It is structured differently than a typical 1000K - instead of an initial 400K starting at 4 am followed by a couple of 300K sections, the event consists of a starting and ending 200K with two 300K sections sandwiched between them.  The initial 200K started at 2 pm from Cleveland's Voinovich Park near the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, right at Lake Erie (9th Street Pier).  The daylight start was a big plus in navigating through Cleveland's rough pavement and many railroad crossings, as well as the remaining large puddles (6 inches deep) covering some roads - leftovers from recent heavy rain.

Prepping for rain showers
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Dave Buzzee

Frank Seebode and volunteer Debbie
Seven of us started out under light rain, with Jonathan from Cleveland leading the way.  Another feature of this event was the route markings on the pavement - I'm used to navigating only with cue sheets.  The first day took us beside some of Cleveland's industrial area and extensive railyards before pedaling several miles along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  The trail is mostly paved near Cleveland, but there are some sections of crushed limestone.  Fortunately, the limestone does not turn into sticky mud when wet and flooded, but it still resulted in some very dirty bikes and riders.  The trail follows the Cuyahoga River until about mile 19 (first control), when we left it to continue on lightly traveled roads (including some challenging climbs) to the dinner stop at Weatherstone Park in Wadsworth.  I should mention that the ride organizer Frank Seebode did a superb job of coordinating meal stops and controls - there was not a single control throughout the entire ride at a convenience store!  No shopping the aisles for food!  The first dinner stop featured grilled veggie burgers, chips, drinks and energy bars for the road.  More rolling hills took us to Millersburg (mile 85 control), and from there it was plugging away to Mt Vernon for the first overnight (arrived just after midnight).  My wife Deane accompanied me for the trip, so she did sightseeing (credit for all pictures) while I rode, and met me at the overnight controls.

Our group of seven left Mt Vernon at 4 am on Day 2, for the outbound 300K to Newport KY (just over the Ohio River from Cincinnati).  By the time we reached the breakfast control (Hamburger Inn, Delware OH, mile 162), Dave B had determined he should not continue due to saddle interface issues.  PBP is a more important goal for him, and it's only a month away.  We splintered somewhat from here but regrouped at controls.  Rain continued off and on, although there was a brief period of almost an hour when the sun actually shone.  Volunteer Debbie worked efficiently at each control to make sure everyone had enough food and drink.  It was somewhere during this section that I noticed Jim K was dropping off the back, and he eventually bailed out.  He had not been able to get any sleep for about 2 days leading up to the ride.  After getting some rest, Jim spent the rest of the weekend volunteering along with Debbie, which was a great help.

Beautiful rolling Amish farmland with horses, sheep and goats occupied most of the afternoon.  I rolled into the food control at Corwin a few minutes after Scott (from TX) for another hot meal (Corwin Peddlar, Arepas Columbian Food).  It was another 45 miles to the overnight in Newport KY, but I arrived there before dark (8:20) after crossing the Purple People Bridge from Cincinnati.

Arrival at 500K midpoint in Newport KY

 We didn't need to leave Newport KY until 4 am, so this was the longest overnight of the ride, and I had a great sleep at the Comfort Suites Inn.  Just before departing at 4, Frank looked up in the sky and commented that there was an unusual sight - stars were visible.  This portended a wonderful day - the best of the ride.  Another rider had dropped out due to mechanical issues (broken shifter), but Robert from CA joined us for the inbound 500K.  He was fresh and strong, and soon left us.  About an hour after leaving Newport, while riding on a quiet street out of Cincinnati, I heard the rider behind me hit the pavement.  The two of us in front turned back and helped him to the side of the street.  Apparently his hand had slipped off the handlebar and he couldn't keep his bike upright.  Fortunately only one of his ankles was a little swollen, but his front wheel was toast.  This left us with three of the original starters.  Scott was somewhere behind us and we learned later (after he caught up) that the quick connect link in his chain broke, requiring a roadside repair.  A good number of miles were on the Little Miami Scenic Trail and Ohio to Erie Trail.  These are converted railroad beds (Rails to Trails), paved and very moderate in elevation changes.  You do have to watch out for tree debris and other trail users.  Lunch control (again, ably supported by Debbie and Jim) was at Clifton Mill.

Unfortunately for Jonathan, who was leading our small group, his ride came to an end at the Hamburger Inn control (Delaware OH).  He choked badly on some food and had to be taken to the emergency room to have the obstruction cleared.  Now it was down to Scott and myself for the 1000K.  We stayed together pretty much the rest of the day and evening, arriving in Mt Vernon a little after 10 pm.

Arrival at Mt Vernon inbound - greeted by Jim and Debbie
 Deane got me some hot pizza and I grabbed a shower and a few hours of sleep, though not nearly as restful as at Newport.  I knew the final day had some lumpy terrain, so decided to leave at 3:30 am.  Scott was not ready yet and I left solo, soon picking up the Kokosing Gap Trail.  Breakfast appeared at the Millersburg control, with a little less than 100 miles to go.  By this point, Scott had caught and passed me - he would remain ahead of me the remainder of the ride.  The next 40 miles were probably the most difficult of the entire ride, with a lot of tough rollers.  This was balanced by the pleasant and peaceful Amish countryside.  There were plenty of horse drawn buggies out - I was passed by one as I struggled up a hill.  It was a relief when I finally crested a hill and turned into the Weatherstone Park at Wadsworth to the cheers of Debbie and Jim.  I sat down for some welcome food just as Scott was taking off.  Frank told me the next 25 miles had some more rolling hills, as well as the steepest climb of the entire 1000K.  Sure glad I packed that bail out gear - two feet on the ground.  Frank wasn't kidding.  I ended up walking up three hills before getting to the penultimate control at Brandwine Falls Park.  Both Debbie and Deane were here to welcome me with more food and encouragement.  Only 23 miles to go, basically flat, and 3 hours!  Who cares if it's raining a little?  You've got this one!

Arriving at the penultimate control - Brandywine

Debbie at penultimate control

 I cruised along the Metro Parks Bike and Hike Trail and Towpath Trail, until about 10 miles from the end when it was time to hit Cleveland's city streets.  I was thankful for the finish in daylight as I picked my way around various craters and walked over some very bad railroad crossings.  Very near the end (I think it was the right turn onto W. St. Clair Ave), an uphill presented itself that looked like something transported from Seattle or San Francisco.  No thanks, it's off the bike for me.  I will take to the sidewalk with my feet.  Once at the top, it was a flat cruise to the end at the same place we started - Voinovich Park and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Unlike my last day on the 1200K last fall, I did not suffer from sleep deprivation.  However, I am not ashamed to say I was not ready for another 200K!


Fantastic support team!