Sunday, August 28, 2005

Supporting Easton
Now that I've reached a full week after the day of the ride, I suppose the memories of it all are ripe enough to pluck and serve in a sugared-up compote for the PoW readership. I won't go into the details of where it all is because the Atlantic Cycling site has all the details. And it has a recap as well which you should cast a squint at. Briefly speaking, the ride was on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Maryland's lovely Eastern Shore I might add. It's beautiful out there. Countryside (emph on the "country" part) there is gently rolling (nice for cycling if you weren't following closely) and beautiful: lots of farm fields and quaint towns.
The day, however, had early promise of turning ugly. And it did. Sunshine that was pleasant in the early morning turned to brutal in the late morning and from then on. Humid - yep, that too. Despite that ugliness, cycling in such weather is not killingly bad. It's not as nice as on a cool day but it's do-able. And the better cyclist you are, the better you'll do on such a day. The cooling effect of being able to skim pavement at upwards of 18 mph makes a difference.
The rest stop was an unusual situation. Usually there are two rest stops - one that catches both the long riders and the short riders and another that only gets the long riders. On the Easton ride there is but one rest stop which gets the short riders once and the long riders both going out and coming back. There were 192 riders (more than double last year's number - I ascribe it to the word-of-mouth of the incredible rest stops [yeah, right -Ed.] sarcasm doesn't become you Ed) so we had a lot of people when you consider that a good number of the riders were through twice. Lucky for me I had the help not only of Lycurgus but of a couple who live out on the Eastern Shore and help out on rides held there. I really needed the help as I was having a really bad joint day. So I mostly parked my ass and sliced watermelon for the riders (four were killed that day but their sacrifice was in a noble cause).
Lycurgus was a hero. He made runs for water and more ice, both of which were sorely needed. A lot of Gatorade passed from our rest stop to cyclists' guts to oblivion. A couple of days before the ride I happened upon a foil bag of Gatorade that made up to 2.5 gallons and bought it on a whim as 'just in case.' Good thing I did because it was all used. We were situated at a boat launch ramp in the shade of some long-needle pine trees (see the photos from the 2004 ride at the AtCyc site - it's in exactly the same place) near the house of a very nice lady who let us fill water bags from her place. Robert and Tammy (the couple mentioned earlier) worked on keeping the water coolers filled and PB&J sammiches supplied. And thank goodness - there would have been no way, no possible way that I alone could have kept up with the fruit, the PB&Js and the fluids even if my joints were functioning at full design limits.
The riders were great. By the time they came in, they were in need of the fluid and the goodies which were more than happy to provide. I was pushing "Flavor-Blasted BBQ Cheddar Goldfish" all day more because the name amused me than anything else but it became a running joke. I must say, the good cheer of the riders really helps make the rest stop experience a great one. And the Easton ride had one real high water mark: one woman was carrying an empty beer can in her jersey pocket. She and her companions, for this was a joint effort, would, if they found some item of roadkill beside the road, place a beer can in the paws of the critter. When they explained it, we were laughing our butts off. I'd love to see the reactions of passers-by to finding, say, a coon corpse clutching a "Silver Bullet." Heck, I may start carrying an empty for the same purpose.
Next year I'm riding this ride. I doubt I'll be able to do the long ride but I am going to be in the saddle next year at Easton. Promise. I will hope for a cooler day though.

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