Shaundo has been bummed out ever since I was too sick to ride the Misaligned Minds ride a few weeks ago. When she found out about the Great Pumpkin Metric and managed to get this Sunday off we were locked in. To make things even better I talked my Mom and Dad into going.
With Shaundo involved I’ve been getting constant reminders for the past few days to get the bikes ready, get my clothes ready, get my helmet in the car, print out directions, and basically do everything a smart person would do before they drive 100 miles to a bike ride. Thanks to Shauna we got to the ride 30 minutes early and I had everything I needed packed in a bag. It was much nicer than the way I’ve been doing rides where I get there 5 minutes before the ride starts and find I’m missing my gloves.
I’ve never been to the Great Pumpkin Metric in Evansville Indina despite the fact that it’s probably the largest ride within easy driving distance. My old buddies that I started riding with years ago like Snake are too religious to do a ride on Sunday, so I had no idea what the GPM would be like. I knew it had a big turnout and I was pretty sure the route would be on flat side since I didn’t think there were many hills around Evansville. I was right about the turnout and wrong about the hills.
We met my friend Dan at the ride and started off with a 5 strong group that soon became 3 when Mom and Shaundo fell back. The morning air was crisp and the temperature was around 47 degrees, I was comfortable with leg warmers, arm warmers, an extra shirt under my jersey and a vest, but I was stunned by how many “tough guys” were out there dressed like it was 80 degrees. It’s always funny because you’ll see some folks in a shorts and jersey and others with an insulated jacket, sweat pants, and a balaclava. One other oddity today is that I wore my glasses on the ride. I almost never wear my glasses when riding, but it was nice to see things so crisply.
We pulled into the first rest stop together and I met some cool folks from the Mt. Vernon area. There was alot of talk about Miles’ Randoneruing Club and the brevets next year. I met a guy who I’ve seen on Miles’ blog a few times and was talking but eventually Mom reminded me that Dad and Dan were sitting on their bikes waiting on me.
So my plan on this ride was to just stay cool until a good-looking pace line swept by and then latch on and see how well I held up. No paceline had passed us in the first 18 miles. In fact pacelining was rare at this ride. There were plenty of roadies but everyone was riding side by side, talking and having a good time. All good stuff but I was wanting some hammering too.
I noticed that Dad, Dan and I had picked a fairly large group of riders at one point and when a cool downhill section appeared I found myself attacking. I checked my six and found a youth in a Radioshack jersey in my draft so I didn’t want to disappoint him. At the bottom of the hill I got low and started cranking. He held strong behind me, but when I finally sit up and moved over to let him have a turn he didn’t seem to be too comfortable leading. I went back around him and within a few minutes we turned a corner to see a monster hill.
Remember what I said about hills, well you’ll find them around Evansville, in fact there really wasn’t any flat or straight roads on this route. It was by far the best route I’ve done this year. The roads were incredible, painted highway, super smooth, almost no traffic except for the countless sag vehicles patrolling the course. Constant twists, tight turns, and a mix of long gradual climbs or short punchy hills. A truly excellent course.
After that tough climb I was talking about there was another stop. Let me tell you they put on some good stops. Now I don’t want to be too negative here, but I have to complain about some of the rides I’ve done recently. I know they are charity, but when you pay 25 or especially 35 like you do on the Tour de Hope, you have to wonder how little of that they are putting into their snack stops. How much could some snacks cost. The Great Pumpkin Metric had stops that were worth stopping at, plenty of variety, interesting themes, and friendly people.
I ran into my friend Joe at one stop who was riding a steel single speed that weighed more than most of the bikes there, but that didn’t stop him from running down everyone on the road in front of us. I rode with Joe for the next ten miles and spent most of it in his draft watching him grind out a 48×16 gear on climbs that had me running 39×26. We worked our way through a paceline and one guy couldn’t believe he was being pulled buy an old guy on a single speed. Soon we ran up alongside non other then the Radioshack kid. We talked and he was a great guy.
I finished up the last ten miles with Dad and Dan, at a more sane pace and was glad to see the 4H fairgrounds but for some crazy reason decided to go back and look for Shaundo. I rode 5 more miles out and my rear end told me to get it off the bike so I scooted back and bought some sodas for the crew. I was glad to see that Mom and Shaundo had made it back when I returned and were no worse for wear, this is by far the hardest ride Shauna has ever done: 65 miles, 5 farther than her longest ride, but more importantly almost constant hills, 3000 feet of climbing. She earned her stripes today.
Mom and Dad had no problem with the ride, I knew Mom would be fine but I was just a bit worried about Dad because he hasn’t been able to put in the miles he usually puts in this year. He planned to do the 50K but decided he felt good enough to do the 100K out on the ride. My worries were unfounded because he had no problems other than a slight mechanical. I was amazed by how many times he would be right behind me on a tough climb.
Now as if things couldn’t get any better, they did. After the ride there was a big spaghetti and Chilli meal. There was a band playing, and even a freezer full of ice cream. They could have easily charged for this meal, but instead it was part of your registration. If you like good routes, friendly people, and great stops you’ve got to do the Great Pumpkin Metric next year.