Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Skip’s Summer Solstice Ride

Once a year, on or about June 21st, We in the Northern Hemishere Experience the Summer Solstice and enjoy the maximum amount of daylight. And every year to celebrate the event, MHCC President Skip Holmes organizes his Summer Solstice Ride to take advantage of the extra daylight with a 50 mile ride in Southern Albany County. The ride is always a Tuesday night so this year the ride took place on June 23rd. Skip advertises the ride on the club web site and makes it a special ride with pizzas delivered right to the parking lot where the ride starts and finishes. Very cool.

More than 50 riders showed up on that beautiful warm summer night. I got delayed a bit at work so i missed the official 5:30 pm start time but i was able to snare a map and then i connected with a fellow CBRC'er hoping to chase down the pack. This of course was a futile effort, even though we worked well together and made a good pace into a light headwind from the west. There were hoards of very fast and fit riders that i saw exit the parking lot as i was changing into my riding gear, so i knew we would never catch the "A" group, but maybe the "B" group?

The route was mostly flat all the way to Altamont, so it was not likely we would catch anyone, but we did catch some folks off the main group as we climbed up the Altamont hill to Thompson Lake Road. From there we passed a few more riders and enjoyed the view along Warners Lake. We were again chasing but i knew we would never catch too many more riders. We dropped down into Thatcher Park via Beaver Dam Road and then along the park road before climbing up the Helderberg Escarpment for a second time on Indian Ledge Road.

It was here that we caught our ride leader Skip and some fellow Masters riders. Skip was stopped on the side of the road with a flat rear tire. We all pitched in to fix that and then proceeded up the hill. Indian Ledge connects with Wolf Hill and then NYS Rt. 443. Here the ride gradually descends for several miles and a pace line can cover this stretch all the way to Rt. 9W easily averaging 30+ mph. It's a blast. By now my group had dwindled to just me and Gary G. as Skip needed to cut his ride short to order the pizzas and a few others needed to bail for various reasons. Gary and I were determined to get the whole 53 miles in so we pressed on. We caught two more riders and we four stayed together to finish up in the dark. The reward at the end was finally connecting with all the familiar faces and having some pizza and cold drinks. Thanks Skip for a great Club tradition. And thanks Art for the beer... and yes, its pronounced "smid-icks". Who knew?

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