Written by Steve Pequinot
Our touring season began like a cannon blast. The opening season tour was April 2nd at Woodlan High School. We had 73 riders in four groups. Each group was fairly evenly divided in numbers. I did my usual by video recording each group as they pasted by shortly after the start; after which I began at the back of the last group on the road. As I came upon each group from behind I slowly past so I could get all of the riders in the video. It took me 4 miles before I caught up to the A group. Once in the peloton it took a mile to recover from the fast pace start. It was an enjoyable, yet brisk pace to the convenience store north of Cecil, Ohio. On the way back we took CR 192 on the north side of the river so the trees would help block the wind. With a crossing headwind in our faces one would think the pace would slow a bit; not this time. There was a strong group of A riders including World Champion Gary Painter, who pulled most of the way back. As the miles rolled on the pace got faster. Several miles east of the state line there was a split in the group. The smart riders stayed in the second group. About seven of us did our best to hang on with Gary. We thought we were doing well until we got to Husted Road. When we turned north Gary said goodbye and blasted off. By the time the group got to Notestine Road Gary was so far off the front he could not be seen. From that point, us humans kept a steady pace pulling into the finish at Woodlan High School with a 22.34 average for 51 miles. At that point I thought ‘are you kidding me?’ 22.34 average speed on the first tour of the season! This ride was the fastest season opening tour in the past 11 years that I have been doing this. It was by far the most exciting season opening tour that I have experienced. I’m thinking, wow! This is going to be a wonderful season.
From there the season was off to a flying start for our touring riders. Thanks to our 16 ride leaders, the club had two weekend tours, two Monday night tours, one Tuesday tour, the state’s fastest evening tour, the Saturn Ride each Wednesday, the Skills and Girls Ride Out tours Thursdays, along with the City Tour the first Friday of each month. What a great lineup with distance and pace options suitable for just about every touring rider. With the exception of an occasional rainout our ride leaders delivered eight tours a week during the season, offering paces from 12 to 20 plus MPH. Oh what fun it was.
This season we had an influx of new riders. With our membership at a ten-year high we felt some new life in the club. It was so refreshing seeing new riders learning group touring dynamics, gaining confidence, skill and speed as the weeks passed. Toward season’s end the Skills Tour was more like an all out A group ride. It makes for a good ride when the entire group is working for one another, riding in a tight group as one.
What gives me the most joy is seeing riders improve their group skills and pace. This season many riders elevated themselves up one pace group. Several riders made huge gains and moved up two group levels. That is a tremendous achievement in one season. Many things go into these improvements such as motivation, personal commitment, putting in the miles and maybe the biggest factor, camaraderie within the club. Without the last ingredient the first three would be more difficult to achieve. The camaraderie I feel in cycling is greater than any sport that I have participated in. Fellow members offer encouragement, training tips, and support. These are the building blocks that form camaraderie within the club and keep the fire lit for me. I hope you feel it also.
In my nine years as your touring director, 2017 saw the largest attendance in the weekend tours, which averaged 28.55 riders per tour. That’s over 9 riders per weekend tour more than in 2009.
Our End of Year Party was December 8th. It was an enjoyable evening listening to Cathie Rowand and Kathy Weiss speak about their many cycling trips bridging over four decades, followed by awards presented to 132 members. Our dinner from Ziano’s was delicious and the cycling stories were flowing one after another. The evening ended with a tribute to David Park, who, while cycling with club members and friends saved the life of a fellow cyclist by performing CPR. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life being the presenter of the Humanitarian Award to David. His actions inspired everyone in attendance. David received a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes.
We did have one hiccup at the party as I forgot to present eleven awards to those members who completed all three one-hundred mile plus stages of the 3RVS Labor Day Weekend Triple Century Tour. I apologize for the oversight. The awards will be presented to the eleven recipients at the January 4, 2018 club meeting. Winners of the award are Mona Will, Ted McComb, Tom Yoder, Susan Zuber, Ed Lines, Shane Powell, Rex Connelly, Mark Geiger, John Rodino, II, Patrick Stelte and Steve Pequignot.
None of the accomplishments and recognitions mentioned above would have been possible without the direction and leadership of our President, Patrick Stelte. Patrick spent countless hours preparing every detail for our party. His direction is the reason for our success. Patrick is usually the first to welcome new riders to our tours. This season several riders from out of town traveled significant distance to attend our tours. Some of these riders are members of other cycling clubs in their local area and have also joined 3RVS because they enjoy our friendly touring format. This is a positive reflection of our club and it all starts from the top with our president. Thank you Patrick!
Thank you all for this memorable season. I look forward to seeing you next year on the road.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a warm holiday season.