My original, solo, plan was to ride sunrise to sundown, with the wind at my back. Granted that is practically impossible because even here in the
For the past week I’ve been checking the weather for temperature, precipitation and Of Course wind direction. I’ve been looking at maps to get a general sense of route – it was looking like either generally west (ENE winds) or generally north (SSE).
That was the original, solo, plan for this Wednesday. And it is still a dandy plan. But I made the mistake of mentioning it to one of the Saturday morning ride guys. Who also thought it was a good idea and if he could work it out for Wednesday, could he come along? Well, I like to ride with others at least as much as riding alone, and he is a lot of fun to ride with … if a bit strong for my riding style. OK, we agreed, if he can work it out he’ll let me know Monday and we’ll confirm Tuesday afternoon and get started at sunrise Wednesday.
But Tuesday afternoon, the plan began to change: could we leave at 7 instead of sunrise? Wife’s gone and I gotta walk the dog. (No problem, I could still get in an hour or more before we start together.) And do we really want to bother to have someone pick us up? The wind isn’t supposed to be that strong, it won’t be that bad, and we can still be gone all day. Why don’t we ride up … you get the idea. And I caved. There is something about riding with others, and I ought to have just kept my idea to myself if I wanted to go solo.
Wednesday’s solo ride would have begun at 5:55am, headed west (ESE wind). Sometime mid-morning the wind shifted pretty much to the south, so I would have gone north, ending up somewhere in lower central
Wednesday’s ride turned out to be the longest ride of my life, and for sheer distance and time the highlight ride of my season. If you’ve read earlier posts, this was the success last year’s trip to
I was nearly ready to go at sunrise, but had failed the night before to re-set my cyclo-computer. Since we were going to ride the Prairie Path (etc.) I had changed out the narrow road tires for my touring tires, first rotating them as I do every 1,000 miles. So at 5:55 as I was rolling out the drive I remembered that and had to pull in and change the computer. Well, OK, so it was 6:00 when I began. I did some of my
The rest is an odd mix of ho-hum been-there, and a blur of unfamiliar roads with no navigation landmarks. And of course no map. Prairie Path to Fox River Trail to McHenry County Trail (fuel stop in Algonquin) to
The next part of our ride was both tantalizing and frustrating. With the exception of
Finally at one point we stopped and Tav got a sense from a young mom where we were and how far from the Trail. Now the bloodhounds were back on the scent, and about 10 miles later we were re-fueling in
Fuel stops are awesome. Unless one is dehydrated or well on the way to dehydration, even a 5-minute stop to eat and drink (and, well … you know) re-energizes. Now, the longer you go on a ride, the shorter this effect lasts. But it is a beautiful thing. And with this last stop, as I say, we knew that once we got off U.S. 14 we would sail, just sail home along The Path.
Well, let me cut to the chase. We did just that, though our sailing home was with sails somewhat diminished from our ride out over the same terrain. I know Tav could have ridden all night (hey, he’s done it many times in extreme rides), and he had been holding back all day to accommodate my more relaxed speed and style. But hey, this was supposed to be “my ride,” and if I had to ride into the wind half the day I guess I didn’t care if he had to change his style. Plus, he’s so darned good natured. And as he says, “it’s not about the miles, it’s the time in the saddle.” And we got plenty. On the last stretch, coming out of
Evening moved in, and finally we saw that little bit of light at the end of the tree tunnel leading to “my intersection” of the IPP in Winfield. Parting ways, I ended at home at 7:47pm, about 20 minutes shy of sunset. 175.9 miles for the day, my longest ever, and surely a distance not to be exceeded or matched again this year. But I’m telling people it was 176 miles… 175.9 seems a bit too fixated on distance, and after all I should get at least .1 mile credit from riding into the wind!