This morning was the Illini Chill bike ride in St. Joe, IL. It’s a 22 mile ride in the middle of winter that may or may not benefit the Boy Scouts (there were lots of Boy Scouts hanging around at the start and the half way point).
It started with a “lumberjack breakfast” at a church in St. Joe. For some reason I assumed this meant pancakes but I was way off. It was greasy biscuits, greasy gravy, greasy eggs, greasy sausage, greasy bacon, greasy hash browns. Fortunately I found a small table with bagels, toast, and an apple (all of which I at least consider to be edible). I had been expecting to meet several of my cycling friends from Champaign-Urbana, but I did not recognize a sole at the breakfast.
Next was the small matter of the 22 miles in sub-freezing temperatures with a considerable amount of wind. There was a much smaller crowd at the start than anyone anticipated. Eventually, the ride organizers realized that many people were waiting at the location where the ride started last year, rather than the new location where it started this year. Both groups started at roughly the same time and we all met up once we got out of town.
I was now riding with some of my friends (Karl, Luke, Larry, Tom, Mark), but it was very slow going. The country roads were in terrible shape. They were very slick. There were huge drifts. In some places we couldn’t even tell we were on a road. After the first turn when we got a cross wind, 3 people hit the deck right away. Fortunately the considerable snow padded their falls and nobody was injured.
It was actually pretty fun. All I could do was grin and think to myself, this is some crazy shit.
I was wearing 3 layers of socks (including my magic Gore-Tex socks), 3 layers of pants, and 3 layers of shirts/jackets. I was overdressed. With the wind at our backs I was sweating buckets. I had been cold standing around the parking lot before the ride so I thought it better to err on the side of warmth.
We made our way to the half way point at a church in Royal, IL. More Boy Scouts were waiting with some hot chocolate and granola bars. After a short rest we decided to deviate from the set course in order to travel on roads which were more likely to be cleared of snow. We started quickly on the way back, only to turn into a strong headwind for several miles. This was less fun… but we made it back without incident.
After the ride was a spaghetti lunch at yet another church. It was a good time with some exciting (if a tad scary at times) riding.