Today was Trailnet’s Spring Chicken Ride, starting and finishing in St. Libory, Illinois. I woke up at 7:00, surprised that Mark hadn’t rousted me at 6:30. After I had my breakfast, I realized Mark had gone back to bed and wasn’t feeling well (swine flu). I called our team captain, Don, and asked if I could share a ride with DJ and him. We got to the start and registered, and then we headed out to the South. It quickly became apparent that the wind would be much more challenging than the terrain, on this mostly flat ride. The wind was coming from the South, so we started into the head wind. The meteorologist on the news just reported that the wind “was strong, with gusts up to 35 mph!” I believe it.
When we were riding into the head wind, we’d shift into a low gear, and use the drops on our handlebars, and then just chug along slowly, trying to maintain a steady pace. When we were headed East or West, the strong cross winds were even trickier. I would be leaning the bike into the wind, wondering if the wind was going to gust harder and push me over onto the other side, or suddenly quit, so I’d fall on the windward side. When we were going north, we had a tail wind, which was GREAT! At one point we were going 25 mph and coasting! Did I mention how enjoyable this was? However, even the tail wind was fickle. A woman riding in front of us had a bad crash when the tail wind gusted, just as she had stuck out her arm to signal a turn. The wind pushed her into the gravel at the edge of the road, and down she went. She had road rash, (large abrasions), on her right arm and leg, and some minor scratches on her cheek and forehead. This was her second fall this week, so replacing her helmet was already on her list of things to do.
DJ and I did the middle route, which was 35 miles long, and Don took the long route which was 44 miles long. He caught up with us when we were just a couple of headwind miles from the finish. After loading the bikes, we went over to Chicken’s, and had their Sunday buffet, and strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert. We felt like we had earned both. On the way back, we made the mistake of driving through Forest Park. Since the Earth Day Festival was today, every road in the park was crowded with cars trying to find a place to park. Ride your bikes, people!