A couple of ride reports for today. Yesterday (Friday) Shauna and I went to Tunnel Hill and rode to Vienna and back on the rail trail. We did great and had a very enjoyable ride. Shauna has lost over 50 pounds, stopped smoking and is in the best shape of her life; when she did this same ride last year there were several stops and she had a hard time finishing, this year was relatively a breeze.
When most people think of riding in Southern Illinois the Tunnel Hill Trail is probably the first thing they think of. It’s a crushed limestone trail that runs from Harrisburg to Belknap, which is close to 50 miles. People come from all over the state and even the entire Nation to ride it. Since it is a repurposed railroad bed it has very gradual turns and climbs, and it has some wonderful Southern Illinois scenery, big bridges, and a really cool Tunnel you get to ride though. Despite all that I don’t ride it much anymore for lots of reasons, but its always nice to revisit it about once a year.
This morning seven people met at Vienna and rode. The route was northwest to Lick Creek, up the 3 mile climb to Goreville, East on the super good Tunnel Hill Blacktop, and then back down to Vienna making a 40 mile loop. Terry and I took a detour and made the loop 47 miles. It was a casual group, my Dad and I raced each other up the hills a few times and then would reconnect and ride with everyone else and rejoin the conversation. The sky was overcast and there was a fine mist in the air helping to keep the temperatures down.
Two of the riders were from Champaign Illinois and had left home at 1:30 so they could make it here and ride. In comparison I was a little annoyed at my alarm going off around 4:30. I made a few jokes about hills in Central Illinois, or the lack of hills, which they replied it wasn’t as completely flat as everyone thinks. They must be right because they had no problem making it up the hills.
Now this next part I hesitate to write but will anyway. I had a very enjoyable time this morning and am glad I went on the ride, but at the same time I’m feeling kind of let down about it. I have this notion that I want to become a faster, better bike rider and this ride didn’t do much to get me there. I wanted it to be longer, but I would have had to leave the group and the guy I drove to do that. There is nothing stopping me from putting my kit back on and heading out for some more miles instead of complaining to my computer, so I can either accept that I’m riding for fun and be happy or go out and do some work on the boring routes I’ve ridden from home over and over again. I suppose I could just turn on “le Tour” and watch the pros suffer, yeah that’s the ticket, and maybe I’ll gain something through Osmosis.