I hitched a ride with Eli and the boyz to Kiwanis Fun Day Ride 2013 though I almost backed out since it was raining pretty hard, I should have known that wouldn’t shut down the the East siders. The Fun Day ride used to be held in Mt. Vernon Illinois which is a pretty big town and not an ideal place to start a bike ride, last year they moved the ride 15 miles South to Rend Lake’s new welcome center, an excellent place to start a ride.
The Fun Day ride is nothing if not accommodating, the 12 mile route is entirely on bike trails for those who prefer to stay off the road and there is a 30, 60 and even 100 mile route. This ride never draws a huge turnout, usually around 100-150 riders I think, though it should really start drawing more now that the starting location is so much better.
There was a significant number of riders I knew and we hooked up to form a fast moving group early. I saw my buddy EZ Rawker who I rode with last year. Brant had been elected Road Captain for the event and did a great job shouting out orders and keeping everything straight. It was a cool morning, unseasonably cool, and it became even cooler when the rain began in about 15 minutes. At the first stop I got out my rain jacket and put it on, I was super glad to have it.
As we continued on the pace slowly grew quicker. Anthony, a speedy rider, was taking long hard pulls on the front of the group and I was doing my best try and match his pace when I pulled. Truth was we had a group of diesel engines pulling this ride, Moe, Eli, and Joe all took turns pulling. Road Captain Brant even went to the front to pull a bit. The route is great mix of back roads and painted highways, a bit of rolling hills but its mostly flat there. Lots of turns, and turns can be a bit scary when you’re in a tight paceline moving at 20 miles per hour, even more scary when its raining.
Following typical procedure I really didn’t prepare well for this ride, I couldn’t find much to eat in the morning, just a couple of pop tarts. I made some coffee and filled a shake up bottle, then added a dose of Slim-Fast Chocolate Royale. This was freaking awesome, it tasted like I just bought a high end mocha from an upscale coffeee shop. There was the side effect that I nearly pee’d in Drew’s back seat before we got to Rend Lake. I had also noticed a bag of taffy that I bought Shauna, which she hid in a cabinet since she’s on a ultra strict biggest loser diet. I saw that saltwater taffy has a good amount of both sodium and sugar, hell that’s just what you need on a bike ride!
This year I am enjoying some of the finest form of my life, I find this odd because I really haven’t rode that hard in the last few weeks. I guess my century last weekend might of helped out some, but I was feeling particularly awesome this entire ride. I guess it was probably the coffee, or maybe it was the quality of the group but I never really felt like I was ever really pushing myself. Maybe it was the taffy, I was eating a piece every 5 miles or so.
We were forced by a police road block to take a detour on some freshly oiled and chipped roads. This is the kind of stuff that freaks alot of riders out, it can be like trying to ride on ball bearings. We were still moving along at a decent speed but had about 8 cars stuck behind us. There was too much gravel on the right side of the road for us to get over, and the cars didn’t seem to want to try and pass us.
As we approached the final few miles on Rend City road the tightness became a problem, its a really narrow road, which isn’t usually a problem, but there were some cars stuck behind us. The rider on the front of the peleton looked back a few times, I was pretty sure he was wanting to rotate off but couldn’t because there were cars right behind the peloton. I was about 5 riders back and was feeling good so I popped out and got in front, then slowed back down to the pace. When I looked back Moe and Anthony were behind me and laughing, “I thought you were going for it,” one of them said.
“I’m just trying to help out,” I replied. They said, “cool” and we continued along and I believe the cars behind us were able to pass. On the next downhill Larry shot around me and said, “Downhill is my only chance,” I decided it must be race time. I wasn’t sure how far we were from the end but I knew it was close. I got up and hammered up the next hill, I looked back and saw Moe and Anthony were with me. I pulled for maybe a minute and was feeling this terrible grinding stomach pain, I had been getting hungry but this was rough. I grabbed a piece of taffy, got about half the wrapper off then stuck it my mouth wrapper and all. I lost contact after this and had to really push myself to get back up to Anthony. I think this is where Moe dropped back.
Anthony and I took turns riding into the wind at around 23 miles per hour, but I know that on my turns the speed was falling off to 20. Anthony was probably pulling twice as long as I was. With the final hill in site I was having a hard time holding his wheel. A voice in my head said, “Not bad Matt, you did the best you could, go ahead and stop.”
I was like, “Oh thanks, this really hurts,” and I began to lighten up on the pedals, I told Anthony as he passed me, “I’m done.” I heard the words come out of my mouth and though, I’m not done, I just want to quit. The taffy was kicking in I could feel the salt and sugar rushing into my cells! I turned myself inside out to hang on to his wheel up the final climb. As we approached the welcome center I asked myself, “Do I really want to sprint?”
The voice answered me, “Nah, you really outdid yourself just hanging on, now set back and relax.”
I replied to the voice by clicking a gear getting out of the saddle and sprinting. Anthony was not expecting this, in fact I think he thought I had been dropped, because he had just dropped a gear. If you’ve seen sprints on TV then you’ve probably seen how the guy who starts in second place and comes around usually wins. You get the added bonus of some draft as you start in their slipstream, and you get to choose when the sprint starts which gives you a second to get up to speed before them. Anthony switched some gears rapidly and tried to get up to speed but I had too big of an advantage.
Again, the good people of the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis ride have done an excellent job with the Fun Day Ride, the good people at Conti cycling are a great group to ride with, and I had an awesome time, looking forward to next year.