I was invited to a Group Ride in Ina Illinois by my friend Shon when we completed the Tour de Corn last week. The ride was on the 4th of July, which I had off, the only catch was the 6 AM start time and the fact that I would need to leave at 5 AM to make it. I’m a morning person, so while none of my friends were interested I wasn’t phased by the start time. I drove alone.
The group ride was one of the best I’ve been on all year, the group was awesome, the route was awesome, the weather was awesome, I felt awesome, it just all added up to an excellent ride.
Ina is North from me and I’ve always dismissed the Northern part of Southern Illinois for riding, it’s too flat and the roads are all to straight. While this route wasn’t a revelation with all kinds of secret awesome hills, I was very impressed by the quality of roads. There were hills, there were curves and there was miles of excellent smooth painted highways with nary a vehicle in sight. I had actually packed arm warmers in my bag because this July morning the temperature was below 60 degrees. I didn’t end up wearing the arm warmers since no one else had sleeves but they would have been nice for the first 20 minutes.
The group was great, I had met a few of these guys before but they didn’t really know me and vice-versa but they made me feel very welcome. The pace was on right from the beginning, not killer fast but plenty fast to get the heart rate up and allow for socializing. The organizer had stashed a cooler with water and bananas around the halfway point which was super cool because I’d only taken one small water bottle and was in need.
The last ten miles was some of the fastest riding I’ve done, Benny and Shon picked up the pace and we rode a 6 mile section with a 23.6 average. I pulled for a bit but had to skip a turn when I was getting close to falling off. Shon was more then capable of taking my extra turn. We stopped and waited for the group about 3 miles out and when they came flying by it was like something from a police chase. We tossed our doughnuts and coffee, jumped on our bikes and spun out of the parking lot in pursuit of the group. It took everything I could muster to catch back on to the fast paced group.
After the ride I spent nearly an hour leaned on my bike in the parking lot talking to people. I was in no condition to drive and I wouldn’t have been able to get my bike up on the roof rack anyway.
Benny, who I mentioned earlier, is an executive for Continental Tire is heading off to France. He’ll actually be riding in the BMC tour car on a stage of “Le Tour”. That is awesome! I asked him to try and give Tee Jay a big push if he could.
Hope I can make it back to another ride this summer.