St. Nick’s Brew Tour July

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Sunday I met up with many Southern Illinois area cyclists in DuQuion  for St. Nick’s Bicycle Club’s Brew Tour.  It was a 40ish mile ride from St. Nick’s Brewery to Scratch Brewery in Ava IL.  I didn’t count how many riders but I’d guess there was around 30.  Considering the temperatures was mid 90s with a heat index well over 100 that was a good turnout in my opinion.

DuQuoin is over an hour away from home, and I normally wouldn’t go that far for a bike ride unless I was really excited about it.  With my Saturday work schedule I don’t get to many opportunities to ride with a big group and I was hoping for a big group and some exciting peleton action.  I suppose watching the Le Tour has me fired up.  The ride didn’t disappoint.

St. Nick’s cycling team is new on the scene, but they seem like they have everything they need to be successful, a cool team kit, a bike friendly sponsor, and awesome motivated riders.  I’m looking to see this group grow.  It seems like they have just as many women riding as they do men which is awesome.  They put together a nice route and I’m sure a big part of the draw is connecting two area breweries together, the excitement for the local craft beers was infectious.

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The route was mostly flat, there were a couple of rolling hills near the middle and a climb of about 200 feet at the end, I got less then 1000 feet of climbing and did the big climb twice, so yeah, flat.  The route is a zig zag of right angles which is awesome for headwinds since you’re not likely to sit in the wind for 20 miles, the road conditions in the area ranged from excellent to good.  It’s the kind of route that would be good mind numbing training alone but with a feisty group becomes exciting fun.

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Our group got pretty feisty about 5 miles in and we formed a breakaway of 13 riders.  I came to the ride with my friend Barry, and he did his best to go to the front and wind things up.  For awhile he was pulling 24 into a bit of a headwind.  A St. Nick’s rider named Katie was the route leader for our breakaway group and did a heroic job keeping in the front of the group and making everyone aware of the turns.  I know from experience just how hard it is to keep a ride like this together.

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Scratch was the turnaround point, it’s a rustic farm microbrewery with tons of character.  It looked like a real cool place to hang out.  Almost everyone had a drink of some kind, I had some of the gooseberry soda which was awesome, and some guys got a huge rustic crusty loaf of bread.  I was able to procure half a loaf to take home with me and snack on for the ride back.  By the way that bread was great with the salmon we had for supper.

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The return trip was a bit more civilized.  The local riders stayed on the front and pulled most of the way keeping the pace plenty high to keep everyone satisfied.  In the last few miles a few of us went off the front and I pretty much rode myself into the ground staying near the front.  In the last couple of miles we had a 24 mph average speed, so yeah, fast.

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If you asked a cyclist to design the ultimate place to meet up for a ride and refuel after the ride then you’d end up with St. Nicholas Brewing Company.  I   had a plate of pretzel sticks which were amazing, but thanks to Moe and Tony I was able to sample some excellent pizza and fantastic roasted olives.  Moe and Tony rode from Desoto for an 80 mile day, they needed lots of fuel for the ride home.

So thanks again to the St. Nick’s crew for putting on an excellent free ride!  Looking forward to the next one.

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About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
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