It was 4:30am and I had only had about 3 hours sleep, but I didn’t have time to worry about that, after all it was THE day! Both boys were asleep so I decided to get everything ready and loaded up before waking them. Here is my packing list:
Cell Phone Cord
Spare Clothes(For my wife’s car)
Water Bottles X 4
A lot to bring, but luckily my Kitty Litter Panniers were up to the task, and with everything loaded up, breakfast eaten(Oatmeal, banana, and yogurt), I roused the troops! I needed to be at the starting point by 6am, and wanted to leave the house by 5:30. The ride there was pretty smooth sailing with a quick stop for an energy drink, we arrived about 6:10. I got a good luck kiss from everyone and rode over to the registration area.
As I looked around I noticed this was NOT the WHAM Ride, everyone had some serious bikes and were dressed in full kits. Check in went smoothly, though I ordered the wrong size shirt, I really should have gone with the 1xl not the 2xl. I was also handed a 10 million page cue sheet with complicated directions that had me going cross-eyed. I tried to talk to some folks around me but wasn’t having much luck, so I pulled out my “can you take a picture” opening line.
That worked and soon I had struck up a conversation with a nice lady from Chicago, she was training for an Iron-Man event and this was simply a training ride for her. I also spoke with a guy who was on a recumbent, but I seemed to be annoying him. Finally I started chatting with 3 older guys, though I was more listening as I didn’t have much to add to the conversation.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the time is now 7 o’clock! 15 short and awkward minutes later the briefing started. I was relieved to find out the path was marked with spray paint, and that the cue sheet were for a back up system(or in case you get lost). We were also told about the “sweeper” Beth, who is the last rider and we needed to stay ahead of her if we were going to finish. Suddenly it was over and it was time to ride, the thoughts going through my head ranged from “WOOT!” to “How the HELL am I going to be able to do THIS?!?”. I had decided before hand that I would need to pace myself, despite wanting to go full bore with the rest of them, I held back to a 12mph pace.
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, people were passing me quick. I was worried I would be seeing Beth soon, when I looked over and saw a lady next to me about the same pace! I had noticed her reflector on the front, it was huge and she rode a vintage style road bike, so I started talking with her. We will call her Bell, since she was from Belfast, Ireland. She, like myself, was worried about being able to complete the ride. As we rode along together we seemed to be becoming friends, and the talking helped take my mind off the big task ahead.
On our way to the first rest stop, we made our first of many wrong turns, this one under a bridge, luckily we noticed it quickly and were able to get back on track(along with the 3 other riders who were following us). The adventure was only beginning though, as we soon found ourselves near the Shedd Aquarium, and a 10k race being run! It was right in our path, and we didn’t want to try and find a different route(which would have ended poorly). So not only did I do a tri-state ride, I also did a 10k race..it counts right? I tried to shout encouragement to the folks running, but in retrospect I think I came off more as an ass. The one downside to this was that our average speed plummeted down to 9.8 from 12mph! I needed to try and make some time up, or it was going to be a close call for the finish, as I figured my avg would drop more as I got to the end.
This is my riding buddy Bell!
The first rest stop was nice, hit the bathroom and ate PB&J number 1, wish I would have grabbed a picture of the peanut butter gun. My goal was to only spend 15 min per rest stop, and made it out right on schedule. Minus a bit of confusion on where to actual go, it was pretty uneventful, not! It was such an awesome experience riding along the shore through Chicago!! With the beaches full of people, the street musicians and just the scenery, it created the perfect amalgamation. I was a bit sad when we started heading out to the suburban areas, but we had to keep moving forward!
We arrived at the second stop doing well, but ready for a quick stretch, and PB & J 2. So I have a habit of talking peoples ears off, I sometimes come off a bit strong and I was worried about this with Bell. I asked her if she wanted to keep riding with me, and she did, which worked out nicely. It was around this stop we picked up a new friend, “Fixie”, the guy who was ballsy enough to ride a fix gear through 3 states! It was nice to add to the group, and I enjoyed getting to talk to him. It was funny that his bike was green and blue, and my outfit matched it nearly dead on.
As we biked on, I made it a point to drink my fluids, mixed with a Gatorade solution(I went weaker with it as to strong makes me sick when I am riding), and I also tried to eat something every 10 miles or so, doing this kept me feeling fresh for the majority of the day. As we went toward the third rest stop, we hit long stretches of straight roads, it kept making me wonder if we were going the right direction. The nice part of this was, it let us make up a bit of time that Chicago cost us. When we hit the third stop our avg was up around 10.5mph. We did end up on a bike path for awhile and right before the rest stop there was a steep decent, short but like this “ \ “. I almost wiped out at the bottom of it as I turned. I went back up to the top of it to make sure this was the right direction. It turned out we just need to go straight and as I put my foot down to turn my bike around I over stretched and had a sharp pain going up my leg. I was really worried that this might be the end of my ride, it hurt. I kept riding though and was able to stretch it out at the rest stop. The things that sucked about this stop was that not only were the bathrooms locked, they were out of water!! People might make fun of me for carrying 4 bottles of water, but guess who has thumbs and still had 2 fresh bottles left? Yup, this guy! I added some mix to them and ate PB & J , and we headed out after 10 min.
We are over half way at this point, and I am excited for our next stop, this one was only 10 miles away, but would place me at my furthest distance to date! It also was my scheduled 30min lunch break too. I was wondering why it was only 10 miles away, but noticed that the terrain was slowly starting to change. Instead of FLAT were getting some small hills, nothing that really registered as a BBBEH(Big Bad Biker Eating Hill), though it would have in the past. After a few more wrong turns, one down a gravely bike path, and a few right ones, we find ourselves on a nice path. It was here that I noticed something, I am feeling good! I decided to kick things up a notch, and for the next few miles we were hitting speeds up to 19.5 mph! Sadly this was when we lost Fixie, but it is hard to hit speed on a single gear bike. Now he only reason we slowed down was due to the path ending, and needing to go on more winding and involved directions. In short order we arrive at rest stop number 4, this would be the last one till Kenosha. Here they had a hot dog place, ice cream place, and a deli! YUM! I decided though that I would eat PB & J 4 instead, and I am proud of that choice. I had been planing on a nice brat and ice cream cone for weeks, it sounded sooo good, but I knew for myself it was a bad choice. I would be left craving more, and I didn’t want that. I filled up my bottles and was getting ready to leave, when one of the other riders mentioned the lost their water bottle. Again, having 4 bottles comes in handy, and I was happy to loan her one of mine.
We had to choices on this final segment, a gravel bike path which would be a couple of miles shorter, or a road path that while longer, was also smoother. We talked it over briefly but we both agreed that the road would be the best way to go. Shortly after leaving we hit a BBBEH, well really this was a bridge, but it was a big one. I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to make it up, but luckily I packed that last item on my list! The great part though was that right after this was another hill! I ducking love hills! Not really, but that is what I tell myself as I am climbing them. I pushed deep and even passed someone(a stick as my friend “kool-aid” would say), and made it to the top. The guy I passed was part of a group of 3 guys, a father and his 2 grown sons, and we soon were riding with them. They had done this ride before, but had always taken the bike path. It was different riding with them, they called out every car they saw, even when it wasn’t in the way. Nothing wrong with this, just caught me off guard. I also noticed they all had helmet mounted mirrors, I asked them about them and I think it is something I might look into in the future. They really liked the fact that it was ALWAYS in view so no need to strain at funny angles to see it, even when going into the drops.
I was watching the mileage go by and noticed 80 was coming soon! I decided it was time to kick things up a notch, and our average speed had raised up to 10.8. Boom, I hit it!
I took off after awhile, and found myself all alone. I was getting hungry but since I was close to the finish line I decided to not eat. I wanted to save those points for a yummy dinner after all! The more I rode on though, the more the miles kept rolling, the hungry I was getting. I soon found myself rolling to a stop, I was done, I couldn’t go on anymore. I had gotten in my 80 miles, so I felt like it wasn’t a failure. That thought ended quickly though, I pulled out a snack, drank some more water(though I was getting low), and felt refreshed. I pushed on, not as hard or as fast as I was, but still moving! I had finally hit Kenosha! I wasn’t at the end though, I passed a spot I was certain was the end but was wrong…was there an end? At this point I figured it out, I must have taken a wrong turn! Great, how long had I been going in the wrong direction??? I pulled out my cue sheet and found out that I was in fact on course, I just needed to keep going. Isn’t that a lot like life? We think we are going in the wrong direction, things are going horrible, but the reality is we just need to push on a bit further down the the road!
Refreshed, on course, it was time to go into drive mode, I plodded along, not worried about the mileage just enjoying the town. I went through some of the “down town” area, with its shops, and even saw a bride and groom getting photos done( I shouted out a giant CONGRATS, as I went pass them). I soon saw it, the mystical and mysterious ending point! YES!!!! I DID IT!!!!! I survived, and not only that, I had ridden 89 miles(My longest to date!!!)! Later that night my wife asked me if I can believe I started the morning in Indiana and BIKED all the way to Wisconsin? My response was, NOPE! It still is sinking in that I did it, and the best part is I know I can do a century. If I had stopped for a quick rest, another 10 would have been easy to do. I forgot to take note of the time that it was but, it was about 4:30, and an official riding time of 8:11:27. I didn’t get a chance to go in the lake as my oldest boy wasn’t feeling well and we needed to leave. Next year though!
Also, Bell finished as well! She is putting together a video, and I am hoping to be able to share that with you all soon!
Some finish line photos thanks to Mrs. BBB!
I am looking forward to next years already, and even more rides! I am not wasting my 30’s! If you are thinking of doing something like this, I highly recommend you do it! Sign up and force yourself to do it, you might just surprise yourself….
Keep On Rolling,
Big Boned Biker
Almost forgot, here is more information if you are interested.
Bicycle Illinois Tri-State Bike Ride: http://www.bicycleillinois.com/tristatetour/tristatetour.htm