How can I begin to say anything about this fabulous weekend? What ever I come up with will fall so far short of what I'm trying to communicate. So. Here. Goes. It took me over two hours to get lost then find Jilly's and hubby's house, tucked away just outside of small-town Illinois. Idyllic. Beautiful day, metal bike sculpture, outbuildings, greenery, vistas, fantastic. And great big smiles from my companions in hurt. Two of us novice, two veteran TOMRV riders.
|Naturally, the Subaru fits right in with no problem, whatsoever.|
|Andrew, Jilly, Me, Colleen.|
|Band, river, no bugs, warm summer night, americana. What else do we need?|
Maybe a Portobello Sandwich? Check. We're happy.
|Check out the wind chime? Cyclists, through and through.|
|Looking at the sunset over the Mississippi.|
|Dawn on the Mississippi.|
|Andrew takes great photos on the fly. I'm impressed & happy.|
|We're about to cross the mighty river for the second time. Don't look down, through metal grates about sixty feet above the river. Looked fantabulous.|
Day one, it's a scorcher by mile 75 or so. We're eating popsicles and admiring the shade. I comment that it feels like a Colorado summer day. No humidity, hot in the sun. Lovely, but challenging on a grueling bike course. Jilly says that the ride doesn't start until mile 75 and yup, she's right. But by the time you ride 75 in 90-plus degree heat, you're already toast. The final 30 or so was brutal, but we finished, proud and sunned.
|I love this weather!!! says our fearless leader.|
And so we survive day one. It took a while. A tremendous amount of climbing, volume, and heat, but we're sated and gearing up for tomorrow. Nothing a night at Best Western and great big meal won't cure.
If only the hills and wind and urgency of the ride hadn't stopped me from taking more photos...but alas, I wanted to ride continuously, so my day two shots are limited. This is one of the few towns that opens up onto the river, we see commercial area, beautiful houses, lovely morning. It's before 10AM and we think we have a shot at this.
|After a night at Clayton College in Dubuque, we're off.|
|OK, yes, I'm addicted to dereliction. What can I say? How sad and profound this building on our river?|
|our second-to-the-last-rest-stop mile 62 or so?|
"Yes, the tailwind was nice Saturday, but Sunday, turning left out of Preston into the furnace of wind, with miles and miles of straight flat road stretching ahead, dead into the wind, was depressing. I just put my head down and kept track of Jilly's back axle and tire, keeping at most a foot back without crossing wheels. I talked to myself to keep focus, reminding myself of how much I would not like to crash. With my best wheel sucking, I was barely able to hang on. At my first expression to Jilly that I was fading, she graciously asked what speed I would like. I suggested 12 mph, and she obliged. After a bit, I requested 11 mph, and found that I could hold even drafting, energy-wise, at that pace. I also dropped back behind Karen, who was just as steady as Jilly, but sat up a bit taller. Note that just about anyone sits up taller than Jilly when she's down in her aerobars.
I perked up (relatively speaking) at the rest stop in Elvira, and was honored that Jilly would accept my offer to pull for a few miles, and I was comfortable at 10 miles per hour. It was good to feel useful and help the team, however briefly."