Day 17 - South Beloit, Illinois to Kankakee,
our successful ride coming into South Beloit, Lon had asked if
John and I would like to use the bike again the next day, going
south into a headwind in really flat Illinois. It sounded great
to me. Unfortunately for John and myself, Lon had forgotten that
he had promised the tandem to Mike Bishop, our mechanic. Mike's
family came out to meet him on the route and planned to ride with
him some. He rode the first 30 miles with his brother and the
next 30 with his mom, so I was back on my own bike..
It was a really tough windy day, and a tandem would have been
nice. I tried to stay on Ann and Dan's wheel, but I was still
a little weak from the cold and tired from riding so hard the
day before. I rode with a small group for a while, but a pit stop
left me alone for a while. Then Greg, a triathlete, who had decided
not to do any drafting on the trip came along and pulled me 20
miles to lunch. I felt guilty not pulling, but he wouldn't let
anyone pull. He was preparing for the Canadian Ironman
after our little tour, and I hope he did well.
Just before lunch I saw one of the vans drive by with Lon's tandem
on top. So when I saw Mike, I asked if he had lost his stoker
and wanted a new one. He said he was a little tired, but would
like to ride again, so we took the bike back down and headed out.
While at lunch, I got the chance to meet Jon and Mark Royer,
who were joining us for a couple of days, to give Pete someone
to climb with. Jim was leaving that night to go back to work,
and few of the other riders could hold a candle to Pete's climbing.
were rolling in and I should have gotten my rain jacket out of
the van, but I foolishly figured my wind shell would be okay.
The clouds got darker. The wind got louder and stronger, and soon
the rains came, light at first and then heavier. Then the wind
switched directions for a while. Either that, or adrenaline and
fear made us go 30 mph. Lightning and thunder crackled around
us and we started to talk about taking cover. I told Mike that
since it was his home turf to make the decision. Just as the lighting
was getting really close, we pulled off the road and into an detached
open garage, where we took cover for about half an hour. Fortunately
I had my leg warmers with me, so I pulled them on, along with
my jacket. I really started regretting not having my real rain
jacket. I also felt very bad for making Mike ride in the rain.
One of the great benefits of being a crew member is that you don't
have to ride if the weather is unpleasant!
We watched as several groups of riders went by. I was quite happy
to be under cover. I'm spoked by lightening, and I didn't want
to be out there. After a while, the storm moved on and
the rain let up a little. We got back on the bike and headed out.
I then noticed that there were people in the house. Well, no one
came after us with a shot gun, so maybe they are used to cyclists
ducking for cover. I wondered if any of the others had taken shelter.
When we reached the final snack stop, manned by Roberta, we discovered
that quite a few had, but many others rode right through. Roberta
let me trade my soaked wind shell for her dry rain jacket and
I was a much happier person.
While at the snack stop. I discovered that this was to be Mike's
longest ride ever at 140 miles, but assured him that we would
do fine. Youth and strong racing legs were on his side! Robert,
Ray and Bill joined us for the final 30 miles, with Robert teasing
the heck out of my 20 year old captain about what we really did
in the garage, while waiting out the rain. The laughter helped
cover the fatigue of the long day, and made the miles go by a
little faster. We finally reached Kankakee and as usual had to
climb a hill to get to the motel. We stopped at McDonald's where
Robert ordered one of everything on the menu and the rest of us
Mary, Phil's wife brought cookies brownies and an extra set of
skilled hands to make the line for massage much shorter. I asked
Phil to put Mike's massage on my tab, since he had been so brave
to ride with me and do his longest ride ever.