I drove up to Edwardsville on Friday evening. Actually, I stopped at Granite City, IL, where I camped at the KOA. The radio said a front would be moving through soon, so I located a tent site and went to dinner at Ravanelli's. The front had still not come through when I finished dinner, but it looked like it would start pouring any minute and there was some lightning. I stopped at K-Mart for a gallon of water and sat inside the store for about 15 minutes until the front finally passed. By the time I got back to the KOA, the rain had stopped and I set up my tent. It rained some more during the night, but when the alarm went off at 5:00AM the sky was clear, the tent was dry and it was definitely cooler.
I was at the start in Edwardsville about 6:05AM. John Jost, the RBA, and one other rider were there. There were about 14 riders at the 7:00AM start. Five or six were riding a 200K. I left with the first riders that were all riding the 300k. I hung with them as we headed east through town and along the Quercus Grove Bicycle Trail, but as soon as we hit the first farm road (Fruit Road), they stepped it up and pulled away. With a 10 mph wind out of the west and the flat terrain, I was able to speed along at 20+ mph, but the lead group kept increasing the gap.
I stopped in Pocahontas (16 miles) for a bottle of water to mix more chocolate Spiz and to remove some clothing. On this ride, I rotated through bottles of Spiz, HEED and Perpetuem. On future rides, I am going to drop the Perpetuem. I have a hard time getting it down late in the ride. When I made the turn south at 8:43AM in Stubblefield (30 miles), I was averaging 19.3 mph! Too bad I could not maintain it. At the first control in Breese (51 miles) after riding generally south, my average was down to 18 mph.
There are not many picture opportunities because most of the route passes through farm fields. There has been a lot of rain in the area, and the route had to be revised because one of the roads had been under water for several weeks. At Queen's Lake, there were a number of houses on stilts that were surrounded by water. The last two years I rode that segment, the houses were high and dry. I am not sure how the septic systems work in the wet conditions. I hit one of the expansion joints on a bridge at about 15 mph and my camera popped out of the Bento Box. It hit the deck and a car almost ran over it, but the camera continued to worked.
At the 3rd control in Okawville, after riding mostly west and south, my average was down to 17 mph. The next 15 miles out of Okawville were due east, so I had a good push from the wind that was up to 13-15 mph. That was the last segment to the east, but about the time I turned south, the west wind slowly began to decrease.
The 4th control was in Oakdale (121 miles), home of the Easter Eggstravaganza. As I was heading into town, one of the other riders was coming back towards me. I was passing a small c-store and I stopped in the parking lot.The rider told me it was the control. I used the restroom and bought some water and a V-8. When I asked the clerk to sign my card, she said we had the wrong place. So we rode up the road to the actual control.
The other rider pulled away a few miles outside of Oakdale. He was in a hurry to get back because he did not have any reflective gear. I stopped again in New Baden (151 miles) for water and V-8. I finished off a bag of potato chips I bought in Okawville. I was feeling sleepy, so I also popped a caffeine pill. My final stop was in St. Jacob (166 miles) for water and to put on reflective gear. I pulled into the final control at 9:22PM. The fast group was back 2.5 hours earlier. I spent the night again in Granite City; this time in a motel.
3 days ago