If you hear ladies talk about Venus de Miles, you will most likely hear tales of laughing, bonding, sipping cocktails, facials & mani/pedi’s way before you realize that those ladies rode 25 or 61 miles before hauling themselves into the after party where the fun was waiting.
My story is a little different because
I’m lucky like that I had mechanical issues but I’ll get to that soon enough. The day started off a little rocky with a 3:45 am wake up call. The ride was in Lake Forest, IL which was approximately 1.5 hours from my house in absolutely perfect traffic. Traffic was not perfect. I allotted more than enough time but shit happens there was a really bad accident in Chicago and I was in gridlocked traffic which moved approximately 1 mile in 45 minutes. I made it to the ride “in time” but was very rushed.
As soon as I got to the ride site, I saw a few Chicago Running Bloggers assembling for a photo so strolled over at the last minute to meet them on the fly. Lauren, Erin, Kelly, MacKenna & Me:
I stole the photo from Kelly who was much more organized & “ready” than myself. Please flip over to her blog to read her Venus recap HERE. Kelly also made those adorable tutus for herself, MacKenna & Jenny G (not pictured). They were a huge hit and the ladies also sported white feathered angel wings on their back! So, awesome!
Once we hit the start line for the 61 mile ride, things slowed down a bit. We were all a bit anxious but had to sit thru a few speeches and introductions. Cool idea but we were ready to ride. Kelly’s start line photo with me in the “this is what tough looks like” Team Tough Chik jersey.
The ride started about 7:05 am but things didn’t speed up much as we had a police escort to pull us out of town. The escort was nice but slow, averaging between 11 and 14 mph. The pack was thick and the ladies were getting antsy. One lady even rode up and asked the officer to speed up. That didn’t go over well and I certainly would not recommend anyone trying it. Ever. Don’t bother the police escort. They are their to help you and keep you safe.
Once the escort delivered us to a local bike path, we were on our own and off with the wind. The course was well marked and the front group was averaging around 20mph. The speed was hit and miss though because the course was unpredictable in spots. We had lots of turns, were on/off road, sidewalks, paved bike paths, crushed gravel trails, neighborhood streets, rural roads and busy thoroughfares. The surfaces were inordinately good for the most part but everyone had to pay attention as the course would turn in a moments notice. A few times, we would have to double back to make a turn. Some ladies got lost. I did notice 2 spots where signs were either forgotten or possibly removed before we arrived but that was not the norm.
The rest areas were very frequent, initially I thought too frequent but apparently it worked out
in my favor. Rest areas were located at approximately mile 15, 31, 42, & 51. Each location was fully stocked with water, ice, electrolyte drink that actually tasted good, Luna bars, peanut butter, cookies, brownies, pretzels, fresh fruit, and much, much more. If fueling or hydration was an issue for anyone, then it was there own issue because I was out on that course so long I could have ridden a century for almost 7 hours and I was never once hungry or thirsty.
Overall it was a great ride which was put together very well. I’d recommend it to anyone. I wish it were closer to my house but the northern suburbs are much more cyclist friendly so I absolutely understand the venue choice.
Ride Report End ** My Journey Begins
As for my personal ride, it wasn’t ideal. I seem to have a black cloud which is following me as of late. When I get on my bike, the black cloud seems to get very active and the thunder and the lightening come fast. At this point, I had thought almost everything on the bike had been replaced within the last 2 months but I was wrong. The ride was awesome for the first 30 miles. I was pounding the miles, hanging on the back of the lead group, really enjoying myself. We were just starting to get into a few rollers and the fatigue in the legs was starting to surface. I don’t climb well, so the group would pull away on the uphill and I would catch back up on the down. It was good and I was having fun! Then I hit something on an uphill around mile 30 and heard a “whoooosh” of air leave my back tire. Flat. I stopped, had the tools & supplies to fix the tire but was positive I couldn’t personally make it happen. A cyclist, Cathy, stopped to help within a few minutes. Thanks, Cathy! Then Adam, an on course bike support rider stopped and let Cathy go on. At that point, Cathy had almost everything done but my CO2 cartridge was giving us fits and we couldn’t get air into the tire. So Adam worked on it, couldn’t get it, then used his own CO2, and he slowly filled the tube. It looked good, I started putting everything back on the bike, I rolled it forward to get on and it immediately popped again. He changed it for the second time with his own supplies because I only carry one spare, and he noticed a puncture in the tire. Thankfully the rest area was only 1 mile away and he rode with me to deliver me to the rest area bike support tent where they had more supplies. Greg, Trek Downers Grove, replaced my punctured tire & tube 2 more times before finally sending me on my way. Between the roadside assistance & the tent support, I was out of the ride for a minimum of 90 minutes.
When I got back on course, it was not a smooth ride. Greg told me that it was going to be bumpy but I should be able to limp it to the next bike support tent. If I understand it correctly, my new tire needed to stretch out and it wasn’t properly seated. Every time the tire went around it was like I hit a bump. So I was just bumping my way along and the course sweepers, or the caboose as they called themselves, came up on me. I was the last person on the course at mile 31. Awesome. So I joined the caboose and we powered thru to the next rest area and rolled directly over to Torsten, the rest stop #3 Trek specialist.
Torsten, with Mike “The Sweeper”, pulled a MacGyver and used electrical tape to cover my damaged rim wheel tape to allow the tube to sit in its proper spot and then the tire somehow slipped into position. I can’t even pretend to understand but I was told a
billion times to make sure I took my bike into the shop to get this fixed properly. He also told me that “X” bearings were shot and needed to be replaced but by then my brain was mush and I have no idea what else is wrong. Good news, this short 15-20 minute repair got me thru the remainder of the ride.
Me at the last rest area with Mike & Elizabeth, the course sweepers. I rode with them for a solid 20 miles and then said my thanks and departed without them as they needed to wait on a few ladies we had passed.
Mile 51 – I’m no longer bringing up the “very” end but I was really ready to be done with the ride. I powered thru the last 10 miles with one gear. A hard gear. There were rolling hills. I passed where it was safe and continued to move up but the party was all but over by the time I got in and well, I was just grateful to be
within walking distance of my car finished. I could have partaken in the festivities but it was time to go home to the family, so I drank my two freebie beers, ate a little lunch, which was awesome & hit the road.
I have so many thanks to give: 1) My F’N Runners, Jenny G, Lisa M, & Lynn S who waited on me to finish, even though they rode the 25 mile ride and were probably finished way before I even had problems. I knew I could count on them to pick me up if I necessary and really appreciated them hanging around when I know they just wanted to go home. Lynn, Lisa & Jenny (photo source – Jenny G) below:
2) The Chicago Running Bloggers, Lauren, Erin, Kelly, & MacKenna who were so kind and encouraging both during and after the ride. 3) The numerous people who participated in my bike support and ultimately helped me finish the ride: Cathy, Adam, Greg, Torsten, Mike & Elizabeth. Thank you all for everything you did! It’s beyond obvious that I couldn’t have finished without you!
I’m just glad this was a ride, not a race. It was well supported and well, if a girl were to have major problems, this was the ride for them to happen. Have you ever had major issues on a ride that required assistance?
** Happy Riding ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** firstname.lastname@example.org