Lets start off by making it clear that this is/was in no way a DIS or a put down to the legendary ALMANZO100. Rather, this is more of a pastiche of that race. Almanzo is a beautiful ride, with challenging climbs and decents. It's what made us fall in love with Minnesota. Illinois desperately needs something like that. Illinois has the perception that its flat, windy, and boring. Get your ass in gear and come ride with us.
We start our ride about 2 hours north west of Aurora in a part of the state known as the Driftless, an area of the state that wasn't smashed flat by that damn glacier. The weather report for the days leading up was all over the place, 20, 80, 60% chance of thunderstorms. The morning was clear and almost cool, but humid. REAL humid.
We were 10 strong for a ride we made up less than a month before hand, and about half were people I'd never really meet before. That's pretty much a win. We rolled out at 10:00 am, and it was pretty much GO TIME for the 1st ten or so miles, until we found the giant barrel mobile home thing on the side of the road. We all took pictures and bullshited for a bit. After that we more or less stayed as one crew, sure some would break of the front to stretch legs, others were riding safe to protect injured legs, but we would almost always come back together. The humidity on top of the climbing really tested your heart and will to be out there.
Each climb presented a new challenge. Some you could maintain your momentum from the previous decent, others you had the montra "spin to win" going over and over in your head. Each climb also brought a reward, seemingly never ending descent. Some you were happy you survived the loose as marbles decent to make the next climb. Others were on pavement were you could reach 50 mph. Your eyes would tear, from either joy, fear, or wind.
All while trying to keep your eyes on the road, which was easier said than done. With some of the most beautiful rolling green hills straight out of a story book, or at least a Jolly Green Giant add, your daily life stress evaporated and left you feeling fresh. All the hills also had small bubbling creeks with meandering cows, lamas, and every kind of bird of prey you could imagine.
As the ride grew near to an end, some took off to make a break with 15 miles left. Everyone was caught by the much welcomed down pour, and DOWN POUR it did. With little visibility and no braking power for those running rim brakes we all made it safely back to the cars, eventually.
We got cleaned up and rolled out for brews & soda at a local brewery that wasn't that good and had crappy service. It was still a DAMN GOOD DAY. We will make this a yearly alternative to heading Spring Valley.
THANK YOU everyone that came, and thank you for hyping it up for next year. If you didn't go, you should have.
Ride totals: 66miles/5,800ft