Lets start from the beginning.
A while back there was this crazy young man who liked to go out to the corners of the state of Illinois. This man was name Chad Ament. He would go out to the "driftless area" with his compass and maps and chart out rides. Constantly telling everyone they needed to go out there. This is the area of the state around Galena. The undulating landscape feels more like riding Shockwave at Great America than the Tron like grid of the farming waste land we associate with Illinois. We'd go out there as well with him, 1st to mess around, then for the 1st Ten Thousand, and then soon more trips and rides/races followed.
Chad left. Moved on to the world of Colorado. However, he left an impression on us to explore and share with other like minded adventures. Hence ILLmanzo was born, then changed to Ament100 in honor of Chad. This was originally meant to be an alternative to driving to Minnesota for Almanzo. Many of us have done that legendary ride and love it. If you haven't, you should make the trip and DO IT. We also have been tasked with sharing this unknown pleasure of Illinois with like minded cyclist.
A couple of weeks ago was the 2nd, I guess now annual, Ament100. With way more people planing to attend than frankly, I was comfortable with. This course wasn't made of bullshit crushed limestone. There would be 20% descents down rutted out gnarly gravel, almost 180 degree turns on unmarked roads. Both mental and physical strength would be tested. Cell phones would be worthless. Almost nowhere to refuel or get help. I was super worried. Like REAL worried some jack ass would show up on 23's and brake his collar bone, or someone would starve out there. I reach out to Axletree for some advice. They hooked us up with some waivers and some sound legal advice. I slept a lot better after that. Thanks Dean!
With a hasty booming speech, we were on the road! Probably too fast. I'd left the rest of the SRAT behind in the parking lot. Joel and Jon picking up, Sean and Kristina changing. Sorry. I'm impatient. All those people milling around made me uncomfortable. I have issues with large crowds of people. I'll work on it.
Spring in the mid-west is often fraught with peril and inconsistent weather. Two weeks prior, it was sunny and and 65 all day. The day of the ride the high would barely reach mid 50's and chilly 20mph headwind from every which direction and almost zero tail wind. Even so, there still were SIXTY people that showed up, more than half we didn't know. Some even from Iowa (sup fellas?)! Weather is often the hardest test of any cycling event. How to dress, working in the wind, & sunscreen. Still, the sun did manage to come out towards the end of the day and warm the hearts and faces of the gravel hardened folk.
Rolling emerald green hills striped with the amber colored gravel roads filled the country side. All manner of wild & farm life would be seen. Lamas and cattle, to snakes and bob cats. Yes BOB CATS. Turkey vultures would circle all day as if an omen to those who would reach their dark place. The gloomy dark clouds of the morning would eventually turn into the happy little Super Mario Bros. clouds of our childhoods.
I yo-yoed around, hooking up with different groups. Thanking people and taking pictures. I'd drop people. I'd get dropped. I'd work with people. I'd ride alone. I meet new people and tried to give route advise about this hill and that hill, or I'd miss a turn. Thats how my day went.
While talking to riders both during and after, the general consensus was that everyone had a blast. People would roll in looking like they just wrestled a wolverine and won. Stories would be told of legs cramping on this hill or that hill, or OH SHIT THAT JUMP IN THE ROAD, or losing cue sheets and asking for directions. Which, by the way, you're welcome. If I had it my way, nobody would have printed off cue sheets. I think there wasteful and you should be enjoying the ride not worrying about missing a turn. We owe a huge thanks to the Schneebergers! They were there with a camera and that wonderful oasis that brought many folk back from the brink of expiration. Thank you Nathan and Morleigh you're our Angles in the Outfield!
Due to the varying paces, people kinda meet up and ate where ever post ride. Perhaps next year we'll get more organized and get some Port-o-Pottys and figure out a post ride grub hub. Maybe we won't do it at all. Maybe we'll do that post card thing that Grumpy Grind does. I'm just happy it went as well as it did. As far as I know, no one was hurt, no one had any real mechanicals. Best of all, everyone had a good time...as far as I know.
If you have any thoughts, ideas, or stories you'd like to share hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for coming, thank you for not getting hurt or lost, and thank you for having fun! I told you it would be hard.