This year, instead of the usual organized Metric Ride held in Joliet (I think), I opted to go for an “unorganized” ride. This was going to be closer to home, more familiar territory and give me the ability to control my own pace and distance vs. trying to hang with a group too fast for me. I didn’t want to push too hard because of my upcoming race on Sunday. Technically, the day should have been a day off, but when you get a “free” day from work, just seems to make sense to get in a good quality workout!
It was nice to sleep in a little and the weather was just perfect for a ride! The group met up at 7:30am and it was about 61 degrees. It was chilly enough for me to start with arm warmers, but most of the group had short sleeves or no sleeves! We headed out on a nice, easy pace and chatted with each other for the first several miles. For the most part, the group was together for the first – almost half – of the ride.
A few of the stronger cyclists took off at one point and I wondered if this is what they always do as one by one, they just flew by me chasing each other. I started in on the chase and then held off – this was not the goal of today. I needed to save it. I slowed down to have the rest of the group catch up when I heard a loud snapping sort of pop. GH had a flat. It was a weird-sounding flat which I thought could only be made by a pinch in the tube. But how had he ridden 25+ miles without this happening already? It was his front tire and we were lucky that we weren’t on a quick downhill at that moment. We found the spot where the tube looked like it had been sliced…a little over an inch long! We were just a few minutes away from the first designated stop – the Elwood gas station.
Heading out, we changed direction and realized we must’ve had a nice tailwind on the way out. The wind was too loud to talk to one another. We made a couple of side-by-side pacelines and were pushing at a pretty good pace. A couple of people were off the back within a couple of minutes. But we kept on…single pace line, double pace line, blah, blah, blah. Pretty uneventful.
Next thing you know, we’re off the designated course a little and we have to ride back to the next designated stop – a 66 gas station – I can’t remember what city this was. There are about 6-7 of us and we pull up to the gas station and no sooner did I unclip one foot and I heard some lady saying “yeah, I’m the owner here, get out.” I thought maybe she knew one of the other cyclists and she was joking around, but then some of the responses made me realize she was serious! This woman came out and said “You can’t hang out here!” Hang out? We weren’t even off the bikes yet! So then TR said, “Well, what if I want to come in and buy something?” The woman responded, “Yeah, like you’re going to buy something. What would you buy?” TR responds, “Gatorade.” She says, “No you weren’t, you guys get out of here.” It was unbelievable. I was really thirsty, too…and I WAS going to go in and buy water. Instead of instigate her, we moved on up the street a little, just off the gas station property. We knew we were meeting the rest of our group here, so we didn’t want to go far. Apparently, this wasn’t good enough for gas station lady and she kept staring out the window at us. After about 5 more minutes, she came out of the gas station (no, I’m not making this up) and started waving her hands at us yelling, “I told yas to get out of here. YA CAN’T HANG OUT HERE!” Well, that did it and several of us started yelling back. I mean, she didn’t even have any customers, why was she so against us just standing on the side of the road??!?! Then she said she was going to call the police. So I said, “OK, call the police, would you like to use my phone?” More yelling back and forth and she went back into the gas station. I should have asked her if she was on medication. We called the people behind and set a new meeting spot. It was maddening and hilarious at the same time.
I now couldn’t wait to get to the next meeting spot because I knew I could get water there. The group sort of split some more, one turned off, a couple went home earlier, so our group was dwindling. Lots of talk about being kicked out of the gas station property. On our next stop, everyone was reminded that “YA CAN’T HANG OUT HERE!” Definitely a ride that will not be forgotten!