I was checking the weather report on Friday so that I would know what to wear for the 300K on Saturday. Things did not look great: rain and upper 50's to start, warming up the upper 70's later, and strong winds out of the south all day. At least I would have a tailwind on the way back.
I was a little confused by the brevet schedule so I emailed Jon to make sure that there was a 300K scheduled. I must not have been the only one confused because when I got there, everyone else was doing the 200K. This meant that after the 200K riders turned around at Okaville, I would be on my own for the last 100+ miles.
There were only 5 riders: 3 recumbent riders, Robert, and me. It was not raining at the 7:00 start but we knew it was coming. Two of the recumbent riders did not try to keep up with Robert and me, but the other one, Leonard, did. It was sprinkling off and on at this point. Leonard and I stopped briefly in Pocahontas (mile 24) and Robert kept going. We had to put the hammer down to catch up to him. Even so we didn't catch him until about mile 33.
Even though we were heading south we had a tailwind. Apparently the front that was coming through was causing the wind to change. Another thing that the front brought was rain. By the time we got to Breese (mile 51) at 10:10 we were soaked. We did not stop for very long but it was long enough to cool down. By the time we left I was cold for the first time on the ride. Fortunately, it did not take too long to warm back up.
We got to Okaville (mile 78) a little after noon. The rain had let up so while we were wet, we weren't dripping. Even though my jacket was wet, I didn't take it off. I did not want to have to put a cold, wet jacket when I started up again. I said goodbye to Robert and Leonard when they left. I rested a little longer and set out on my own at about 1:00.
The first part of the ride was easy enough, just head east until Hoyleton (mile 93). Then the route turned south again. The predicted wind had shown up and I was headed straight into it. There were brief periods when I would ride west but it was primarily south. During this time the sun cam out and I took off my jacket and tights and put on sunblock. Finally I reached the southernmost point of the route (mile 111) and turned west. I just hoped that the wind would still be there when I headed north.
I got to Oakdale (mile 121) at 4:45. I was pretty worn out from fighting the wind so I spent almost an hour there. I called Helen and told her that I expected to finish around 11 or 12. Originally I had hoped to finish in 15 hours but I realized that it was not in the cards today.
Now that I was headed primarily north, things got easier. I stopped a few miles before New Baden to put my reflective gear back on and turn on my lights.Shortly after this I missed the turn onto Airport Rd. and had to backtrack about a mile. The mistake was all the more surprising because this part of the route was the same as the 200K I rode two weeks ago. Of course, that was in dylight with other people. I am not used to reading a cue sheet by myself at night.
I got to New Baden (mile 151) a little before 8. I called Helen and told here that I expected to finish around 11. She told me that I didn't need to call her when I finished. After I left New Baden my routing mistakes continued. This time, I thought I had missed a turn and backtracked a mile to find out that I had been going the right way. After this I became paranoid about checking the route sheet all the time. Needless to say, this slowed me down.
I had been worried that the wind would die down once the sun went down. Luckily, it was just as strong as ever. I had a little bit of bad luck between St. Jacob and Marine (about mile 169). My rear tire went flat and I had to change the tube. This was my more difficult because the ground was a little muddy and the only source of light that I had was my headlight.
It took about half an hour to fix the flat. I did not find anything in the tire so I'm not sure what cause the problem.While I was working on it a couple of people stopped to ask if I needed help. One gut even offered to take me to Edwardsville. I thanked him but told him I had everything under control. People do seem to be nicer is small towns.
After that there were no more problems. I finished the ride at 11:41 for a time of 16 hours 41 minutes. The route sheet said 187 miles but with my wrong turns I rode 194 miles.