I needed another 600K to complete my goal of completing two Super Randonneur series this year. there was not a 600K in St. Louis this year. I had already done the one in Kansas City. The one in Marion was two days after the 400K that I did so that was out. Bob Booth suggested that I ride the Great Lakes Randonneurs 600K with him and Michelle on July 13th. This fit in well with my plans so I decided to do it.
I drove to Delavan, WI on the day before the ride and checked into the hotel. Bob lives in Madison and drove up after work. Michelle could not make it due to one bike being damaged by a landslide and the other falling off a bike carrier on the highway.
The ride started at 6:00 AM. There were at total of 16 riders, 11 doing the 400K and 5 doing the 600. Bob was very familiar with the route so I let him set the pace and do all the navigating. We let the rest of the group pull ahead of us (with the exception of one rider who fell behind us). At each control we kept seeing the people in front of us. They would be leaving as we were arriving.
Wisconsin is very pretty. Looking down at the farms from the tops of the hills made for some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately we had to climb each one of those scenic hills. At one point, as we were entering a valley, we were able to go about 2 miles hardly pedaling at all. Climbing out of that valley involved climbing 900 ft in about 2.5 miles. A few steep grades but mostly just steady climbing.
As always, I spent more time in the controls than Bob would have preferred. There was a ferry crossing at 135 miles where Bob was bonking a little. We didn't take the first ferry and waited for it to come back again so that we could rest a little.
The route was actually a 400K loop followed by a 200K loop. That meant that we could sleep a little at the hotel where we started and not need a bag drop. We made it back to the hotel at 3:03 AM. Bob mentioned that this was his slowest 400K in a while. I told him that 21:03 might be my fastest ever. I later check and found out that I did a much flatter 400K in 2007 in 20:37. That was before my accident.
We set our alarms for 6:15 but we both woke up before then. We were back on the road a little before 7.
I have to admit that I was a little slower on the second day, both on the bike and in the controls. For me this was one of the toughest ride that I would do this year. For Bob it was a warmup for London-Edinburgh-London in a couple of weeks. Bob never complained though. Keeping a good attitude is part of what makes him such a good rider. Also he's really good at turning the pedals.
I was hurting as we pulled into the penultimate control, 28 miles from the finish. My feet hurt and my seat hurt. I think that my feet hurt from all the grinding on the climbs. My lowest gear was not low enough.
I told Bob that I was going to take some snacks in case I needed to stop and rest on the last leg. I didn't want to stop but I needed a backup plan. I wasn't worried about finishing because we had over 6 hours left. I just didn't want to slow down Bob too much.
The last leg was painful. I would occasionally stand to take some pressure off my seat but my legs weren't strong enough to do that for very long. We finished at 6:10 PM. This was a personal best for me at 36:10. This was also not an easy route. This completed my second SR Series for the year.
This was the last long ride that I have planned for the year. I still need to do a 200K in August and September to earn an R-12 Award. I'll also be doing the MS-150 in September.