North Shore Century – 25 Mile Route

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The announcer on WBBM Radio was explaining that we could expect rain this morning and a thunderstorm was possible late afternoon. It was around 5:30 AM and this was not the kind of news I had wanted to hear. So when Connie asked what sort of things I’d like to wear on the ride today I mentioned the forecast and that perhaps a rain suit was in order.

She also brought along a second head covering for under my helmet and that turned out to be welcomed as were the long fingered gloves. I was already wearing a fleece jersey with a thermal undershirt, shorts and over them loose fitting black cycling tights.

Picking Up The Route Maps

Parking in the downtown public multilevel lots is free on Sundays. So we wound our way up to near the top level before finding a suitable spot. As we unpacked our Easy Racers Ti-Rushes I kept hearing what I thought was a diesel engine running very close by.

It turns out that there was a lady sitting in her diesel VW sedan waiting to hear from her riding partner before setting out for the day. She climbed out and asked if we were planning to ride as she watched us donning the fairings and tail sock scaffolds. I looked at her and smiling said “No”. We were “just doing this for the fun of it!” She looked puzzled for a moment and then realized that I was laying on the sarcasm as thickly as I could.

Her friend arrived a few minutes later and upon seeing the bikes wanted to have a run down on what they were. I anticipated her next question following her observation that they looked like motorcycles. “These bikes have engines”, I said with as straight a face as possible. She was floored and wanted to know where they were. We both pointed to our chests.

After a pause she got the message, and laughed heartily. They had decided to go and grab some breakfast before beginning the ride. I kind of figured that they were going to find a reason to sit inside in the dry and warm restaurant for most of the day.

We left to get our route maps and begin our cold and wet adventure.

Setting Out

The crowd at the ride start was trying to collectively find a way to gracefully ride the short distance without seeming too wimpy. I had to give them credit since it was a cold and very damp morning and if I had not paid in advance it would have been easy to give this one a pass.

But with cur sheet in hand we set out on what turned out to be a very delightful route. We usually ride either the 50-mile or 62-mile version of this ride. Today when we reached the 25-mile split I gladly took the right hand turn.

We had been following a group of folks whose organization had decided to ride this invitational en masse. They were accompanying a fellow in a hand powered trike. Their organization is one which rehabs homes for those who have physical handicaps. And this rider was one of their clients.

Having listened to the jeers at the recent GOP debate where the crowd of attendees was urging on the candidates to respond to a question about health care with cries of “let him die” it was nice to see that not everyone on the planet has lost their sense of interconnectedness.

A Wonderful Route

I really can’t say enough about the beauty of the route we rode today. It was simple and straightforward but most of all very soothing and beautiful. I plan to let the good folks of the Evanston Bicycle Club know just how great that route turned out to be.

Of course the rain was an ever present factor during the entire ride. At one point it was coming down hard enough that the sweat from my head scarf was washing into my eyes and I was blinded for a short while. But after removing my glasses and wiping my forehead I was able to continue with a bit of stinging for the remainder of the ride.

We passed along a side street at one point where a Jewish Temple was holding a block party. Complete with camels!

Taking a Break

At the single rest stop for this route we dined on PB&J sandwiches which when you are hungry and cold are divine. I washed the mouthfuls down with Gatorade and even managed to down a single banana. I was hungry but the cold seems sometimes to dampen the appetite a bit.

The lady who was hosting the treats table was gracious enough to make certain that everyone had managed to eat enough to satisfy their hunger. We thanked her for asking and make a last pit stop before hitting the route again.

Wrapping Things Up

The ride ends on Sheridan Road and this year we noticed that a very nicely drawn bike lane was available for us to use. Everyone who passed us was either sporting a “rooster tail” or was wearing a drenched jacket or both. What I really could not comprehend was the fact that the roadies were all seemingly hurtling past with only a short sleeved jersey and black shorts. No jackets of any kind. Brrrr!

When we got with sight of the downtown area my pace picked up a bit as I anticipated getting indoors out of the wind and rain. We climbed the various levels of the parking lot and found our van and quickly packed up the bikes and headed towards home.

We made a brief stop of acai berry boosters at Jamba Juice and then decided to wait until we got back to Naperville to buy lunch at Naf Naf Grill.

It is pretty good food at this restaurant and there are several new ones that have opened in Aurora and the Fox Valley.

When we got home we actually washed down the bikes in the rain! The grime on the rims was simply intolerable. And the front fairings were slimed up pretty badly from all the road dirt tossed up during the rain. Yuck!