Last weekend I travelled with several friends from my cycling team (Wild Card Cycling) to hilly southern Illinois for a training camp. We spent 3 days riding on terrain a little more challenging than that of Champaign county. There were 20 people total.
On Friday afternoon we did an out and back ride from Lick Creek to Bald Knob, one of the highest points in Illinois. The temperature was a little cool, but the sun was shining. The excitement of the group showed in the quick pace we set. I was assuming we would all stay together the whole way except for the big climb up Bald Knob. I was wrong. The groups frequently split up on the smaller hills and then those towards the back (often including me) had to chase hard to catch back up. We did all stop to regroup a few times.
On the way out it wasn't so bad because I was relatively fresh. This was a sensation I would not feel again for a few days. The first third of the ride I could keep up with the stronger riders on the uphill sections, but it took a lot of effort. Everyone rode Bald Knob at their own pace. On the way back I was getting tired, but the pace of the group actually seemed to increase. I spent quite a lot of time off the back of the group chasing to try to get back on. With about 10 miles left I unhitched for good and rode alone or with one or two other stragglers to the finish.
It was a hard ride, a lot harder than I expected.
Distance: 41.94 miles
Avg Heart Rate: 147
Max Heart Rate: 182
Total Ascent: 1180 feet
Weather: 54˚, sunny
After the ride, 8 of us travelled a short distance from Lick Creek to Giant City State Park, where we had cabins reserved. Giant City had a lookout tower which provided nice views.
We ate dinner at the Giant City Lodge. The restaurant had 1 vegetarian option, steamed vegetables (and rice, and sides). Fortunately, it was absolutely delicious. Most of the other guys had the all-you-can-eat fried catfish dinner, for which the lodge is apparently famous. Needless to say, nobody left the lodge hungry, and some of us had a difficult time walking.
We got to bed relatively early in anticipation of a longer, harder ride on Saturday.