Swedish Days Century Ride – Hampshire, IL – Review

Swedish Days Century Ride – Hampshire, IL – Review

Swedish Days Ride

When: June 27, 2010

Where: Hampshire, IL

Offerings: 25mi, 45mi, 62mi, 75mi, 100mi, 124mi

Our group was small but mighty this year at the 41st Annual Swedish Days Ride organized by The Fox Valley Bicycle & Ski Club in Hampshire, IL near Burlington, IL.  The weather report was questionable, but we decided to go give it a try.  As it turns out we’d face a number of weather variables including driving rain, thunder & lightning, more rain, then high winds, and finally blazing sun as we ran the ride course.

We started out early and made great time in our first 20mi.  But around mile 10 we started to notice large storm clouds rolling in.  The storm chased us for the next 30min, we watched warily as lightning strikes flashed on the horizon and thunder peeled through the farm country we were riding through.  It started to rain soon thereafter.  We started to notice more and more fellow cyclists ducking for cover wherever they could, borrowed porches, barns, sheds, and the occasional tree.  The rain was coming down but we  pushed on towards the first rest-stop, arriving just in time to join about 50 other bikers under the first forest preserve shelter.  Moments after we arrived the skies opened up and it POURED!

Cyclists Shelter

Seeking Shelter at the Forest Preserve

It rained hard for a good 45 minutes, watching the news later they said it rained an inch in an hour’s time.  The shelter thankfully had a connected bathroom.  The stranded cyclists shared observations on the rain, shared cell phone weather reports (my WeatherBug iPhone App was particularly popular).  We had to shuffle in towards the center of the shelter with our bikes as the flood waters slowly encroached.

Rain Shelter

It Really Came Down

Finally, the rain subsided just enough and we rode farther into the forest preserve to reach the very well stocked rest-stop, filled up our water bottles and grabbed some snacks.  The news among the riders was that there would be an hour break in the rain, so we took off again.  We rode for maybe 10mins when it started to pour again, we had reached a stretch with no convenient shelter, so we powered on in hopes of finding someplace to get out of the rain.  We never found one.  Again the rain slowed down.  A very nice couple in a car pulled up and offered for us to come to their house for some coffee and a dry place to rest, which was extremely kind.  However, I made the executive decision that it seemed like the rain was letting up and we should continue on.  Finally the rain stopped and though we were all soaking wet, we were in good spirits.  Shortly thereafter the sun came out and soon enough we’d gone from soaked to dry and back to soaked with sweat as the hot, sunny, humid temperature settled in.  The middle portion of our ride went very well and the miles flew by.

As we got farther south near Tollway 88, the west wind really picked up and the sun blazed, forcing us to share short pulling duty to cut the wind for the rest of the group.  Finally, we turned back north for the home stretch.  The last rest-stop in Maple Park, the Club Mexicana was my personal favorite.  The stop had Gatoritas (Frozen Gatorade Margaritas, virgin of course) and nachos.  I had a quick Gatorita, but passed on the nachos, which I’m not known to do.  I love nachos but decided that they might not sit well as race fuel.

I briefly suggested that we follow the arrows for the double metric century ride, but was shot down sternly by the group.  The general response was “You go right ahead, we’ll see you at the finish.”  I decided to stay with the group.  With the wind at our backs the final miles went quickly.  We finished the 100mi century ride together, very happy to finally be done.  I earned one of the best cycle jersey tans yet.

Cycle Jersey Tan

The Epic Cycle Jersey Tan

Overall, the ride was quite the experience.  The weather ran every extreme except for snow.  But the ride was well run, all of the volunteers from The Fox Valley Bicycle & Ski Club were very helpful, polite and laid out great themed spreads at every rest-stop.  The course was well marked with color coded arrows and there were marked SAG vehicles patrolling every section of the ride. We had two unpleasant encounters with motorists on back roads.  We always ride respectfully, single file, hugging the shoulder.  Yet an older gentleman passed us travelling at least 45mph giving us only about 10in of clearance.  I stood up and sprinted forward in an attempt to let him know in no uncertain terms about the 3ft law, but was unable to catch him at the stop sign.  The next encounter was an older model red pickup truck who, while giving us plenty of clearance, made it very clear the he didn’t like cyclists on his road by laying on the horn and showing us an unpleasant gesture out his window.  We found that one slightly funny.  Despite the weather and the occasional bike hater we had a great time.  The ride organizers and volunteers get the highest marks.  We plan on attending next year for the 42nd Annual Swedish Days Ride.

CanEnd Review Crew Rating: ★★★★½ 

- The Amateur

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