The weather in Illinois was cool, rainy and windy this past Saturday. We rode west and north into the wind for 25 miles. At several points our speed dropped to 13 mph as we ground into the gray gale coming from the northwest.
Then we refueled at the Casey’s General Store in Maple Park and turned around. That’s when the fun began.
With a tailwind strong at our backs, it was easy to ride in the mid-20s and faster. For long stretches we whirred along at speeds above 30 mph. Had we tried, it would have been easy to reach 40 mph on the slight downhills leading southward.
Pretend Le Tour
As we rode, I thought about all those Tour de France riders and how they sustain these speeds under their own power. They don’t need a strong tailwind to keep the pace at 30 mph. They’re that strong and talented. But it was fun to experience the sustained sensation of traveling at those speeds. We could pretend for a long while that we were that fast.
One quickly realizes how much more dangerous it is to ride at 30 mph than it is at 20. Reaction times to everything around you are reduced by 1/3. Imagine riding in a pack of 160+ riders traveling at 30 mph! One touch of the wheels and people go down.
So I kept my distance off the wheel of my companion. Our wheels were genuinely wet from the rain falling off and on. Braking would most certainly have taken longer.
10 miles on
For ten miles we whirred and flew down the road. Our speed never dropped below 23 mph. Even on the uphill over the I-88 bridge the Garmin showed 25 mph. That was cool. 25 mph going uphill!
Finally the road turned east again. The crosswinds had us now. It would be tough going the last fifteen miles home. We had to fight and flail just like the Tour riders on the coast of France. So I guess it’s all the same in the end. We all go as fast as we can. We all fight the winds. But it sure as hell is fun to roll fast when you can.