Meet up:The tires will hit the road at 7am sharp on Saturday June 23rd. Meet at the Blanding Landing Recreational Area. Putting 5720 South River Road Hanover, IL 61041 into Google Maps will get you pretty close (actually it drops the pin a couple hundred feet north of the drive for the boat launch). There should be enough parking there for everyone, though I think they don't like overnight parking unless you're camping in the campground there (and why not, there are showers!). If the rain is looking nasty that day (sever storms, constant rain, etc.) we will postpone for 24 hours, but the ride will go on in case of light rain or scattered showers.
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Equipment Suggestions:Bikes: We've been doing this ride on touring, randonneuring and monster cross bikes. All have worked quite well for us. Cyclocross bikes would work quite well to, as would MTB's with semi slicks or slicks.* I wouldn't recommend doing it on a standard road bike, maybe if you can squeeze 28c tires on it and you're a real masochist.
Tires: We have all been running 32-38c "touring" tires. *I call them slicks, but they have some tread and siping... look to the Continental Top Touring/Top Contact, Panaracer Pasela/T-Serv or Vittoria Randonneur for inspiration. We have been riding these at pretty low pressures, 35-50psi and getting pretty good traction and control as a result. With good technique, you can get up even the rockiest, most washed-out sections of road on this route with these tires, but the sand traps are a different story. I'm thinking that slightly larger tires, up to 45c might work well to, as would semi-slick tires with some side knobs for better corning on soft surfaces. So this year I'm going to try out the Continental Cyclocross Speed in 42c (actually measure 39mm wide) and see how it goes.
Gearing: I'm sure someone will show up on a single speed. Bear in mind there are 11 climbs with over 300 feet of elevation gain on this ride. Another 6 with over 200 feet of climbing. Several of these climbs are over a mile long. Followed by equally long decents and multi-mile stretches of relatively flat terrain. This ain't no flatlander gravel metric. Be prepared. I for one will be running 39/26 up front with an 11-32 in back. This should pretty much cover it.
Shoes: Leave the road shoes at home. There will be at least a mile of mandatory hike-a-bike in Missisippi Pallisades State Park, and probably a bit more scattered around here and there on the route. So bring some MTB or casual riding shoes that you don't mind walking in a bit
Lights: Yeah, we're starting early, but somehow we always end up spending too much time at dinner in Galena and finishing up near/after dark. I suggest bringing some kind of headlight just to be safe. It gets very dark down by the river at night.
Food/Water: There are places to stop and refuel every 10-35 miles. 2 water bottles or a 70 oz Camelbak should be sufficient. Just keep drinking and eating because bonking out there would be a nightmare.
Final Notes:The route, once again, can be found here: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/48610178
Everyone should be able to print off their own map or download the GPX file themselves, if not, let me know. Looks like the recent upgrade to MapMyRide has wiped out all my nice route notes, I'll see if I can put those back in over the course of this week.
We'll certainly all start riding as a group, and I know the GGGRRR Elders all plan on riding the day together, but I have no doubt that we will be splintering a bit as the day wears on. We're planning on a casual pace that can get us through the day, but I think this year we're going to have to be careful not to linger too much at rest stops and waste daylight. No hour-and-a-half breakfasts in Hanover, and only 1 glass of wine at the vineyard this time guys! Slow and steady wins the race. Slow and not steady leaves you getting chased by sasquash in the dark, down by the river... just steer clear of that van down there.