This week we visited Addie's father in southern Illinois, terrain far different from what I'm used to on either of the coasts where I've lived. I began exploring the possibility of riding in Illinois and found that I could rent a proper road bike for a reasonable price from The Bike Surgeon in O'Fallon, Il. It's situated perfectly on the route from the St. Louis airport to our homebase in DuQuoin.
On Sunday I hitched a ride with a group riding from St. Nick's Brewery in DuQuoin to Scratch Brewery in Ava. St. Nick's is operated by cyclists and lots of their beers have cycling-related themes (Peloton Pale Ale or Cadence Porter anyone?). Scratch is a rural outpost, something of an oasis where their beers are accompanied by hefty loaves of fresh baked breads. The riders were perfect hosts despite their inability to mitigate the 20mph winds ripping across the fields of 40 degree temps.
Tuesday I picked up an evening group ride, this one led by Gene, owner of St. Nick's. Weather was perfect! We mosied on the way out and I was able to hear lots about the town and how the brew pub came to be. On the way back we drove it a good bit harder on a long straight stretch of road that got the legs turning over pretty good.
Once back, Addie and my father-in-law were also in the mood for a ride so we added another 5.5 miles to the day by taking a tour of the State Fairgrounds. It was a nice cool down from an otherwise spirited return to the homestead. Sometimes the quietest and slowest miles are the best.
All of this seems to prove that you can go just about anywhere and find people as passionate about riding bicycles as oneself. DuQuoin is a small town by most measure, a population of only 6000 people or so. And yet, I was able to track down a group of nice men and women who seemed happy to welcome in a stranger and show him around their hometown only because he too shared their love for pedaling. It never ceases to amaze.
Also, I've taken the liberty of posting a few shots non-bike related because the only rules to Veloshots are my own.