My day started out pretty slow. I decided to mow the lawn before the ride so I went to church on Saturday night, so I got up and got that done. The wife & kid went to church while I mowed the lawn. A bit later I was done cutting grass, showering, and getting my stuff together for the ride. My buddy Dave rolled over to the house to pick me up & we headed out to Starbucks to caffinate & head to the bike shop. I left my monstercross there after servicing my rear hub the day before. Dave had his Raleigh touring bike in the trunk.
We arrived at the shop about 30 minutes early & I went in to change clothes & grab my bike off a hook in the back. We finished printing some cue sheets for the long route as participants began to arrive out front. This ride started out with the intention of just three of us riding our Ashton made singlespeeds for a few tacos, maybe to Wheaton & back. It's amazing to me that it turned into this big group thing. The Bonebell & Taticycles mentioned the event on Facebook & Twitter. We actually had at least one guy find out about this through Tati & he joined us. He was a chill dude too. One dude wanted to ride, but he had stomach surgery recently and wasn't allowed on a bike. He volunteered to be the event photographer instead. He met us at several taco stops and took pics while eating tacos with us.
We handed out 100km cue sheets & Ashton gave out instructions to everyone. The most important ones were to bring money for food & be nice to others on the trail & at the Mexican restaurants. After all , we were using shared trails & we wanted to be welcome back to the various shops next year. We had two routes planned. a 100 km was always planned, but we added a 40 km option for folks who wanted to attend, but felt that 60+ miles would be too much. A guy volunteered to lead the shorter ride and we provided the route, but some communications issues screwed things up a bit. The short ride participants were supposed to join us at Jaliscos in Aurora at the first stop, then back track & head North to the next two taco stops we mapped out for them. They never did join us. They just headed north from the bike shop & the ride leader took them to random taco shops that he knew about. It wasn't terrible, but it could've been better. Lesson #1 learned for next year.
After eating at the first shop we had a group just hop on their bikes and tear out of there. Everyone quickly got on their bikes & followed. What we didn't realize was that we dropped a dad who was riding with his preteen son on a tandem mountain bike. They wanted to do the short route, and came with us because this guy actually looked at the GPS route online before the ride. He looked for us on the wrong spur of the bike path & never found us while we waited farther ahead & he never came to us. Ashton even rode back a bit to see if he could find him, with no luck. Lesson #2 learned.
I called Mi Casa in Wheaton, our second stop, on Thursday as we were finalizing our route & putting the GPS routes together for folks to download. I told the guy that he'd have 20-30 cyclists there on Sunday afternoon to eat tacos on our ride. Bill, the photographer, beat us to the spot & said that we would arrive shortly. The owner pulled several tables from the dining room and put them outside on the patio for us. He put tablecloths, chips, salsa, and napkins out for us too. He was genuinely excited to see us roll up and had ice water ready to fill bottles. The dude was just awesome. As we were leaving he ran out back and rolled up to us on a beach cruiser & said "let's ride!" I'm totally going back to that place whenever I'm in Wheaton.
Random fact: We saw a cute brunette walking down the street in Wheaton. Matt, who was wearing bib shorts & a Rando de Taco tank top BTW, rolled up to her and asked for her number. She asked him if he had a phone & gave him her number. He texted with her at the next two taco stops. #truestory
It was around 3:30 pm at this point and we had real concerns about daylight for the last leg of the ride so we decided to bail on the West Chicago stop & head straight up to Elgin for the next leg. On the way out, Ryan got two flats on his road bike (much props to you for attempting a metric the day after your bachelor party BTW). Ashton's wife was also hurting from the pace & distance since she ran a 12 mile run on Saturday. When we hit a section where She and Ryan could peel off, they cut their ride short & headed home on the Geneva spur. The rest of us pressed on to Taqueria Los Comales in Elgin.
We got there and Phil was eating like a horse. The dude went back in for seconds while everybody else was still eating. Tequila was had by several folks. Ashton had a Surly flask on his bike, John from Tati had some in his jersey & I don't know where Matt was storing his. When the bottles ran dry Phil & Matt stopped at a liquor store in Elgin to get more. They hauled butt to catch up to us again on the trail & caught up fairly quickly. I was impressed.
The group split for a bit on the way to St. Charles, but we reconnected at that part of the Fox River Trail where you have to cross the two bridges then climb that hill. That hill is a leg killer, even with my easy gearing of 36x17 on the bike. We regrouped at the top & headed into the Jalapeno Grill in St. Charles. That place easily had the best food of the day. Bill the photographer met us here and snapped a few more pics.
It was getting close to dark at this point and we needed to head back quickly so the group took off to get back on the path & make our way to the last taco stop in North Aurora near the bike shop. The group took off & stayed close together since some folks didn't have lights & needed to hang with those that did. My friend didn't have a light so he hung with me, but he was having problems on the hills, especially after riding 50+ miles. We were by ourselves off the back pretty quickly. We beat feet through Geneva & Batavia & went directly back to Pedal & Spoke while skipping the last taco stop. We met two folks from the ride who did the same thing. The rest of the riders roller up within 15-20 minutes. We handed out the t-shirts to everyone who wanted to buy some & recapped a bit.
I'd say that this event went off pretty well for something that we hastily put together just a week or two ago. It was a fantastic day on the bike and folks seemed to enjoy it, despite a few issues. There was a lot of interest in this and I think that we can really see this thing blow up for next year.