The 2018 WBR ride to Chicago and beyond is complete! Starting from Indianapolis early Friday morning (June 22), 50 hours of ride time and 687 miles later, I arrived in Mackinaw City, Michigan the following Sunday. My goal all along was to reach Mackinaw by Sunday night, and I made it- with about 20 minutes to spare!
While not as captivating as the classic American endurance ride across the US, this year’s ride was far more challenging. 2 of my co-workers- Adam and Todd- joined up for the first part of Day 1. It was a great time, talking bikes and work (occasionally) for a few hours.
I lucked out as storms cleared, and another co-worker Jeff, a SRAM VP, rode out to the Illinois state line to pull me into Chicago. After 200 miles and with 35 yet to go, I gladly drafted off Jeff at every opportunity.
Jeff’s parting words as he peeled off at Navy Pier were wise- “don’t forget to look around”. Here are a few shots I took as I tried to do just that:
I finished Friday night in steady rain, so I limited dinner to frozen offerings from the hotel. Fortunately, the storms cleared out overnight, bathing me in sunshine as I rode.
Soloing for Days 2 and 3 through northern Illinois, skirting Milwaukee, rural Wisconsin, Green Bay, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was long. Views of the rolling farm country and Lake Michigan held my interest as I rode, taking occasional short breaks to stretch.
Sunday evening I found myself on the verge of bonking….with over 70 miles yet to go. Somehow I pedaled on, probably going well beyond any level of fatigue I’ve ever felt. I kept in mind one of my mantras from last year’s ride: Just Keep Pedaling. Surprisingly I found that increasing effort such as standing while on short climbs helped me feel better. I kept that routine going in little spurts as the miles ticked away.
About 25 miles from the finish, encountering a meandering detour was the last thing I wanted to see, but choosing the weekend nearest to the summer solstice paid dividends, as I didn’t need headlights until nearly 10pm. Finally the lights of the famous Mackinac Bridge came into view, invigorating me for the last few miles. I rode up to the bridge, and paid $5 to get driven across (the only option for cyclists on a busy interstate with no shoulder). Mission accomplished! The bridge worker who drove me across (with my bike in the bed of the DOT pickup) even carried me a couple miles to the hotel I had reserved. What a relief it was not to get back on the bike on the other side of the bridge.
The complete route:
I could barely stand Monday morning, but worked out the kinks with a 142 mile “recovery ride” through scenic northwestern Michigan to get picked up by my wife Alisa after the long WBR ride (2 years running- how thankful I am for her!) Monday’s ride made for a 4 day total of 830 miles in just over 80 hours.
The recovery ride featured some of most beautiful scenery, and I had to stop periodically for pictures:
Most importantly, 2018’s ride raised enough money for 12 Buffalo Bicycles: WBR Fundraising page.
Thank you for everyone’s interest, encouragement, and enthusiasm!