With the temperature hovering in the low 30's, I'm happy to be wearing the fleece vest provided by RUSA to the winner of the "best beard among Southern Illinois RBA's" contest.
Three of the riders have read the website and are parked at the Creal Springs City Park for the event.
Two of the riders are not in that category. But they brought bikes, so all's well that ends well.
They are (from L to R) Rusty, Elgen, Mike Mc., Rob, Mike D., Chad. Not pictured is of course me. I rode the worker's ride about a week ago. Today I'll just be herding.
At the first control in Thompsonville, the riders gather near the table to pick up water, bananas and the hot chocolate so thoughtfully provided by a RUSA local official.
Everyone is in a hurry to get their card signed, refill bottles and go. Time is ticking away. While Mike D. finishes his hot chocolate, Chad takes a few extra minutes to memorize a cue sheet.
Mike McKee is the newest RUSA member in our region. Having recently received his membership packet, and the really cool sticker that RUSA gives out, he proudly announces his loyalty by "wearing his colors" on the track bike he uses for randonneuring.
Rob, Chad and Elgen are enjoying a morning out on their bikes. Rob, having recently fractured his hand in a crash, is keeping the pace high, despite the pain and swelling.
Mike D. is conserving his energy - he has a 13 mile training run to complete later. Mike recently finished his first IronMan race in Louisville KY.
Mike Mc. and Rusty are riding sweep through this portion. Everyone here knows that lead, pack fill or sweep - just being on your bike on an Autumn day is excellent.
Choosing to ride alone for this stretch, Rob cuts a handsome picture against the backdrop of the bicycle trail.
Elgen likes to keep the pace high, and has decided to finish quickly today. You have to keep fresh legs under you to keep up with him. Only last weekend, he finished a century event in Southernmost Illinois (extremely hilly territory) in a little over 5 hours.
Still smiling, Elgen comes down the last stretch. He is glad that he didn't let the early morning temperatures cheat him out of a great fall ride.
All the riders are back safely, and spend a little time chatting before they load up and head home. Rusty really rocks a hydration bag, and his other bike sports a new set of fenders. I gravitate towards any rider who wears a hydration bag big enough it has a waist strap and who will put fenders on a road bike. Allez! Rusty!
All in all, the day was a success. Except for Mike Mc., none of these riders had ever seen a brevet card, or been exposed to the unique traditions which most of us take for granted. It was the consensus that the ride was fun, and most asked when the next one would be. January 1.