Monday, May 25, 2009

Rural Riding

Last Saturday I drove to Rockton to participate in the Blackhawk Country Trails ride. They had three routes: 30, 45 and 60 miles. I'd planned on doing the 45, but I had a late start: Rockton is 2 hours away, so I'd have had to leave the house by 5 to be there at the beginning of the start window. Not going to happen.

The day was gorgeous, and I drive northwest on 90 towards Wisconsin. The ride is on the Illinois/Wisconsin border, and the ride crosses back and forth over it. Rockton is just north of Rockford, home of Cheap Trick. In Rockton, bikers parked in the lot of Honeagah High School, alma mater of Danica Patrick. I was surrounded by echoes of greatness.

Start was from 7-10; I got there at 9 to find most bikers had gone. I signed in, grabbed my map, and headed out.

The ride was really lovely; as the name implies, the route is through farmland, some busier roads, but lots of quiet side roads. Barns, cows, horses, and lots of savannah trees; it was gorgeous. I would have stopped more to take in the scenery, but whenever I tried I was instantly covered in flies. Gaah.

The most novel thing was the hills. Lots of hills. Not super steep, but long, so I got to use many more gears than I usually do. It was really good.

At one point I was so entranced by the scenery that I missed a turn, and had to backtrack. I came to a rest stop on the grounds of a gorgeous house; the tent was set up next to the private creek. Sigh. There was a lot of watermelon, and my body suddenly had to eat all the watermelon it could inhale.  Since I was at the end, I wasn't worried about  leaving much for followers.

Given the late start and the wrong turn, I was really lagging, so I decided to just do the 30. At the last rest station I gave an encore performance of Super Watermelon Hoover, leaving the stage only after eating a cookie I'd smeared high with peanut butter and grape jelly.  Lone female riders are uncommon and I got a few looks of curiosity. I felt that I owed my audience some entertainment with my super-human food-snarfing.

Back at Rockton Town Hall (think small VFW hall), we had lunch waiting for us. I joined the line at the kitchen serving window, where I was handed a baked potato. Next was a crock pot with chili, and next to it... a crock with the sign "meatless chili." Given that we were spitting distance from Wisconsin, this was nothing short of a miracle.

So that you too may enjoy the unique flavor of what I now think of as Wisconsin Border Meatless Chili, I'll provide you with the recipe here. Now, their recipe was obviously designed to feed a hundred or more people, so I've scaled down the ingredients as best I can for a recipe that feeds 1-2:

1 15-oz can of vegetarian baked beans
1 crock pot

Open beans.
Put in crock pot.
Heat until tepid.
Serve with a side of warm jar cheese.

Let's say I ate quite a few brownies.

On the drive back I got very sleepy, so I pulled into a rest stop and took a quick power nap in the car. I don't know what it says that I love sleeping at rest stops. It's kind of like camping, only with more head room than my bivy.

Back home, I took a hot bath. 

I love biking.

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