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Murphy’s Law:

(noun)

—the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.

Although this term doesn’t entirely reflect the sequence of events that the riders of the Illini 4000 have encountered, Murphy’s Law couldn’t have been more applicable to our ride (or at least my ride) into Chicago for  48 hours of “rest” before we continued up through Wisconsin.  It started from Homewood, Illinois, only about 30 miles south of Chicago.  A seemingly easy day, as 30 miles was the only thing that separated us from a day off with our families.  I had planned out a rest stop at my house at about 15 miles in, as we were riding through my neighborhood anyway.  I talked to my mom the night before and she said she would prepare snacks and cold drinks, and would even ask our neighbor if we could use her pool for a quick dip to cool off.  Sounds like a plan.

But as we took off that morning the skies began to darken.  I rode at the front of the pack with Sean, Kelsey and Linsey so I could be sure everyone had clear directions to my house.  Only a quarter mile into our ride it began to rain.  At a half mile, it began to pour.  And at one mile in, Kelsey got a flat tire.  With the sky dropping sheets of rain on us we fixed the flat as fast as possible, but by then the other groups had passed us.  We rode on, deciding to alter our route to save some time.  Still only 5 miles in we began riding into flooded streets, each one more deep than the last.  We wondered where the other groups were, but figured we must keep riding to catch up.  At one point we came to a viaduct that ran parallel with the highway.  We rode in and were met with over 3 feet of floodwater.  As we were halfway through we saw flashing lights from several cop cars from the other end of the street; they were blocking the entrance, as the street we were riding through was being closed off to cars.  We didn’t know what else to do but laugh at this point.  The girls even took pictures: a huge concrete cave all to ourselves, filled with a river of water for us to wade through. Truly a unique experience.  On the other side of the police cars was the rest of our team, who had waited patiently for us so I could direct them onward to my house.

We continued on, reminding each other not to drink from our water bottles, which had undoubtedly been submerged in sewage water by then.  While riding down Longwood Ave., just about every other block was flooded.  Cars were in the middle of the road, seemingly abandoned, and on one block a girl and her younger brother maneuvered a paddle boat through the street.

When we finally made it to my house my parents and siblings were all waiting for us, cheering and laughing as 28 smelly riders came down the street.  They must have sensed our anguish.  As we took off our shoes and piled in the house my mom threw endless heaps of towels around the living room, so that we could sit for a few minutes and warm up before heading north to Millenium Park.  She also handed around plates of fruit, chips and cookies for us to eat-all of this while my dad battled the 6 inches of floodwater that had accumulated in our basement that morning.  When it rains it pours, literally.

From my house we rode northeast and got on the Lakefront Trail.  Despite the monstrous headwinds the trail was really enjoyable, and our day culminated at the Bean with family and alumni waiting for us.  It’s always fun when a ride can go from easy, to wet, to hopeless, to more wet, to awesome, to long, to dreadful, and back to awesome all in the same day, in the same 30 miles.  Looking back at it now, while clean and warm and curled up in my sleeping bag, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Comments (1)
  • Nancy Replogle says:

    Connor, Thanks for writing about your soggy adventure into Chicago. I was in Millenium Park when you all arrived and heard everyone talking about the knee deep water. Now I understand!! What a mess!! It was so nice of your family to feed the crusaders. Be safe. Nancy Replogle

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