First off, everything that follows is a continuation of >THIS POST HERE<. So read that first, and then continue on to learn all about the best route I have ever created, for the event formally known as Ten Thousand.
Last year when designing a route for Ten Thousand my goal was primarily maximizing elevation gain, in order to hit 10,000ft.
I love every road on that route, but knew there were some unique and fantastic gems hidden further west that were simply too far out to hit while starting from Freeport, thus the change to Stockton as the starting location for 2016.
Stockton has the distinction of being the highest town in the state of Illinois, and also teeters just on the edge of the Driftless zone. This opened up opportunities to go deeper, reach bigger climbs, and showcase a wider assortment of roads then was previously possible. My goal this year was to make the personality of the roads constantly evolve and have something different and unique around every corner, and I couldn’t be happier.
While pedaling the course with Bailey I stopped numerous times to lament how envious I was of everyone that would get to see those views while the trees are ablaze in the fall colors. If my recon rides last fall were any indication, October 17th is going to be ideal to witness that change.
So enough chit chat, lets get to specifics.
First off, IF I was going to be there for a grand depart on October 17th, I would start riders at 7am. I would advise riders start at 7am. Riders should start at 7am. WHY? Sunrise is at 7:14am, and sunset is at 6:17pm. This means you also want to take lights. Unlike Dekalb, you will not be holding a 20 MPH average. You will also not be holding a 16mph average. Last years event winner won the race with a 15.75mph average, and everyone else was much slower. This years course has 1,000 feet more elevation gain compared to last year, and it is wonderful.
First things first, someone is going to say “Ridewithgps says the route only has 9,000 feet of climbing!” Correct, and Strava says it has 6,000 and Mapmyride says it has 1,300. Tell me what your GPS says after you finish.
The first 52 miles of the routes are identical, at which point the short course splits off and takes a direct, though beautiful, route back to Stockton.
The first thing Bailey said to me about 5 miles in was “This course jumps right into it!”, and it does. The first 30 miles are tough.
Taking a bit of a jaunt just outside the Driftless, the early roads tend to still follow a grid pattern, which routes you up and over endless rollers. Later on in the route you will enter the true Driftless, and the entire personality of the roads will change.
The events only B-roads hit early at mile 19.8. I’ll comment on this part of the course as a rider or two were confused while navigating this section last year.
When you see this presumably dead end, you take the most left of the three options, and follow it down and up. It is rough, but much smoother then prior years, and all able to be ridden. After that you turn right, and follow another B-road down a long hill. Stay alert, as there is some heavy erosion near the bottom of the potentially fast downhill.
The town of Elizabeth (Mile 46) is going to be your first chance to resupply. There is a cafe and a gas station, and I usually grab a sandwich and iced coffee at E-town Cafe as I roll through town. This would be a good place to assess how you feel about going deeper into the Driftless. This is the only food and water stop on the short route, and the best one on the full route.
The next place to grab food and water on the full route is in Hanover (Mile 66). The gas station there has a $10 minimum on credit cards, so bring cash, or buy for friends also.
After those towns, there is no guaranteed food or water. There are two campgrounds with water pumps at miles 75 and 114, but I can not guarantee they will be turned on that late in the fall. Leave Hanover with all supplies needed for another 60 miles of difficult riding.
There are some really cool sections on this latter part of the course, taking you right along the Mississippi river, and up what I consider to be the coolest climb in the entire state. Enjoy.
The rest of the adventure and it’s discoveries are up to you.
After your ride is done, there is a restaurant across the street from the starting park called JJ’s and Freddie’s, which seems like an ideal place for riders to satiate a ravenous appetite and share battle stories. If you see riders come in, even if you don’t know them, make your table bigger and find out how their day went.
Enjoy the day, look around and smile often, take lots of pictures, tag them so I can see them, and tell me all about your adventure. I sincerely want to hear all about it.