I flew to Chicago over the weekend to ride in a 600-kilometer (375-mile) event I needed to qualify for next month's Gold Rush Randonee here in California. The ride actually started in Wisconsin, from the little town of Delavan (a little northeast of Rockford, Illinois) and wandered around several of the state's southern and central counties.
Beautiful riding, but cutting to the chase: I didn't manage to finish. The first half of the ride went just fine, I was on pace to finish the first 400k in about 20 hours, get a couple of hours of sleep, and head back out to finish before the heat of the following day. I really had no doubts I would make it. Just at that point, though, a big storm hit and I got held up for several hours at a gas station in a little town called New Glarus. The ride never got back on track for me after that, though I had a memorable ride through a rainy night across some hilly and seemingly deserted back roads. After finishing the 400, I felt completely used up and wound up quitting the ride. There's a little more to it than that, and I'll write more later, because most of the part I did was exceptionally fun and challenging and the country beautiful. But that's the bottom line.