John Looby-Kim Looby – Illinois W-E Record – 2019-06-08

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Congratulations to John and Kim Looby – for setting a 2-Person Mixed team for Illinois W-E crossing.

The crossed the 153.8 miles in 10 hr 49 mins

Here is John’s narrative of their journey:

Rider’s Narrative Summary
Record attempt: Illinois W-E 2 person mixed team
Name of rider(s): John Looby 64 (this report), Kimberly Looby 31
Start date and exact start time to the nearest minute: Saturday June 8, 2019; 5:02 a.m. CST
Start location: Illinois/Missouri state line sign on the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River
near Alton Illinois.
What were conditions like? The temperatures for the start were in the upper 60s Fahrenheit,
with a strong breeze from the East. We had head winds for most all of the ride with wind
speeds of around 10 mph with gusts of around 20 mph. The winds shifted a little and were
primarily from the East. The skies were overcast for most of the ride. Visibility was 10 miles.
The temperature climbed into the upper 70 degrees Fahrenheit then dropped again as it
began to lightly rain during the middle and the end portions of the ride.
Why did you want to do a record? During the Christmas Holiday, my daughter was home and
while we were on our bicycle trainers in our garage we discussed taking a long bike ride in the
upcoming summer months. She was going to visit Illinois in June and we were looking at
doing another century bike ride on our local roads. I brought up the idea of a team ride and it
became a motivation and a goal to help keep our fitness training up during the winter. I also
noticed there were no records listed for a two person mixed team for crossing Illinois.
What equipment did you use? Anything special? My bicycle is a standard tall frame 64cm
road bike, with about 17,000 miles on it. The brand is Trek and the model Madone Project 5.2
triple, about 9 years old. It has Shimano SPD mountain pedals, and I used Bontrager
Paradigm Elite clincher wheels for the record attempt, with Bontrager AW tires. My tail light
was a Bontrager Flare R and I used a Cygolite headlight and kept it on for the entire attempt.
My saddle is a Selle. I communicated with the follow vehicle using Terrano four channel
intercom radio units.
What did you eat & drink? I used Gels, energy bars, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for
lunch, nibbled on a sub sandwich, a banana, grapes, pickles, drank lots of water, and sports
drinks. I decided to not have a water bottle on the bike but had it in a cooler in the leap frog
vehicle. I had food and drink while I was off of the bike and in the leap frog vehicle during rider
shift changes.
For nutrition my needs are a little different from most people in that I am type 1 diabetic. I use
a pump and set the basal at 60% and checked my blood sugar level every 15 minutes with a
glucose meter. My pump also checks the intestinal fluid every 6 minutes and gives me a
graph readout. So there was a lot of monitoring going on during the attempt.
What was the best part? The awesome team of friends who assisted as crew and official. No
flat tires, and no mechanical problems with the bikes. This was my second cross state team
cycling experience and it was both exciting and challenging. Our crew consisted of: Marcus,
Lindsay, Judy and Keith. Marcus, Judy and Keith were experienced crew and had crewed for
RAAM, WUCA and other long distance cycling events in the United States. Keith is a RAAM
solo finisher and holds a WUCA cross state record. Lindsay was a new member to the crew
and a friend of Kimberly for years. They kept a close watch on our fluid and food intake, and
how we were doing and feeling. All were instrumental in the success of the ride for the

motivation and advice they gave us along the route. Ellen was our race official and it was her
first time being an official. She has been crew chief for RAAM, NCOM, WUCA, and other
endurance events and holds a cross state WUCA record.
What was the hardest part? The hardest part was the head winds and they just kept coming.
We had watched the wind direction and rain forecasts regularly before the ride. None of the
days we selected had ideal wind or the possibility of rain weather conditions. We had many
discussions about riding the whole route into the wind, or any other options. We decided to go
ahead and do the best we could. Occasionally, I might exceed 20 miles per hour, but not for
very long. Trees along the route were on the North and South of the road and didn’t provide
much shelter from the wind. Most of the ride consisted of corn and bean fields with some
livestock (pig) farms and small towns. Towns were often 10-20 miles apart or more. In these
little towns many businesses had closed, and it was good to find an open gas station with a
food mart for restroom facilities. At the speed we were going, there could be hours between
restroom breaks. The interstate was close to this cross state route, and those businesses
were open but not always very close to our route. Many people think of Illinois as being flat,
and for a large part it is, but this part of Illinois has hills and many of them are one after
another.
The head winds kept my speed down and the effort and energy expended up. As I wore
down, the crew, by my request, shortened my riding distance for the next shift, and my
daughter by her request would lengthen hers to make up the difference. As she started to
wear down, I was beginning to recover and the crew correspondingly increased my riding
distance and shortened hers. We ended up with almost identical ride distances by the end of
the cross state ride.
Did anything particularly unusual happen? The most unusual thing was the flooding at the
start town of Alton Illinois. We were informed by friends who lived in Alton of the partial
closure of the Clark bridge due to the high water, and the flood water was still rising. We were
planning to start on this bridge for it was the dividing line between Missouri and Illinois on the
West side of Illinois. With the information of the partial closure of the bridge and the re-routing
of traffic in the area, we requested an alternate start location because the Mississippi River
was cresting on the day before the ride with record high water levels. Upon arriving in Alton,
we drove the first portion of the route to find many roads closed and a lot of land under water.
Detour signs were in place and the alternate start location was dry, but had an abundance of
broken glass. The morning of the ride the planned start location was still useable and we were
able to use it as planned.
Exact finish location described so that someone else could find the same spot. The
Illinois/Indiana state line indicated by the Vigo County (Indiana) sign, not far from Marshall
Illinois, at the intersection of US 40 and N. 2620th Street.
Exact finish time: 3:51 p.m. CST.

 

Here is Kim’s narrative of their journey:

Rider’s Narrative Summary
Record attempt: Illinois W-E 2 person mixed team
Name of rider(s): Kimberly Looby 31 (this report), John Looby 64
Start date and exact start time to the nearest minute: Saturday June 8, 2019; 5:02 a.m. CST
Start location: Illinois/Missouri state line sign on the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River
near Alton Illinois.
This record attempt idea started at Christmas 2018. I had been away from riding for almost
two years after a dangerous crash caused by an aggressive driver in 2016, that thankfully left
me only with a broken wrist. It still took ten months to heal. I had been doubting whether or
not I wanted to ever get back on my bike and was looking for motivation. I also broke an
engagement the previous summer and wanted to get back on my bike. Right before
Christmas, I was riding my trainer in the garage with my dad while back home in Illinois when
he asked if I wanted to make this record attempt. I enthusiastically said yes and dedicated the
next six months to training. I wanted to do the race in June, which would have been my
anniversary, as a way of coping and reclaiming that date for triumph rather than failure.
We debated for days beforehand whether to do Saturday or Sunday. June winds in Illinois are
fickle and this spring has been especially stormy. We were debating winds on Saturday
versus rain or storms on Sunday. We decided to go with Saturday and at least know we could
attempt it, rather than having to cancel on Sunday and regret not going Saturday.
It worked, but we paid for it!
My ride was a two person relay between myself and my dad, John, so I did not start at the
beginning. One vehicle stayed behind the rider at all times (the follow vehicle) and one vehicle
drove the resting rider up to the next handoff. We took fifteen minute, or about 3 mile, shifts
depending on where we could find a safe place to pull off. I started right outside a park with all
of the early morning bugs right as the sun was coming up at 5:20 or so. My dad started at
5:02 on the bridge over the Mississippi River that separates Missouri and Illinois. I was very
ready to start at 5 AM after spending two weeks sleep training to get up at 4 AM and was
quite cheerful and ready to ride at the start time.
We didn’t know if we were going to be able to start at the official place on the bridge due to
recent flooding in Alton, Illinois. Part of the bridge had been under water as well as all of the
surrounding area. The Mississippi river runs most of the Western border of Illinois and almost
the entire length of the United States. It was an exciting place to start, and I regret not doing
the first portion with my dad.
For the entire 155 miles across Illinois, we went East and straight into a headwind. Roads in
Illinois tend to be straight and flat from both the terrain and for the large farm equipment to be
able to move from farm to field.
The air temperature was perfect, around 65-75 degrees with full clouds. I had been training in
95 degree temperatures in the South and was worried about heat and sun. It sprinkled lightly
for maybe ten minutes total. But the wind, the wind was in full force for the entire ride. It was
around 9-13 mph with 17-20 gusts. It started off from the north then moved directly east.

For equipment, I have a 2011 Trek 4.5 Madone that was a complete Craigslist bargain. A well-
off woman wanted to get rid of it in her own divorce, so I was happy to buy it. Plus she gave

me all of her equipment for free (shoes, bottle cages, computer, etc). I’m 5’9, so finding a
WSD 54 isn’t easy. My bike’s name is Lady, after Sansa Stark’s direwolf from Game of
Thrones, and we have been together through aggressive drivers, dog bites, drafting Amish
buggies, storms, deer, crashes from mud and all kinds of weather. During the ride, to make
communication easier, we had radio headsets to be able to talk to the follow vehicle. These
were imperative for directions, but also for encouragement and being able to talk to someone
while riding. I wanted a front facing cam, but didn’t want any more extra equipment to fuss
with.
For food, I packed many kinds of foods to make sure I could eat something. I don’t eat well
while riding, so I packed: children’s applesauce squeeze packs, chips, donuts, Gatorade, a
Jimmy Johns sandwich, Gu Gels, pop tarts, peanut butter, bananas, and grapes. The
applesauce packs were imperative for the early morning, then peanut butter in mid morning,
then the Jimmy Johns in late morning. I started struggling in early afternoon around mile 111. I
hadn’t factored a headwind into my training or caloric intake (too many trees in North Carolina
to experience much wind). Gatorade was keeping me going between most shifts early on. I
also ended up making up distance in the middle, while Dad recovered from expending too
much energy at the beginning. So rather than each doing three mile shifts, we switched to me
doing four miles and my dad doing two. After four of those shifts around mile 111, I had gone
past usable energy and was going down quickly. I was starting to close my eyes while riding
and knew I needed to get some fast and heavy calories in soon.
If you aren’t familiar with rural Midwestern areas, central Illinois has about twenty to thirty
miles between anything that resembles a town. Often, you won’t even see buildings for miles;
just fields and fields of corn and soybeans. Many of these towns are only big enough to
support a gas station or two, a couple fast food places, but too often neither. One of our
planned gas station stops was even closed. Members of our crew had already planned out
each stop and every turn from their record attempts the previous year to make sure we didn’t
run out of gas or risk having no bathroom stops for hours. Everyone on the crew is from this
area or has spent at least a couple decades here, so we are accustomed to driving and riding
for hours between facilities.
At mile 111, I was having trouble standing and moving. I knew I needed a milkshake, and we
were at the last town that would have fast food restaurants within a mile of the course before
the final town about forty miles away. I meant to have one in the car but forgot to get one the
day before. That milkshake saved me and pulled me back up enough to get to the end. I
started taking shorter shifts, and my dad was able to take over for longer. Luckily we
experienced our tiredness at different parts of the ride!
The best part was the team effort. Having my crew there, who gave up their time and were
willing to do a lot of work and boring driving, was motivation to keep me going. I knew we had
to finish. If they weren’t there, I would have dropped out at 111 which would have been about
55 miles of riding for me. The headwind was so draining and had zapped all of my energy, but
I couldn’t let my crew down.
The hardest part was the headwind. It slowed my pace down so much that I was afraid we

wouldn’t be fast enough to finish. I can usually hold a sixteen mph pace with a bit of effort, but
was trapped at 10-11 at the three quarter point when winds plus fatigue set in. At one short
stretch around the halfway mark, I had the tailwind during the .4 mile that we turned with the
wind to our backs. It was glorious, and I wish we could have kept it. In the second half, I was
surprised that my arms actually gave out before my legs did from constant work to keep the
bike going straight. I kept shifting between aero, drops and upright. I grew up riding on the flat
lands, then moved to Charlotte, NC where I currently live and ride, where you are always
going either up a hill or down a hill. Flat does not exist. So with the wind, I have never been so
thankful to see a hill because it broke the wind.
Nothing really unusual happened to me, and I’m very grateful. I ride in an urban area and
every ride has a close call that shakes everyone. My NC riding friends and I have started
naming the types of aggression. The most frustrating experiences were the few drivers who
took dangerous risks and passed us in the oncoming traffic lane when they did not have
enough time to get back into our lane to avoid oncoming traffic, putting myself and the
oncoming car at risk. A benefit of roads in farmland is that they have wide shoulders
everywhere to help traffic pass large farm equipment, so when clear, I rode on the shoulder.
The shoulder was often in better shape than the road as long as you dodged the roadkill.
The ride wouldn’t have been possible without the crew. Most of the crew came from my home
bike club. My mom, Judy, was crew chief and did a lot of the front end planning. Keith is a
RAAM finisher and a very perceptive rider. He gave a lot of encouragement that helped
maintain my confidence in the headwind. Ellen, who was crew chief for Keith’s RAAM event,
was our race official and exceptional at knowing the WUCA guidelines and keeping track of
our progress. Lindsay, my friend for 24 years, was one of our drivers and mileage monitors,
and she was our constant communicator through texting between cars. She is a powerlifter
and the only non cyclist, but learned a lot about riding. Marcus, our final crew member, was
also a part of the RAAM crew. His easy going nature helped keep stress levels down.
My Dad and I finished together. It was weird doing the whole event with him, yet never seeing
him. I was very sad that there wasn’t a small sign that showed the Indiana/Illinois line. There’s
a town sign for Vigo County (Indiana). Luckily, there’s a bridge over the interstate right at the
line that has the large Welcome to Illinois Sign. You can see the sign from about a quarter
mile before the finish line.
We finished at 3:51 PM Central time. (Once you hit Indiana, you’re on Eastern time so watch
your cell phones because they will automatically change, and you don’t want to add an hour!)

2019-06-23T18:17:05-07:00