Saturday June 6, 2009, 65 miles (105 km) – Total so far: 1,216 miles (1,957 km)
The day didn’t start out too well, as the restaurant that was supposed to be open at 7:00, wasn’t. We went into downtown Hole in the Wall, erm, make that Cave in Rock for a breakfast. On leaving, we encountered our first dog of the day. A beagle decided to run with us. Other than his owner didn’t keep him restrained, he was a well-fed, well-groomed, and even well-mannered dog. He kept up with us for three miles, up hill, down hill, until we finally had a good downhill and lost him. In the meantime, he ignored the deer and scared off a couple of coyotes that stuck their noses out of the woods. (Note we found out later this dog seems to make a habit of it; the lead cyclists a day behind us had him follow them for just about the same distance!)
This was a weekend by the calendar, but we couldn’t tell it by the traffic. Of course, some of the roads we were on were some of the worst pavement we’ve been on, like Tower Rock Rd. Still, it could have been much worse, traffic-wise.
Illinois, at least on this southern tip, seems to have much less active agriculture than across the river in Kentucky. Many of the fields we passed weren’t being cultivated actively, and there were a lot more woods – almost like eastern Kentucky, except there was much less undergrowth.
The route took us out of sight of the Ohio River, except for a brief swing through Elizabethtown, IL. This is another town that’s trying to attract tourists – from our Saturday morning view, not too successfully. We bypassed Rosiclare, although we did go by the Hardin County K-12 school nearby. Sounds like the school I started in, before they built the high school!
We made 30 miles by lunchtime, and were happy to stop at Eddyville for a barbecue sandwich. The hills picked up a bit on either side of Eddyville, then it was pretty gentle for a while through Robbs (look quick, there’s downtown on your left!) and Simpson (at least it had a post office). Headed back up to Tunnel Hill – with a name like that, I expected the hills to be much worse. There we intersected a very nice 43-mile rail-trail. The state took over an abandoned railroad right of way and turned it into a hiking/cycling trail. We stopped for water, and made the quarter-mile detour up to the tunnel. Great surface for riding, and the cut was blessedly cool, and the tunnel was quite comfortable in the summer heat outside. Too bad our route crossed the trail, instead of taking it! There was a group of cyclists there, one of whose bikes had a flat. They asked, “Does anyone have a GOOD pump?” to which I replied, “I do!” Unfortunately, I couldn’t pull the two pieces out of my pump head to turn around to fit their tire valve, so we had to leave them with a quarter mile hike back to the parking lot.
Family was converging to see us, so we kept going until we could meet up. Very easy riding, except for a few of the hills which were too long, too late in the day. OK, time for very low gear (also known as walking). Finally made it to the outskirts of Goreville, where there was a store with orange juice and salted nuts waiting for us. You never quite understand how good something so simple can taste until you’ve been sweating all day, and finally get something cold, wet, and salty.
We hitched a ride up to a hotel, where we’ll be staging from for the next couple of days.