Friday June 5, 2009, 83 miles (134 km) – Total so far: 1,151 miles (1,852 km)
We woke approximately with the sun, and wandered across the street for an egg and sausage/bacon biscuit. Got on the road at 7:20; doesn’t that sound much more impressive than the 8:20 it’d be 50 miles east, in the eastern time zone? It was chilly, still in the 50s, but we had enough gentle hills to keep us warm.
We were trying to dry clothes on the back of the bikes today. Works pretty well, if the day is dry and you’re running good, which was the case today. Only problem is, you can basically only dry one thing at a time, and we had plenty of soaked clothes. Gradually, one at a time, we got everything pretty well dried. The sun was bright and pretty, so we used up all the sunscreen we saved on yesterday!
There wasn’t much through Glenville, I don’t even remember if it qualified for Virginia’s town status. About 5 miles further on, I was startled when something moved in the ditch. It was a big, dark thing that hadn’t moved when Virginia rode by, but it moved, I saw it, and then I scared that turkey hen when I yelped.
Most of the day consisted of rolling hills, nothing too big or too steep. We had a good run through Beech Grove (which at least had a church) into Sebree, where we only needed a snack. I didn’t realize how full that biscuit made me (or Virginia, hers). So we had some drinks and kept going.
I had been worried when we crossed a creek outside Sebree, because there was a facility loading coal into barges. I didn’t think the creek was big enoough for commercial traffic, but they were putting together a tow of six barges. That meant coal, which is usually delivered in coal trucks. Uh-oh. Fortunately, there were only a couple miles into town. This little town has one of the most confusing directions (left, right, left, then another right, then left again, etc.) within a mile. Somewhere in there we turned one way, and the coal trucks turned the other way, and that’s the last we saw of them.
By the time we made Dixon, though, both of us were about ready to eat. This was 39 miles in, but there wasn’t much to be had. Dixon is the county seat of Webster County, with a population (we were told) of about 500 people. As far as I could tell, there was a little corn farming in the county, a little less hay farming, and the rest of the industry was the Tyson chicken processing plant. At least one chicken farmer had a nice setup, though. Call it his new Kentucky home?
We did learn that there was a sit-down restaurant in Clay, about 8 miles distant. So after a heavy snack, we tried it. I’m glad it was only 8 miles, because I was really ready when we got there. It was only noon, and we had made over 45 miles. Helped that the temperature was all the way up to 64 degrees (it was 66 when we left, and then it got hot). There was a busy little diner, with good food, to help us keep going.
We had about 25 miles to go to Marion, our target for the day. The map profile showed three good hills. I didn’t really notice any bad hills. Now this might be because my road warrior, Appalachian-trained legs were powerful enough to sail right over the top of the hills without me noticing, or maybe the grades weren’t that bad. I’d love to believe the first reason, but since I couldn’t catch Virginia on the downhills, I’m afraid it was the easy grades. I was pretty tired by the time we got there, but it was only 3:00. So after another full and frank discussion, aided by a milkshake and a blizzard, we decided we could make 12 more miles to get to Illinois.
Again, there were a few rollers, but nothing too bad. I was getting excited on the tops of the hills, ready to stop and shoot a picture of the first time I saw the Ohio River. Oh, well. We came around a corner, saw a sign that said, “High water possible,” and a line of traffic ahead. It was a flattish mile or so to the ferry; we saw the river about the time the ferry landed.
There were two other cyclists on the boat. They’re doing the Underground Railroad trip, headed toward Buffalo (if I remember correctly). They were complaining about 15% grades today. I wish I had brought my inclinometer – I’m pretty sure we’ve seen something over 12%, but I have my suspicions of some other reported grades.
So we landed in Illinois tonight at Cave in Rock. There’s a nice state park here, with a decent restaurant (and a few other diners a mile away in the town).
They do need a little work on the campground. First, there’s a bunch of tree limbs killed by last winter’s ice storm. They’ve cleared the trees in the RV campground – it looks like one of my relatives got a chain saw for his birthday. Second, maybe a sign would be a good thing. We headed from the tent campground to the restaurant, up the hill, down to the RV campground, up to the camping exit, down to the road, go up the road a while and climb another hill, and there’s a restaurant on the right, and the end of the tent campground on the left. We walked about a mile to get to a place 150 yards from our campsite!
I’ll be trying to re-fuel and get some more liquid in me, as I think I drank a gallon and a half today, and sweated at least that much out. 83 miles under our tires, and I expect we’ll sleep soundly tonight.