Ride 2016 Day 30

Some days are exciting, some are thrilling, some are frustrating, and some are just ridden. Today I rode. Yesterday, I met some great people in Mexico. I started the day in Bowling Green, Missouri and crossed the Mississippi through Louisiana to arrive in Illinois. Sounds logical, right? All I can say is, look at a map.0523160833 05231608500523160857-1

It was personally very exciting to make it to Illinois. I was born in Chicago Heights, graduated from the University of Illinois, and spent my first 25 years in the state. As soon as I crossed the Mississippi, it just felt a little more like being home. Second breakfast came quickly in Atlas at a small cafe. The local farmers were at the next table, where I could overhear all the latest politics, sports, and news in their conversation.  It wasn’t quite NPR Morning Edition, but it was very entertaining.

The mental jukebox had Dan Fogel berg singing "Illinois". Flat on the prairie, soil and stone, strething forever, taking me home ...
The mental jukebox had Dan Fogelberg singing “Illinois”. Flat on the prairie, soil and stone, stretching forever, taking me home …

As I headed out the door, they wished me safe riding and warned me about the big hill that was coming soon on my way to Pittsfield. Sure enough, there was a long hill where large trucks were gearing down as they attempted the climb. I think my large breakfast made it harder than the length or incline of the hill. By now, I have done just about every kind of hill. I know the Appalachians are still awaiting me, but I had certainly climbed worse by now.

Even before I had crossed the Mississippi River, I had seen a sign indicating “Springfield  96 miles”. My plan for the next few days was to make a short day of 68 miles to Jacksonville, then a 77 mile ride to Decatur. It would then be 180 miles back to Indianapolis that I  could pretty well break in half across 2 days. I would pass through Champaign and the University of Illinois, but it would have to be a short stop.

I made good time to Pittsfield. 0523161100For the second day, I was without my bike computer. Hidalgo had gone brain dead yesterday morning and a hard reset did not get the bike computer to function. To add to my navigation problems, my phone was not getting any data services. I had bars, but it was an “extended network”. What that meant was I could send and receive phone calls and text messages. I could NOT get any Internet service or get useful details from Google maps. When I looked at Google maps, it would put a blue dot on my current location. It would only show major roads and not label every road. I could not ask Google maps for directions or see how far the next town was. I wished I had a paper map. The only thing still working was the compass on the bike and my watch. At least I didn’t have head winds to deal with, for the most part.

Detritus isn't what it used to be.
Detroit isn’t what it used to be.

I took only  a beverage stop once between Pittsfield and Jacksonville.  I hit the outskirts of Jacksonville close to 3 PM. I made my way into town hoping to find some of the hotels I had researched the night before. My phone still couldn’t find them. I called Becky for help and went into an Arby’s for a milk shake. In times of crisis, you need ice cream. Becky gave me some suggestions. 0523161444aWhen ordering my shake, I asked the girl at the counter if they had wifi. She said they did, but it was not for public consumption. When I explained my situation, she took pity on me and gave me one of the more cryptic passwords I’d seen for access to their network. I went out to my panniers and grabbed my tablet, so I could have a bigger screen. I got the data on the hotels, but I also wanted to satisfy my curiosity about hotels in Springfield, a route, and distance. The nearest hotel in Springfield was 32 miles away. After phone calls, milk shake, rest room break, filling water bottles and repacking, I decided to go for it. It was close to 3:45 and I should get there by 6:30 if I didn’t stop much or for long. It was going to be close to a hundred mile day. I was lucky the bike computer could not tell me for sure. Of course, it couldn’t encourage me with progress reports, either.

I was fortunate to get mostly cross wind and sometimes a little bit of tailwind wind. Had I been going against the wind, I would have been found on the road dead. I tried not to look at my watch. I wanted to know how much farther, but if I couldn’t have accurate data, then I didn’t want false hopes. After an hour and a half, I thought I saw a water tower in the distance.

Could it be signs of life?
Could it be signs of life?
It wasn't Springfield, but I was very close.
It wasn’t Springfield, but I was very close.

There were no towns in between that had more than 200 people, so it meant I must be getting close. When I finally got to the water tower, I had finally got service on my phone. Google maps told me I was still 6 miles away and I had missed a turn on the suggested route. I finished the ride about 6:10pm. I had made very good time and got a little help from the wind.

I checked in, showered and searched for dinner possibilities. I usually do some laundry by hand in the tub, but there was only a shower. I asked the front desk if they had any facilities and was told their sister hotel did and we could use it. Armed with a fistful of quarters, my bagged dirty clothes, and my detergent I headed in that direction and an adjacent restaurant. The machine washed while I ate third breakfast.

Hidalgo often acts as my drying rack
Hidalgo often acts as my drying rack

So finished my estimated 99 mile day. Without a computer to tell me for sure, I might just call it 100. Tomorrow I will do 73 to get me to Monticello. This will give me a little more time in Champaign and a shorter, final push back home to Indy.

MacMurray College in Jacksonville was pretty, but I can't wait to get to Champaign and the U. of I.
MacMurray College in Jacksonville was pretty, but I can’t wait to get to Champaign and the U. of I.

The Lone Rider

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