Sunday, August 18 – 2342 miles down, 932 to go
Another milestone day.
We now have less than 1000 miles left of our ride. We cling to these milestones as they indicate the passage of the U.S. under our wheels. 2000 miles ridden, crossing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, less than 1000 miles to go. We’ve been at it for 30 days now with 3 rest days thrown in. We’ve completely lost track of calendar days. I have no idea what day of the week it is, only “What ride day is it and how far to our next Rest Day?” Weekends and weekdays have no meaning. It’s kind of a surreal existence compared to a “normal” sleep / eat / work / home / repeat / weekend routine. However the hours can pass quickly on the road as you end up doing mental math to keep sharp: We’re doing 5 mile pulls, we have a 97 mile day, that’s 19 pulls plus change, meaning I have 5 pulls today.
Sorry to wax philosophical, it’s just a weird experience to change your time measurement algorithm.
Today was Lori’s last day of driving the sag wagon. She’s had some hard days recently with numerous people and multiple stops, along with bizarre routes through the Midwest. She’s done a marvelous job and we’ll definitely miss her. She flew out of Midway this evening to return home. It’s also a time of joy for Kathleen and I as our son, Isaac, returns to drive the sag for the next 3 days to get us to our next rest day in Bowling Green. He flew into O’Hare this afternoon and was waiting at the hotel for us. Man was it good to see him again! I missed my son. I’m going to be a terrible empty-nester in a year.
It was just the four of us again (Rick, Tom, Kathleen, Kevin), and honestly there’s a bit of relief in that. We’ve gotten to know each other and our paces and foibles and we really are a team on the road. We had a late start as we had breakfast at the Peterson House and the matriarch, Pat Peterson, joined us at the table and talked with us at length. She also had another donation check for us! She and Ed have already given big-time, but she wanted to give more. This has been quite a stop as even the masseuse yesterday donated both the massages and then gave us a check. Wonderful giving people. Martin Engineering and the Peterson’s have turned into our biggest combined family donor, and we thank them heartily for that.
Pat talked about several of her friends and a family member that have or had Parkinson’s, so this is a mission near her heart. She was very thankful for us riding and for the Davis Phinney Foundation, and she’s proven it with her generosity. They all have: Pat, Ed, Sarah, Jenny and the list goes on. We had a great breakfast (Midwestern breakfast hot dish with potato chips crumbled on top) and showed Pat the Hearts of Honor on the trailer and added her friends, then said our goodbye’s.
Of course we then had to drive the 21 miles to Princeton where we stopped yesterday in order to start today. We got all unloaded and ready and discovered we’d left all of our water bottles back at Chez Peterson. They were getting a bit gnarled anyway (although we clean them with dish soap each and every night) so we broke out new Victory Crew bottles for everyone. One of our sponsor’s, Polar Bottle, provided us with a couple of cases of DPF Victory Crew water bottles, so it was time. As a result of all our shenanigan’s, we didn’t leave until 8:32am for a 87.7 mile day. Our latest start to-date.
We had a windless day (awesome) and a great deserted highway so we pounded along. We went 20 miles before we took our first stop for hard-boiled eggs and pickles. Then we churned through another 20 miles before our second stop. We all had to re-butter by that point anyway, so it was a good stop with peanut butter & honey sandwiches, sliced cheese and other goodies. And lots of Chamois Butt’r. We’re all getting bumps in weird places in our nether regions at this point. Or at least I am. We were in a lovely setting in Earl Township, Illinois. Fertile fields surrounded us and the sky was clear blue overhead. Lovely day for a ride.
The roads had no shoulder but traffic was good to us until at 43 miles (you guessed it) a dualie truck pulled up less than a foot away from us and blatted his engine with fury, blowing carcinogenic diesel smoke all over us once again. We’d held him up for maybe 10 seconds, and immediate rage. What is it with these guys? We all actually giggled as we’ve become inured to these nimrods and their antics.
The day turned hot and we had some tired team members once again, so took a long break about 28 miles from the end. We set up shop in a convenience store parking lot and had Smoothies and other body fuel. We were about to start and Tom’s back tire popped. His first flat of the trip. So, we changed that and got going again.
The road was absolutely wretched coming into the outskirts of the corona of towns that surround Chicago. Our goal was Naperville which is near the western edge of the suburbs. You’d think they’d have good roads but these babies were nasty. Rick had to don double shorts for more comfort. Guy needs to fatten up.
Our route was complex and sinuous and we lost Lori and the sag at one intersection as we navigated, and we never saw her again until we got to the hotel. Still tired we stopped for nourishment about 8 miles from done for a quick $0.99 cheeseburger from McDonald’s and to re-fill water. Then continued our charge to the hotel via stoplight-laden city streets. When planning our route we figured Chicago would be a big fundraising town due to Parkinson’s research at Northwestern University, but we struck out with every contact and therefore had no scheduled events. So, all the brain damage to get into Naperville was for naught and we probably should have bypassed it south. Oh well, live and learn. Sometimes you drill dry holes, but you gotta try.
Lori had to make her flight so we had little time to dawdle upon arrival. Rick and Tom took her to the airport and then picked up a deep-dish Chicago-style pizza so we could eat-in and make it an early evening. As mentioned, Kathleen and I reunited with Isaac and there were hugs all around. I had the typical thought that every parent always has when they see their child after an absence: “Did you grow?” It’s some type of optical illusion.
Tom has family in Chicago (and every city in the union) and he has a nephew coming to visit him tonight. So, we all got to see some family today. Hoping for an early bedtime so we can rest up and hit it again tomorrow. We have a “short” day of only 80 miles to Valparaiso.
We also heard from Lori Parker, the wife of Dave Parker who rode his 35 miles with us yesterday. Here’s what she said:
I just wanted to let all of you know that you did more for Dave and his morale this week-end than anyone else ever could and I will always remember you guys for that. He hasn’t ridden with a group like that in several years and he couldn’t have been more thrilled.
So not only are you doing such a wonderful thing for the foundation, you are also touching the hearts of so many PD folks that you are meeting across the country. Words will never be enough but know that we will never forget this.
Once again I’m choked up by this. All we thought we’d be doing was riding our bikes, and look what’s happening around us and to us. The Parkinson’s community is thirsting for recognition and information, so please help us keep spreading the word so we can create many more experiences like Dave’s 35.
Naked plea: If you are inspired by our mission and the good work the Davis Phinney Foundation is doing with these wonderful Parkinson’s people and you haven’t yet donated, please do. Please help us hit a home run in terms of raising funds for this vital foundation.