Monday, August 19 – 2423 miles down, 851 to go
I never thought I’d be saying this: Gee, today was only 81 miles!
We needed a shorter day, especially one without a bunch of climbing. It had some inclines, but nothing major. Our target was Valparaiso, Indiana and the Fairfield Inn. Yep, so long Illinois.
But we first had to navigate the mélange of suburbs and towns and villages that spread like bacteria away from the lakeshore of Chicago. Navigating into Naperville last night was rough. This was worse. Just try to get out of Naperville. Our route was a mishmash of city streets and busy highways (weekend over, people motivated to get to work or someplace). At times we were on some country lanes, but it was never quiet. We did pass some high-dollar subdivisions and noticed a preponderance of BMW’s and Mercedes passing us (note: BMW’s stomp the gas to pass, Mercedes smoothly and quietly accelerate on by).
Isaac was back driving the sag and did a great job of stopping at each turn or decision point and making sure we were all together. I had some issues early as I bonked about 9 miles in. That means I ran out of gas and needed to eat. I started shaking and got the chills. This has happened a couple times before and I recognized the signs, so I called a stop and gutted a bagel and assorted other products and immediately felt better. We continued on.
Before we knew it we were 27 miles in. This is mostly due to the agitated and highly aware state you acquire while riding these crowded streets in The Burbs. You just keep going and going and turning and looking and avoiding and and and… We all felt good by 27, we had a mix of good and bad roads, and we just kept on trucking. Isaac made a pit stop to pick up more water and assorted items, so we were on our own for awhile. Ultimately reached Highway 30 which was an awesome road for many miles, but it eventually degraded.
The group was quite glib today, and each of us had an Indiana song in mind. Rick’s was “Indiana Wants Me“, a good old tune by R. Dean Taylor. Another was “Gary Indiana” from The Music Man. I picked “Indiana, Our Indiana“, which is the fight song for Indiana University, and it was featured prominently in the classic cycling movie “Breaking Away“.
And then we got to Chicago Heights. We all needed a stop as we were about 45 miles in, but let’s just say the neighborhood wasn’t one that we wanted to stop in. It wasn’t exactly a ghetto, but man was it run down and full of tough characters. We increased our effort to put the place behind us, but we were constantly gated by stoplights. People stared. Go ahead and dress up in Lycra and a bright jersey and ride your bike through Chicago Heights some time. Let me know how it goes. I hoped Isaac hadn’t parked our shiny Acadia and colorful trailer to wait for us. We kept on going and didn’t stop until things improved at about 55 miles. At that point we were all out of water and other liquids and needed a stop.
We stopped in Dyer at the “Welcome to Indiana” sign, which is right by a wonderful lawn in front of the Franciscan St. Margaret Health Center. We laid under some trees while we waited for Isaac to catch up to us (in our frenzy we had ridden right by him). He soon appeared and we decided it was lunchtime. So we set up the chairs under the trees and Kathleen got busy making some egg salad while Rick created a new treat that we’ll call…CCPB? It was celery, with peanut butter, then a layer of cheddar cheese. And it was good. We hung out in the shade for awhile and then took the obligatory State Sign picture, and got going again. I wonder what the people inside the Health Center thought of our little picnic.
We remained on Highway 30 and it was busy busy busy. At times we had a shoulder, other times we didn’t. Once again we were hyper-aware and stoplight-impeded. We did get through those last 25 miles pretty quickly. We had just passed Isaac at the 5 mile point, and he went on ahead to the hotel, when there was a loud pop and hiss. I thought it was Rick’s bike. He said it was mine. My tires felt fine. It was weird. Then my back tire started to feel soft. Then I saw where something had ripped open the tire. Here we were, 3 miles from the finish, and that just defeated me. Since the tire was jacked we had to call Isaac back to us so I could get a new tire. It all took time, and I was fuming. You just get SO READY to be done for the day, and then something like that happens. I know, poor me. Finally got it fixed and rode to the hotel.
Tom had two of his sisters (Pat & Mary) coming by as well as Pat’s son, his wife and their three little boys. We also had a dinner planned with some other friends in town. No Parkinson’s events planned for today though. Regardless it was a busy afternoon and evening. As always we got the laundry going, bottles washed, etc.
I went and visited with Tom’s relatives and it was a very nice time. I couldn’t go to the dinner as I had to phone interview a candidate for a manager’s position I’m trying to fill in Boulder. One of the things I have to do to stay in touch with my job is check in every morning and evening to see if any fires are burning. This was one of the fires that I needed to attend to. So, the rest of the crew went to eat and I stayed at the hotel. Kathleen and Tom said the dinner was wonderful.
One thing we’ve noticed is that these towns no longer seem to have City Limits signs. None for Naperville, none for Valparaiso. So that kind of kinks our pictorial log of the journey. Two more days until our last Rest Day. We’re also about 2 miles from entering the Eastern Time Zone (there’s a sliver of Indiana that isn’t in the East) so we’ll lose an hour. Tomorrow we head to the thriving metropolis of Ligonier, and a hotel (the Deluxe Inn) that kind of reminds me of the Grand Motel in Julesburg. Hmm, this should be interesting.