No Name Tour: Day 6 – Near Death Experiences

The day began at 3:30 a.m. I woke up stressing about the fierce weather approaching from the west. The day’s sole objective was to not get caught in the maelstrom.

After inhaling the hotel complementary breakfast (they had Cheerios!!!), I hit the road at 6:50 wearing 2 shirts, my jacket, and my long pants. It was only 48 degrees outside and the wind was blowing. Fortunately for me the wind was either at my back or to my side all day.

I hopped on a rail trail and rode it southwest out of Staunton. I passed a couple of horses munching near the trail side. One was a palomino, my favorite. It brought to mind the dearth of livestock I’ve seen in this trip. There have been no herds of cattle or horses to stampede like last summer in the northern plains.

I flew by into Edwardsville in about 2 hours. There I pondered whether to take a google maps short cut to St. Louis or continue following Route 66 on a circuitous track to the north. After briefly attempting the google route I decided to stick with my Route 66 maps. Google has too many turns and, for all I know, goes through sketchy areas.

Before crossing the Mississippi into Missouri, I stopped at a market to buy snacks. It’s been painfully obvious that I haven’t been eating enough on this trip so I bought apples and candy bars and cheese.

The river and a connected canal looked bloated as I rode across the old Route 66 bridge which is now closed to motor vehicles.

Route 66 bridge over the Chain of Rocks Canal
Route 66 Bridge Bike Trail
The Mississippi River

Turning south, I followed the riverside trail and passed a Missouri DOT truck parked at a trailhead. The truck’s flashing lights were on. The driver was asleep. I continued for another 100 yards and found my wheels encumbered with thick, slimy river mud. I worked my way up to an adjacent highway and started scraping away at the gunk in the narrow paved shoulder.

An African American man of about 40 pulled up and stopped in the north bound lane.

“Are you okay? Do you have a flat?”

“Nope, just clearing off mud.”

“You should get up in the grass out if the road.”

So I did. He pulled his white SUV onto the grass next to me.

The people who drive on this road are crazy. You gotta be careful.

Seconds later: BANG

Two sedans collided on the road. One went one way. The other ended up right where I was standing.

As the SUV driver, whose name was Jerry, said, “That would have fucked you up.”

All I could do was think of my friend Dave.

One of the two cars took off up a side road. The driver of the other car walked up to us to see if we got the car’s license. Unfortunately I was too dumbfounded to notice. For someone who just went through a hit and run this drivers remarkably composed, as if it happened every day.

Off she drove shaking her head.

Back at my mud chore, I notice that my right index finger was bleeding. Jerry pulled out a first aid kit and gave me alcohol swabs, disinfectant patches, and band aids.

He then gave me his phone number to call him if I got stuck in the storm later in the day. Finally, he gave me directions to get back to the trail where it runs atop the levee, away from the mud.

“Whatever you do don’t stay in this road. It goes through the most violent neighborhoods in the area. Two or three people get shot every day.”

I thanked him profusely and followed his guidance. Unfortunately the trail diverted from the levee back toward the river. The mud in this area was several inches thick and super slick. I had to backtrack about a mile and ride in the road again.

This road has heavy truck traffic. Big trucks too. It’s a good thing that truck drivers are patient because every one of them passed me with plenty of room.

At Broadway and Grand Boulevard I had a choice: go two more miles along the river risking crazy drivers and gawdawful mud or ride up a steep hill toward the center of town. I chose to ride up the hill thereby bypassing the Gateway Arch and the interesting buildings along the riverfront. Having already seen them I didn’t think it was worth the risk. Plus, the hill cut some distance and time from my route, a good thing since I had lost at least an hour of time to the mud.

The neighborhood I rode through made the gnarliest DC neighborhoods look like paradise. It was hard to decide what was sadder, the depressing poor people at the bus stops or the shattered big round stained glass window in a beautiful old church. This was obviously a neighborhood bereft of hope.

Then suddenly I was in Grand Center, a few city blocks of lovingly maintained old theaters and businesses. Next came St. Lois University with gorgeous gothic revival buildings.

Turning west on Lindell Boulevard I passed the majestic Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. On past Forest Park I pulled up to the main entrance to Washington University. The main building stood on a hill facing the city with an unobstructed view. Sadly the University has cluttered the place with modern buildings, with another being added.

Washington University

Soon I was heading west out of town through posh suburbs with hectic traffic and traffic lights that always seemed to be red.

This was taking too long but I had no choice. My original plan was to stay at a motel in Ellisville but the google picture made it look like a dump.

I forged ahead 12 more very hilly miles to Eureka. Along the way I rode on Woods Avenue. It was about a 3-mile, 400-foot windy, wooded descent, the stuff of bicyclists’ dreams.

Unfortunately this was followed by a 1-mile, 400 foot climb that taxed my body to the max. It felt just like the two mountains I climbed near Pittsburgh on last summer’s tour.

As if to pat me on the back for surviving the climb. The road descended 400 feet over the next mile, after which another 200-foot climb was a non event.

I pulled into a Burger King. After I dismounted I was shaking from the effort of those nasty hills. I ate an Impossible burger, a veggie burger that is supposed to taste like beef. It did. Well played BK.

The last two miles were uneventful. I checked in to my hotel, showered, inhaled some snacks then checked the weather.

We were under a tornado warning. Soon sirens blared. This was not a drill.

The hotel’s guests were gathered in the lobby looking at the radar on a big screen. Scary stuff.

It took a ton of effort, sone luck, a trail Angel, and way too much mud but I pulled it off. A day for the ages.

85 miles today. 380.5 so far.

And this happened on one of those nasty climbs.

The Mule Turns 52

No Name Tour: Day 5 – Getting a Push

My hotel is the tallest building for miles (I was on the 24th floor). It made faint creaking sounds from the wind. They didn’t keep me up. Nothing could have. I was exhausted.

I started the day with a short ride to Abraham Lincoln’s house. It’s in a cute, preserved neighborhood with wooden sidewalks and gravel streets. Unfortunately I was 90 minutes too early for a tour so an exterior photo would have to do (sorry Jessica).

I was anxious to get on the road because the wind, albeit a light one, would be at my back. I made it two more miles before stopping for breakfast at a diner.

Eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast, and coffee.


With a full tank of gas, I boogied out of Springfield on a rail trail. The solitude was lovely but the trees along each side blocked the wind. Still, I was clipping along at twice yesterday’s speed with no effort.

In Chatham the trail gave way to hilly roads through suburban developments. Once clear of them I was on level country roads with my friend the wind nudging me along.

I started bonking after 25 miles and stopped at a gas station shop for food. I managed to gag down some Gatorade, pretzels, and crackers then hit the road again.

The temperature was in the low 60s and I struggled to keep my body temperature under control. A jacket was too warm but a shirt alone was chilly. I opted for chilly and continues south on a rather poorly maintained rail trail.

Five miles later I was back on 66 which was a frontage road for I-55. With good pavement and the wind at my back I was comfortably cruising at 14 miles per hour.

Bonking again, I stopped for lunch at a family restaurant in Litchfield. The service was glacially slow but my body appreciated the opportunity to recharge. I had a Wisconsin butter burger (a cheeseburger with a dollop of butter on top and a glob of mayo on the bottom).

Fortunately the waitress knew CPR and I was back on the road with a belly full of fat and grease.

It was just what my body wanted. I was riding in the 14 – 17 mph range and came to the town of Mount Olive where I visited the grave of Mother Jones, the famous labor activist.

How does he find such interesting historical stuff? When you’re going 10 mph through town the signs every two blocks are hard to miss.

I was briefly considering riding the wind for another 20 miles but after six more I arrived in Staunton and called it a day. By the way, Staunton, Virginia is pronounced Stanton. In Illinois, locals swallow the second “t” so that it sounds like Ralph Kramden called his friend Norton.

The Super 8 here is inexpensive and has breakfast. Much more importantly it’s located next door to a Dairy Queen.

Guess where I’m going as soon as I post this?

71.5 miles for the day brings the tour’s five day total to 295.

No Name Tour: Day 4 – Headwinds Are a State of Mind

After yesterday afternoon’s massive feed, I fell into a food coma in my hotel room. Laundry was accomplished. Nats best Cubs on the telly. I slept for 8 hours.

Just what I needed.

The hotel breakfast was decent: cereal, OJ, coffee, yogurt, fruit (including 2 apples for the road), and toast.

As I left the hotel the wind nearly blew me over. Once I got on Route the wind was in my face. I was determined not to fight it. So I plodded along at 8 miles per hour. During the day, the wind intensified and my speed crept downward.

No worries. The temps were cooperating, staying in the high 60s and low 70s.

I decided to just forget about how long the day would take. I stopped from time to time to check out the sites.

It turns out that a business in Santa Monica (the western end of Route 66) makes huge fiberglass statues as advertisements. Most of them look like Paul Bunyan carrying an axe or whatever matches the business being promoted. Mufflers were popular. A hot dog business in Illinois had one made with a giant hot dog. It’s named the Paul Bunyon statue because of restaurant trademark conflicts. It now stands next to the road in Atlanta, Illinois.

Paul’s a whole lot bigger (and my head is much smaller) than he looks in this picture.

I was plodding along thinking the bike gods that the road was mostly level.

I stopped in the town of Elkhart and had a light lunch at an Amish cafe. I was happy to get out of the wind for an hour.

The wind picked up even more when I saw Stephen and Bernd coming my way. Steve is from New York and Bernd is from Germany. We had a nice chat. They were loving their tailwind. Steve said they rode more than 80 miles yesterday and “didn’t break a sweat.” He also said that the winds were so strong in Arizona that he was literally blown off the road into a ditch.

Steve and Bernd happy to riding the wind

Isn’t bike touring fun?

I rode into Springfield expecting to camp but the campground looked boggy so I headed into town in search of a hotel.

Along the way I saw some signs for Lincoln’s tomb so I checked it out.

It turns out that 3 of his 4 sons (Robert is buried in Arlington) and his wife are also buried here. This surprised me because Willie was buried in DC (the basis for the book Lincoln in the Bardo).

I know my history fanatic friend Jessica is going ape over these pictures but there’s more! Lincoln’s tomb is just up the hill from the graves of the Korndog (sic) King and Mr. Accordion!

I’ll bet that made Jessica spit her cerveza.

After checking out an inexpensive Howard Johnson’s they looked like a perfect spot for meth sales, I ride into downtown and grabbed a room at the Wyndham. I’m on the 28th floor and I can hear the wind howling outside. I have an amazing view of Springfield and let me tell you it’s totally not worth the picture. (I grew up in Albany and I’d feel the same way about the view there do don’t give me any grief y’all).

In spite of the headwinds I logged 52.5 miles today making the tour total 225 miles.

Tomorrow I check out Lincoln’s house before riding headwinds outta town.

No Name Tour: Day 3 – Getting My Ass Kicked on Route 66

At the motel last night I watched the Nats play the Cubs on TV. I fell sound asleep in the 4th inning (or thereabouts) and woke up at 1:30. I stayed up for a few hours then faded away until 6:30.

I ate a pathetic motel breakfast again (cereal, OJ, coffee) and headed out into a stiff headwind that never relented.

I just put my head down and did my best. 8 miles per hour.

The route occasionally had a path next to it. The path was made from half the old roadway. It was nice and had Burma Shave signs.

Don’t pass on hills or curves

If the cops don’t get you

Morticians will

Burma Shave

I crawled along until Normal. Normal strikes me as a strange name for a town. It practically begs you to suspect the place is full of weirdos.

Normal gave way to bike paths through Bloomington. I wonder if the locals call it Abnormal.

I became hopelessly lost about the same time as I started bonking. I was not a happy camper.

With help from the google I escaped Bloomington but managed to bypass all kinds of restaurants and food stores.

I ended up at a crappy gas station shop and made do with a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich and two Gatorades.

Here I discovered it was 83 degrees outside. So had heat to augment the lovely headwinds.

I have to say that this was one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. I did 88 miles into a headwind last summer but that was downhill with cool temperatures. (And the views along the Blackfoot River in Montana were awesome. The Illinois prairie not so much.)

Back on the trail I decided to end the day at McLean. They had a Super 8 with a diner across the street. I got there as yet another nasty thunderstorm was approaching.

At the diner I ordered breakfast. There was enough food for three people. Oink.

I noticed a few morbidly obese people in their yards along the road today. There were several more at the diner. Depressing.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for more fun with heat and headwinds. At least the hotel has a much more ample breakfast set up that I will attack with Kennedy-esque vigah.

41.5 miles today. Total so far 212.5.

No Name Bike Tour: Day 2 – Getting My Kicks

Something must be wrong. I slept like a log and my knee didn’t ache. Good thing I was in a hotel because a storm went through the area and had golf ball sized hail.

The complementary breakfast wasn’t worth the price. A small bowl of Raisin Bran, toast and jam, and coffee. Normally I’d eat everything twice but not today.

It was a dreary day with cool temperatures and drizzle. On went my rain jacket.

On the road by 8:30 or maybe 7:30. I have time zone confusion. On the way out of Kankakee I was treated to the curse of the miles long freight train. Actually it was fun watching it roll by. Forever.

Once freed I was treated to a tailwind for most of the morning. I had decided to ride west to intersect Route 66 in Dwight, Illinois. I let the google do the navigating.

Off I went on country roads, a very pleasant experience until I hit the unpaved part. “Continue for 9 miles.” The google likes to joke.

After about five I turned off and headed to the two lane highway.

Did I mention that these roads are level. (Bike tourist never use the “f” word.) I was clipping along at 15 miles per hour with little effort. What a pleasant contrast to yesterday’s slog.

The fields were quagmires so I knew camping wasn’t going to happen.

As I rode into Dwight, some 37 miles after I began, I could tell I was bonking. The fuel from breakfast was used up. Fortunately there was a family restaurant at the turn to Route 66. (Family restaurants are ubiquitous in the Midwest.) I ordered lunch and was thrilled to see piles of food arrive at my table. It took me close to an hour to down it all. No crumbs for the mouse this day.

Just before entering the restaurant I checked my weather app. It predicted a thunderstorm for the next two hours. It was a false alarm.

I rode 66 southwest with the wind aiding my effort. The highway is concrete with many patches and pot holes. Many years ago the state decided to let the western two lanes deteriorate. It reminded me of snowmobile trails in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

My original plan was to stop in Dwight but it was barely afternoon so I forged ahead to Pontiac. On the way I passed through Odell where I crossed my route from last year. I re-took a picture while I was in town.

Pontiac boasted several museums. I went into the Route 66 museum. It was filled with memorabilia. I thought of my friend Rachel’s descriptions of the Haines, Alaska Hammer Museum.

Route 66 changed course several times. In Pontiac there are sections that date back to the late 1920s. Somebody decided to build a bypass in 1930.

There are restored buildings along the road from time to time. The Standard Oil station was cute. It would have looked better with a big 1930s car out front.

Despite the fact that the trail is clearly marked and that I had an actual map of the road, I missed a turn south of Pontiac. The level terrain made it no big deal, perhaps an extra two or three miles, but I felt embarrassed to have screwed up something so simple.

I recovered and found my hotel outside Chenoa. The desk clerk is from Gurjarat in India. It’s amazing how many small town hotels are staffed by Gurjaratis. I often wonder how they find these places.

After check in I discovered the tap water had the faint smell of sulfur, probably untreated well water. I’ll be buying bottled water for tomorrow.

So Day 2 ends at 70 1/2 miles. I’m hoping the Nats v Cubs game is on the telly tonight.

Props to all the folks back home who participated in Bike to Work Day. Thanks to Monica for offering to grab a shirt for me.

No Name Tour: Day 1 – Headwinds, Rumble Strips and Thunderstorms

The day began with my in laws taking us out to the Fingerhut Diner in beautiful downtown North Judson, Indiana. Maybe it was pretour jitters but I couldn’t finish my omelet. My tummy was in knots and my left knee was barking at me.

We went back to the in-laws’ fabulous home atop a sand hill (the land around here is either sand or bog). I packed up and my mother in law offered me some granola bars and a fig bar. I put a few in my handlebar bag because what’s a few more ounces when your bike weighs a ton.

The engine

Hugs and kisses were followed by me riding The Mule down the curving driveway and into the wind.

Crops are only now being planted around here so the vast fields offer little break from the constant winds from the south and west. I was going west south west so my entire day was spent fighting the wind. Of course, as the day wore on the wind speed increased. Did I mention that I hate weather?

The county farm roads were empty but disconnected so I had to use two lane highways from time to time. I spent about five miles going south on US 421. It had rumble strips along the narrow paved shoulder leaving me no choice but to ride in the travel lane. I spent most of the time looking in my rear view mirror (if you tour without one you are a fool). Dozens of tractor trailers and dump trucks passed me. They all gave me plenty of room. Only one honked at me.

I turn west onto Indiana Highway 10. No rumble strips! But still beaucoup trucks. Fortunately 10 gave way to some paved county roads that I had all to myself. I used the google to navigate the grid and made it quite along ways on these bike friendly lanes.

Better than a rail trail

Alas, all good things must come to an end as I rejoined 10 with still more trucks. Cowering to the edge was a bad idea. I caught my front tire in some gravel and nearly crashed. Luckily my wheel caught pavement and I recovered traction.

As I headed due west I could see the skies on the horizon darkening. On coming traffic had its headlights on. No bueno.

First state line of the tour

I arrived in the Illinois town of Momence and stopped to check the weather radar. As I did I heard a rumble of thunder. The radar showed a massive line of dark red approaching from the near northwest. It had dozens of lightning strikes displayed.


I have been caught riding in Midwest thunderstorms several times before. They are scary. Heavy rain. High winds. Hail. Lightning.

Fortunately the google indicated that a fast food joint was only two blocks away. Having ridden 50 miles with only the fig bar to eat since breakfast I understood that the universe was telling me to eat some French fries.

And do I did. I munched slowly as I waited an hour for the storm to pass. Thinking ahead I made a motel reservation ten miles west in Kankakee.

After the storm passed, I hopped on The Mule, made two turns in Momence and rode 10 miles straight to the motel. I didn’t even care that scores of cars zoomed past me as I rode.

And so I arrived at the Super 8 covered in road spray but feeling pretty darned good about the first day of the tour.

I still have no idea if this left knee of mine will hold up to daily abuse but there’s only one way to find out.

Onward to Bicycle Route 66 tomorrow.

Any Road Tour: Day 16 – Tailwinds to the Mississippi

Drinking a half gallon of caffeinated soda at 9 p.m. might not be the best formula for sleep but I did it anyway. After yesterday’s beatdown from hills and headwinds I could not get enough to eat. I had PB&J sandwiches, a Snickers bar, two chocolate chip cookies, and fast food. And my pants are falling off. No lie.

I had two breakfasts because, well, no food be said “Stop!” I think I am going to get banned from some hotel chains.

I decided to stay on the due west Adventure Cycling Northern Tier Route because the Google instructions for riding into Iowa on a northwestern diagonal were much too complicated.

On the road around 8 I instantly felt regret. It was cool and there was a strong wind from the east. Perfect tailwinds for a fast bike ride. Why didn’t I get on the road sooner?

Leaving Kenawee I was cruising at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Hills? What hills?

The level prairie had given way to rolling hills. The main crops were corn and soybeans as before but they were planted in curves that matched the topography.

I didn’t take any pictures because I was too busy taking advantage of the fantastic conditions. I stopped for lunch st a 7-11 in Sherrard. I was half way to Iowa at 11:30,l. When I came back outside, the wind had changed direction. It was now a crosswind out of the south. It gradually shifted to the southwest creating something close to a headwind.

Still I was grateful for 38 miles of assistance.

I stopped a couple more times just to break up the grind.

Then I saw this sign. Not again. It was ambiguous.

I ignored it and never encountered the promised outage. At about the point where the outage was supposed to be, I caught a mile long curvy downhill on smooth pavement.


After a few more miles I stopped to orient myself. Next to me were acres of crops clearly in a flood plain.

My head was immediately surrounded by annoying flying insects. I won’t be camping near here was my immediate thought

Soon I was on a busy highway making use of my mirror just like in South Carolina last fall.

Then I saw this sign.

At the top of the bridge I stopped to check out the Big Muddy.

On the far side of the bridge in the city of Muscatine, I put a notch in my handlebars for the 8th state on my trip, Iowa.

A search with The Google turned up several hotels. After stopping for a celebratory ice cream cone, I pedaled onward looking for shelter.

Traffic was heavy and the highway unwelcoming, so I turned down a grassy hill into the parking lot of a Super 8.

Mission accomplished.

Today’s 78.5 miles were far easier than yesterday’s 62.5.

Tour total: 1,171.

Any Day Tour: Day 15 – Headwinds are us

The city park in Wenona was a pleasant place to spend the night. I don’t don’t have a chance to eat dinner which is probably not a good idea after riding 92 miles.

In the morning I had breakfast at The Broadway. Like most small town places it doubles as a bar and a restaurant. As I was chowing down on pancakes and eggs and sausages at the bar, a bearded burly man sat down next to me and ordered a Bud. The barkeeper asked he wanted a shot with it.


The early ride out of town presented me with stronger headwinds than yesterday and more hills. Ugh.

The novelty of corn and soy fields and funny birds (I am told they are killdeer) has worn off. It was just a slog up a slight grade into the wind. As the day wore on the heat, humidity, and wind speed increased.

I came upon a field of pots.

They were mums. So orderly.

Just before the town of Henry and the bridge across the Illinois River, I come to my first big downhill in days. Man, I’m going to rip down this baby. Just before I started to pedal I noticed way down at the bottom on the other side of the road two cyclists. I decided to wait for them to come up so we could chat. This would allow me the rando trick of preserving the energy from the descent.

They waved at me to come down. So I did. They were Neil and Phyl, tandem cyclists heading from Colorado to Maine. We had a long chat about many things including struggling with our unwieldy bikes in windy conditions.

Having stopped at the bottom Neil decide to walk the tandem up the hill. Phyl and I talked some more trading info on the roads ahead. I was soon to discover that her info was biased by the fact that they’d been riding with tailwinds and downhill.

They were very nice people and I’m going to look up their journal on

After crossing the river on a narrow bridge with a big truck behind me, I rolled into Henry and bought food and sunscreen. What I’ve been using has apparently been prepared with Crisco because my skin is fried.

The winds picked up, the terrain cane more and more challenging. I didn’t have any pop in my legs. There was nothing to do but hope the time passed.

In Bradford, I found a restaurant/bar. The owners were sitting outside next to a Big Green Egg grill. They were done serving lunch but offered to cook he something. I had a burger (about 1/3rd of an inch thick) with their homemade chips. Lord, did it taste good. I also drank beaucoups glasses of ice waster.

Back in the road I felt revived. But the headwinds and the hills continued to beat me down. After the town of Osceola, I encountered a road closure sign.

I decided to take the chance that my bike and I could get through. I guessed right. There was a way to scramble around the construction pushing The Mule through a path the construction equipment had made. The crew of two were finishing up for the day. We chatted for a while then they went home and I went back to business. A few windy and hilly miles later I rolled into Kewanee. The Google showed me how to get to a hotel. There’s a Motel 6 across the street. Some kids hanging around in the parking lot said there was another bike guy in the hotel. It was sold out so I came here next door.

Tomorrow I am considering going off route. Instead of going due west to Muscatine Iowa then north to Oxford Junction, I might go northeast to Davenport then on to Oxford Junction. This would shave a day from the schedule and possibly avoid some hills.

Today’s mileage was 62.5

Total so far is 1,092.5.

Any Road Tour: Day 14 – Turbines and Chipseal

After a fine hotel breakfast or two at the Super 8 in Watseka (a surprisingly nice place, BTW) I asked the Google for directions to get me back on my route. The Google did an outstanding job directing me down perfect country roads with plenty of trees to shade me from the headwinds.

The headwinds today were about half as strong as yesterday and easily manageable. When I started riding it was 55 degrees. It warmed up to the high 70s with moderate humidity. Until mid afternoon there was literally not a cloud on the sky. Dang it was nice out.

The Google route was windy (as in not straight) but after days of riding a grid it was a welcome relief.

Many of the county roads are paved with chip seal. The road is coated with sticky tar and then gravel is put in top. I road a few miles on roads that had been recently renewed. It slowed me down but didn’t approach the level of unpleasantness that other bike tourists had warned me about.

The dandelions on the side of the road are enormous. I didn’t see any yellow just these big fluff balls.

Another item of note is the bird life. I spotted what looked like an osprey chowing down on some prey in a field near the road. Seeing me he took off and landed on a telephone pole about a quarter mile from his meal. After I passed he flew back to it.

And there is a small bird that looks to me like a sandpiper. It’s about the size of a cardinal. It gray-ish feathers on its wings and tail with a brown patch just above the tail. They only fly a few feet off the ground. After flying for 30 yards they land and run for a few feet before taking off again. They are entertaining to watch and I must have seen 100 of them today.I road past several wind farms today. It’s amazing what happens when you plant a turbine seed in a corn field. I once saw a turbine blade on display near the Energy Department. The thing looked to be as long as a football field. (How they drove into DC with it is beyond me.) Anyway, seeing these things from a distance is truly impressive but up close they are hypnotic. I nearly ran off the road I was so captivated by them.Another thing I noticed today is that the pool table is starting to have some gentle up slopes. I probably climbed 200 or 300 feet today, 30 feet here, 20 feet there. In Kempton I stopped for lunch at Tom’s. There is a mural that runs the length of the building. It’s a bit like to cover of Sgt. Pepper’s. I parked The Mule to the left of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Is she signing something?In Odell I crossed Route 66. There is now a bicycle route that follows the route from Chicago to Los Angeles. As I was taking a picture of the sign a woman jumped out of her car to get a picture of her own. My plan had me stopping at Cornell Illinois but there were no campgrounds or hotels there. There was plenty of daylight left and I was feeling fine after 67 miles so I continued on to the City of Wenona. They let bike tourists camp in the city park. It’s a very nice set up and the shower was the best. My thanks to the Wenona police officer who directed me to the park (and checked up on me later) and to Sheila who showed me around and gave me the secret code to the shower room.On days like this I have a hard time getting off the bike. I rode 92 miles. My total for the first two weeks of the tour is 1,030 miles.

Any Road Tour: Day 13 – Headwinds and camping fail

I was awoken by geese and the sound of gurgling river water. A breeze was making the trees sing along. Not a bad way to start the day.

About a mile from camp I rode by the buffalo farm (in Buffalo Indiana no less). The buffalo were grazing but too far from the road to take a decent picture. (Brittany, I swear I am not making this up.)

I stopped at the corner store for coffee and a cookie. The coffee was weak and the cookie was stale.

I hit the road to learn that the breeze was a headwind. And it stayed a headwind all day. Of course as the day wore one it turned into a 20 mile per hour beast with gusts well above that. The wind made it impossible to ride above 10 miles per hour. And the gusts moved The Mule all over the road. Both my legs and my arms were getting a serious workout.

The winds were much worse when I was riding past open farmland. The corn was to early to offer me any sort of wings break. )I wonder how it grows straight up and down with all this wind). Each farm had a stand of trees to block the wind so I’d get a few seconds of rest before the next blast. (Several times during the day I stopped. The wind actually blew The Mule and me back a step when I tried to start again.)

Other then the wind it was an absolutely beautiful day.

I crossed into Illinois after noon. There was no welcome sign. They must have known I was coming.

Most of my riding was done with my head down to try to cheat the wind. I’d look up and see corn or soy or hay, realize I was still in a nightmare headwind, then put my head back down.

Weeks ago I planned this to be an easy 58 mile day to take advantage of the free camping in the park of the town of Iroquois. The park is beautiful but camping is no longer allowed.

My choices were ride another 20+ miles into the headwind for free camping in another town en route or ride 6 miles off route to Watseka and grab a hotel room. Watseka won without a fight. I simply could not handle another 20 miles of this headwind.

At a lunch stop I learned that there is a cross country cyclist ahead of me. I wonder if I’ll catch him.

Watseka is within eyesight of a massive wind farm. Those turbines were getting quite a workout today.

I spotted this house today, in Watseka. A painted lady with a wrap around porch and a tower. Perfect.

Finally Watseka has what all badass midwestern towns have, a humongous grain elevator.

The desk clerk at the hotel is from New Delhi. She was a nurse back home but her credentials did not transfer to the U. S. I told her about my blood clots and she knew all about DVTs and pulmonary embolisms.

So today I rode 67.5 miles, about 10 miles farther than planned. They were honest miles. Good miles.

This morning, tomorrow’s forecast was for similar winds but it has been revised to winds that will not crush your soul.

938 miles in the bag. I try not to think about how much farther I have to go.