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.
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.
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.
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.