Day 27: Litchfield, IL to Bloomington (Normal), IL
Distance: 117 miles
Climbing: I have no idea. Not that much.
For more photos, be sure to check Flickr.
I’m too tired to blog. No, really, can’t I just take a nap instead?
This was supposed to be the longest day (in miles) of our trip, but the route card was incorrect and we ended up short by nine miles. If anyone complains to Lon about this, I will be happy to sign a letter supporting his or her commitment to a caring institution.
I got a pretty decent night’s sleep in anticipation, and I ate a big breakfast. I wasn’t sure what else I could do to prepare for 10 hours of cycling in winter (by Bay Area standards) temperatures, probable rain showers, and a steady west wind. Oh, I also brought my iPod shuffle with me in case I ended up riding alone for hours with nothing to look at but corn seedlings as tall as popsicle sticks.
The first few miles were kind of northeast, and the sky was dry. I listened to my iPod and waited for my feet to get cold before pulling over and putting on my booties. I actually wore a wool hat and wool long-fingered gloves for the entire day today. I stayed pretty warm as long as I was moving.
Jim Meyers and John Welch passed me while I was getting my booties on. I started up again and could see another rider gaining on me pretty soon. This was Lon. I had the good sense to ride on his right-hand side a while, which gave me a break from the wind. We switched sides before we caught up to Jim and John, though. I figured that four people ought to be able to cooperate to beat the wind, so I suggested that we work together. Lon got us all in an echelon-style paceline, which worked well since traffic was light.
That got us to the first rest stop. I ate some food, got more water, and walked over to the gas station (I think it was a gas station; I actually went in the back door) to use the restroom. As I came out, I saw Lon putting on his helmet, so I ran across the parking lot to my bike. Jim was still in the restroom, so Lon and I left the stop by ourselves. John Welch is too much of a nice guy to leave a buddy behind in the restroom.
Riding with Lon, I was working harder than I would have if I were by myself. Sometimes, I would be able to get a draft from him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he speeds up when he knows you’re drafting him since he figures it’s your responsibility to keep up at that point. If you’re riding side by side, he’ll adjust his speed to match yours.
We rode together to the next rest stop (mile 46), which was near the Cozy Dog Diner. I don’t think Lon was planning to eat there, but he ended up having a bowl of chili (“the worst on the trip”), and a donut. Jim Hlavak (who wasn’t riding today) recommended the donuts, which he said were home made.
I had a cozy dog (a corn dog, as near as I could tell), and the last chocolate donut. It was really good. It was so greasy that after eating it you felt like you’d put Chapstick on your lips. I went and got another one (not chocolate) before I left. The Cozy Dog is an official Route 66 Roadside Attraction, which is a designation that I think is unique to Missouri and Illinois. It was owned by Bob Waldmire’s father, if I have this right, and there’s a lot of Route 66 memorabilia as well as a library. Bob Waldmire is the legendary artist/hippy/dude that Anurang and I saw working on a mural back in Arizona (or was it New Mexico?).
The Cozy Dog is on the southern end of Springfield, and after we passed through the city our direction shifted from due north to a more northeasterly tack, which made life much better. We covered 17 miles in the hour after we stopped at the Cozy Dog.
We didn’t stop again until we got to the town of Lincoln, where the third and final rest stop was set up across the highway from a Bonanza steakhouse. That’s a kind of all-you-can-eat place with lots of kitchsy country décor like samplers and quilts. I had a steak sandwich and a bunch of other stuff. Not great food, but lots of it.
We saw a bunch of other riders at the Bonanza: ahead of us were Lin and E on a tandem, Phil, and Franz. Lynette and a bunch of other riders who’d sagged that far were also there.
I couldn’t believe how cold it still was when we left. I forgot to mention that it had been spitting showers and drizzle off and on since before noon. As I pulled out of the restaurant parking lot, I saw Vicki and Tim Arnold, who had stopped for lunch at the previous town and who had been ahead of us all morning. We all tried to get on the tandem’s wheel, but only Franz and Phil were able to. Lon had to wait for an oncoming car, so he was a little back. I just couldn’t go hard after eating that meal. Even after trying for just a few minutes, I felt like I was going to be sick.
So, I dropped back and let Vicki and Tim chase the tandem (without success, I think, but I’m not sure), and Lon eventually caught up to me. He could easily have left me behind, but slowed down long enough for me to get a handle on my digestion, after which we kept a pretty steady pace for the rest of the afternoon.
We also stopped a few times, believe it or not, to check out some other Roadside Attractions, such as the Bunyon Man and Funk Grove maple sirup (yes, that’s how they spell it).
Oh, I forget to mention that at one point a man in a what appeared to be an unmarked police car rolled down his window as we prepared to make a turn and asked “Which one’s Lon?” The apprehension in Lon’s voice was obvious as he identified himself. You could tell he was worried that one of our riders had done something stupid, and he was about to get grief over it. Turned out the man (a parole officer, I think), was the brother of a cyclist Lon knows and just wanted to meet Lon and shake his hand. “I’m going to be doing what you’re doing in four years when I retire,” he said.
I hope he has better weather.
To be fair, everyone I’ve talked to in Illinois has apologized for the weather.
Anyway, in spite of our stops, we managed to make it to the motel before 5:00. I flopped on the bed and just lay there for a good 30 minutes. I knew though, that if I didn’t write something before dinner, I’d fall asleep before getting it done.