Friday, June 19, 2009


Today we rode from Johnson-Sauk Park to Starved Rock State Park, 70.41 miles. After the ride I was totally fried, dripping with sweat, ready for a shower. My tent is right behind the shower house and close to where we are having our meals.

Today’s ride was pretty good, especially in terms of the wind but the humidity was high and while we had overcast skies in the morning, it was sunny and hot in the afternoon. I used a lot of sunscreen but I may still have gotten some sunburn.

After an early breakfast, we started before 7 am with a bit of an uphill and had a good first 20 miles. Rich got ahead early on and Anne was behind so I rode with various people and by myself. At about 20 miles I stopped for a Clif Bar and called Peter to make sure he was okay since he had been so upset the night before and because I finally had decent cellphone reception. Of course every rider that passed me wanted to know whether or not I was ok. When I got started again, I started passing many of them since various riders stopped farther up the road and then I returned the favor of asking.

A little later I got to the first real town where I stopped at the one open place with a couple if other riders and had some really good oatmeal. Since Anne hadn’t caught up and I hadn’t seen Rich, I continued on toward Spring Grove. (I found out later that Anne was riding with someone else and they took a little detour so she was a bit behind me most of the way.) Just before the rest stop I heard a terrible noise as if I’d broken some spokes on my back wheel. I stopped and looked but the spokes seemed ok. Two riders pulled up and found the problem was that the bungee cord I keep on my rack for holding a jacket or other stuff when I am using my small bag rather than the big touring bag had gotten caught in the rear axle. They were able to release the cord and I was back on the road with no damage. If I hadn’t stopped I probably would have ended up with broken spokes and would have had a nasty fall as well. My finish would have been in the sag wagon so I really appreciate the help I got.

I met up with Rich at the rest stop, which was at a nice park about 11 miles outside Spring Valley. Sue was working there, wearing her pig ears and hauling large containers of water for people to drink. We went on from there to Spring Valley, where we had lunch. I had hot wings since I seemed to be craving protein and fat and we spent as much time as we could in air conditioning cooling off and drinking water. We shared a booth for a while with Billie, who is from the St. Louis area and at 84 was the oldest rider on GITAP. I really admired her. She has been riding weeklong rides for over 20 years and does more than one a year.

When we took off we had to ride on some highways, which always makes me a bit nervous, especially if there isn’t any shoulder or if the shoulder has a lot of holes and debris. Then we went through Peru, LaSalle, and Utica before ending up at Starved Rock. There were some stiff climbs but nothing where I had to get into my small chain ring. I did avoid the steep climb up to the lodge at the end and took the highway the whole way instead. It was actually steep climbing up the road, but evidently the hill to the lodge is even steeper.

Here are some beautiful images of Starved Rock. Unfortunately, since we were in the campground, I didn't actually see them! I'd like to go back some time and stay in the lodge and see the park.

Our dinner tonight was cut short by a violent thunderstorm with high winds and I definitely could feel water coming into the tent from various spots. It was kind of scary since I wondered if the wind would actually tear up the tent. I also realized that I didn’t take my computer off my bike or cover my bike seat although in the end neither of them were hurt by the rain. Digesting my dinner lying on my air mattress was uncomfortable and the tent was hot. This did not make camping any more palatable. After the storm the tent was in a pool of water and my friends had to help me empty the tent and move it to higher ground. Then I had to find the DNR guy and we drove over to the lodge where his car was parked so that I could get a longer extension cord to use with the CPAP machine. The walls of the tent were damp on the inside all night so the whole thing was less than comfortable.

Tomorrow we ride from Starved Rock back to Seneca, about 30 miles. Then we plan to change into regular clothes and go back to Champaign. I look forward to getting home and seeing Peter and Figaro.

Peter told me that the catalog for the Charles the Bold exhibit came today so I will be able to check out the exhibits before we leave for Bruges on the 29th. I imagine I will be busy getting ready for that trip as soon as I finish getting unpacked from this one.

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