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|Day 30- Rest Day in St. Joseph
|Not having to get up, back your bags, and load your luggage is the up-side of a rest day. The down-side is that rest days are often the time when riders not on board for the duration must say farewell. Today we will be saying so long to Leslie & Virginia S. who have ridden their tandem all the way from San Francisco. They plan to reconvene in St Joseph a year from now and finish off the Cross Country Challenge with the Class of 2008.
We will all miss Leslie & Virginia, but some riders in particular will miss the full size frame pump they carry on their CoMotion tandem. It has been a god-send to more than one flat-stranded adventurer. Rumor has it they may auction it off before heading to the airport.
Erin was spotted early-on this morning searching for a �Target� outlets and �Olive Garden� restaurants. They don�t have these in Hawaii and she seeks them out wherever she can. Andrew and Jeff are hoping to find a bike shop that can help them out with some wheel related problems, while others are heading to do laundry or clean up their bikes.
Those with spare time might take in some of the attractions here in St Joe. Two common destinations are The Jesse James home and The Pony Express National Museum. During the past few months several passersby have told us that riding a bike across America is just plain crazy. With this in mind, we may have at least a couple of riders who choose to visit the Globe Psychiatric Museum!
posted 2007-07-03 | 20:30:07 | article number: 1
|Day 31- Tuesday, July 3, 2007 St. Joseph, MO to Chillicothe, MO 91 miles
|Yes it was humid, but abundant sunshine and scenery led to rave reviews of today�s route. Here in Missouri the county roads are designated by letters, so portions of this morning�s directions � L on W, R on O, L on Z, and R on V � looked more like an eye chart than a cue sheet. Everyone made it to the first SAG stop in the town so Maysville so I guess this didn�t cause too much confusion.
Many folks think of Pennsylvania when they hear the word �Amish�, so it came as a bit of a surprise to some as we entered Amish communities here in Missouri. Corn is the big crop in these parts, with acre after acre punctuated by meticulously kept farm houses and buildings. Definitely a change from wide open Kansas.
The second SAG stop of the day was at a school in the town of Jamesport. Bob was leery of having ants get in his helmet so he found a safer spot to hang his helmet � watch out for wood-peckers! A couple of caf�s just before and after the school were busy with riders stopping for lunch. Rocket & Greg must have eaten enough to fuel them in to the hotel since they were spotted a few miles east feeding the peanut butter crackers they had stowed at the SAG to nearby horses.
Missouri is the �Show Me� state, so that�s exactly what Brian and Arlene must have said when they heard about the annual Amish Auction that was happening just beyond Jamesport. Neither one had ever tasted Shoofly pie so off they went to check out the scene. While they were busy at the auction, the rest of the group was chuckling at the images conjured up by the name of some intersections here in Missouri.
You will recall that county roads here are named by letter. Riding along county road F, our route called for a left turn on to county road U. There we were at the �FU� intersection � a Kodak moment indeed.
By mile 88 we had reached the town of Chillicothe. It was recently discovered that sliced bread was offered for sale � for the first time ever - in Chillicothe. A product of the Chillicothe Baking Company, it was sliced on a machine called the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. Invented by Iowa inventor, Otto Rohwedder, the bread slicer was put into practice in 1928 in beautiful downtown Chillicothe. A committee has recently been formed in Chillicothe to promote its new status as the "Home of Sliced Bread." The Cross Country Challenge � not just a bike ride, but an education in trivia as well!
Rich was thrilled to learn about the lore of sliced bread, but he was even MORE excited to find that the hotel had a Dairy Queen right next door. Hot Eats and Cool Treats!
posted 2007-07-07 | 21:09:15 | article number: 3
|Day 32- Wednesday, July 4, 2007 Chillicothe, MO to Kirksville, MO 82 miles
|America the Beautiful, The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America�. Take your pick of what song to sing to praise this country; all are suitable. We have spent 32 days riding across this country and have seen slices of everyday America that a lot of people around the world have not. It is indeed something to sing about!
A couple of days back someone decided that we should put our pride in the USA on display by decorating our bikes today. Decorated we were. Jane went for the whole nine yards with lots of red, white, and blue, a bow on her helmet, glasses with flashing lights, and slinkys that looked like big tails. Tim went for a Captain America look wearing a cape covered with stars. David went for a renewable energy theme by installing pinwheels on every available inch of his bike. Gerard is still compiling the data to determine whether these mini-turbines made David go faster or slower.
We rolled out of Chillicothe under cloud cover on another humid morning. The first SAG stop was in Linneus � near Walt Disney�s Boyhood Home � and we managed to stay on the southern edge of a storm until we got there. As the skies opened up and the rain began to fall we were able to find shelter in a store. Listening to the locals describe their BBQ plans for later that afternoon, more than a couple of riders were tempted to abandon the day�s route and crash one or more of these cook outs. After an hour or so of idling the rain had let up, our jackets were back on, and we resumed our north easterly trek to Kirksville. Within a few miles the storm was over and the roads were just about dry. As a gesture of gratitude Herb found the necessary tools in the store�s broom closet and mopped the floor before he left. Now that�s class!
The second SAG stop was set-up along the side of the road at mile 59. There was no store to take refuge in so it was a good thing the skies were clear. The usual SAG fare was shuffled-up a bit for the 4th of July with: Red, White and Blue Cookies, Cherries from a tree that George Washington didn�t get to, and pudding packs that didn�t really symbolize anything but disappeared all the same.
The final leg of the afternoon had us routed through Thousand Hills State Park. We have only been in Missouri a couple of days, but it seems we have already ridden up at least 750 of �em. They are not like the majestic climbs of Colorado where 9 miles up are followed by an adrenalin filled descent. Here in Missouri they are rollers that require at bit of concentration to master. At the end of every downhill section there is an immediate transition to the uphill side of the next hill, so the key is to maximize momentums on the downs in hope of having it carry you to the crest of the next hill. Surfing for those who don�t swim I suppose. Just keep singing those Beach Boys tunes!
Dinner was right in the hotel this evening so we didn�t have to travel too far to refuel. At 9:30 sharp anyone who had drifted off to sleep would have been roused by an opening volley of fireworks. From our location on the edge of Kirksville we could see simultaneous fireworks displays from four neighboring communities. Oh to be in the Heartland�.now that the fourth of July is here.
posted 2007-07-07 | 21:11:06 | article number: 4
|Day 33- Thursday, July 5, 2007 Kirksville, MO to Quincy, IL 97 miles
|Everyone is waiting for this, so here are the winners from yesterdays Fourth of July Bike Decorating contest. In third place�Rich, in second place Jane, and taking home the blue ribbon�David! Great looking bikes guys.
The stage was set this morning for a perfect day of summer riding. You know things are looking good when the breakfast buffet has REAL eggs! Skies were overcast at the outset but with no expectation of rain we were prepared for things to get hot by days end. We stayed on route 11 all the way to the first SAG stop in Barring MO at mile 25. Michelle was assuring everyone that today�s cookies were fresh �5th of July� cookies but they had a marked similarity to the red, white, and blue ones we saw yesterday. Andrew is a retired detective from England so he took a sample and sent them off for analysis. Michelle�..the truth will be known.
Sometimes support staff switches between their bikes and the vans half way through the day. Today this occurred at mile 50 in Williamstown. It was still quite a way to the 2nd SAG at mile 71, so several riders took the opportunity to grab a bite and fill their water bottles when they saw the vans stopped. There wasn�t much around except a dilapidated old building with a beaten-up Pepsi machine beside it. Witnesses collectively held their breath as Dave � ever intrepid � approached the machine with a dollar bill in hand. He inserted the bank note, paused for effect, pushed the button, waited, waited��and�.KA-CHUNK! Out came an ice cold can of Pepsi followed by the clink..clink of the two quarters that was his change. The crowd was awe struck that this wily �ole machine delivered. Not wanting to see Dave drink alone, a few others bellied up to the vending machine for a cold one. A month ago a Pepsi machine on the side of the road might not have seemed like a big deal. See what 33 days on the road can do!
As the miles clicked by, we were getting closer and closer to the highlight of the day � crossing the Mississippi River. America is full of mighty rivers that have played a role in her history and culture, but none capture the imagination more than this one. We pulled in to the town of Canton, on the west bank of the Mississippi, at about mile 70. From there it was a quick passage on a ferry to the east bank town of Meyer IL. Always able to locate food, riders congregated at Primo Subs in Canton to grab a sandwich to eat while we waited for the next boat. Seeing all the bikes, a reporter from the local paper came over to see if there was a breaking story. He was interested in the journey, hopped on his own bike, and rode down to the dock with us to get all the details. It was a perfect match�.we love telling our stories and he was willing to listen!
Back on land in Illinois we were greeted by fields of corn that were taller than Andrew, terrain that was dead flat, and a stiff wind washing over our back wheels. This more than made up for not seeing a �Welcome to Illinois� sign. Morphing in to time trial mode riders made fast tracks for the city of Quincy.
Quincy has a strong connection to the 19th Century river city nostalgia popularized by celebrated author Mark Twain's books and fictional characters "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn". Fortunately our route took us right through the heart of town, complete with big old houses, with stately porches surrounded by lush green lawns.
Between Mechanics Hour and dinner at the Best Buffet (chinese � rave reviews) Gerard managed to find time for a hair cut at a nearby mall. While there he happened across these cool looking I-Pod cases with built in speakers at Radio Shack. They were only $2.00 ! They were such at hit at dinner that there was a post-meal excursion back to the mall to clear out the remaining stock. But alas�there were only four left. Not sure how they figured out who went back to the hotel with a prize, and who went home empty handed.
If you have a loved one riding on the Cross Country Challenge, be prepared for a changed person once they return. A cold can of Pepsi on the side of the road, or a two-dollar I-Pod case from a clearance table may be all it will take to keep them happy. Such is the magic of a cross country ride.
posted 2007-07-07 | 21:12:36 | article number: 5
|Day 34- Friday, July 6, 2007 Quincy, IL to Springfield, IL 97 miles
|Today�s flight plan for the Cross Country Challenge has us tacking on 107miles, pedaling to Springfield � the capital city of Illinois. People usually think Chicago when they think of this state, but Springfield offers another perspective. It was the home of Abraham Lincoln, it is home to the �Mother Road Festival� that celebrates Route 66 each summer, and those with an academic interest in pop culture feel it is the true home of Bart, Homer, Abu, Crusty the Clown, and the rest of the characters on �The Simpsons�
We had a couple of breakfast options this morning; continental at the hotel, or sit down bacon and eggs at a restaurant a mile or two west. In an effort to keep the mileage to 107, a lot of us opted for make your own waffles, cereal, and bagel at the Comfort Inn. At this point on our trek we have a degree of continental expertise. No longer is anyone making the mistake of not spraying the waffle iron before pouring the batter in.
Mother Nature was offering full sun � a bank thermometer was showing 95F at 10:30am � as we took to the flat asphalt of western Illinois. Perhaps it was the quiet rural setting, possibly it was the light tail wind, maybe it was the occasional grove of shade trees, it could have been the company, or it may have been a combination of all of these that led Tim to declare that �this is the best stretch of road I�ve ridden so far.�
41 miles on we had reach the first SAG stop of the day, by a church, in the town of Chambersburg. As the church was mid-way through a stretch of downhill more than a couple of riders had whizzed right by before realizing they had missed the stop. However, thirst can overpower the need for speed so they all u-turned and came back. Unwrapping a granola bar Erin remarked �I may never be able to eat an un-melted granola bar again! When I get home I�m gonna� start microwaving them for a few seconds so they�ll have that side of the road taste�. Greg wasn�t too interest in granola bars�.he was more interested in whether or not the kiddy swing set would hold him. (It did).
Coming into Meredosia we rode across the Illinois River as it continued its journey towards its confluence with the Mississippi down �round St Louis. Everywhere we looked we saw cornfields. We were up to 67 miles when we made our second SAG stop in Jacksonville. By this time there was quite a gap between the front and back riders. Some ate lunch at a nearby caf�, some dined on convenience store fare, while others decided to barrel on at eat at the hotel.
After the SAG our route became arrow straight. Up ahead � say 15miles or so � you could see nasty looking storm clouds forming. There wasn�t much wind to speak of but one bit of sky featured a definite �funnel cloud� look to it. Andy was at the hotel by this time and he reported pouring rain there. By the time most riders arrived it was all clear.
Some day Brian might write a book about his time in America. If he does he may set aside a chapter for his time in Illinois. Yesterday he found himself with empty water bottles. Not bothering to flag down a support van he rode into the front yard of a heartland resident and described his situation. Before he left he had full water bottles (with ice) and a cheese sandwich. Today he sought out a nice looking home, emptied out his bottles, and tried the same maneuver. Never mind the sandwich�today he got ice cream! Tomorrow he is aiming for fresh catfish!
The Days Inn is on the east end of Springfield so we rode across the city � right past the Capital Buildings � en route to our lodging. This included a mile or so through the less polished parts of town. Some wished they had packed their Pearl Izumi Flack Jackets rather than their Descente rain gear. It wasn�t that bad. Honest.
At check in Greg received another batch of home made cookies � this time from his sister. Those who were on time for route rap got a chance to enjoy. Thank you Greg�s Sister!
posted 2007-07-07 | 21:14:33 | article number: 6
|Day 35- Saturday, July 7, 2007 Springfield, IL to Champaign, IL 103 miles
|�Fairy Tales can come true... it can happen to you... if you�re young at heart� It�s true. Just ask Wayne. He is a tower of positive energy, enjoying all that comes his way, but the one thing he has pined for � ever since we left San Francisco � has been breakfast at a Bob Evans. This morning was his morning! Unable to satisfy his pent-up desires with the group bill of fare, he dove headlong in to the full breakfast menu. What did he have: The Farmers Market Omlette?, The Sweet Cinnamon Swirl?, or perhaps The Pot Roast Hash. Perhaps he had a bit of each.
Herb and Rob�rt have been combining their navigational savvy the last few days, but it sounds as though Herb may be the true compass of the pair. Rob�rt left the table before his plate was finished remarking � Il faut que je parts (I better get going) �my GPS is waiting for me�
Much of today�s 97 miles had us on the Lincoln Trail Memorial Parkway. A typo on the cue sheet caused a bit of confusion prior to the first SAG stop. Some riders slipped by a left turn, but soon figured out that a mileage figure must have been understated. Home Office is aware; riders of the Cross Country Challenge 2008 forward their thanks. Following the first stop of the day the complexion of the roads changed a bit. They became a bit narrow, especially on Jordan Road. Fortunately very few cars and trucks were to be seen. Roads in the area were in varying stages of construction so we got to see just about every stage of the chip-seal life cycle. Some sections had a bit of tar, others featured a gravel-rich surface, and a couple miles were just plain bumpy. Support staff was proud to see that riders took it all in stride.
Our original plan had us setting up the second SAG stop alongside a cemetery. However, upon arriving there was a service taking place. Christine discreetly chalked a �Sag Moved ahead� message on the road and we reconvened at an intersection a little ways east. Not too much further on (mile 73) lay the town of Monticello AND a Dairy Queen. It would be poor cross-country form to pass by a DQ without stopping so quite a few riders made this their lunch stop. While in Monticello Wayne met up with someone who interviewed him regarding the fund raising effort - The Larry Turner Memorial Cross Country Challenge - that he is dedicating his ride to. I bet he told them ALL about the breakfast he had this morning!
Somewhere along the remaining 24miles before the hotel, Tim and Andrew managed to find the bike shop that might finally bring closure to their wheel issues. Andrew noticed a potential problem back in Garden City KS, while Tim has had wheel alignment difficulties since early Missouri. Hopefully both their wheel sets are back up to par.
Just shy of the hundred-mile mark, we arrived in the city of Champaign IL. Way back on September 22nd 1985, Champaign hosted the first-ever �Farm Aid� concert at the University of Illinois� Memorial Stadium. The concert drew a crowd of 80,000 people and raised over $7 million for American family farmers. We�ve seen farm families hard at work each and every day of the ride, so it is only fitting we should spend a night here.
posted 2007-07-08 | 21:59:04 | article number: 7
|Day 36- Sunday, July 8, 2007 Champaign, IL to Crawfordsville,IN 82 miles
|Breakfast was a two phase meal this morning. Riders could opt for a modest continental at the hotel, a more substantial plate at Bob Evans, or they could even sample both. Out west it seemed to take forever to pass through a state. Now they are flying past; at mile 44 today we will cross into Indiana � the Hoosier State.
As we get further east it also seems that there are more turns and navigational maneuvers on our route. On the way to the first SAG stop in Oakwood IL there had to be at least 25 lefts, rights, or straight aheads to negotiate. Gone are the days of Kansas where we had 60+ mile stretches on the same road! As the cue sheets are in English, and Rob�rt�s first language is French, he sometimes relies on a wingman � today it was Herb - to get him through the tough spots. Herb welcomes the role; he says he has always supported providing �Foreign Aid�.
We picked up where we left off yesterday, riding over surfaces at varying stages of the chip-seal life cycle. Jeff managed to fortify his average speed for the day when he came across a bit of smooth pavement just before Oakwood. He was trying to keep up with the crop dusting planes that were hard at work on the corn & soybeans. If only had wings he too might have been airborne!
Coming up on mile 44 we spun across the state line into Indiana. Since the 1830s it has been called �The Hoosier State�. At one time, a "hoosier" was any rough person in the Wild West, but it eventually came to be applied contemptuously (like "Yankee") to anyone from Indiana. The state may be most known as the home of the Indy 500 motor race, but there are two other attributes worthy of note.
(1) The 1979 coming of age movie �Breaking Away� was filmed on location in Bloomington IN, about 90 miles from where we crossed in from Illinois. The central character � Dave Stohler, a talented cyclist who fantasizes about joining the Italian elite (represented by Team Cinzano) � drives his father over the edge as he speaks in broken Italian, wears cycling gear around the house, AND starts shaving his legs! If you haven�t seen it � SEE IT!
(2) It is the home of Tom C. Tom is an ABB staff member who was with the group as far as Pueblo. His heart and his desire to help are as big as the state itself. We miss �ya!
The second SAG stop was at mile 59 in the town of Veedersburg IN, right across from the Bus Stop Caf� which ended up being the preferred lunch stop for a lot of riders. Their posted hours had them closing at 2PM, but they were more than accommodating when Rocket & Greg showed up about a half hour later. When the waitresses noticed Andrew was not riding (feeling a little under the weather but planning to ride tomorrow), they got to asking why. Sensing the chance to see how gullible they were, he went on to spin a yarn about being hit by a water buffalo. Since they believed this, he went on to tell the he had ridden all the way from England on a special ship with a track that allowed passengers to ride their bikes during a trans-Atlantic passage. At this point, Cliff jumped in to the discussion fabricating a story � complete with sketches on the back of a napkin � about the new �Ocean Cycle� that can be ridden straight across the sea. Fun, fun, fun. Hopefully they left a big tip.
Dinner was at another caf�; this time �Joey�s Main Street Caf� in downtown Crawfordsville. I suppose once we get in to PA and NY these establishments will be called �Diners�. A lot can be said for national chains, but nothing beats a well run independent restaurant. Somehow they just seem more real. Our choices tonight were tilapia, chicken, roast beef, or a veggie stir fry, with ice cream and cookies for desert. Mmmmm
posted 2007-07-09 | 18:35:15 | article number: 8
|Day 37- Monday, July 9, 2007 Crawfordsville, IN to Indianapolis,IN 63 miles
|The calendar says Monday, but with a rest day coming tomorrow, and only 63 miles on tap for today, it definitely felt like a Friday this morning. We started off the day back at �Joey�s Main Street Caf� where the choice was between French Toast or pancakes, each served with eggs, fruit and sausage on the side. What was really appreciated were the bottomless glasses of orange juice. Across the miles we have run into a lot of restaurants that really try to conserve the OJ.
Even those with the shortest of attention spans were content today. Striking out onto 136 East, it seemed that there was a new town (Mace, New Ross, Jamestown, Lizton, and Pittsboro), a new Main Street, and another set of railway tracks to cross every 5 miles or so. Just like yesterday it was imperative to keep an eye on the cue sheets as they were well over 2 pages long for a relatively few number of miles. The one and only SAG stop of the day was set-up by a church in the town of Brownsburg, at mile 30. By this point in our journey riders expected that support staff would be �Pushing the Produce� in an attempt to eat all the fruit before the off day. Sure enough�.they were!
Just 3 miles further on we came to the first of three roadside attractions that would mark our entrance into Indianapolis. A few ABB staff members ride Roark frames, and over the years they have gotten into the habit of setting up tours whenever rides come past �Roark Cycles� here in Brownsburg. They specialize in custom titanium frames and their motto is �What we make flies�. While there we had a chance to see frames in various states of production and had a chance to talk to a few frame crafters about any questions we had. Pretty cool!
Next up, at mile 55 was what Indianapolis is most famous for � The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We hear so much about NASCAR these days, but being on the infield here, with it�s history stretching back to 1909, puts you in touch with the storied past of motorcar racing. With the original surface of crushed rock and tar proving to be disastrous at the opening motorcycle and automobile racing events in August of 1909, 3,200,000 paving bricks were imported by rail from the western part of the state in the fall, laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar, thus inspiring the nickname "The Brickyard". A couple of security types were a little restrictive about where we could be with our bikes. Won�t they be surprised when a bunch of us return tomorrow � WITH PERMISSION to ride on the track!
Taking a mile or two to recover from the Indy excitement, we closed out the side-trip trifecta with a visit to the Major Taylor Velodrome. Built in 1982, the Major Taylor Velodrome is one of only 20 velodromes in the United States. The 333 1/3 meter track is smooth concrete with 28 degree banking in the turns. (Wow � the Motor Speedway thought they were special with 9 degree banks!) A racer was there training and offered a few tips to those of us stretching out our legs on the track. He and Gerard looked to be in a bit of a race, but Gerard denied this citing the ABB �No Racing� policy. Howie was riding on his own so he couldn�t be accused of racing, but he was definitely building up momentum as he powered his way through the turns.
While they were cooling off a couple of our guys heard a voice over the public address system and thought �Gee that guy sounds familiar�. That was no PA System. It was Tom C (ABB staffer who was with us until Pueblo) carrying on in that resonating baritone voice we came to know and love so well. He and his wife Margie live a few hours away and drove up yesterday to catch up with the crew. It was odd seeing Tom riding on something other than his vintage �Vitus�, but he (they) still seemed to move along at a pretty good pace on their tandem. It is decked out with decals from all the places they have ridden together, and they expect to add a few more stickers when they across Iowa as part of Ragbrai in a couple of weeks time. Tom always lamented disposing of over-ripe bananas, explaining that they were perfect for making pudding. Lady luck must have been riding with him today, as he inherited a bag of pre-rest-day brown ones from the van!
Rolling on to town we left the city streets behind and took to a bike path. There may not have been cars to contend with, but navigation remained a chore as the cue sheets took on an entirely new dialect. Directions included phrases like �left at the 4th emergency telephone� and �bare right at the red boulder�. It was part bike ride, part treasure hunt.
In the closing moments of �The Heartland� portion of the Cross Country Challenge we rode straight into downtown; along the Central Canal, then on to a brick road, and finally into the Days Inn. Bring on the rest day.
posted 2007-07-10 | 14:36:24 | article number: 9