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Cross Country Challenge 2008 Journal
(Page 4)
St. Joseph, MO to Indianapolis, IN
(Heartland Tour)

current date and time 2008-11-18 | 10:07:48
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Number of Journal Entries online: 7
Day 31: Tueday July 1st 2008 - St Joseph MO to Chillicothe MO - 91 miles
With the Western States, the Rockies, and the Plains behind us, this morning it was time to ride across the Heartland. Climbing aboard the Challenge Ride at this stage are: Virginia & Leslie, a tandem team that rode as far as St Joseph last summer, and Joseph & Dan who are a cross-generational grandfather / grandson team. Joe is an ABB alumnus who rode across the country in 1999.

In this part of the country, at this time of the year, humidity is inevitable. However, alternating patches of sunshine and cloud cover contributed to favorable 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 a secret code than a cue sheet. Nonetheless, we arrived at Casey�s Convenience Store in Maysville, the first SAG stop at mile 31, without anyone getting lost. Sarge made a memorable entrance on his daylily festooned bike to ensure that his birthday did not go un-noticed!

Following a 33 mile interlude through rolling countryside and farms, the birthday celebrations continued at the second SAG (mile 64), amidst the green grass and shade trees of a schoolyard in the town of Jamesport. The sound of horse and buggies trotting by � Jamesport is home to the largest Amish community in the state � provided a bit of background percussion for verses of �Happy Birthday� that would otherwise have been acapella. A collection of restaurants and caf�s in town were kept busy by riders stopping for lunch, with homemade slices of pie for desert.

For days we have been riding through regions where wheat reined the fields. Corn is the dominant crop in these parts, with acre after acre punctuated by meticulously kept farm houses and buildings; definitely a change from wide open Kansas. You will recall that county roads here are named by letter. Riding along county road F, the final leg of the day called for a left turn on to county road U. There we were at the �FU� intersection. Snickering away, photographers felt oddly adolescent as they captured a snapshot of road trip humor.

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 machine cut into its first loaf back in 1928, right here in beautiful downtown Chillicothe. A committee has recently been formed in Chillicothe to promote its new status as the "Home of Sliced Bread." The downtown area is also notable for a series of murals painted on the sides of buildings, AND for having a Dairy Queen right next to the Best Western.

Following dinner at the Golden Corral, Gerard hosted �Tuesday Night at the Movies� with a twilight screening of the 1985 film �American Flyers.� Featuring Kevin Costner, and a cameo appearance by Eddie Merckx it told the story of two brothers training for and competing in a bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains. Much of the race action was filmed in Colorado at the Coors Classic, a now-defunct stage race that was one of the world's leading cycling events at the time of the film. As Gerard put the room back in order, he wondered who would be the first to borrow a quote from the film and exclaim "Enough of this Sunday stroll....let's hurt a little!"

Maybe not in Missouri, but in the Netherlands cycling is part and parcel of daily life. In fact, the 15 million Dutch people own about 12 million bicycles; that's nearly as many bicycles as people, and twice as many bikes as cars! Two of those bikes are currently on the Cross Country Challenge, ridden by Piet and Hetty Muers. Ever since they retired they have ventured away from home on a big cycling trip each year.

Last year Piet and Hetty encountered a cyclist in Europe who had ridden across the USA with America by Bicycle and the wheels started turning. They have always had a self-supported ride across North America in the back of their minds, but were unsure whether they had the planning resources to make it happen. Today amidst the �scenic green hills, and quiet country roads of Missouri� they joke that they are getting �spoiled� by being indoors each night with a microwave, refrigerator, TV, and ironing board! Next summer they are considering pedaling through the northern regions of Norway where the sun shines 24 hour a day.

Piet has been to the United States on two prior occasions, but the Challenge Ride represents Hetty�s first visit here. They both commented on the scale of things. Spreading their arms about five feet apart, they recalled the sight of a fisherman pulling in a keeper as they walked along the San Francisco Bay. Shortly after they marveled as a stretched Hummer limousine drove by. �Everything is so BIG here!�

At home the Muers have two grown daughters who live near by, at the moment however, one of them is in Guam doing 9 months of volunteer work. Not surprisingly the girls have many childhood memories of bicycle riding with their parents. One daughter enjoys mountain biking, while her sister logs countless miles commuting to and from work and riding around town.

Piet could only shake his head and roll his eyes as Hetty told the story of their daughters suggesting they travel by MOTORHOME !!!!!!

posted 2008-07-03 | 07:22:26 | article number: 1

Day 32: Wednesday July 2nd, 2008 - Chillicothe MO to Kirksville MO - 82 miles
�Good times, Great Taste, That�s why this is our place !� It has been twenty years since this was McDonald�s slogan, but the McMuffins, hash browns, and OJ still hit the spot after loading luggage at 0630h this morning. As we pulled away from those big yellow arches with storm clouds filling the sky and a steady drizzle filling the air, optimism that the rain would clear away persisted. If nothing else, a bit of rain would likely help drop the humidity for a while.

On the way to the SAG stop in Linneus (mile 32) the weather pattern remained unchanged as a few rumbles of thunder separated drizzle and drizzle-free stretches of road. A town storeowner, who provided us with shelter when it was REALLY raining here last year, welcomed us back and recalled how one of the 2007 Challenge Riders found a mop and wiped up the floor of her store before he left. So Herb, if you�re reading along this year�.you have not been forgotten.

The intensity of the �Missouri Rollers� picked up beyond Linneus as the ups became steeper and longer while the intervals between them grew shorter. However, the fact that the rain was clearing out � it was just about gone by 11AM - more than made up for this change in the terrain. Passing by �Thousand Hills State Park� more than a few riders joked that they must have climbed about a third of them this morning alone. Ironically, the central feature of this State Park is a lake rather than collection of hills. During the 1950s the population of Kirksville was growing, so the government of the day created a dam along Big Creek to create a reservoir, and Forest Lake, covering nearly 600 acres, was created. Forgoing a visit to the lake, Richard invested a few extra miles in a side-trip to the town of Tipperary MO. With the assistance of some area residents he was able to compare and contrast their Tipperary with his Tipperary back in Ireland.

Continuing along Route 11, a tailwind presented itself and offered a welcome assist with the last few hills of the day. Evidence of the severe flooding that this area has endured in 2008 became apparent as we crossed Locust Creek. Dried cut corn stocks, branches, and other debris were piled along the roadways, causing riders to wonder what depth the water gauges (stakes in the ground with markings of 1�, 2� ,3� etc) would have been indicating a few weeks ago. Route 11 came to a T at mile 82, leaving us with only 1 mile to go before arriving at the Days Inn.

With the Mississippi still running high and fast from this year�s flooding, the ferry that usually carries cyclists across the river to Illinois on Day 33 will continue to be out of service for a while longer. Fortunately the bridges are still there, so Michelle and Christine headed out in one of the vans to scout out a suitable route for tomorrow. They made it back, with a detour sketched out, in time to catch the end of dinner at Ponderosa. �Flood, shmlood�..ferry, shmerry�..the Challenge Ride must go on!� All in a days work.

Pictured above is Tom Montville of North Brunswick NJ. Those who follow his blog may also know him as the �Pedaling Professor� since he teaches Food Science and Microbiology, in addition to supervising a group of PhD students, at Rutgers University. His son is a lawyer and functions as the editor of his blog.

Tom has ridden many charity rides in the past but none of them have been longer than a week. He has also become familiar with the bicycle routes of the Eastern Seaboard having ridden as far north as Montr�al and as far south as Charleston SC. While riding across the USA this summer Tom is raising money for �Elijah�s Promise�, an organization that strives to Empower Lives, Invite Justice, and Alleviate Hunger. Tom has raised $11,000 so far, with an overall goal of raising enough money to serve over 15,000 meals. Supporting this cause gives him a �reason to ride� that extends beyond plain old �self indulgence.�

Well past the half-way point of the Challenge Ride, Tom has witnessed miles and miles of spectacular scenery and a diverse collection of landscapes. Nonetheless he has not forgotten the cycling routes he knows best;

�New Jersey� he says with a smile �has many beautiful places to ride !!!!!�

posted 2008-07-05 | 14:51:34 | article number: 2

Day 33: Thursday July 3rd, 2008 - Kirksville MO to Quincy IL- 87 miles
Not unlike yesterday morning, a steady warm rain was falling as we prepared ourselves for our final day in Missouri. As everyone else rode off in brightly colored rain gear, Deb, Gary and Forest stayed back keeping an eye on the Weather Channel; their take on the doppler was that the rain was headed out. Forty-five minutes later they were on the road, unencumbered by rain jackets. �Patience is a virtue� beamed Deb as the three dry riders crossed paths with the van at mile 12.

After several days of rolling hills, riders seemed to barely notice the repeating crests and troughs as they made their way towards the first SAG of the day at mile 26, in the town of Baring. Road signs that read �Impassable During High Water� were a constant reminder that floods are part and parcel of living in this part of the country. At one point we passed by the intersection of county roads �C� and �J�; hopefully Kip had the camera ready to photograph our very own CJ at such a monumental corner.

50 miles into the day, we arrived in Williamstown and began to ride the �2008 Bridge Detour�. Most other years the ride from Kirksville to Quincy involves crossing the Mississippi River on a ferry that runs from Canton MO on the west bank to Meyer IL on the east bank. This year however, the post-flood water of the mighty river is running so high and so fast that crossing by ferry is not possible. A quick glance at today�s addendum to the cue sheet � with lines that read � RIGHT TURN at the sand-bagged levee and PROCEED OVER Temporary Creek Crossing� - left no uncertainty that we were in a flood zone. The detour may have shortened the day�s riding distance by ten miles, but the revised route was unable to provide any relief from the terrain. The rolling hills kept coming, and coming, and coming��and now they featured a headwind as we traveled south.

At the 83 mile mark we arrived at a Phillips 66 Station, right next to the �18 Wheeler Restaurant� that served as the western terminus for the �ABB Land Shuttle� that ferried us across 5 miles of busy four lane highway that did not have a ride-able shoulder, and then over the swollen Mississippi River itself. From the deck of the eastbound Memorial Bridge, churning brown water could be seen hovering just below the levee that ran below the westbound Bayview Bridge. A city park - a couple of blocks inland from the river - served as the eastern terminus of the shuttle, from which riders re-mounted their bikes for the final few miles of the day. America is full of mighty rivers that have played a role in her history and culture, but none capture the imagination more than the Mississippi. Prior to riding through town to the Comfort Inn, many took a few moments to observe their arrival in Illinois � the Land of Lincoln � by going back to the river to see her up close.

Discussion of the next days itinerary was only a small part of today�s Route Rap. CJ introduced her brother Forest who dropped in to visit, Jeff shared the �bouquet of cookies� that his wife had sent in honor of their Wedding Anniversary, and Dan arrived with Birthday Cake and ice cream that his grandmother had arranged to celebrate his 17th Birthday. Amidst all this, Illinois natives Gary and Deb previewed what riders might expect over the next few days; cornfields, soy crops, lots of cattle, perhaps some coal mines, and saving the best for last � FLAT ROADS after Springfield!

Pictured above is Larry Kilgrove, of Estes Park Colorado. Exercising his belief that �life is boring without a challenge� here he is having completed 33 days of a transcontinental bike ride. He and his wife Jan � who have a 34yr old son and a five year old grandson � will be celebrating their 44th Wedding Anniversary at the end of this month. While Larry has been riding across the country, Jan has been busy riding the Tour of Colorado. They always do things together, even when they are apart. Back home they are avid cyclists throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.

The San Francisco to New Hampshire route is working out well for Larry, �it�s definitely a challenge, but it is do-able�. In three short words he accurately summarized the collection of riders as �fun, flexible, and affectionate�. Everyone looks out for each other.

Years back - Larry has now been riding for about 15 years - he recalls driving through Colorado and crossing paths with the �Ride the Rockies� tour. �Who would ever want to do that?� he thought. Nine years ago he and Jan entered the registration lottery, had their names drawn, and completed the ride. It sounds like that ride must have ushered in a new era of riding for them.

Larry is a retired educator, and still coaches wrestling at the Middle School were he taught. When he is not riding, or coaching, you might find him courtside as he is also a member of three tennis teams. In his �spare time� he volunteers as a hiking and snow-shoeing guide for the National Park Service and works with Habitat for Humanity.

Life certainly doesn�t sound boring for this guy��

posted 2008-07-07 | 22:31:26 | article number: 3

Day 34: Friday July 4th, 2008 - Quincy IL to Springfield IL - 106 miles
Welcome to the annual Fourth of July ABB bike decorating and costume extravaganza. Had Robert Service been here this morning he may well have rewritten his famous poem to read:

There are strange things done in the early-day sun
By those that ride �cross the land;
The eastbound trails have their secret tales
That might turns your legs into sand;
The Quincy Lights have seen odd sights,
But the oddest they ever did see
Was that morn in July, fashion sense was defied,
Marking Americas Anniversary

Richard arrived wearing the colorful cape of a superhero, a scarf around his neck, and his helmet adorned by red, white, and blue bows; Sarge had installed a series of illuminated stars across his handlebars; Steve had his bike covered with glitter from bow to stern; and John & Amy marked the day with flags on their bikes, bandannas over their helmets, and patriotic colored vests. Ever mindful of the needs of others, Skip donated a pair of flag patterned boxers for John to wear over top of his cycling shorts.

At mile 14, Captain America (Richard) took a quick break to have his picture taken by the sign welcoming us to the town of �Liberty�. From there the route continued on through tree covered roads, under overcast skies and a light cross wind. We had yet to reach the flat roads promised by Gary & Deb, but the hills had diminished significantly by the time we reached the first SAG stop (mile 41), at a church parking lot in Chambersburg. It was still early but preparations were well underway for the Fourth of July picnic the church would be hosting later in the day.

Local celebration continued to be the theme as we rode across the Illinois River as it continued its journey towards a confluence with the Mississippi, some place down �round St Louis. The unmistakable smell of barbecuing chicken drifted through the air as the residents of Merdosia began gathering for a street festival. Rumor had it that somewhere nearby was 30 gallons of home made ice cream waiting to meet a dramatic end. Odometers were reading 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.

Heading into Jacksonville there were a lot of turns to contend with, but as we left town the route became arrow straight as we logged 19 miles to Berlin, and another 16 to the edge of Springfield, the capital city of Illinois.

Springfield is the home of Abraham Lincoln; home to the �Mother Road Festival� that celebrates Route 66 each summer; and according to those with an academic interest in pop culture, it may well be the true home of Bart, Homer, Abu, Crusty the Clown, and the rest of the characters on �The Simpsons.� The Days Inn is on the east end of Springfield so we rode across the city � right past the Capital Buildings that were buzzing with holiday festivities and food vendors � en route to our home for the night.

When Wayne arrived he was delighted to discover his wife Diane who had made a surprise journey from the United Kingdom to celebrate his Birthday, and to spend a few days on the road with his adoptive family. She flew to Chicago, took a train to Springfield, and somewhere along the way found enough cake for everybody. Even though it wasn�t a surprise, Rob was equally thrilled to meet up with his partner Terri who will be joining the Challenge Ride for its duration. Filling out the roster of new faces was Andy, a friend of Deb and Alan�s, who dropped in from St Louis to wish them well.

(Happy Birthday)3 - there are no statisticians on the ride, but the probability of Wayne, Al, and Skip, all having birthdays today represents a long shot. Once again however, this group of riders has beaten the odds.

With Diane standing by to fill in any gaps, today�s journal spotlight is on Wayne Poulton (pictured above) of Monmouthshire in the United Kingdom. This is his first ever visit to the USA (Diane�s too) and will surely be a birthday he wont soon forget.

Wayne started riding about ten years ago, in an effort to stay fit by doing something other than running. His love of touring and long distance riding crystallized in 2000 when he traversed the whole of Great Britain, from Land�s End to John O�Groats, raising money for the British Heart Association with every mile. Soon after, he began dreaming about rides that were even �bigger and grander�. Aided by the internet he discovered the prospect of riding from San Francisco to New Hampshire with America by Bicycle, and selected this year as the time to bring the dream to the forefront. Once again he is riding in support of the heart association. Cheering him on from abroad are his three sons, each one a fellow cyclist.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, rafting on the off day in Salt Lake City, riding across the Rocky Mountains, getting to know his fellow riders, the opportunity to meet and exchange stories with local residents, and Diane�s surprise visit top Wayne�s list of highlights thus far.

What lies ahead for the man from Monmouthshire if dreams of rides �bigger and grander� persist?.....

posted 2008-07-07 | 22:35:22 | article number: 4

Day 35: Saturday July 5th, 2008 - Springfield IL to Champaign IL - 97 miles
The group was divided into two camps this morning. The night owls were asking �did you hear those fireworks last night?� while the early to bed crowd was responding �Fireworks? What fireworks?�. It would be interesting to follow each group for the day and see which has more zip in their pedal stroke. Starting out there was a bit of humidity, and a noticeable headwind, but neither seemed significant enough to cause much worry.

At mile 4.2 of this 35th day, our streak of intact bridge crossings came to a close when a bright orange �Bridge Out� sign appeared. Fortunately the detour was easy. Some got off their bikes and simply walked around the obstacles while others kept riding and got around the bridge by making a right followed by two lefts in succession. Somewhere around this point Tasmania Steve met up with Christine and declared �Gerard is a Saint! He put air in my tires, he adjusted my gears, and now I am going 10 mph faster!� It�s probably too late for 2009, but perhaps 2010 calendars will mark July 5th as �St Gerard Day�.

Much of today�s 97 miles had us following the Lincoln Memorial Trail, so named as it represents the path followed by Abraham Lincoln and his family when they first arrived in Illinois back in 1830. The first SAG stop was situated in a trailside park at mile 31. While stopped Support Staff approached Tom to quiz him about his �Wheaties Jersey�; staff learn to spot riders on the road by what they wear and none could recall having seen Tom in this one before. He claimed he has had it with him since San Francisco but Michelle, Andy, Gerard and Christine remained skeptical. Greg changed the topic altogether when he asked �Will there be Champaign on ice for us when we arrive in Champaign?�

Following the first stop of the day the complexion of the roads changed, evolving into quiet country roads, with very little traffic, and lots of turns. The 30 mile stretch was so quiet that the location of the second SAG (next to a cemetery at mile 62) prompted more than a couple of jokes. Ironically, last year the SAG had to be re-located as there was a service in progress at the same time as riders passed through the area.

A few miles further on misfortune visited Rob when he sustained a crash that resulted in a broken collar bone. Although he was alert and together at the hospital, he and Terri were both saddened as they realized they would need to abandon the ride so they could return home to Pennsylvania for medical follow-up. News of the injury reached many riders as they were stopped for lunch at mile 74 in the town of Monticello.

Just shy of the hundred-mile mark, we arrived at the Urbana-Champaign Campus of the University of Illinois, viewed by proud students as the state�s flagship of public education. Some found a bike shop to visit while others rode over to the Krannert Art Museum and Kincaid Pavilion which are home to over 9000 works of art. Those paying close attention to detail may have noticed fixtures that support the claim of being the most �disability friendly� campus in the nation. The library system lists 10.5 million volumes, but a quick check with the circulation desk confirmed that not a single one has ever been signed out by a Challenge Rider!

With no anniversaries to observe, and no birthdays to celebrate Route Rap left riders feeling a little bit hungry for cake and ice cream. Joining in for dinner was Deb & Gary�s daughter, along with her boyfriend, and a friend of Audrey�s who was able to drop in for a visit.

Al Gaigl is originally from Munich Germany, but has been living in Camarillo CA for the last five years as an engineer with the US branch of BMW. Test driving BMWs is a part of his job description, so he had the opportunity to tear up Monarch Pass in a sports car long before he tried it on a bicycle. He was a little vague when asked which climb was more fun!

Al has always been active as an athlete, with a varied diet of trail running, mountain biking, road biking, and marathon running. He has raced in five marathons, including the legendary Boston Marathon. He qualified for Boston with a race in Northern California that went through Folsom and ended up in Sacramento. Last season he rode the Boise to Casper leg of ABB�s North Ride to see if a supported long distance ride was for him.

His California assignment is drawing to a close, so Al is preparing to move back to Germany to continue his career with BMW. His original hope was to avoid the ordinariness of air travel by riding his bike to New Hampshire, and then getting on an ocean freighter that would take him from Boston to Europe. Unfortunately the logistics of ocean travel did not pan out. Al will have to fly back to Germany, but when he lands in Hamburg he plans to meet a group of friends, assemble his bike, and ride the final 500miles of his journey. He is due back at work on October 1st, and is planning on running the Munich Marathon later that month.

Thinking back over the past 35 days Al declares that �Life is Wonderful.� He has enjoyed the ride and looks forward to more climbing in Vermont.

Man, oh man��the guy gets paid to test drive BMWs��.

posted 2008-07-07 | 23:57:14 | article number: 5

Day 36: Sunday July 6th, 2008 - Champaign IL to Crawfordsville IN - 82 miles
It was definitely an extra-ordinary experience at the Continental Breakfast this morning. Notwithstanding the fact that we are a team well versed with the �make your own waffle� machine, the hotel ensured maximum breakfast efficiency by stationing an employee at the self-serve griddle to keep the entr�es coming. At least for this morning this lady earned the title of �Waffle Guru�.

Out west it seemed to take forever to pass through a state. Now they are flying past. It was humid as we started out across flat terrain, but if you kept moving the resulting breeze on a damp jersey provided a pleasantly cooling effect. As we get farther east it also seems that there are more turns and navigational events on our route. On the way to today�s first SAG stop at mile 30 there were 21 maneuvers - either lefts, or rights, or straight aheads to negotiate. Gone are the days of Kansas where we had 60+ mile stretches on the same road! Situated next to a cemetery Audrey shared her theory on the selection of SAG sites amidst a chorus of chuckles, �ABB put the stop here because they don�t need to ask permission � who is there to say no?�

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. At some State Lines riders opt for group photos, but today everyone seemed to want a solo shot. When Skip�s turn came he decided he would like to be photographed standing on his head. As the blood rushed to his brain he found the moment so invigorating that he wanted to repeat the headstand capturing an image of the inverted velo-paparazzi with his own camera. Skip�s foray into gymno-photography was a challenge, but he managed to escape uninjured. Gerard started a cascade of technical advice when he said �You know, you could have just turned the camera upside down�; some one else chimed in �or, you could have done the same thing with Photoshop�; while a third suggested �or, you could just as easily turn the 4x6 print upside down!� That�s what makes the cross-country experience � everyone is willing to help out the other guy!

Just after crossing the State Line CJ & Kip were stopped by a local tandem team that had ridden with ABB in the past. �You must be CJ & Kip� they said. �Welcome to Indiana � we�ve been following you guys on line.� Is anything private anymore?

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 and mid-day desert stop for a lot of riders. An entire chalk board was filled with the selection of home made pies that the proprietor, with very little effort, convinced riders to sample. Some of the favorites were: Almond Joy Pie, Pecan, Black Raspberry, Peanut Butter, and Coconut Cream. After lunch Sarge was spotted leaving the caf� with a styrofoam carry away container tucked under his arm. Turned out he had a fondness for the Peanut Butter Cake and was planning ahead for an afternoon snack. Suddenly the eyes of those he used to know as friends widened, as they jointly and severally plotted plans for Road Piratry. (Note: the cake did survive as far as Crawfordsville, but exhibited clear signs of travel fatigue upon arrival)

The remaining 22 miles took us through several small-town Indiana communities. Hillsboro featured a collection of vintage bicycles artistically arranged on the wall of an old brick store � Gerard�s arms grew tired as he held his Santana amongst them while rider after rider took a picture. Wayne could not resist taking a few moments to check out Waynetown, his municipal namesake. Upon arrival in Crawfordsville Greg took a side trip to the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum. Located in the private study of Major General Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur, the museum contains items collected by Wallace during his life as an author, soldier, statesman, artist, violinist, and inventor.

Capping off a day of memorable meals was dinner at �Joey�s Main Street Caf� with a choice of tilapia, chicken, roast beef, or a veggie stir fry, with vegetables and mashed potatoes on the side. Long live the independent restaurant!

Making a heart-healthy choice at dinner was Steve Quinn of Melbourne Australia. Steve is crossing the lower 48 states as a �rehab ride� following a series of three heart operations. Since being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter Steve has noticed that a central source of reliable information and an instantly recognizable support network for those with these conditions did not exist in Australia.

Rather than complain about this, Steve decided to devote his cross country ride to raising awareness about cardiac arrhythmias, and raising funds for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute under the �ride4rhythm� banner. He started cycling eighteen months ago after discovering that it was easier to keep is heart �in rhythm� while riding, than it was to do so while running.

As much as he is enjoying each and every day on the road he is looking forward to being re-united with his wife Della, their 6yr old son (who rides with Dad back home) and their 4yr old daughter when he arrives in New Hampshire. Once they leave the Atlantic Coast they will be heading to the Great Barrier Reef for a few days of snorkeling and relaxation � or with as much relaxation as the children will allow them.

So much for the notion of cardiac rehab involving hours and hours of spinning on a heavy old stationary bike���.

posted 2008-07-08 | 16:50:43 | article number: 6

Day 37: Monday July 7th, 2008 - Crawfordsville IN to Indianapolis IN - 63 miles
Going to bed last night the forecast was calling for severe electrical storms; at 6AM we could hear the rumblings of a significant one coming our way. By the time we were done loading luggage at 6:30 the intense rain, flooded roads, and forks of lightning prompted a decision to drive back to �Joey�s Main Street Caf� for breakfast rather than riding. Making the morning more of a challenge was saying goodbye to Jeff. He has been fighting an on-again off-again battle with his stomach and decided it would be in his best interest to return home and figure things out from there. Without him a certain �je ne sais crois� will be missing from the road.

On the way in to Joey�s a few people stopped to read an original framed front page of a newspaper dated April 15th 1865, outlining the details of Abraham Lincoln�s assassination. It was odd to see such a major story being revealed without the screamingly large fonts, color photographs, and graphic displays that are part of contemporary print media. As these guys read on, our resident meteorologist Greg gave his impressions of what we could expect in terms of weather: � extensive storm with huge cells of activity�slight chance of a ride-able window developing, but it will be followed by a continuation of what we have seen this morning�.

With such a grim prognosis, staff announced that they would shuttle any interested riders directly to Indianapolis; once the vans returned they would either shuttle a second load, or provide on-road support if the lightning had sufficiently cleared to allow safe riding. Close to half the riders opted for the early shuttle and the others decided to wait things out. Shortly after 10AM the electrical component of the storm had eased up, the vans were back within striking distance, and the remaining cyclists headed out towards 136 East. It was still raining, but the water on the roads had receded enough to make the route passable. Nothing like a challenge before a rest day!

The one and only SAG stop of the day was located by a church in the town of Brownsburg. The preceding 30 miles passed quickly as the rapid succession of towns - Mace, New Ross, Jamestown, Lizton, and Pittsboro � helped divert attention form the weather.

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�. Next up, at mile 51 was what Indianapolis is most famous for � The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Being there on the infield, with its history stretching back to 1909, you can�t help but feel 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, 3.2 million paving bricks were imported by rail from the western part of the state, laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar, thus inspiring the nickname "The Brickyard".

The final attraction of the day lay a couple of miles further east at 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 (the Motor Speedway only had 9 degree banks). During a pause in the action the Challenge Riders had an opportunity to stretch out their legs and power their way around the oval. Forest flatted while he was on the track, but his youthful appearance enabled him to blend right in with the US Junior Team who resumed training as he took a moment to get things re-inflated. (The Juniors even let him use their pump).

The last few miles of the day 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 inherited an entirely new dialect. Directions included phrases like �left at the 4th emergency telephone� and �bare right at the red boulder�. In the closing meters of �The Heartland� portion of the Cross Country Challenge the route went straight downtown, along the Central Canal, then on to a brick road. Located right beside Lucas Oil Stadium (brand new home of the Indianapolis Colts) the ultra-luxurious Staybridge Suites are bound to be put through some busy nights in the near future. After seven long days traveling from St Joseph, we were happy to be there. Dinner was hosted by the Old Spaghetti Factory, following a pre-rest day Route Rap.

On Wednesday, Indiana resident Greg Marx (pictured above) will fulfill a life long dream when rides into Richmond. Over the past three summers he has ridden the length of the San Francisco to Portsmouth route, with the 2008 installment taking him from Pueblo to Richmond. He considers the 100+ riders he has met along the way to be the �World�s greatest moral support system�.

As a civilian meteorologist working with the US Air Force, Greg is often drawn upon as a resource by his co-riders. More than once random conditions have caused him to resort to the old adage �If you don�t like the weather now��just wait!� Over the past three seasons he has seen it all; from heavy snow over Donner Pass, to extreme heat across the desert, to thunder storms in New York that made even the bravest of riders quake.

Greg likens the cross-country experience to that of a great American novel, each day representing a separate chapter. His favorite chapters have been the �small-town days� where residents have beamed with smiles as he stopped to say hello. In situations where conversation was slow to start, Greg often broke the ice by explaining why he was dressed the way he was!

Congratulations Greg! A Cross-Country Ride definitely does exceed the sum of its parts��..

posted 2008-07-09 | 10:56:04 | article number: 7

Back to Page 1 San Francisco to Salt Lake City, UT (Western States Tour)
Back to Page 2 Salt Lake City to Pueblo, CO (Rocky Mountain Tour)
Back to Page 3 Pueblo, CO to St. Joseph, MO (Tour de Plains)
On to Page 5 Indianapolis, IN to Erie, PA (Country Mileage Tour)
On to Page 6 Erie, PA to Portsmouth, NH (Eastern States Tour)

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