Another scorching day in Illinois! Last night I slept on a picnic table under a beautiful pavilion provided by the town of Wenona. I rolled out my camping mattress and tucked into my sleeping bag, but felt absolutely no need for my tent. There were three other bicycle tourists spending the night in Wenona, Jakob and two elderly men biking to Maine. They all set up their tents for fear of the bugs, but the only bugs I experienced were the gigantic bugs whirring around and bouncing into the lights. They didn’t bother me in the least bit. This is the pavilion as seen at about 6am. Sorry the picture is blurry!
The stops today in Henry, Bradford, and Kewanee were much needed. I’m starting to feel the high mileage of the last few days, as well as the reappearance of hills. After the last stop in Kewanee, I had a tremendous cramp in my right quadricep. I had to stop several times to massage it and try to relax the muscle, but needless to say, biking the last 18 miles to Cambridge on a cramped leg was a pain. Today was already lower mileage than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a bit lower yet.
This morning we ran into a man named Dick riding a recumbent back to his home in Iowa. It was great riding in his company. We had second breakfast together in Henry, and then rode to his destination of the day, Kewanee. I loved his enthusiasm for cycling, as well as his commitment to riding his own ride. I thought about him earlier this evening as I limped into Cambridge on my cramped leg. I’ve had a great past few days riding with Jakob, but I know I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself quite so far each day alone. Dick was very aware of how the terrain affected his body, whether it was hills or gravel. It is easy to lose your awareness for how a particular day made you feel when you are riding day after day. I know for myself that days over 90+ miles are too much, and I need to be cognizant of that when planning my route going forward.
I spoke with Papa and Mama during a quick break in Bradford. I was overheating and the connection was a bit fuzzy, but Papa wanted me to document the drought going on here in the Midwest. It has been a very hard summer for farmers here; the crops are drying up, and there is great uncertainty about grain prices going forward. The soybeans seem to be doing better (but then again, I only see the plants, not the pods…) but a good deal of the corn I pass on a daily basis is fried. I’m not informed enough to make any appraisal of the situation other than to say this seems to be a very complicated (ecological, political, economic, etc.) mess, with worldwide implications.
In other news, I’ve reached my 98th map (I’m going in reverse order, so hurrah for being down to double digits!) In other momentous news, tomorrow I cross the Mississippi River!!!
(Earlier today, at map 100)
And finally, today was my last day riding with Jakob, as we part ways tomorrow as he heads directly west and I head north. It’s been awesome having company these last few days, but I know he’s very excited to get to Colorado to see his friends and then to Oregon to meet up with his girlfriend to bike to California. Big adventures await! Auf wiedersehen!
If you speak German and want to check out his blog, it can be found here. (Thanks for the tip that the link wasn’t working… Let me know if it is still incorrect!)
My tentative plan for the next week is:
08.01 Bennett, Iowa
08.02 Cascade, Iowa
08.03 (Mama’s Birthday!!!) Elkander, Iowa
08.04 Lansing, Iowa
08.05 Winona, Minnesota
08.06 Bay City, Minnesota
08.07 Stillwater, Minnesota
Mental hugs and don’t forget to say “Rabbit Rabbit” tomorrow! Happy August!