Good evening everyone! Today was a pretty monumental day. Not only did the bike make it's way into the destination state of Illinois, but it got a little excited and decided to knock out another state as well: Iowa. So this evening, I'm writing to you from the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, IA, my first time in the Hawkeye state. I'll tell you a bit more about the day, but first, a quick ride update.
So my legs, my bike, and the weather above have been really nice to me and I've been able to make some good progress. So I am actually planning on moving up my arrival date from Monday (9/7) to Sunday (9/6). ALSO, what I am thinking right now is that I'd like to invite anyone who wants to ride to join me on my last day ride into Gibson City. To make it enticing, I'm thinking about spending my last night in Fisher, IL (maybe on the soccer field for nostalgia reasons), then making it a short 10 mile ride into Gibson on Sunday morning. Just a thought to toss around. But I definitely think I can make it home by earlier than Monday. So for those of you hopeful or seasoned cyclists out there, feel free to take a Sunday stroll with me back to Gibson from just Bunny territory. If you're interested or have further suggestions, please let me know!
Here is my proposed schedule for the next few days, which is, as always, subject to change.
Tuesday: Galesburg, IL
Wednesday: Havana, IL
Friday: Heyworth, IL
Saturday: Fisher, IL
Today's Summary: Louisiana, MO -> Keokuk, IA (via Illinois) ~ 93 Miles
So we (me, Fern, and Sam) were staying at the River's Edge Motel in Louisana, MO. I think the story of the Supawanich reunion in Missouri (Fern and Sam live in Boston, and me being from San Francisco) struck the heart of the woman who checked us into our room, so we were awarded with the riverfront room facing the Mississippi River. The room greeted us with this beautiful shot this morning when the sun was coming up. However, this picture omits the railroad tracks which also run along the river, just out of sight, that carries coal trains up an down the river at least once every 2 hours.... even at night... with whistles blaring. Well, the view was at least very nice.
The ride this morning through Missouri up to Hannibal (home of Mark Twain) was pretty brutal. Missouri hills look like Utah's but with trees and funny signs on bridges telling me that they won't collapse (read previous post). So it was up and down all morning and my altimeter looked like an earthquake meter had hit it.
Aside: even though rolling hills are beautiful, they are the bane for cyclists. Nothing is worse than throwing your whole body into pulling you up a steep hill, only to lose that altitude as another massive hill looms in front of you.
But once I rolled into Hannibal, it was time to check out some of the sights and historical places associated with Mark Twain.
So I must say. I imagine for some how visiting Mark Twain's boyhood home would probably pretty cool. But unfortunately, I don't think I ever read Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer or any other of Mr. Twain's books. So visiting didn't really have the biggest effect on me. But, maybe someday, I'll at least look at the pictures that I took and tingle inside just a bit. The bigger excitement for the day still layahead.
Illinois! Finally! After 5 weeks I finally made it back to the state of my roots. It's great to be back. As soon as I crossed over to IL, the roads flattened out, the winds came to my back, and the birds started singing again. Well the latter two things didn't happen, but I was pretty jazzed about being back. Also, this picture was taken on I-72. Yes, they let bikes on the interstate here! Just to cross the river at least. But you better believe that I was living up the moment and crusing along in the fast lane at a whopping 22 miles per hour.
So after a brief lunch stop in Quincy (site of one of the Lincoln-Douglass debates btw), I made my way north to try to make it to Keokuk because Illinois was getting boring. Actually, it's because I've never been to Iowa. I think I have this strange facination with people from Iowa. My sister put it like this: maybe it's because we think of them has the a little-quirky, but super geniunly nice people that resemble Canadians in the US. I just think I have this impression that they're the super rationale, practical, and progressive Midwesterners. So I wanted to meet some by visiting. However, by staying in Keokuk, it's probably not a fair representation since it's only a 1mile from illinois and about 5 miles from Missouri.... oh well. I tried.
So back to the story. I have this impression that Illinois country roads form a grid and are all paved. Well around Gibson City, they pretty much were. But out here in River country, things are a bit different. I thought I'd take a little shortcut, and the road went to paved, badly paved, gravel, and then huge gravel (impassible by road bike). My map said that I'd find freedom about 1.4 miles ahead, so at that point, the bike and I went on a little walk through the fields.
I'd like to refer to it as "cross-training" and not "getting lost". I did have an opportunity to make a few phone calls and be passed by an uninterested cable repair man that didn't seem to be bothered by the kid in spandex walking his bike across a bean field.
So after that little escapade.... It wouldn't be long before I made it into land of my curosity. Here I am entering Keokuk. As I was taking this picture, there were a few teens rolling their eyes and pointing. Hmm, not making a very good impression on these people so far.
But anyway, here I am. Iowa has been nice (as far as I can tell) so far. But I won't be here long. After I bankrupt the Holiday Inn Express Breakfast Buffet tomorrow morning, I'll be riding back to the Land of Lincoln and heading up through Nauvoo towards Galesburg (site of the country's largest rail yard)
So quick recap: I'll be getting to Gibson on Sunday morning and I hope you'll join me for the ride. It's short! 10 miles or so from Fisher back to Gibson. (for those from out of town, flights and amtrak are just a hop away from Fisher)
Looking forward to seeing you all and am also sad that this ride is nearing its end! Hope all is well back at home (where ever that may be). Finally, a huge thank you goes out to my sister Fern and her husband Sam for helping me out today with the trailer and keeping me well fed and supported! It's been great to have company and I hope they're not too bored with the schedule.
Track My Progress - See My Trip Map
Why am I doing this?
credits to Justin Bond of Star Talent Events for the audio.
Thanks for stopping in! This summer, I'll be biking 2500 miles from San Francisco to Gibson City, IL to raise $4000 for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the Ford County Youth Soccer Club. My route map.
There are so many reasons. As a youngster growing up in central Illinois, playing soccer, as rare as it was for the area, was an activity that really shaped me into the person I am today. Not only combining the importance of fitness and teamwork, but also leadership and discipline. I have always wanted to have the opportunity to give back to this organization (FCYSC), and I feel that this is my chance.
Living just outside of Gibson City causes every child to be an avid cyclist to survive that stretch of Route 9 to make it into town. As I've progressed into my current career as an urban planner, I realize how much of an impact cycling can make in certain parts of the United States, in reducing our dependence on vehicles, increasing our health, among other benefits. Atlanta is the place that re-energized my spirit for transportation planning and I hope to be able to return some gratitude to the ABC, a cause that I still feel has an uphill battle in that town.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org