Saturday, 5 June 2010

Illinois

Our first full days riding in Illinois started from Cave in Rock IL and after a hefty breakfast we headed out. Travis and Jordan were keen on a quick getaway to avoid paying for camping, so we said our goodbyes and waved them on their way.

Our route ran parallel with the Ohio river, with occasional glimpses through the forest to it’s meandering course below. The roller coaster roads of Kentucky were still with us although there seemed to be more woodland bordering the roads.

We stopped at the pretty riverside settlement of Elizabethtown IL and grabbed a drink, the heat and humidity was starting to build.

About 5 miles west the clouds were starting to darken dramatically and as we cycled along Tony suggested we should take cover. “We’ll be OK, the storm will miss us!” As we hurtled down one of the big dips my words came back to haunt me. The sky started to roar and fork lightning pierced it’s way into the landscape around us; the rain poured, mixed with hail that caused my bell to play tunes as I rode head down west along State Highway 44.

After 30 minutes the storm subsided and the two of us kept plodding through the road spray soaked through to the skin. The only bonus being that the humidity had dropped away and you could, at long last, actually breath the air!

In the next few hours two more huge thunder storms hit us and we arrived in Eddyville IL like drowned rats having ridden only 32 miles. As usual the locals came to the rescue, with the lady in the Gas Station offering us a place to camp under the lean to shelter at the end of the building.

We sat drinking hot coffee discussing our next move, a lake side camp site 10 miles on or Eddyville Gas Station? Before we could decide an old boy pulled up in his car to go and chew the fat with his mates in the Gas Station. “You boys need somewhere to stay?”, “The pavilion up at the community centre has lights, water and power", go and help yourself”. I did a quick recce and decided it offered a bit more comfort than the Gas Station, so we bundled up our soggy clothes and moved up there for the night, but not without a free big bag of Bratwurst and buns from the Gas Station staff.

Before leaving, with the help of a toothless Illinois quad bike riding hunter, I filled my stove fuel bottle up with unleaded petrol and got 37 cents worth into it . The two of us were cracked up laughing. "This pump ain't never dispensed 37 cents before...I'm tellin ya". He was probably right, most things tend to have V8’s in them around these parts! It's moments like these that are making this trip, views are amazing, but the people are cracking...

Apart from a huge storm at 3am we slept well and felt ready for a 60 mile ride to get us to our rest day stop, the city of Carbondale IL.

We were greeted by a bright day and a fantastic ride on great roads, with considerate drivers and clearly marked cycle route signs. Even the dogs seemed to ignore us.

Root Beer Float....Yum
After a nice lunch in Delaney’s in Goreville with a free dessert for cyclists and a mug shot for their wall, we spent the afternoon riding through nature reserves and along side lakes, such as Devil’s Kitchen and Little Grassy Lake. There seemed to be very few people around and with the forests providing shade from the heat it was one of those great days when the grin won’t come of your face. Even the wildlife was coming out, a racoon crossed the road in front of me and a Doe and Fawn stood in a track way nearby.

We ended up at the Carbondale Super 8 Motel, a cheap chain that for us is the Ritz. So we booked in for two nights and have had a leisurely day getting our bikes serviced, sitting in the Laundromat, shopping and going out for Thai food with Bruce (who turned up today) and his niece.

We only pay a short visit to Illinois as tomorrow we head out along the levees of the Mississippi and will soon be in Missouri and that means the Ozark mountains!

1 comment:

  1. Morning stu, just taking a rest day in Hindman like you did. Needless to say David has fed us till bursting point. Enjoy your day off! Ryan

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