WEEK 5

DAY 29: Tuesday July 16, 1996
Elkader, IA to Wyoming, IA (79 miles)

Today was a 4-H day: hot, hilly, headwind, horrible odor (manure, pig farms especially bad). Corn fields as far as the eye could see to the distant horizon; it's just amazing how vast the fields are! True to the Dave and George W. theory again, we ignored a detour sign and ended up on dirt, gravel, and in the midst of a construction site. We had to walk the bike between bulldozers, graders, etc. but, as Dave points out, it worked out.

I was so excited about ordering a "veggie-burger" for lunch. After one bite I thought, they're doing amazing things with soy! After another bite I thought that even Dave would like this! Upon closer inspection and a little more thought, I realized that a veggie-burger was simply a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, etc.! Had the best milkshake in Wyoming, where they top it with whipped cream and cherry and give you the remaining shake in the metal shaker cup.

DAY 30 Wednesday July 17, 1996
Wyoming, IA to Muscatine, IA (63 miles)

I'm writing this in a bike shop: the rear deraileur is being worked on and my seat post must be replaced. The suspension post broke off completely out in the middle of nowhere today! (I can't have gained that much weight!) But true to form, resourceful Boy Scout Dave was able to rig something up and we made it to Muscatine before the shop closed.

Iowa had terrible thunderstorms, floods, and even a tornado while we slept last night. We put off leaving until 10:30 but rode out in a storm. It cleared up in the afternoon and became very hot and humid. I think the fun is over. Heat makes everything horrible. Had the feistiest little elderly waitress at lunch. She was teasing the state troopers about giving a poor little old lady tickets, and they replied that she comes from Pasadena. She was brusque yet attentive---reminded us of our friend T.! The bike shop stayed open late to work on the bike and the owner rode the bike path through town with us afterward to make sure we didn't get lost. I also got a new seat, and in just the few miles to the motel, I felt like a new person! It felt like I was sitting on a soft pillow. I'm anxious to see if it continues to feel this good. If it does, I'll be so mad at myself for going through 30 days of agony instead of getting a new seat before we left (as Dave repeatedly suggested, I must admit). Had a fabulous buffet meal at the "Golden Corral".

DAY 31: Thursday July 18, 1996
Muscatine, IA to Kewanee, IL (81 miles)

Took shelter from rain in a barn in the morning; turned extremely hot and humid - 100 degrees heat index. Winds helped us primarily today, but a few times we had to turn into it- WHEW! Almost impossible! We're starting to check with locals and the road map more often to set our own route to cut down the miles (due to heat).

A woman pulled up to us outside the restaurant where we ate lunch and invited us to camp in the backyard of their farmhouse. She says they make the invitation all the time to cyclists and some even keep in contact or return. We told her to be on the lookout for Jim and Jean. Kewanee calls itself the "Hog Capital" of the Country. Heard lots of squealing along the route. We heard yesterday of the TWA crash which killed 228. Fearing it was a terrorist attack. A number of counties here in Illinois are flooded. The new seat felt very good. Excruciating headache all afternoon-sun! sinus? Poor young waitress dumped glass of ice cubes down my back!

DAY 32: Friday July 19, 1996
Kawanee, IL to Streator, IL (74 miles)

Started out with some nice crosswinds and ended struggling against a headwind the final five miles. We've reached the conclusion that there is no such thing as "prevailing winds" and that the winds shift constantly. It wasn't nearly as hot and humid; also, we planned a shorter day and started earlier in order to beat the heat. Since there are so fee trees on the plains, I appreciate how high the corn is here-makes a good shield for a pit stop!

A Vietnam vet rode along with us at the end of the day. I believe he is homeless and just biking all over the US. He has one artificial leg but kept up with us; said he enjoyed being pulled along by the "steam roller". He was a bit rough for me, but he tried to help Dave replace the deraileur at the bike shop (Bellaps) and his heart seemed in the right place. He didn't seem to want to leave us, even asked to share our motel room. He had me a little worried. While riding through town to our motel a nursery truck followed us and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. But he pulled into the motel parking lot with us and it turns out that he and his wife have two tandems which they ride with their daughter Afton (age 10) and son Tom (7). They (Greg and Arly Salata) do amazing rides with the children, including centuries and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, as well as numerous tandem rallies throughout the country. They are a bit of an oddity in this town and were even featured in a full page newspaper article. They invited us for dinner (real food, fresh vegetables!) and an evening relaxing in a home. It was a delightful evening-Afton is such a self-assured, pleasant (every teacher's dream student), and beautiful girl. Tom put on a little Fred Astaire type show for me, and Greg and Arly were so friendly and welcoming that we instantly felt at home. They showed us the grand new kitchen being built onto their home, and the old bikes, including a 1915 tandem which Greg is restoring and which will be prominently displayed in the new kitchen. Dave and I hope we'll see them again at a tandem rally or that they'll come to West Virginia. They made me think of our friends the W.'s and the rides we could be doing.

Need to mention Eldon, a lone cyclist from New York. We've stayed at the same motel as he did three nights in a row now. He has interesting orthopedic bands for his knees. We watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony-very moving.

DAY 33: Saturday July 20, 1996
Streator, IL to Gibson City, IL (81 miles)

Strong winds directly from the east, so we left the route and went south, rather than waiting until Ohio to do so. Cool today. The Salatas told us of a couple on a bike trip who got up each morning and went whichever way the wind was blowing that day. When their vacation was over, they simply flew home from wherever they were. Sounds good (and easy) but you might end up going to the same place over and over.

Called the family at the Fritsch reunion; said they were having perfect weather. I'm glad Kelly and Lisa got to go. We called from a pay phone in Pontiac, IL, and just a few hundred feet away the police were arresting a man. I related this to Kelly over the phone and she said to "get away from there", so I explained he was a poor, skinny, alcoholic vagrant sleeping in someone's car. We later asked the arresting officer for directions and he told us he is a bicycle officer usually, so we talked a bit. We spoke to a young girl outside a mini-mart who is moving to West Virginia. She was excited to talk to us.

Whenever I think of Illinois I think of Chicago and big cities, but we've biked through a state of corn and soybean fields stretching to the horizon.

DAY 34: Sunday July 21, 1996
Gibson City, IL to Gibson, IL (
0 miles)

It poured and poured rain until 5 p.m.;was cold, with winds from the east. After some discussion and disagreement (I was for riding) we decided to stay put today. It was fairly boring but at least the Olympics were on television. Called my parents and Kelly and Pete were there also. Found Mom is having surgery Tuesday.

WE WATCHED THE WOMEN'S COMPULSORY GYMNASTIC COMPETITION ALL DAY. MUCH OF THE COVERAGE WAS OF THE FREE EXERCISE WHICH REQUIRED EACH GYMNAST TO PERFORM THE SAME ROUTINE TO THE SAME MUSIC. THE MUSIC WAS PLAYED OVER AND OVER AND OVER ALL DAY. I KNOW HOW BILL MURRAY FELT IN "GROUNDHOG DAY".

DAY 35: Monday July 22, 1996
87 miles Gibson City, IL to Lafayette, IN (87 miles)

Rode for a while this morning with John and Larry, whom we met last night at our motel. They're going to spend a few days at the Olympics in Atlanta. John is a dairy farmer (taught us about corn) and a high school wrestling coach and Larry (an engineer) was a high school wrestler who went to State, which interested us, of course. We joked that we'd look for them in the men's cycling event. We rode into Indiana about 11 a.m. After a while, it had a little more variety than Illinois, some gentle grades and more trees. Rode onto Purdue's campus enough to get a picture. Lafayette is large and I hated riding through the city traffic. We found ourselves on an on-ramp of an interstate, so had to do an about-face. State Police came along and stayed behind us on the next road so I thought we might get a traffic ticket, but didn't We saw a school whose mascot name was the "Cornjerkers"!

Five Week Total: 2,823 Miles

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