A Couple Long Days on the Bicycle, But Amazing Warm Shower Hosts
June 11 – Day 9. Dwight, IL to Bloomington, IL 58 miles – Total 445
Weather: Sunny, 94 degrees, 15 mph headwind
We were up early and on the road by 7:30am – we knew it was going to be a hot day, with a nasty headwind. The first stop was the small town of Odell which had a beautifully restored gas station which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It now serves as a visitors center- which of course was closed when we went thru but they had a nice recorded message telling the history of the site.
Then on to Pontiac which had a great bakery and a really nice downtown square with lots of historic buildings and some amazing murals which a traveling professional group came in and painted. They all depict different Route 66 attractions in the area. There were also several swing bridges across the Vermillion River although we only saw the one in town.
With the day being so hot we stopped at convenience stores/gas stations every 8 – 10 miles to get out of the heat, get water and a snack to keep us going. Even so the last 20 or so miles was tough – with the heat and wind sending us backwards. We were really glad to get into Bloomington, IL and a cold beer at their local micro brewery. We then headed to our Warm Showers hosts for the night. Julian and Noha are both Political Science teachers at the University of Illinois – Normal and also tandem riders. They have traveled extensively in other countries and had amazing stories to tell us. They made us a great dinner and we sat up a chatted until late.
The next morning they fed us breakfast and Julian rode us out of town. Although the bicycling was tough the end of the day was great because of our Warm Shower Hosts.
June 12 Day 10 Bloomington, IL. To Springfield, IL – 71 miles Total 516
Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees, 10 – 15 mph tailwind
This morning we got up to slightly cooler temperatures and a tail wind – yea!! It made for a much easier and enjoyable ride today.
Our first stop for the day was Funks Grove which was a old growth Sugar Maple Forest – we bicycled thru the forest – it was amazing and the trees were huge. We stopped at the Nature Center but it was closed. Our host Julian told us we could sneak thru the back of the Nature Center, cross the railroad tracks and get back on Route 66. So we took our fully loaded tandem thru the brush, ditch, over tracks, thru another ditch and back to the highway. A bit difficult with a fully loaded tandem but doable. The scary part was when we were in the middle of the tracks and Tracy looked down the way and saw the lights from a train. Tracy became amazingly strong and fast in her state of terror. The funny part was the train was actually just sitting on the tracks but another train came by the opposite direction shortly after we got across. I guess that just shows you have to look both ways!!
With the wind at our backs we zoomed through the next 15 miles and then stopped for an early lunch in Atlanta. The restaurant we stopped at was nice by the service was very slow – our short stop turned into an hour. In Atlanta we also saw our second “Muffler Man” – Tall Paul a 19 Ft statue holding a hotdog.
The wind stayed behind us but it got hotter and we made frequent stops to fill our water bottles, get a snack and stand in the air conditioning. When talking with our youngest daughter, who is in Texas, today she was teasing us about the heat we are experiencing is nothing compared to Texas – great.
We made it to Springfield early afternoon and of course hit the local brewery for a beer. Then we went over to our Warm Showers stay for the night. Yong Wu a young Chinese man is our host for the night. He is also hosting two gentlemen from China who have been bicycling the United States for the last four months – they started in San Francisco, CA. They are headed to Chicago and then one will fly home, they other will continue on. One of the gentleman does speak and understand a bit of English, the other does not speak or understand English at all. They are very lucky to have Youg as their host because he speaks Chinese.
Youg’s family owns a Chinese restaurant so he went over to pick up supplies and made an amazing Chinese dinner for all of us, he is a great cook. It was a fun dinner and a chance to get to know each other better. It was another fun night with a very welcoming host.
More pictures tomorrow.