7.24.11 - St. Louis, MO to Flora, IL - 120 mi
The view of the St. Louis Arch and Mississippi River from the Eads Bridge.
With two whole days of rest in our legs and bellies full of food, it was time to pull ourselves away from the comfort and generosity of the Khouri family. We greatly appreciated their hospitality, robust meals, and an additional generous donation of $300 to Lea's Foundation. My aunt and uncle woke up with us at wee hours of the morning (I believe it was 4:30am) to make sure we ate well and see us off.
Our early start gave us the pleasure of seeing the sun rise over St. Louis. But after those two rest days, our legs needed a solid 15-20 miles to warm up and get back into the stroke of things. By that time we had crossed the Mississippi River into East St. Louis; what seemed like the most treacherous part of the trip yet. Fortunately, it was still early in the morning on a Sunday and we were able to pass through the city unscathed-for the most part. At one point there was a crash involving Tom and James clipping wheels, but fortunately nobody was hurt and the bikes were undamaged. The crash occurred behind me, so I didn't see the full incident. When I heard a noise I looked back just in time to see Tom bail from his bike. And with the nimbleness of a jungle cat, he hit the ground running on his feet, a fraction of a second before his trusty steed slammed head first into a telephone pole. Like a cat.
We made it to our lunch destination and just as we set upon our sandwiches, the heavy, dark clouds filled the sky and the wind picked up. In no time, a thunderstorm was upon us, but fortunately we were inside. It was a great opportunity to take our time with lunch and indulge in a little siesta while we waited out the storm. After about two hours the storm passed and we used that window of opportunity to push it the last 25 miles to Flora. The skies were still spitting a bit of rain on us during this last leg, and there were about 4 lightning strikes that were unsettling but we made it to Flora just fine.
The Flora Motel was kind enough to donate a room so we cleaned off, dried out, filled our stomachs, and hit the hay.
7.25.11 - Flora, IL to Bedford, IN - 125 mi
This morning we rolled out of Flora and, like yesterday, continued East on our old friend Rt. 50 (the same road that carried us across Nevada). However this time it was much more populated. We were grateful that the heat we had experienced the past couple weeks had subsided a bit, and we were able to better enjoy the ride. Of note, however, was our passage through the town of Washington where we stopped for lunch. Our mystical machines with their spinning wheels and strange cargo, complete with pilots in skin-tight spandex and hard hats must have been a new sight to the people of Washington. For just as a primitive society may believe a camera to steal their souls with its picture, so must the Washingtonians believe our bicycles would steal their streets from their cars, as they shouted at us to get off the road and use the sidewalk. I guess bicycles are sufficiently advanced enough for them to be considered magic. But I digress.
A fairly uneventful day, we spent much of the route riding through (wouldn't you know it) more corn and soy fields but we made it to Bedford and found a hotel at a good hour where we got to bed early with the intent of another early start in the morning.
7.26.11 - Bedford, IN to Greendale, IN - 102 mi
Thick fog in the early morning.
We rolled our bikes out of the hotel in the early morning and at first I couldn't tell if it was really foggy out or if I were still half-asleep, my eyes still glossed over and unfocused. But the above photo seems to be proof of the former. The fog hung thick for that first hour of our day and in no time flat, our jerseys were damp from the humidity and inability of our sweat to evaporate. It was the kind of fog that was cool, yet thick enough that you felt the moisture condense in your nose and lungs when you inhaled it.
It was a beautiful day on the bikes. The weather remained relatively cool compared to what we had seen during the heat wave, and the road was kind to us with its gentle rolling hills and stretches of flats. It was almost reinvigorating. We arrived in Greendale in the early afternoon and were grateful to the Riverside Inn for donating a room. After our showers and next-day-preparatory-rituals, we dined at the neighboring restaurant, Buffalo's Southwest Grill, where we were befriended by the general manager Audry, who made a donation in the form of picking up the bill for our meals, and to whom we are grateful.
7.27.11 - Greendale, IN to Chillicothe, OH - 120 mi
What a great day of riding! Our route today first took us through Cincinnati, and along the Ohio River. It was here that James had a brush up with a car and its inattentive driver and as I've scored it, he won (he was completely unscathed). Apparently the driver wasn't paying attention when merging and bumped up against the side of James and his bike with the side of his car. I can only assume that the driver deemed James to be alright from inside the car, as he felt a stop was unnecessary.
What about this great day of riding, you ask? Well after leaving the city, our route to Chillicothe was "paved" with serene farms, easy rolling hills, and moderate temperatures. Although these were cornfields and soyfields just like we had seen farther west, there was something different about them. Tom even claims to have seen horses frolicking in a pasture. Yes, frolicking. And about 20 miles outside of Chillicothe, we pulled over to watch two F-16's go into and out of dive-bombs on their training run. We looked up in awe as they buzzed the corn fields around us.
In Chillicothe we me an avid cyclist named Mike, with whom we shared stories and discussed routes before he donated $20. The Comfort Inn in town also came through for us with a donated room, and we were sure to fill ourselves at the neighboring Applebee's, for which the manage heavily discounted our bill. We retired to our rooms for a bit of R&R before the next day.
7.28.11 - Chillicothe, OH to Cambridge, OH - 100 mi
I think we have to wait another 3 years before we are allowed in here.
A third day of great riding conditions. The road was much of the same with its gentle hills but they were a bit more frequent today. The temperature also creep ed up a bit and the humidity was high all day. But we made good time getting to Zainsville, where we stopped for lunch and where two anonymous locals, after hearing about what we were doing, made a $20 donation each. Our afternoon took us through a hilly, yet tolerable, 27 miles to Cambridge where we found lodging and food for the evening.