Illinois was the shortest state, thus far, we rode across.
Day 25- June 25th
We left the campground super early- 6 am. And just ate a power bar for breakfast. We wanted to beat the heat and humidity.
After 10 or so miles we had another snack and continued on to Goreville where we thought we were going to get a huge breakfast. Well, we got there at 8:15 (20ish miles later), nothing was open. We rode to the grocery store and bought some fruit and yogurt along with drinks (got to get that chocolate milk and juice!) And that was our breakfast. We were already halfway to our goal of Carbondale (total of about 46 miles).
We continued on and it was relatively flat and no traffic because it was so early. It started picking up around 9, but we were directed to back routes along the lakes. We had a pause around 11 near a lake.
Carbondale is a little off route, but it was a big town meaning lodging and bike shops. We got there at 12:10, which was weird because we have never finished that early before. We stayed at the Econo Lodge, which was less than a mile from the bike shops. We checked in and immediately went to one shop (there are three literally next door to each other).
We stopped in Carbondale Cycle and the man was very helpful. I needed to fix my handlebars for my wrists and then he changed the brake cables (making them longer). He fixed Dad’s seat and we got several items for a total of 46 dollars. Quite a deal!
While we waited for my bike, we ate lunch at this multi-culture food place. Very hip. Very good.
We chilled around town and met the Philly man later for dinner as he was staying across the street. He ended up getting a flat in his bob/trailer that day. He left the campground about the same time, but due to the flat he ended up arriving into town around 2.
Day 26- June 26th
We took a rest day, which was well needed. We proceeded to lounge around and watch several movies on the TV.
We then went to an outfitters shop to see about smaller sleeping bags because ours were too bulky and unnecessary in this heat. He didn’t have any, but gave us good ideas. He was also tellig Dad about his sons, one got accepted to this math school in Chicago! We then, on the man’s suggestion, went to Fat Patties, a local burger place and it was really good! The beer was 3 dollars.
The rest of the afternoon we went shopping- Dick’s, TJ Maxx, Big Lots….
We got fleece sleeping bag linears and I got a flowy dress thing to wear after a day’s ride. This enabled us to give our sleeping bags to Goodwill the next day and send some items home (like some of my clothes that the dress replaced).
Day 27- June 27th
We tried to leave early this morning to beat the heat again. In fact we were ready to leave at 6, but as we were eating breakfast rain started. According to the reports, it was supposed to stop at 9, which it did and then we went on our way.
This section of the map gives an alternate route to the border of Illinois and Missouri- ride along the Mississippi levee, which is flatter than the other and about the same mileage. We chose to do that.
We saw these coal plants that are putting coal on barges to be sent to different places.
We were going about 18 miles an hour average along the levee!! Which is fast…at least for us. The last 8 miles; however, was uphill with lots of cars and coal trucks. Luckily the trucks were going the opposite directions, but it was still pretty intimidating.
We were running out of water about 10 miles out from Chester and waved a woman cutting her grass down to ask to use her tap. She said yes and even offered us food. Though this route was flat, there were no shops.
We eventually got to Chester our last city in Illinois (about 56 miles due to leaving from Carbondale/off route). Home of Popeye!
We stayed at the above shack at an Eagle’s club. Showers, air con, and racks. Also, we were able to eat in their lounge.
We were joined by three East bounders. Two were traveling together with a dog who was a bit yippy. The third was a man from California who is working to become a teacher. Mr. Cali was fun to talk to especially about his experience substituting an 8th grade class for a month.
Though the following pictures are during Day 28/ June 28th, to finish Chester and Illinois, I’m including them here. All of Popeye and friends: