Cave In Rock to Carbondale 87miles
Up nice and early this morning – alarm went off at 6am. The good thing about staying in motels (even this one) is that you can pack up pretty much everything the night before. With no tent to sort out, I was up and out the door within 30minutes. Sky was a bit grey, and it was raining slightly.
I set off early as I ideally wanted to get to Carbondale, although after the long miles of the last few days wasnt sure how tired I might be.
Pretty soon the heavens opened and I got absolutely drenched. Thankfully it wasnt cold though, so at least I could keep riding without needing to get changed.
I find it helps to set intermediate goals during the day, rather than just think of it as one long day in the saddle. Often I try and roughly make this correspond to each little map section I'm following. Each section is around 30-40miles, and so it feels good to try and tick them off. My first little goal was to get to Eddysville and have some breakfast. 30 odd miles of quite tough riding. Some little steep bits slowed my progress, but I made it there and stopped for a sandwich and the now ubiquitous Gatorade! The store also had Wifi, so I could use it to check for some motels in Carbondale whilst having a rest!
I had left Whiskey parked outside, and after a few minutes a guy came in asking if there was a cyclist in the shop. The woman behind the desk pointed me out, and the guy came over. Turns out he was part of a couple who I had heard about a few times from other hosts. His name was Spencer, and along with his girlfriend Natasha and their dog Augustus, they were biking from Berea to Utah. Ended up spending a while chatting about things – people we'd stayed with, other bikers on the route etc. Certainly seems like there are little sub-cohorts of riders on the route. Maybe a weeks worth at a time, who you kind of hear about and who are always within a day or so of you, either behind or ahead. When you catch up with someone you hear about, it kind of feels like you're overtaking them! Doubtless there a people a couple of days behind me who keep hearing about the slow moving British guy with the weird alien on the front of his bike. And in time, most of them probably will catch up and pass me!
They were towing Augustus in one of those little trailers that people use for taking their young children with them on bike rides. Seemed like overall they were pretty laden down, and also having bike gremlin issues. Spencer's gears werent working so they were currently going at a pretty slow pace – they were hoping to do the 50miles to Carbondale in around 3 days! We also discussed another important topic – beer! Despite Kentucky being home to many whiskey (or bourban) distilleries, almost every county I went through was 'dry' – no alcohol on sale. Sometimes it would be great to relax with a nice cold beer in the evening after a long days riding. But Illinois seems less strict, so most of the petrol stations have nice large fridges full of the stuff!
After saying farewell to Spencer and Natasha, I set off again. As it turned out, the hardest part of my riding today was done. The next 30 or so miles were pretty easy going, and by 12:30 I had arrived at my next intermediate goal – lunch! Stopped in Goreville to grab something to eat. Headed ot the first restaurant I could find and had a pulled pork sandwich (I love that stuff – definitely going to make it in the slow cooker when I get home) and a milkshake. The waitress then asked me to sign their cyclists log book (lots of places seem to have these) and also told me that cyclists get a free dessert or I could have my shake for free. I went for the free shake, which was a nice little bonus.
Already I sense that Illinois is maybe a little more cyclist friendly than Kentucky. So its a shame I only stay in it for a couple of days. One good thing is the re-appearance of signs pointing out the route. This is clearly one of those issues that each State decides whether to allocate funds to. Wont have to wait long to see what Missouri's attitude is!
The last part of the ride took me passed a nice scenic lake – the Devils Kitchen. I'd love to know why so many things are named for the devil. Especially when they are often actually nice looking scenic things. He owns a golf course in Death Valley, a punchbowl outside of Guildford and now a kitchen in Illinois!
|The Devils Kitchen - Wonder where he keeps the plates?|
Actually arrived in Carbondale feeling pretty fresh despite doing another 87miles today. That makes it around 400miles in just 5 days – a huge increase over my previous distances. Hopefully this means I'm getting fitter. One thing I am getting is some weird sun tan marks. My forearms and legs are now a deep brown. My body is still pasty white! The fingers have tan lines around the knuckles, where Ive been wearing my fingerless mitts each day. I also have a little brown spot on each hand where there is a little gap in the gloves near the velcro fastener. Also have white lines on my face from my sunglasses and helmet straps!
Checked in to a motel and will probably have tomorrow as a rest day. Despite a couple of shorter days on the way to Berea, my last actual day off was 12days ago. And in that time I have covered a lot of distance, so think I shall rest up for a day. Motel even has a small swimming pool!
Sent a text to Cory asking if they found any good places to go out in Carbondale and turns out they are still here, so we're all meeting up for a beer later! Just reward for another good stint today!