May 10, 2001

5/10/01 Golconda, IL

82.6 miles

I woke up about 5:30 A.M. to hear Mike already packing up. We had decided to do another long day -- 80-plus miles - so we'd be able to ride to Carbondale on Friday. Mike is dying to see a movie and get a beer - civilization! So with another foggy start, we rolled out of Sebree at 6:08 A.M.!

A lot of empty coal trucks passed us today, but always gave us a lot of room. We stopped for a photo in Mike's namesake - Dixon, Kentucky - but kept on. Jeri's Café in Clay was a definite draw for us. While Mike ordered, I had to bike over 3 blocks to use the only pay phone in this city of 1200.

Finally got to talk to Deb, Ann, Christel, and Rosalie, too. I miss all of my co-workers. The nice thing about Jeri's Café is that a few grubby cyclists didn't seem to bother her customers or staff. And the food was good and cheap. Two thumbs up!

As the day wound on, I noticed the fields were a lot dryer here. When I mentioned it, a local said they were in serious need for some rain. They didn't get any of the storm we had a few nights ago. Even the rivers were pretty low in their stream beds.

Heat scorched farm fields

After checking my email in Marion, we seemed to be moving well. But we had a bunch of climbing before we got to the Ohio River. Plus, the sun was beating down on me. For a little while, I thought I might have a touch of heat stroke, but I kept hydrating. After a long flat approach, we halted at the stop sign at the river's edge. Yippie, two states down!

We boarded the ferry that would take us across to Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. Nearby is a cave that became infamous because of the robbers who would prey on new settlers traveling down river.

On the ferry

While taking a quick look at our maps and a woman came out of her house. "Where you guys from?" she said. When she found out Mike was from Australia, she got very excited, calling a friend to come out to meet us. Before you knew it, Michelle had invited us in for Kool-Aid and to talk with Beverly and her brother, Robert. What kind, simple souls! I hope a few other TransAm riders get to experience Michelle's generous heart.

Michelle only had eyes for Mike

The route followed the river. But even though we saw little traffic, the hills were tough (had to walk a steep one again). We hit that magic 3:00 to 4:00 rush hour into Elizabethtown. Because traffic was so heavy, we took a break at a covered pavilion on the river shoreline. I bought us a couple of cokes and chatted a bit with the owner of the River Rose Inn (B&B). I was tired, but we still had 20 miles to go before getting to the campground.

I think we've had more dogs chase us in the last two days than any other time. Instead of using the pepper spray on them, we just keep our pace, but talk "kindly" to them. Seems to work. We also found a lot of road kill today: possum, raccoon, cat, dog, rabbit, mouse, bird, and even an owl and a deer.

I almost didn't make the last miles, I was so tired. And to top it off, we finished the last 12 miles with a growing headwind. The weather gods are cruel. Almost missed the road to the campground. An old man in his yard yelled, "Just take a right and you can't miss it." This is our first Forest Service campsite, and didn't know what to expect. Mike was disappointed there were no showers.

After a quick sponge bath and dinner, we worked at the picnic table till the bugs drove us inside. We hope to reach Carbondale tomorrow and, if we're lucky, we might be able to stay at the "Bike Surgeon's" house. But we'll have to start early if we want to beat the forecasted afternoon thundershowers. I wonder what time Mike will get me up.