Friday, July 10, 2009
Day 34 - Quincy, IL to Springfield, IL
Corn, Corn, Corn! Today's ride from Quincy to Springfield, IL was 107 miles. I do believe 97 of those miles were past cornfields! We left Quincy with dark clouds looming in the west. We thought those clouds would catch us and we would get wet. Fortunately, they never found us, but we still got wet... from the humidity! Right away I could tell Illinois would be different from Missouri. The road we were on was far flatter than the endless rollers of the past three days. We travelled Rt. 104 for most of the day. When we weren't passing cornfields, we were rolling through small towns like Liberty, Chambersburg, and Meredosia. From mile 14 to our SAG stop in Chambersburg at mile 41, we saw corn. Sometimes we were above the corn. Sometimes we were below the corn. Sometimes the corn was on our right. Sometimes the corn was on our left. Usually it was on both the right and the left. Miles of corn.
We crossed the Illinois River at Meredosia, IL. Along the river was an electric plant, we presumed burning coal brought by barge on the river. We crossed via a tall, steel bridge. As soon as we entered Meredosia, we saw... more corn. In fact, around mile 50 I was literally nodding off on the bike. I saw from our cue sheet that there was a store up ahead in Chapin. I told Leigh, who I was riding with today, that I needed caffeine. I rode ahead, found the store, and purchased a Starbucks bottled mocha. Now maybe I can stay awake through this corn.
When I exited the store, I saw Leigh was visiting with a local guy who was on a light blue recumbent bike. His name was Leroy and he built the bike from two scrap bikes. It was a homemade recumbent. He was a character. We chatted with him. He offered for us to ride his bike around the parking lot. We chose to take photos on it instead, but enjoyed hearing how he had welded it, added a tie-rod for steering, and rode it all around town. The chain was fully rusted as was the single-speed gear. But, I doubt he was doing many high-mile days like we were. It was comfortable to sit on, but as a single-speed, it would be painful on hills.
After saying farewell, we followed 15 more miles of corn until we reached Jacksonville, IL, our second SAG stop. This town of nearly 20,000 looked a little like the town I grew up in—middle class, residential, Midwest, family-oriented. But, it was a bit larger and the downtown, though old and historic, featured a college, hospital, and some industry. I enjoyed riding through it and would have lingered. It was refreshing to see something other than... corn.
We now had almost 30 more miles of corn ahead of us. Finally, we reached the edges of Springfield. We stopped at a local bike shop that was one of the more sizable shops we've visited. We then rode into downtown Springfield and passed the Capital—much larger than Washington's capital building in Olympia. I noticed that Springfield was the most urban of the cities we've visited—with the possible exception of Salt Lake City and San Francisco. But this was definitely the most diverse. It felt more East Coast, even though we're still more than 1000 miles from the East Coast.
I saw the sign to Lincoln's Home and Leigh and I decided we better check it out. It's part of the National Park Service and is a National Historic Site. We took our time checking out the Visitor's Center, then we enjoyed a neighborhood tour and a tour of Lincoln's Home itself. The neighborhood features 13 historic home. All but two are rebuilt—Lincoln's and the home across the street are original. The Historic Site is very well done and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour and absorbing all the history. The Lincoln's were fairly well-to-do and their home shows it. The decor of that era is vastly different than today's style. It was described as "harmony through contrast" and "nature brought indoors." Elaborate floral patterns adorned the walls in hues of red and green or sliver and blue. The carpeting was a different floral pattern and in equally contrasting colors. It was loud, off-putting, and would be disturbing to wake up to!
After seeing the sights, it was getting late in the afternoon—almost 5:00 p.m.—and we had a hotel to find. Our route through Springfield was even more urban and through the rougher side of town. What a contrast to the elegant, shady, and well-preserved Lincoln Historic Site. We found our hotel and I had about 15 minutes to shower and change before our Route Rap and then dinner next door at Bob Evans. I hadn't eaten there since high school—breakfasts on Friday mornings after marching band rehearsal. It hasn't changed too much in 25 years.
To see more photos from today's ride including: corn, corn, bridge, corn, Jacksonville, corn, Springfield, corn, Abraham Lincoln's home, corn, and Bob Evans, visit: http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100368
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2,589
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 2,177 ft.
Max Elev: 809 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 7%