Saturday, July 11, 2009
Day 35 - Springfield, IL to Champaign, IL
Break out the Champagne, We're in Champaign! Today's ride was probably more interesting for some of our other riders than it was for me. Several riders got lost today and a few took spills on wet railroad crossings. Fortunately for me, neither happened, although I did miss a turn within the first five miles. I was leading a group of five others and I didn't even notice on the cue sheet that I missed a left turn. I declared it to be a moment of great leadership, "Great leaders are known for taking people someplace they had absolutely no intention of going!" Hmmm. Maybe not, but it sounded good at the time.
Today's route had historical significance, interesting towns, and of course, more corn. Our SAG stop was on the Sangamon River at Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park. Abraham Lincoln's family migrated from Indiana to Illinois in the Spring of 1830 (remember that, Mom?) and this was where their first Illinois home was located.
I rode a portion of today's route with Tom, our mechanic. Tom (not my part-time roommate who was sick for four straight days) replaced our mechanic, Sean (not my British roommate), who left in Great Bend, KS to travel across Europe. Tom is a wiry, older gentleman from Southern Indiana. He enjoys talking, cycling, talking, and talking. Yesterday, he was driving "Silver" (the silver van) and had to stop abruptly because the trailer doors were wide open and flapping as he drove down the highway. We joked about "airing out the trailer." Thankfully, no luggage was lost in the incident. Today, as I rode with him, I noticed his cycling socks. They were leopard print. Yes, leopard. Who wears leopard-print cycling socks? Do you order those from Frederick's of Hollywood (Cycling Division)? Anyway, our ridicule of his socks got him talking, and man, does he love to talk.
We had a brief bit of rain midday. Not enough to get us soaked, but enough to keep us cool and give us a reason to wash our bikes post-ride. The dark clouds followed by bright sun did make for some great photographic lighting as we past red barns, horses, and pastures.
Our second SAG stop was in the Croninger Cemetery. Some of the riders enjoyed the location. I thought it was kinda dead. (rimshot). A past Cross Country Challenge rider drove down from Madison, WI to greet us and provide watermelon. It was fun to visit with him and hear about his journey ten years ago. Later, he joined us for our Route Rap and gave a short presentation on how corn reproduces. (No kidding.) It was interesting. The handout he gave us was titled, "SEX IN THE CORNFIELD." Tomorrow, a few riders are going to try to observe monoecious pollination and fertilization up close.
We arrived in Champaign, IL mid-afternoon, early enough to wash the bikes, wash ourselves, and enjoy a dip in the pool and hot tub. I wanted to stroll around the downtown area or visit the University of Illinois campus, but didn't make it that far. Instead, I walked around the mall nearby in search of some Illinois souvenirs before we leave the Land of Lincoln tomorrow. Seems that Illinois residents don't see a need for postcards, magnets, or shot glasses featuring their state. All the sales clerks I asked just blinked back at me. I'm glad I live in a state that has more to write home about.
Tomorrow, we will leave Illinois and enter Indiana. We will also cross into the Eastern Time Zone and lose one more hour. I will now be three hours ahead of my family. (Guess that puts me well ahead of schedule.) Our destination is Crawfordsville, IN. I'll be sure to ask the locals about the Crawfordsville Monster, most recently sighted in 1891. Bet they have postcards of that!
Also of note, we have only two weeks of cycling left. We will reach Portsmouth, NH on Tuesday, July 28. I'll see my wife and kids on Monday, July 27. And in the next week, I'll see a number of old high school friends in Indiana and Ohio!
For more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100374
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2688
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 790 ft.
Max Elev: 768 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 9%