Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 6 - The End!

Well, we made it. Today, after 485 plus miles, dozens of Clif Bars, and a few flat tires we made it to the end of Illinois, the river town of Cairo.
We started the morning in light rain coming out of Chester, Il. We were in great spirits after the reception we had the night before and the knowledge that the end was near! The local regional paper, The Southern Illinoisan, did a great article on the ride. Yet another way we can get the word out to others about CAS.
The ride through the river bottoms was very peaceful, even though we were pretty soaked. We saw just a few cars. We headed east a bit and then south again, stopping for lunch in the town of Jonesborro, IL. A lady in the restaurant we ate in recognized us from the Southern article and gave us encouragement and a donation.
We got back on the road and headed south into a sky that finally began to show us some sun. We had a great pace and worked together to keep the tempo up on the last part of the ride. We came into Cairo just before 4:00 PM and followed the main street to the tip of the state, the merging of the great Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I have to admit, it felt great knowing that when we put the bikes away tonight, we did not have to get back on them tomorrow AM.
Will do a recap of our week and some final thoughts shortly. Thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rainy Ride

Back Home

Today, day 5, was our “rest” day – shorter mileage.
We left Columbia, IL today at 7:00 AM in a light rain that followed us all most all the way to Chester, IL.
The trail was very flat as we traveled through the river bottoms just to the east of the bluffs. We had a great ham salad sandwich at a small grocery store. This is not exactly the food the pro teams would endorse, but it tasted awesome on this rainy day.
As we got closer to Chester, IL the roads began to climb upwards again into the hills. We had some great views of the river.
We were greeted as we came into town by my coworkers with another great donation for CASANA. It was great to be at home and see my family. This evening there was a reception and concert benefitting CASANA in the center of town. It was a great way finish the day.
Tomorrow we finish the MAC Ride with a long day to Cairo, IL. At times this week seemed to go very fast, and other times, grinding up a hill for example, it seemed to move backwards. The forecast calls for rain, but we’ve been riding in and out of it all week, so no problem!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Left Turns

After a good night’s rest in Louisiana, MO, we crossed the Mississippi River and continued our trip back at Pleasant Hill, IL. We knew today would not be easy, but didn’t count on it being as tough as it turned out.
In some places, our map has indicated we’d face a lot of hills. Today’s section made no mention of them. However, somebody decided to put them there, about 30 miles of them. Not the highest ones we’ve climbed on this trip, but they were endless.
After the first hour or so, we came to realize we should dread left turns. When heading south down the river a left turn means you are heading up into the bluffs, not down into the flat bottom lands.
We survived and eventually got to some flatter ground. We got to visit with some nice folks along the way and had lunch in Alton, IL at the 70 mile mark for the day. Our friend and business associate Roger joined us in Alton for 10 miles on the ride. He and his wife Bekki have generously supported this event, and it was a real treat to have him with us today.
We had to really ride hard to finish the ride in Columbia tonight, but made it in before dark. Tomorrow is a rest day (shorter mileage) and we are back in my hometown of Chester. I’m looking forward to seeing my wife, sons, and other friends and family.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arrival at Rock Island with friends from Augustana

Day 3

We started day 3 a little late due to some rainy and foggy weather around the historic town of Nauvoo, IL. We had some fantastic views of the river as we headed south. Thankfully the winds of yesterday died down, and we were able to make good time today.
As we passed through the small river towns, we noted some great old buildings in every one of them. The sad thing, like a lot of rural America, far too many of them were empty. In each town, it was clear that no one was giving up. People were opening up new businesses and keeping their communities going.
We pulled into Quincy, IL about 11:30 AM and enjoyed a little time in a real chair at lunch. Found a place with another great view of the river.
We hit the road again and enjoyed favorable winds for another 51 miles, finishing at Pleasant Hill just before 5:00 PM. Tonight we are staying in Louisiana, MO. Big plug for the River’s Edge Motel……the Manager washed our cycling gear for us!
MAC Team Member Paul Milligan had to leave us due to work commitments tonight. He will be missed. Today Paul lead our group through some tough areas at a very good pace.
Throughout these days, we’ve tried to use every opportunity we’ve been given to speak briefly about CAS to the people we meet. Usually just a group of a few people, but an opportunity still.
Tomorrow we head into the St. Louis area. The ride will have a mix of everything, countryside, small river towns, and large urban areas.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 2 - Tough

Hello from Burlington, IA.

The ride today was tough, very tough.

Coming out Rock Island we were in great spirits, but a strong south wind started to zap some of our energy pretty early on. We also discovered the maps we have aren't 100% correct........Despite the rough day, we all finished strong, no injuries.

The countryside had been great and met some very nice people, including our hosts Chuck and Julie. They treated us to a great dinner which was much appreciated after a hard day.

Shorter miles tomorrow. We are going to bed EARLY.