Wednesday, May 26, 2010

day 16 - lightning, thunder and rain, oh my!

day 16 - champaign, il to athens, il - 85 ish miles.

so i started the day with 100+ miles in my head.

i had a great home cooked breakfast with dennis and his wife rose, the owners of D&W camping. these were two people that really had things in perspective. just great folks, intelligent, well-spoken and just as nice as they could be.

my first 50 miles took forever. poor road conditions, headwind and high heat made for some incredibly slow travel. even riding into a gentle breeze feels like wading through a pool of chocolate pudding. i know it sounds delicious but damn is it hard. and the road i was on reminded me of first avenue in nyc. holes, cracks, bumps, ruts and sticky tar didn't help my speed one bit. it was either that road or the wind so i ultimately chose the wind. at least i could get a rythm going in the wind. ok, sorry for the complaining now for some more stuff that proves the world is full of great people, as if this blog hasn't done that enough.

i walked into a joint in mt. pulaski, IL, my skin leaking profusely, covered in salt from head to toe, lips chapped, skin red, mouth parched, you could call me sahara jack. once again i stuck out like a sore thumb and immediately started gabbing with the locals, filling them in on my project. i went to the restroom to wipe down and when i returned the locals were departing. they wished me good luck and were off. as my childish meal of chicken strips and a chocolate shake came, the waitress promptly said, "your meal is covered." "what?" "yeah, one of those folks got it, but i can't tell you who." "fair enough. please be sure to thank them for me." amazing!

nearly 50 miles left and roughly 4 hours of daylight. i was moving, energized and eager to just get there. i was shooting for ashland, il but as i passed through the small town of athens a massive thunderstorm snuck up from the south. lightning and blackness filled the sky. wind blew in stronger than ever. i raced west assuming i could skirt the storm as i had done in indiana. suddenly i hit a dead end and was forced to turn back. i knew i was done for. as i headed back in the direction from which i had come, i saw two men standing in their garage watching the storm build.

i figured it worth a shot so i approached the gents, a father and son, dan and adam. they looked at me inquisitively, dan more so than adam. "can i wait out the storm with you guys?" i asked. "yeah, sure. come on in buddy." just as i got in rain started to fall and then harder. wind was swirling from all directions. lightning was all around us. damn, was it nice to be watching it from a garage rather than on the side of the road. the rain continued for more than an hour.

it took some time for us to all warm up to each other but once we did, we were laughing, joking, talkin bout all sortsashit. i was truly happy that these two didn't tell me to just keep moving along.

the rain didn't stop until well after dark. "you can just crash here in the garage if you'd like." dan proposed. honestly that sounded great but i wanted to get to ashland and the crazy horse campground. lightning still filled the sky in every direction. "aw, you know what you can sleep on the couch." well that was all it took. "you sure? cuz that would be great," i sounded.

that was the best night of sleep i had had in days.

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