Friday, May 28, 2010

day 17 - athens, il to hannibal, mo - 90ish miles.

day 17 - athens, il to hannibal, mo - 90ish miles.

when my alarm chimed, it didn't matter what time it was, i knew it was too early. the couch i was asleep on was so comfortable, but i staggered off, packed up, said my goodbyes to dan (a real stand up individual) and departed at 7:30.

my pedaling started slow as i headed toward the crazy horse campground where i was supposed to stay the night prior.

there i met andy. a young guy who had been running the campground since his family purchased it 4 seasons ago. dude was a super nice, super friendly guy who took the time to show me around and even hook up some food as well as just shootheshit. its always nice to get a little conversation in since im spending 8 to 10 hrs a day with my own thoughts.

the spot was cool and definitely away from it all. there were cabins, campers, room for tents and even a disc golf course. i've never seen that before. so, andy hooked up what is called a 'horseshoe,' an illinois favorite. i posted a photo of it the other day. its a piece of texas toast topped with a chicken breast, french fries, cheese sauce and chili. talk about good and full of calories. kinda bummed i didn't get a chance to stay there.

the sun was hanging overhead as i departed. boy i tell you, my arms and legs are tanner than OJ is guilty. i'm developing one serious framers tan. if you were lucky enough to see me streaking by you, you'd think i was wearing a white one-piece.

i pedaled around the illinois back country for a few hours trying to stay close to the interstate so i could take shelter in a motel incase any thunderstorms crept up on me again. i zigged and zagged, dodged farm equipment and hit up some dirt roads until i met my greatest foe to date, the illinois river. while using my usual tactic of 'just heading west' i discovered train tracks that crossed the river but no roadway. there was however a walkway that scooted along side the tracks. no tresspassing sings were posted all over the place but there was a radio that reached the bridge operator. "yo, bridge operator" i spoke into the radio. "is there someone down at the railroad crossing," a voice said back. "yeah man. can i cross on the side here? i'm on a bike and the nearest crossing is miles from here." "i can't have ya crossin here. theres a train comin. please stand clear and i'll be down after." a train whistled by and a man came walking down the walkway.

"legally, i have to tell you that you can't cross here. but if you do, i aint seen nothin." he proposed. "well, is there a road on the other side so i can keep riding?" i asked. "well, the river is up so the road is flooded. youd have to push your bike bout half mile up the tracks. i mean we can get you cross as long as you not goan tell on me." "well dude, i definitely wouldn't tell on you but i don't think i wanna try and push this rig up tracks. where is the nearest crossing besides the interstste?" "well, theres the florence bridge bout 8 miles from here." "then thats what i'll do. thanks man."

i back tracked about 4 miles and headed south 4 miles, the whole time guzzling water until i was dry. damn was i thirsty. i rode across the bridge and stopped at the first town i came to at the town market aka the town vending machine. all there was in detroit, il was a pepsi machine where locals came to drink like the wild animals of the serengeti. water was sold out so i downed two mtn dews quickly, chatted with locals and hit the road.

i pulled into the town of pittsfield, il around 4:30. thirsty, hungry, 35 miles left to travel and running out of daylight, i went for a cheap and high calorie option, mcd's. i almost feel bad for eating crap but for 6 bucks i can hydrate and stuff 1600 calories into my face.

after that small but energetic meal i rocked out 35 miles fast to hannibal, mo and the mark twain cave complex. when i came to the mississippi river i was forced to cross on the interstate but there were signs allowing bicycles to ride on the shoulder. something comforting about that.

i rolled in around dark a bit tired from the long day. so i set up my tent and and went across the street to a restaurant to grab a cold brew. unfortunately they were closed but i was still able to grab a dr. pepper from those who were cleaning up. little did i know but i stirred up a little concern amongst the staff. i didn't find out about it until the next night, but apparently the authorities were involved.

man, i slept well in my tent. oh, and MO has lightning bugs! reminds me of childhood.

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