Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Day 29 – Farmington, IA to Canton, IL

. Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Temperature: 75°F
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: NW 11 mph

Ride Info
Altimeter Trip: 1,550 ft
Altimeter Odometer: 63,780 ft
Maximum Speed: 38.5 mph
Average Speed: 19.1 mph
Distance Trip: 98.1 miles
Distance Odometer: 2,249.8 miles
Elapsed Time: 5 hr 08 min 48 sec

I’m surprised (yet not surprised) about how well I have been able to crank out all this mileage, spending around 5 hours in the saddle, day after day. The body is amazingly adaptable. After an hour or so of riding across the last bit of Iowa, we entered Fort Madison, Iowa and began our crossing of the mighty Mississippi River. We could still see the effects of the Great Flood of 1993 on Fort Madison itself. Even though we were going in the opposite direction of the early pioneers, it’s hard to not to draw parallels between us. Seeing these major geographic landmarks is one of those. One of the cool things about crossing the Mississippi River was the Fort Madison Toll Bridge. It is a swing bridge and is widely considered the longest double-deck swing-span bridge in the world. Instead of a draw bridge, the bridge rotates 90 degrees on its axis to allow tall boat traffic through.

After we crossed the river and entered Illinois, you could feel something different. Traffic seemed heavier, faster, and less courteous. The shoulders of the road were narrower. We had to pay closer attention to our lines and ride single file so as to not impede traffic. Gone were the days of riding in the boonies were you could ride in the middle of the road, two or more abreast. Even though I had completed more than half the total distance of my trip, the Mississippi River felt like a midway point of sorts. It gave me renewed focus and energy because it felt more and more like I was riding “home”.

For whatever reason, Chip hasn’t been riding with Jim and me lately. Chip has been spreading the love with some of the other riders which was cool and all. So it was just Jim and I most of the day. Our final destination was the YMCA at Canton, IL. It’s always great to stay at a YMCA. Not only are there great showers and facilities, we could partake in many other activities. After enough people arrived at base camp, got showered, and rested up a bit, we partook in those activities. One of the best was playing foosball. The soccer World Cup was going on at the time so it was fun to yell out, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAL!!!” when we scored. Other people played some hoops while others were content to read a book or simply relax.

The states are smaller east of the Mississippi River so it would take only two or three days to cross them. That made these last couple weeks of my trip pass by quickly. Another 100 mile ride tomorrow and then the next day would bring us into Indiana.