It seems that when I decided to change my plans and stay at my parents until the 4th of July I somehow didn’t account for one of the weeks because as I rode into Iowa it soon became apparent how ahead of this new schedule I was. I was looking at having over two weeks of time off if I followed the ACA (American Cycle Association) route through Iowa and into Minnesota. Hence, I turned my travels east for a fun filled detour through Illinois and Wisconsin – short reunions with numerous friends and a flurry of mornings with the momentary confusion of “who’s couch am I sleeping on again?”.
Thanks to all my friends who made some time for me, put me up for a night, took care of breakfast/lunch/dinner, and maybe bought me a drink or two as well. And sorry to those I missed on my way through! Picking up the blog where the last post left off…
Day 45, June 13th – Hannibal, MO to Warsaw, IL (approx.)
I pedaled from my campground into the coffee shop in town for some coffee, wifi, and breakfast. Punching away at my computer, breakfast soon turned to lunch and finally after getting some online errands done I was back on the road. I saw Mark Twains boyhood home as I rode out of town and crossed the Mississippi back into Illinois. It was a nice day so I felt a little bit bad about spending half of it indoors… funny since normally I’d be spending everyday indoors for the better part of the day. I passed through Quincy, IL and grabbed dinner along the river. Having bummed the morning away I pushed on and got some great evening riding in. I was loving the view of the farmland between the Mississippi and the levee. As the sun set I grabbed a nice spot out of sight at the edge of a cornfield near the levee just south of Warsaw.
Just down this road a ways a pickup passed me and pulled over about 300 yards or so ahead. Then I see reverse lights and the truck stops… two guys get out of the truck and walk to the back tailgate and open it as I’m approaching. I wasn’t quite sure what to think, but I was ready to pedal fast if for some reason trouble arose.
As it turns out these nice guys just wanted to stop and offer me fried catfish fillets from a fish fry they were working at in town. They had leftovers they were bringing to a small bar not far off my route.
Acts of Kindness: 1 – Catfish delivery in the middle of a cornfield… Awesome and incredibly random.
Day 46, June 14th – Warsaw, IL to Oakville, IA
I decided it was time to get out of Illinois again and head into Iowa today 😉 Lots of riding along the Mississippi up to Nauvoo, IL. Nauvoo was a pretty cool town with an interesting history. This is where the Mormon’s came with Joseph Smith to avoid prosecution in Missouri. They constructed a community that grew to 12,000 people (Nauvoo is now ~1,150). They later fled to Utah after John Smith’s death. After lunch at a bakery in Nauvoo, I pedaled on to Burlington, Iowa with a decent northerly tail wind… Add another state to the list! Lets see… Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Illinois again, and now Iowa. So 7 states in all so far.
Burlington had some sort of carnival going on with live music. I grabbed dinner not far from the commotion. Afterwards I decided to press on even though I’d put in a decent amount of miles already. The campground near Burlington was about 4 miles out of my way and I felt like I had some pedaling left in me. I saw there was a “campground” suggestion on my map near Oakville. It turns out it was just a boat landing, but it worked for me. I ended up setting up my tent in the fleeting minutes of daylight.
What’s up with all the gnats?? Seems like in the last 3 days they’ve really increased in numbers.
Acts of Kindness: 1 – At the end of the day a farmer near Oakville stopped his tractor and got out to see if I needed directions. He passed me earlier and saw me this time with my map out. He helped pointed out that I made a wrong turn and straightened me out. He even offered me to let me camp at his place but it was a few more miles down the road. It turned out to be more convenient to go with the boat landing that was only about 1.5 miles away and was along my route.
Day 47, June 15th – Oakville, IA to Hampton, IL
This morning I was a short ride to Muscatine where my Adventure Cycle map ended and the Northern tier began. The wind was whipping in my favor again today so I made great time to Muscatine. I had a late breakfast a a diner downtown and pulled out the new map. After some closer inspection I realized I only had about 4-5 days of riding to my parents house in Minnesota. That would leave me with about two weeks of downtime before the 4th of July so instead of being super early I contemplated detouring a bit. Maybe it was time to rack up some bonus miles and head to Rockford IL, up to Madison WI, and then loop back over towards Rochester MN. I decided to give Rockford a go – I figured I had 3 days of riding before I got there.
I rode into Davenport (Quad cities) around dinner time. There was a great blues band playing at a small local bar so I swung in and listened for a bit before riding into the city. I really enjoyed the Great River Trail that ran along the river. The weather was perfect today and everyone was out enjoying the day. Lots of families out for fathers day. Sure would have been good to have the fam with for my ride.
The lock and dam at the far end of this bridge had bike/foot/car traffic blocked off and for the 20 minutes I waited it didn’t look like things were going to open anytime soon. Another rider waiting said he’d show me my way on an alternate route.
I finished my day late at a campsite in Hampton… the office was closed and I couldn’t access the shower building. I set up camp right alongside the river near a picnic table and made tacos. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even an actual campsite, but nobody was around to tell me differently.
Acts of Kindness: 1 – Tim gave me a guided reroute tour to Rock Island, Illinois
Day 48, June 16th – Hampton, IL to Rockford, IL
I woke up yearning for a hot shower and a cozy bed this morning. It was a hot and sunny day and knew getting to Rockford was an ambitious goal. The sun beat down pretty strong in the afternoon and gnats provided little opportunity for comfortable breathers. In the evening some friends from Rockford said they’d meet up with me and ride when they got off work to ride the last segment into town. Pretty sure my ride would have felt a lot harder had these guys not showed up to raise my spirits for the final push to Mike Gasper’s house in Southern Rockford.
Once we made it to Mike’s I got a shower in and Luke Cavil brought pizza and wings over. Jeff Brown and Mike treated me to some tasty home brews too! I had a great evening chatting it up with Jeff, Luke, Mike and Steph in the comfort of the AC and clean clothes. Steph even did my laundry! Thanks Steph!
Thanks for joining me guys! Really enjoyed the ride into town with friends. Long day, great finish!
Acts of Kindness: 7 – Invited to ride along with the group of retired riders from the quad cities; Luke, Jeff, & Mike joined me for the ride into town; Luke picked up pizza; Mike and Jeff shared some great home brew; Steph did my laundry; Mike & Steph let me stay with them for the night
Day 49, June 17th – Rockford, IL (rest day)
It sure felt good to sleep in a bed. Woke this morning feeling pretty good considering the long ride the day before. I thanked Mike before he headed off to work and had some breakfast with Steph… Thanks for the Cocoa wheats! Might have to get some for breakfast on the road. I packed up my things and headed for my favorite coffee spot in Rockford to do some computer chores for the afternoon before I met up with a good friend and ex-running partner in town, Amy for a drink. Then it was off to another good friend’s house, Josh Luce. Josh is a fellow bike enthusiast and grill master… dinner was amazing.
Acts of Kindness: 4 – Breakfast by Steph; Drinks with Amy; Grill masterpiece by Josh; Josh let me crash at his place.
Day 50, June 18th – Rockford, IL (rest day)
This morning I went with Josh to meet Amy and Erik Lewinski for breakfast at RBI’s. Erik surprised me with a really cool laser projection light that he helped fund on Kickstarter. It projects an image of a bike onto the road ahead of you to improve your visibility to cars around you. Check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/embrooke/blaze-bike-light
After breakfast I hung out at Josh’s for a bit before meeting some of my good mountain bike buddies Paul Phillips and Brad Martin for lunch at the Rockford Brewing Company. I’m glad they were able to fit lunch in and meet up with me. Thanks for picking up the tab Paul! After lunch I swung by Katie’s Cup, another favorite coffee spot in town before heading to the ole’ office to say hi to my recent coworkers. It was great to see everyone and what started with a small hallway chat soon became a fairly large show and tell outside around my bike. Thanks all for taking a break to come out and say hi! And thanks to Tim for giving me up with his battery pack when I said something about struggling to keep my phone charged.
From the office I biked up to my old residence in Rockton (Brendan Behren’s house). Brendan caught up to me on his way home from work just outside of town and gave me a lift before the storms caught me. Walter (another roommate), Brendan, and I went for dinner in town and after stopped for some ice cream at the Dairyhaus in Rockton – compliments of Brendan.
Acts of Kindness: Where to begin?? 8 – Erik Lewinski picked up the breakfast tab and got me a sweet new headlight; Paul picked up the bill for our lunch at the brewhouse; Previous colleague and friend Tim Franckowiak sent me along with his awesome battery charger to use with my phone; Brendan bought Walter and I some tasty cones at the Dairyhaus in Rockton; Brendan let me crash at the old house for the night; Walter shared some Pig Minds brew he picked up from the day before… Did I cover it all? Dang I have good friends.
Day 51, June 19th – Rockford, IL to Middleton, WI
This morning was a flashback of another day in Rockton (the good old days). Brendan put me in charge of breakfast and Walter got to work on coffee. After breakfast I said my goodbyes and eventually made my way to Madison. Add another state to the list (8 now). I made sure to ride through Orfordville to ride by my good friend Kevin Wellnitz’ service shop, “Sather’s”. Kevin was definitely surprised to see me… last time we talked I was in eastern Tennessee. We chatted for a while while he buzzed around the shop taking care of customers. Before I left he sent me with some Cliff Bars and Gatorade. Thanks Kevin!
That evening I arrived at my friend Sam Moffatt’s place. Sam used to work with me in Rockford and we travelled to Iceland together for about two weeks last spring. It was great to catch up with him! He took me out for dinner at the Great Dane and let me stay at his place this evening.
Acts of Kindness: 4 – Breakfast at Brendan’s; Snacks for the road from Kevin; Dinner with Sam; Sam put me up for the night.
Day 52, June 20th – Middleton, WI to Madison, WI (day off)
This morning I said goodbye to Sam and headed to Travis Houg’s place in downtown Madison by the capitol building. I got to Trav’s and we went for breakfast at Short Stack. I had the mystery special which is half off as long as you don’t ask what it is. The food and coffee were great! We soon found out the Eric was also off work for the day and called him to join us for a movie.
Travis had company coming into town that evening so I went with Eric to his place on the Lake. We went out for a pontoon cruise with his roommate and later went downtown for some drinks. Thanks for the fun evening Eric! Of course we finished the evening with Ian’s pizza… remember Eric? 🙂
Acts of Kindness: 5 – Trav hung out with me when he was “sick”; Travis bought us Bloody Mary drinks at the Old Fashioned; Eric was conveniently taking the day off and had no plans so he joined us for the day – Let me stay with him, took me out boating, bought a few drinks that evening.
Day 53, June 21st – Madison, WI (day off)
I hung out another day to hang out with the guys. Plus I do love Madison and since I have time I figured I might as well hang out another day. Eric and I went to the farmers market so I could get my hot & spicy cheese bread from Stella’s (best bread ever!). Then we went back to his place and relaxed after a fairly late evening. We had some leftover enchiladas that Eric made earlier in the week and watched some World Cup action. In the evening we went to Travis and Lavilla’s to play board games and go for dinner.
Luckily Travis didn’t win. At least I don’t remember him winning. If he did I’m sure I’ve suppressed it from my memory.
Miles: Big Fat ZERO
Acts of Kindness: 4 – Enchiladas by Eric; Game night and some drinks at Travis and Lavilla’s; Eric hosted me and played some chauffeuring.
Day 54, June 22nd – Madison, WI to ???
Slow start this morning. Finally caught up on some sleep and the blog. Not sure how far I will get today… I expect I will be camping in the middle of nowhere. Just about to head out and swing by REI for a few items before I leave town. Thanks again to my friends in Mad-town for hanging out!
240 miles or so to home so I’m hoping to make it there Tuesday night or Wednesday morning this week! Have a good week!