Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grand Prairie, Coal City & Valpo

Well, we left Madison and headed south for Illinois, the Land of Lincoln !  

Grand Prairie

Our first stop would be Grand Prairie, and we actually ended up at the Happy Acres campsite.   The ride was about 94 miles long.  All in all, it seemed to go pretty well.   Rob and Sarah and I got in pretty early and a couple of the early arrives got to hit the pool area.   We all trundled over as a group to get a Friday night fish fry for our supper.   I don't think some of the people were all that impressed with it, but I stuffed myself, I was so..... hungry.   This hunger thing is becoming a real important issue on this trip.   I seem to eat whenever I can, and I'am still skinny.   Each morning stop at our Checkpoints, I stuff down a doughnut and a chocolate milk, plus a bunch of GU's and other goodies.  

Anyways, we maneuvered through southern Madison, after almost going the wrong way on the Madison bike path.   The group figured it all out and we got going the right way, and crossed into Illinois.

Rob at the state line
 I tried shooting a picture holding up the iPhone and just shooting blind.  One of them came out pretty good.
Sarah right behind me ( holding up the iPhone and shooting blindly )
 Jim Andressen,  a rider from 2008 setup the last checkpoint for us.   He had ice cream and goodies for us, and it was delicious !  Thanks Jim !

Jim's Big Ride sign
 Waiting for dinner, some of the riders were playing with bean bags in the dining hall.
Reesh, Cam, Liz and Sarah playing with bean bags

Coal City

Got up really early in the morning as we knew that we had 106 miles in front of us.   Ordinarily, I would want to rest up and take it easy for a few days, and "taper" before trying to do 106 miles, but this is the "Big Ride" and that option is not available.   We sorta joke among ourselves about the "Big Ride", but you know, it really is that.   It's a pretty unique thing.

OK, rolling at something like 5:05 am in early darkness, our little group manages to miss the third turn. We figured it out, and pulled to the side of the road.  My iPhone and Google Maps app let me know a way to reconnect without having to retrace our steps and we ended up back on course with no additional mileage penalty.  Yay, no "bonus miles" on a 106 mile day !!!!

We rode through cornfields.  And more cornfields.  And then we passed this pretty big windmill farm.

The day went pretty well.  We got to the 88 mile point and Charleton and the gear truck were not there, so we waiting in the shade of a couple of trees for them to arrive.   After they did, some of the younger riders started out quickly for camp ( 28 miles away ), and I decided to catch Sarah, who had left earlier.   Rob saw that I was trying hard to catch up, and he pulled me along for a bit until I got close to Sarah, timed it pretty well, and then swung out and with a burst of power, passed her explosively !  It felt pretty nice to be able to hit that after 100 miles on the bike.  Course, I slowed way down once we crossed the Illinois river.

Waiting for the Checkpoint to get setup

Rob, Yugi, Todd, Doron, Reesh, Ben, Sarah, Liz and Cam at Coal City pool


We left camp in Coal City and started for Valpo.   I have heard of this school.  They have played good NCAA basketball for many years and have played the UofA a few times.   We rolled at dawn, and made good time, but got stopped by Lynne, who needed to checkout some road construction ahead of us.   It took a while and pretty soon the whole company was lined up on the side of the road waiting for new directions.
Stop everything, waiting for road closure info
Once that was done, we had some good fast riding, with Liz giggling behind me for a bit ( when I had Lady Gaga playing on the iPod.   I think I trip out some of the younger riders that I listen to a lot of newer stuff ), until we got to the Indiana state line, which is not marked in the least.   The roads in Indiana took a marked turn for the worse.  We continually were yelling "hole right" and "hole left" or just "#$%^" hole.  But we got in OK and now are staying in one of the Valpo dorms.

Rob and Sarah in Indiana !
Tomorrow, we do 109 miles to Kendallville, Indiana.  Never heard of it.

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