The amount of roadkill we ride by is amazing. We have seen countless snakes, possums, squirrels, and other creatures. A few days ago we went by an entire raccoon family, dead by the side of the road.
Today, I couldn’t help but thing of those little raccoons and my boys.
We got up to high temperatures and left camp at 6:40 AM. Our plan was to make this a short day – about 40 miles -and get inside for the remainder of the day. The initial part of the road wasn’t too hilly, but as we closes on Chester, IL, it got very dangerous. Frankly, I am surprised that this is on a bike trail at all given the “new” road conditions.
Highway 3 heading into Chester is by far the hilliest, most difficult road we have been on this trip. There is no shoulder. This would be okay, generally, but a local told us that in the last couple of years they have built a coal plant in town. Trucks line up at the river to carry the coal to the plant. I am not talking about a few trucks – there were literally hundreds – 3-4 a minute for a whiel. Huge, fast, and without much concern for bikers. I shuddered more than once as these monsters barreled down a hill, hoping to get as much speed as possible, in order to go up the next hill. At one point, one threw a huge piece of rubber out on the road. Had we been a bit earlier we would have taken some of the rubber in the face.
Pray for safety is all I can say.
Chester is the home of Popeye’s creator so the town is filled with statues and characters from the comics. It’s a quaint little town that intersects both the Mississippi River Trail and the TransAmerica (the east-west bike route). Today, on the road, we met a young couple that were going cross-country and had already been “on tour” for 58 days. That made us appreciate our shorter ride a bit.
We pulled into Chester at about 11:00, cooled off in the pool, and I treated the boys to a smorgasboard lunch. The budget is so far over at this point I have considered “calling it” in St. Louis. The heat is going to be a factor for a few more days which will mean more hotels, I am afraid. Tomorrow night we will be camping after about a 60-70 mile day. It’s going to be HOT (it was 105 at about 2:00 PM here).
The last few hills coming into town were killers. We had been hoping for an easy day but these monsters make it much less of a “rest day” than we had planned. Oh well. I guess that’s to be expected. I understand that tomorrow’s ride will be pretty hilly at the beginning but flattening out a bit later on.
The picture below doesn’t really give you the scale and scope of what it was like. We walked a few of these hills for both safety’s sake and it makes for a break from the bike seat.
Some has asked how I am posting these updates. I am using a phone with a small keyboard. This is a grainy picture but gives you an idea…