Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Another bright & sunny, low humidity, strong headwind day. Oh, well, two out of three's not bad? It was hard to tell whether the hills were worse or the wind was stronger or we were just still tired from yesterday, but I think it was a combination of all three. We started out earlier (7:20), we didn't have the messing around that we had at the Chain of Rocks bridge (although we did have a slight delay at lunch - more on that later), we went 5 fewer miles, and we still didn't get to our motel until just before 6. It's hard to describe what a headwind's like, but it's sort of like slogging on a treadmill with the resistance set too high. Just wears you out without having anything to show for it.
We were on Route 40 all day. We found out that it's designated as a Historic National Road, I guess because it's one of the original highway system roads. In Vandalia, it was also called the Lincoln Heritage Trail. We also found out that Vandalia used to be the state capital from 1819-1839. They had the old state capitol building right there by the road in Vandalia, but I couldn't get a good picture with all the trees around it. Outside of Vandalia, we passed a beautiful river or lake - it might have been the Kaskaskia River, I'm not sure. We went past several crop fields and pastures and a number of small towns. It was nice having a town every 6-10 miles or so, many of them with restaurants or at least a gas station or something by the road. It must be because Rt. 40 was such an important road, but it's great that the towns still prospered when the newer I-70 was built. In many other places we've been, the towns along an old road often withered away when a new, bigger road is built nearby. The road was a bit hilly in spots - between Bluff City (naturally) and Brownstown, a little around Altamount, and then more later in the day. Most of the time it was flat or gently rolling, nothing steep. There was more traffic today as well, possibly because of all the towns, but again, the drivers treated us well. We had a number of honks and waves.
The biggest town today was Effingham and it was also conveniently situated about midway in our day's route, so it was our lunch spot. We found a place in the downtown area, not too far off route and had a pleasant meal. Just before we stopped for lunch, the back wheel, which had been making some slight clicking noises for some time now, began making louder clicking noises. Pat decided it was the disk brake needing new brake pads, so after lunch, we pulled the bike over to a secluded spot on the sidewalk and Pat changed the brake pads. In half-hour or so, including taking everything off the bike and putting it all back on again, the problem was fixed (Yay for Pat!). We rode out of Effingham and came to an adjacent city of Teutopolis. They had made Rt. 40 into a veterans highway, with a new memorial in the works and posters on every telephone pole with the name of a person in the local Army National Guard. It wasn't clear whether these were locals who had died in combat, but that seemed to be the case. Both of these cities seemed quite industrial and there were several plants along the road.
There wasn't much of interest in the second half of the day. There were more crops and some horse farms or stables; there was also an old covered bridge over the Embarras River. Apparently, there used to be a road through the covered bridge; now there's only a walking trail and it's become a tourist attraction. We also passed a fairground, closed at the moment, but there had been a fair in progess recently. We also passed the Ballard Nature Center which also had a lovely wooded park. Besides that, there were several trains that went by and, occasionally, I-70 would swing by close enough to be noisy. We arrived at our hotel a little before 6 pm, having done slightly over 68 miles in 7 hours and 7 minutes of bike time, a significantly worse average than yesterday. We'll have to see if this wind holds up tomorrow - we're sure glad it's a shorter-than-average week before our next rest day in Indiana.