Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Vandalia, IL to Casey, IL
68 miles (8185 total miles)

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.

Road signs - Rt. 40 is the Lincoln Heritage Trail

Vandalia was once the state capital

A beautiful lake outside Vandalia, or the Kaskaskia River

Crop fields, interspersed with trees

An oil pump in a field - haven't seen one of these since North Dakota!

A train goes by

Rt. 40 - long, straight, and flat

An old church in one of the little towns along the route

A white fence around a horse stables pasture among houses

The welcome to Altamount

A charming house in Altamount

Another horse pasture near Altamount

A wooded park near the Wildlife viewing area in the park

The winding entrance into the Ballard Nature Center

40 is also designated a Historic National Road

A charming house and hair salon

Another house with some lovely trees

Back to the hills

No, we didn't crash - Pat turned the bike upside down to work on the brake more easily

All done - Pat puts away his tools

Banners welcoming us to downtown Effingham

Some road art in downtown Effingham

This one is called 'Dancer'

Huge silos at a milling company in town

A church in Teutopolis

One of the Army National Guard posters along veterans row

An interesting piece of farm equipment we met along the road

Brand new farm equipment in run-down farm buildings

A pretty house in Montrose, IL

And more grain silos

More hills

The Embarras River,...

a covered bridge over the river to our left,...

and a railroad bridge to our right

The fairgrounds...

and some of the buildings there

An interesting water tower in Greenup, IL

A long coal train goes by past the corn field