Our earliest start yet – on the road just after 7am to try and beat the predicted heat later in the day. A quick 12 mile dash chasing Rudy and Heidi through the country lanes and then, suddenly, we’d arrived at the Ohio River and it was time to say “goodbye Kentucky – hello Illinois”! We boarded the free ferry, crossed the muddy brown ribbon that divides the two States and that was it.
We ate breakfast at Cave in Rock on the northern bank and then we were off. The great thing about Illinois is that it’s flat – bliss. Except it’s not. Inevitably the southern tip of the state we are cycling through is the exception to that rule and we soon found ourselves climbing again – more roller-coaster hills. But at least the dogs had gone.
Well at least that’s what I thought until, alone on the Ohio River Parkway (which incidentally has no views of the river), I was suddenly surrounded by five very large and rather unfriendly hounds. Their presence forced me onto the other side of the road and I escaped by blasting away on the Dazer as I wobbled and swore down the road. Terry had passed them a few minutes before and they’d not even a raised eyebrow. So it seems clear – the dogs of America are out to get me.
By afternoon the predicted heat had not materialised but what had was a dark brooding storm. Thunder rumbled over the forest and forks of lightning began cracking. The wind churned and buffeted us about and we soon knew we were at the centre of the darkness – not a great place to be. As enormous rain drops splattered all around we dove for cover under the veranda of an office and waited it out. As the rain subsided around ten minutes later, we saw Jerry and Jonathan emerge from the ruins of a deserted garage, just a few hundred yards down the road.
More chills in the afternoon and I must thank Mr Beethoven, Mr Springfield and Mr Cash who got me through the worst of the climbs. (I’ve positioned my iPhone in my front pannier so I can listen to it without the use of headphones). Not sure what the farmsteads and houses I passed thought of a quick blast of Ludwig’s 5th as I shot by, but at least it seemed to keep my canine chums away.
On arrival in Goreville we were going to head to the local State park to camp, but with dark skies overhead we instead headed into town and spotted Rudy and Heidi’s bikes outside Delaneys Restaurant, a favourite stop-point for TransAmerican cyclists. A quick chat with the staff led to calls to the local Methodist Church and our accommodation was sorted – Ben – whose local knowledge was encyclopaedic – turned up and regaled us with local tales including why this region of Illinois is called little Egypt. Basically years ago in the north there was too much snow to grow crops – yet south Illinois remained clear and productive hence it’s comparison with the Nile Delta.
We then followed Ben down to the church where we wheeled in our bikes into a meeting room where a scout meeting was in progress. Terry noticed they now even do a badge for salesmanship! But not a TransAmerican badge for cycling across America sadly.
Terry and I ate at Delaneys – a really good family establishment – and spent a long time chatting to Pete the owner, particularly about American politics and the chances of Hilary Clinton becoming the country’s next President.
The great thing about Delaneys is they give cyclists a free pudding (we are such a cheap date) so we tucked into Apple and Cherry Pie before having our photo taken which will be slipped under the glass on one of the tables and join the hundreds of others on display. We then headed back to the church and chatted to Rudy about his time doing national service with the Swiss Army and then to bed on another couch! We are true sofa surfers now!
Miles today: 71.09
Miles since First Landing: 1209.41
Here’s the full Garmin report: