Kawanee, IL to Streator, IL - Last Century Cross USA on a Tandem - CycleBlaze

July 19, 1996

Kawanee, IL to Streator, IL

New tandem friends in Streator

Started out with some nice crosswinds and ended struggling against a headwind the final five miles. We've reached the conclusion that there is no such thing as "prevailing winds" and that the winds shift constantly. It wasn't nearly as hot and humid; also, we planned a shorter day and started earlier in order to beat the heat. Since there are so few trees on the plains, I appreciate how high the corn is here-makes a good shield for a pit stop! A Vietnam vet rode along with us at the end of the day; I believe he is homeless and just biking all over the US. He has one artificial leg but kept up with us; said he enjoyed being pulled along by the "steam roller". He was a bit rough for me, but he tried to help Dave replace the derailleur at the bike shop (Bellaps) and his heart seemed in the right place. He didn't seem to want to leave us, even asked to share our motel room. He had me a little worried. While riding through town to our motel a nursery truck followed us and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. But he pulled into the motel parking lot with us and it turns out that he and his wife have two tandems which they ride with their daughter Afton (age 10) and son Tom (7). They (Greg and Arly S.) do amazing rides with the children, including centuries and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, as well as numerous tandem rallies throughout the country. They are a bit of an oddity in this town and were even featured in a full page newspaper article. They invited us for dinner (real food, fresh vegetables!) and an evening relaxing in a home. It was a delightful evening-Afton is such a self-assured, pleasant (every teacher's dream student), and beautiful girl. Tom put on a little Fred Astaire type show for me, and Greg and Arly were so friendly and welcoming that we instantly felt at home.

Afton, Greg, Tom, Arly S.: A 2 tandem family
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They showed us the grand new kitchen being built onto their home, and the old bikes, including a 1915 tandem which Greg is restoring and which will be prominently displayed in the new kitchen.

An antique tandem on display in the dining room. The rims were wood, not metal. Arly suspended pots and pans from bicycle wheels in her kitchen.
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Dave and I hope we'll see them again at a tandem rally or that they'll come to West Virginia. They made me think of our friends the W.'s and the rides we could be doing. Need to mention Eldon, a lone cyclist from New York. We've stayed at the same motel as he did three nights in a row now. He has interesting orthopedic bands for his knees. We watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony- very moving.

Today's ride: 74 miles (119 km)
Total: 2,643 miles (4,253 km)

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