Day 16: Into the frying pan - I'm your Huckleberry - CycleBlaze

July 20, 2016

Day 16: Into the frying pan

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."
Mark Train, adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Sweet Jesus it's hot!

I was out the door and on the road by 6am, over the bridge an on my way to Galena Illinios. On the way to the bridge I met a local who looked over my route to Galena and gave a thumbs up. The Mississippi River Trail calls for riding on a busy road so I took matters into my own hands and, using my garmin, google maps, hocus pocus, throwing leaves in the wind and dead reckoning I came up with an alternate route on smaller roads. The local cyclist looked over my route and approved.

"You will have some climbs at the start," he said, "but after that it is okay."

And it was okay. Very pretty in fact though I could already feel the heat. The stretch was filled with little farms and quiet roads. Perfect.

But I was already hot by the time I got to Galena around 8:30, with humidity at 1000%. In fact, when I look back at my pictures I realized I have none around the Galena area, aside from a picture of my breakfast. That usually means I lost interest, in this case because of the heat.

Blackjack road out of Galena was a bitch. I ran out of water a couple miles from the top and was heading to a farm to ask for some more when a lady in a car stopped.

"Everything okay?" She asked.

I told her about the water and she not only gave me some but said, "there is a long hill coming up. Its only a few miles to the top and the heat index is supposed to be 115 today. Do you want a lift to the top? I dont even think it is safe to ride in this heat."

Why not? I have no pride. My brain was on fire so I loaded the bike in her pickup and sat in the AC for a few minutes.

The ride to the next town was no cooler but there was no climbing so It wasnt as bad. The ride to Savanna, Illinois was even hotter but there was some tree lined areas and the scenery was really pretty so I didnt mind.

The most interesting encounter came at the end of the day, in a railroad car museum in Savanna. Savanna is at one end of the Great River Trail that is a 60-ish mile bike trail that runs from savanna to the Moline area. So I was talking to the lady who works at the museum about it.

"I grew up in this area," she said. "Since then they closed the power plant, a military base and stopped the passenger train service. Its been really hard on the community. We were going to get a prison but that fell through."

"Wow, that's rough," I said, not really knowing what to say. What can you say?

She was quiet for a few moments before saying, "When they said they were going to put all kinds of money into a bike path, and a bike path bridge to boot, to go over the railroad tracks I was so angry! Imagine spending all that money on a useless bike path! I couldnt believe it, and neither could most of the towns people."

"Umm...." I said before she went on...

"....and let me tell you, I know now that I was totally wrong. I am amazed as how many people use that bike path, and how many people stop into this museum and the town because of it. We get people from all over the world through here."

"You know you are also really close to the Northern Tier bike route here," I added. Happy, amazed and proud to be a cyclist at this change in tone.

"I know! A few weeks ago I had a couple here from England, and not long before that a cyclist from Germany. Plus all the cyclists from the U.S."

"And everywhere we go we are sprinkling money through the towns we ride through," I said.

"I know! Yes, I was wrong about the bike path. I am really glad they had the foresight to put it in."

We talked for quite some time about the bike path and people she met because of it. I enjoyed the conversation, and cool air conditioned railroad car.

I had really wanted to camp but it was sweltering outside.

"Let me ask my boss if you can sleep inside the train here tonight!" She said.

The boss said no, but only because the train museum was run by a consortium and it wouldnt be appropriate to give approval without their okay.

"Dont worry about it," I said. "I will get a hotel. I appreciate that you would even think to ask."

What can you do? At least I didnt pay for an expensive plane ticket to Europe. There is another storm coming in tonight but what else is new. I guess thats what happens when you mix hot, humid air day after day. Afternoon thunderstorms are the norm.

Crossing the river at Dubuque. Notice the fog, which would turn into humidity, which would turn into more heat...
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Pretty farm between Dubuque and Galena
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The little hamlet of Menimonee
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My only picture in Galena, Illinois
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View of Mississippi River
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What I should have been doing today
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The nice lady at the train museum in Savanna
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Today's ride: 61 miles (98 km)
Total: 1,092 miles (1,757 km)

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