A Tale of Two Towns - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

June 7, 2014

A Tale of Two Towns

Stockton, Illinois

I modified my route at the last minute again this morning and here is what happened:  Up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down.  That is me riding through the old lead mining hills of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.  I could have continued writing the same thing a hundred times.

I hadn't shifted gears so many times since my RAGBRAI days.  I don't know who was more worn out--me or my derailleurs.

Today I found a new vent for my vitriol.  Generally I am a positive thinker.  I try to find the good in everything.  Let me just say this:  I saw nothing good about Warren, Illinois--the first town I came to in the state.  Here is a list of adjectives I came up with for Warren, based solely on my twenty-minutes there:  Stupid, hickish, uninformed, boring, ugly, unhelpful, unfriendly, depressing, worthless, unmaintained, dirty, smelly, unwelcoming, disgusting, gnat-infested, pathetic . . .  God, I wish I had a Thesaurus.

My fourth state. The "thumbs up" was before I got to Warren.
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I had planned to try to find a motel or campground near Warren since I saw some storms moving in, but absolutely NOBODY in that town could tell me if any such accommodations even existed.  I asked several people too.  I was even directed to the ice-cream/antique store by one of them.  I was told the owner of the store knew EVERYTHING about the town.  Her answer to my question was--and I remind you that this is coming from the town expert--"I think there is a B & B in town, but I don't know where it is."

I was also harassed by a loose dog.  And then there was a driver who purposely followed right behind me for two blocks even though I rode far to the right, giving him plenty of space to pass me.  When he finally passed, he purposely gunned his engine with the intent to send me a message of some kind.

I realize I run the risk of getting run over by a Warrenite tomorrow if one were to read this, but those are the facts.  After my experience there, I would rather ride another 11 miles to Stockton, dodging lightning bolts and angels bowling in heaven, than to spend another second in that pig-shit town.

I felt welcomed in Stockton and I made it to a motel before the rain set in.  Plus, the woman who checked me in was the person most interested in my trip since Day 1.  I enjoyed talking to her.  She was a great embassador for her town and I am willing to bet she isn't even the town expert.

I am going to cool off for now.  See you tomorrow, readers, unless you are a Warrenite, in which case I say "good riddance."

Today's ride: 52 miles (84 km)
Total: 324 miles (521 km)

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Jeff LeeI was born and raised in Warren, and I resent your attack on my beloved hometown!

Just kidding - I'm actually from Kentucky. I've had my share of "Warrens" on bike tours. The last time I complained about a shit-town was after riding through Vallecitos, NM on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

A woman took exception to my description of the place and left me a message calling me a "Complete Asshole" and a "Privileged Jerk."

Hopefully no Warrenites will stumble on your journal here and leave you a similar message!
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1 year ago
Gregory GarceauTo Jeff LeeHi Jeff, and thank you for posting my first Cycleblaze message. When I read the first sentence, my heart almost jumped out of my throat. This journal has been up over on "that other site" for about four years now and I've been worrying about some kind of retaliatory message from a Warrenite--something like the one you got from Vallecitos.

Honestly, though, I know my description is pretty mean and definitely unfair. I'm sure Warren has some fine features and some friendly citizens, and I shouldn't judge the entire town by a 20-minute visit. Several times I have thought of removing that tirade from my journal, but I've left it in because it accurately reflects just how steamed I was at the time.

By the way, I started reading your "Serpent" journal and it's a fun read so far. As a former Iowan, I hear you on the "are you training for RAGBRAI" question. I've gotten it a few times myself when touring there.
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1 year ago