Day 20 - Golconda, IL (Unity Lodge) to Ullin, IL (Amer. Best Value Inn) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2022

Day 20 - Golconda, IL (Unity Lodge) to Ullin, IL (Amer. Best Value Inn)

Milestone Day For Harvey

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today;   1,957 ft                        Cumulative;  39,630 ft

Max Grade; 10.6%

Roadkill Seen Today;   rabbit (1), possum (2), raccoon (2), unknown (2)     

Cumulative; Hawk (3), Raccoon(5), Possum (15),  Mouse (1), Squirrel (8),      Armadillo (5), Bird (1), Coyote (1), Deer (4), Snake (1), skunk (2), rabbit (1), unknown (6)

F0und Money Today;   $0.00                        Cumulative; $0.45

Lodging Cost Today;    $ 101.24                    Cumulative; $ 1,485.47

Bad Drivers Today;   0                                    Cumulative; 11

Dog Chases Today;  0                                      Cumulative; 15

Confederate Flags Today; 0                       Cumulative;  4 (plus 30 decorative                                             flags on Confederate Graves along the Natchez Trace)

Average Speed Today;   9.3 mph                 Cumulative; 9.99 mph

Summary of Today's Ride;  One steep climb, mostly remote and peaceful as a ride can be.

Rain is coming tomorrow.  I've been fortunate to not have any adverse weather so far, but tomorrow there will be rain and thunderstorms.  The good news is that I only have about 34 miles to cover tomorrow, and it's pretty flat.  That short day sets me up for a hard climbing day the day following.  It would have been too much for me to do both of these segments in one day (80 miles, 5,000 feet of climbing with 13% max grades), so that's why they are what they are. The rain will get here around 10:00 am; my plan is to leave early and beat the rain to Cape Girardeau, then chill out in a Barnes and Noble bookstore/coffee house for a few hours until my room is ready at the nearby Holiday Inn Express.  I'd rather not have to cross the bridge over the Mississippi River in the middle of a thunderstorm, so I think I have a good plan.  Tomorrow is probably the best day for rain, because it gets harder after tomorrow as I deal with the Ozarks.   Today was Day 5 of an 8-day run and tomorrow will be Day 6.  Day 7 (the day after tomorrow) will be the hardest day of this run.  I'm getting tired, but maybe I can recover a bit with tomorrow's short day and be ready for the next day.  Sounds like a plan to me.

The owner of the Town & Country diner in Elizabethtown had told me that the next county west was the deer hunting capitol of Illinois.  I believe it, there were lots of deer out and about as I cycled through this morning.

Early Morning Deer
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No Caption Needed
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I cycled through a varied terrain today.  I was in deep woods at times, then wide-open farmland, then rural countryside.  Not a single vehicle passed me for at least the first 10 miles.  I rolled steeply downhill and traveled across some fertile bottom-land farm acreage.  This little cemetery was marked with "Private, No Public Access" signs and from the looks of the simple stone markers I think it's probably quite old.  As you can see on the profile, it was a steep downhill run but then I had an equally steep climb.  That climb was quite challenging, but I'll have tougher ones in the Ozarks, so I view it as good preparation.

Family Cemetery In The Ohio River Bottomland
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On a simple county road that's certainly not a turnpike or a highway, the following sign was posted.

Yeah.....No Comment
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I wonder what it is that people think they are doing when they post signs like this.  Are they trying to start an argument?  Are they saying "don't enter my property unless you agree?"  That particular sign doesn't even make sense.  I've seen lots of similar nonsensical signs along the way, many with profanity.  These people are mad, but they have no reason to be, no logic, no data to substantiate their anger.  Hopefully whoever is fanning the flames won't turn them against bicyclists.

Today's Route Had A Bit Of Everything, Except Traffic
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I've said this about old cars, now I'll say it about old tractors; surely there must be some salvage value to all this metal, if only for scrap iron.

Wasting Away
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Harvey hadn't spoken much on this tour, but as we rolled away from the Unity Lodge this morning he said "You've forgotten, haven't you?"  I replied "No, Harvey, I haven't forgotten, I know."   "But you don't watch the odometer, you'll roll right past it and forget about it," he said.  I assured him that I wouldn't do that, but I don't think he was buying it.   

Speaking of the Unity Lodge (last night's lodging), that place is kind of weird.  It was fine for my needs, but it was strange that there were no cars parked on either side of the 12-unit motel.  I first thought I was the only occupant, but then I heard someone moving around in the room adjacent to me and also in the room behind mine that opened to the other side of the building.  But I never saw anyone enter or leave any of the units.  I even walked around to the other side last night and this morning, and there was no sign of anyone but me.  Maybe it was the wifi password that I found to be strange; DiverseCollective.  That almost sounds like some kind of code, or a communist recruiting slogan; "Come and be a part of our diverse collective."  Anyway, the Unity Lodge is now history so let's get back to our story.

"We're almost there!" said Harvey in an excited voice.  "I know," I replied, "I'm watching the odometer and we have 1 mile to go."  "Don't roll past it," said Harvey, "not even a little.  I want a photo on the exact spot."  I assured him I was on it, but a half-mile later he almost yelled at me "Are we there yet?"   "Not yet Harvey, just a few more tenths, I promise I'll stop on the spot," I tried to assure him. 

And so it came to be on the 11th day of October in the year 2022, at a location approximately 3 miles east of the tiny village of Round Knob, Illinois,at this particular spot on Rosebud Road, that Harvey the Wonder Bike documented 20,000 miles of travel.

20,000 Miles!
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Rich FrasierCongratulations to you both! That's a ton of miles!
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1 year ago
George HallThanks Rich.
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1 year ago
Mark BinghamThat's quite the landmark! Congrats!
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11 months ago

Not many bikes can verify that many miles.  Most that do are lightweight racing machines piloted by young athletes.  They can't carry a load like Harvey does, they don't generate electricity when they roll that powers their lights, they aren't practical machines.  But Harvey is all of that and more.  He's been coast-to-coast twice, and he has earned the respect and envy of his peers.

Harvey Is A Clydesdale, Not A Quarter Horse
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Mark BinghamCount this "like" as 10 or 11.
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11 months ago

"Thanks for remembering," Harvey said, "I really wanted to record this moment.  I was so afraid that something would break or something would keep us from rolling today and hitting this milestone."  Then his voice got softer and he said "Many in the batch of frames that I was born with are no longer here.  Some have rusted away, some were rode hard and abused, many have been abandoned in some dark corner of a storage building or garage.  No longer do they glide silently over the roads, no longer do they carry touring loads for adventurous cyclists," his voice choked a bit as he said "the soft whine of their tires and the squeal of their brakes is no longer with us."  

I was beginning to realize why this moment was so important to Harvey.  It wasn't just about him, he was representing all of his kind who didn't have the opportunities he had been given.  He had done well, and he wanted them all to know so they could take pride in the success of one of their own.  But he threw me off my game a bit when he asked "Do you think we can make it to 30,000 miles?" 

I had to be honest - Harvey is somehow connected to me and I can't lie to him, he would sense it immediately.  "I don't think it's likely," I said.  How about 25,000 miles then?" he asked.  "Maybe," I replied, "the experts say I have a little more time before aggressive treatments will sap my energy. So then...maybe."  "Okay," he replied, "I'm good with whatever we can do.  We've already done a lot, neither of us has anything to prove anymore.  But I'd sure like to travel down some more roads I've never seen before and experience a little more adventure before it's all over."  "Harvey!" I exclaimed, "we still have another 500 or so miles of new roads to travel before this tour is over. And some of those miles are going to be very tough and there's no guarantee we will  make it.  That's plenty of adventure for me!"  That seemed to make him happy and he got his head back into the game.  "Make it so," was all he said.

How Many More Miles Do We Have Left?
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And we rolled on.  There were enough little hills to keep me working, and the wind continued to play tricks on me.  For all of the journey through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee when I was traveling north the wind was against me.  It wasn't bad most of the time, usually gentle in the morning and then picking up in the afternoon, but it was blowing from the north.  Today I was headed mostly south and west, and today the wind blew from the south!  It slowed me on the southbound portion, and on the westbound parts it forced me to lean to my left - which also slowed me.  So I crawled along today, with the Cycling Gods laughing at the cruel joke they have been playing on me.

Open Farm Fields Were Also A Part Of Today's Route
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Turtle? He Was A Big Fellow
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Bill ShaneyfeltSnapping turtle. They can get really big... something like over 70 pounds! I have seen some big ones, but not 70 pounds! Just keep clear of the bitey end.
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1 year ago
George HallThanks Bill! He wasn't at all afraid of me, made no effort to retreat inside his shell, and I kept clear of him.
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1 year ago

Some of you will understand the significance of this sign to me.  For everyone else; no big deal.

Some Of You Will Understand Why I Photographed This Sign
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It has been lonely on this tour.  Other than my sister and brother-in-law who I knew were traveling the Natchez Trace from north to south, and one gentleman I met who was traveling part of the Trace on an E-bike, I haven't seen any other cycle tourists.  I knew this route wasn't very popular, and I'm riding at a time of the year when most folks aren't touring, so it shouldn't be a surprise to me that I haven't met others.

Lonely Roads
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I don't think I've ever seen sunflowers being commercially grown in Illinois, but I came upon this field today.

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My home for the night is a simple America's Best Value Inn just off an interstate.  The sort of place you would pass by and never think twice about it.

Just A Lonely Hotel Near The Interstate
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I have several hard days in the Ozark mountains ahead of me.  The first of these will be the day after tomorrow - it will be Day 7 of this 8-day run I'm on.  Day 8 of this run will be just a normal day, then I get a rest day.  The day after that rest day will be the hardest day of this tour for me; 70ish miles, about 5,000 feet of climbing with 11.9% max grades.   The day following that will also be hard, with 12.6% max grades. And then a future day has max grades of 13.8%!  If you recall, I didn't have time to research and plan this journey fully before I had to leave on it.  So now I'm in the midst of it and planning and booking lodging and discovering that I have some very hard days ahead - and discovering that is what caused me to panic a wee bit a couple of days back - now you know.   I'll handle it, because you know; I'm on tour and it's part of the adventure.  And I don't think I could have planned the lodging any differently anyway, so it wouldn't have mattered if I had known all the issues before I left on this tour.  It is what it is; when the road goes up, I go up, when it goes down, I go down.  What's the big deal?

Hey, we're barely out of Kentucky. Blue Moon Of Kentucky is the official bluegrass song of Kentucky --> Blue Moon Of Kentucky.   Elvis Presley jazzed it up a bit in his own version, but here it is as originally written and performed.

Good night folks.  I need to get rolling early tomorrow to beat the rain.  Maybe I'll beat it and maybe not, either way I'll be fine.  I hope you all are too - stay dry if you can...

Today's ride: 47 miles (76 km)
Total: 992 miles (1,596 km)

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