Biologist on a Bike

Day 51: Cave in Rock, IL to Sebree, KY


Part 1:
Distance 34.37 mi
Average Speed: 10.8 mph; Max Speed: 32.0 mph
Elevation Gain 1,660 ft:
Average Temp: 76.7 F; Temp Range: 68.0-95.0 F

Part 2:
Distance 20.85 mi
Average Speed: 11.3 mph; Max Speed: 31.1 mph
Elevation Gain 707 ft:
Average Temp: 84.2 F; Temp Range: 77.0-87.8 F

Total Distance: 55.22 mi
Total Elevation Gain: 2,367 ft

The day started out well. I woke up in the pre-dawn after as good a night of sleep as I ever have in a tent. No food had been pilfered by annoying wildlife, and the temperature was, at least for the moment, bearable.

Where I woke up, Day 51

I got a kick out of the little boat symbols on my Garmin.

Today was the first day of my tour that I had an actual deadline that I wanted to meet. The ferry starts its operations at 6AM, and I wanted to be on the first trip. I planned my morning to be out of the campground in time for that, and when I arrived at the dock around 5:45, there were already 4 cars waiting in line. To my great surprise, the ferry was free (possibly paid for by my Illinois tax dollars, somebody pointed out later, so not so free after all), and I rode on, parked against the railing, and enjoyed the short ride.

Waiting for the ferry

Sunrise on the ferry

The morning was foggy, but not so much as to make me concerned about visibility. Not for the cars, anyway. I, on the other hand, had to keep wiping off my glasses as they collected mist droplets to obscure my vision.

8 states down, 2 to go!

I made pretty good time through the start of the day. The hills still won’t quit, but at least they’re more gentle now than they were in Missouri, so it’s harder to mind. I stopped in one town to refill my water and also bought coffee and a peach muffin. I know I’ve been rather starved for fresh fruit other than bananas (and even those I could use more of), but dang that was one very tasty muffin. I checked my rear wheel and as far as I could tell it wasn’t too terrible.

Apparently I’m crap at judging wheel trueness on the road. Absolute pants at it. Because about 25 miles into my day I heard the ping of a broken spoke. Again. Also on the drive side of the rear wheel. I sat down in the nearest bit of shade to remove the offending spoke, do what I could to get the wheel to the point where wobble would be minimal, and in general to try not to give in to the frustration that was making me either want to cry or hit things. In case you’re wondering, I did neither.

Where the second spoke died. Once I calmed down a bit, I got a kick out of that.

I messaged a friend for some moral support and then texted Bruce from the crazyguyonabike website that I didn’t think I could make it. We had arranged yesterday to meet tomorrow and take my bike to a bike shop near that area, an area that was 120 miles or so from where I was seated on the side of the road. Bruce revealed himself to be a truly awesome human being at this point; several minutes after my text he responded that he could come get me and we’d find a bike shop to get the wheel fixed.

I rode, as carefully as I could manage, to the next town which was less than 10 miles away, and found a comfortable place to wait. I ate a meal at a nice restaurant, Jerri’s (awesome milkshakes, by the way. I highly recommend them) and then went to sit outside and read.

Bruce arrived and we loaded everything up into his car and headed off towards Owensboro. There were three bike shops there, and he had texted me all three numbers earlier. Max’s said they could fix the wheel same day for me, so that was where we headed. Ironically, the path we drove followed the TransAmerica Trail for a while, so I got to see what I would be riding later that day.

My knight in shining Honda Element

We got to Max’s bike shop around 3PM (for reference, my second spoke broke around 9:15AM). After making sure they had the right size spokes in stock, the woman working the front of the store recommended a place to go get a sandwich. It was a health food store that also had a shake bar and a deli in back. To complete the picture, imagine the shop as a place people concerned about “toxins” but unable to articulate what those toxins might be or how the specific product actually helps the body flush them out might work. The veggie wrap was good, though, so points for that.

The wheel was nearly complete when we returned, and I was informed that it was very wobbly. Thus my earlier declaration that I am crap at truing a wheel on the road. Ah well, now I know. I also picked up two extra spokes just in case, although I admit they are of limited usefulness. The two spokes that I broke were not ones that I could have replaced without a tool to remove the cassette as well, which is not a tool I have on hand.

The mechanic explaining what he did

Throughout the trip, Bruce and I shared stories of trips taken, people met, and oddities encountered. He also asked about the far western part of the TransAm, as he is planning to ride out that way later this summer. Granted, some of my memories of those early weeks are a bit blurry—I can’t remember town names very well, for example—but I gave my impressions as best as I could. He also pointed out the area of town where the church in Sebree that hosts cyclists could be found.

We got back to the restaurant parking lot (two parking spots away from where we had met, but further from the road, so I think we’re good on the “I rode the whole trail” front) a little after 5PM. Normally I like to be done with my ride by this point in the day, although that’s mostly due to the heat and wanting to start early, but Sebree was 20 miles away and the thought of sleeping in the church, inside with air conditioning and 4 walls, was tempting enough to draw me forward.

Moving on

An afternoon view over the fields

I arrived around 7PM, got the tour, and met with Martin, one of the other riders who had shared the bunkhouse with me back in Chester. The church has several rooms, shower with travel sized soaps to use, towels and the like, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. Heaven. Plus I know that no wildlife will be eating my food tonight.

But now it’s getting close to 10PM, and despite spending nearly as much time in a car as I did on a bike today, I’m beat. This trip is really tearing down my cynical worldview. That somebody would drive so far out of their way to help me is astounding. The hospitality of all the churches and little towns that accommodate weary cyclists is also wonderful. Humanity in general is capable of doing terrible things to each other, but there is also the capacity for great acts of compassion, generosity, and kindness. It’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time.

Roadkill count: 7 birds, 3 possums, 1 raccoon, 5 unknown mammals., 4 snakes, 1 turtle

Map Day 51a

Map Day 51b

4 thoughts on “Day 51: Cave in Rock, IL to Sebree, KY

  1. Connie Joki

    In such trying times, it is lovely to hear that many humans still have great compassion and kindness. I love that Ellen always ends her show with “Be kind to one another”, good words to remember everyday.

    Happy the bike is fixed and you only have two more states!

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Well, I do call or text Mom pretty much every day. If something happened, I’m sure you’d hear about it, lol. But I apologize for the delay all the same.

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