Day 24: Middleton, WI – Rockford, IL
Distance: 94 miles
Vertical: 1,500 feet
Biking Time: 6:00
Ever since diverging from the pre-mapped Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route, we have been forced to rely completely on Google Maps to get us to our end destination. Today Nigel and I took our final break and when we checked our route it said that we were 18 miles away. We ate a few power bars and got back to riding. Ten miles later Nigel heard ‘rerouting’ in his ear so we stopped and checked his phone and saw that we were still 18 miles from our end destination. We were fairly devastated, but life goes on.
The bike trails in Wisconsin and Illinois are like no road bike trail I have ever seen. They are just compacted dirt with some loose sand, gravel, and branches through thick forests. It really feels like you are hiking with a road bike. They are so cool that I even rode on one during my rest day, only to get a flat tire 5 miles away from my car. I wasn’t anticipating getting a flat because I have only gotten one the entire ride, so I didn’t bring a bike pump with me so I had to ride my bike in with about a quarter of tire pressure.
Whenever we get off the dirt trails we then go through rolling hills, although some of them feel like rolling cliffs. They are by no means longer than the passes we encountered in Washington, but they are a lot steeper. Steep enough to where I often wish there was a few gears below granny gear to go on. We made a pact before the ride to never get off of our bike and push it up the hill so we have honored that. On the other side of the hills we finally had the opportunity to test the tucking methods that we saw in the Tour de France by sitting on the top tube of our frame and laying on the handlebars. My review of that tuck is wish washy. You fly down the hills way faster than you would out of a tuck, but the frame doesn’t offer the same padding as a bike seat so if you hit a pot hole than all the time you made up because of your speed is wasted as you lie in the fetal position on the shoulder of the road after racking your little men on the frame.
We are so grateful to our new friend Sean Rourke who took us into his home in Rockford without any connection to us whatsoever. He saw a Facebook post from a mutual friend of his saying that we would be in Rockford and he signed his name up without knowing our age or how many of us their would be. The hospitality we have experienced is insane. He took us to Rockford Brewing Company off of Rock River. It was so cool, although none of us could drink (one more week), it was still so fun and alive. After dinner he took us to a waterfront that was once neglected until Pokémon Go. He claimed that since that app has come out, the place transformed from an abandoned river to a crowded area with HUNDREDS of people walking around with their phones out. It is really funny seeing what effect (or affect, I never know when to use those correctly, I think one is a verb or something) that game has on urbanized communities.
In Josh’s last blog post he talked about how bittersweet this ride is and how physically and mentally demanding it is. I often find myself longing to be the driver on the long days of biking, but when I drive, I want nothing more than to be riding my bike with Nigel and Josh. I have even started to cycle a little on my rest days. While I am excited to make it to Boston and take a break to let my body fully recover from this beating I am putting it through, I know that cycling will be something I enjoy for the rest of my life. It’s crazy looking at a map and seeing how far away we are from our home in Washington. Although we got on each others nerves all the time now (Nigel got mad at me because a cranked a pepper grinder instead of twisting it continuously), I wouldn’t trade this experience with these brothers of mine for the world.
I understand that its called a pepper grinder Nigel but cranking it doesn’t require you to change your grip,