New state crossings are always a good indication of progress, our destination of Monroeville would take us into Indiana. We had to storm dodge a couple of times throughout the ride. I called ahead a few times without joy to a guy in the town who opens up the community centre for cross country bikers to stay in. We stacked mile on mile against our first real headwind test of the trip and arrived at the edge of town lacking options. We scouted out the community park and then found the pavilion with another number to call. Before we had chance the door was opened by Nick, an eastbounder who started out in Anacortes, Washington.
We had a great night with Nick who bought us ice cream in return for some Blue Moons we had gotten to share. He gave us several tips on the road ahead including several bicycle host recommendations. Its a shame I couldn’t give him much advice in return as we didn’t take the Northern Tier route he will be using in the coming weeks. The Monroeville accommodation was great, full use kitchen, hot showers, laundry. It was especially nice to see they had received the adventure cycling “June Curry” award for their efforts, a certificate only given to a handful of places like this across the US to recognise kindness and generosity to cyclists. Sadly I just learnt that June, who I stayed with in Afton,VA several years ago has passed away at the age of 91. June changed and warmed the hearts of all the cyclists that have stayed with her in the past 30+ years.
Nick had told who he had been shy on company for many weeks so it was a surprise the next morning to cross another eastbounder almost immediately after setting off who said the same thing. He seemed pretty down and wanted the ride to be over, its all psychological. Not 2 miles later we then crossed another eastbounder Traci, from Kansas riding her super comfy looking recumbent. We traded more tips and stories which seem to make their way up and down the route like chinese whispers. You gradually build a mental image of all the riders and destinations that lie ahead. Me and Eal had both just switched our tyres to prolong them as the rear always wears down much faster. However I noticed mine which I had just moved to the front had a few worrying bare patches exposing the kevlar underneath. I detoured that would actually serve as a short cut on slightly busier roads to the town of Huntington was scheduled in for the afternoon to source out a bike shop.
On the edge of town I had to double take on the large brown mammals hoofing around a farmers field, it was a Bison farm in the middle of Indiana! I got excited because it was my first time seeing them. Clouds were turning black again for the PM thunderstorms which seems to be the norm at the moment so we pulled into a bar for a few beers. We soon had every man and his dog offering us free drinks in the bar once we had told them we were heading cross country from Boston. The party had to be cut short however so I could get to the bike shop for a replacement tyre before close.
Big shout out to Larry Buzzard of spokesmen cycling and the rest of the team for tuning my brakes then Eal’s gears in minutes free of charge after I had purchased a fresh tyre, which they fitted and of course the rest of the Hoosiers from the bar!
We had spent the night camping in a state forest, I hadn’t gotten much sleep thanks to the drugged up freak couple who arrived late and setup in the plot next to us. They had music and a party between themselves going which I didn’t mind until it got to about 1am, then 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am. Normally I would have went across and kicked off but they seemed far too spaced out and unpredictable to approach. Its best to keep a low profile whilst travelling via bicycle, your vulnerable enough without causing a scene for yourself. So I had to deal with waking 10-15 times and we left early the next morning. For the first of two 90 mile days to blitz us across Indiana. The longer mileage days are all about focus, breaking the ride up into multiple sections whether that be 2o mile chunks, the next state line, the next town or even just the next gas station, starting a fresh after each on the next target.
Nick the eastbounder had tipped us off on a guys house to stay at right on route. I contacted him but he was going to be out of town that evening, however he had arranged for us to be let into the small house besides the main house which sits on his property. It was was a glorious Saturday on the back country farm roads until the last 25 miles where we had to endure dog chase after dog chase to many to even remember. I think it must have been a combination of the small quiet roads and a hot evening that had people sitting out on their lawns but it was horrible. We would approach drive ways and then pick up as much momentum as possible to try and glide by undetected. Some of the dogs were huge vicious looking things with scars from previous battles, others came in packs. The best practice is to get off the bike and walk otherwise they give chase and will nip at ankle, socks, panniers.
We arrived at the house of Kyler and were given the keycode to let us into the spare house which had a kitchen, shower, mattresses and to top it all off he had left us ice cream, blueberries and strawberries in the fridge, soothed body, healed mind. For some reason though ALL the water in Indiana has a strong iron taste that makes it taste like blood, we either have to deal or buy bottled water.
The second of the 90 milers would take us to Odell, Illinois for a free nights camp in the city park. There were several road closures to contend with but nothing that couldn’t be walked with the bike. We had a guy outside a gas station try to flatout give us a $20 note just for telling him we were riding cross country, we had to decline though and told him to buy ice cream for the kids riding their bikes around. We spent a great lunch stop talking with another eastboudner, Peter Lovett. Its nice to be back on a more established path and getting to meet and exchange stories on a daily basis. We cruised the riding into Odell that evening stopping briefly to respond to a text from Joe regarding the bangers and mash he was in the middle of rustling up. It was a city park adjoined by a swimming pool where we took a shower then went over to the benches to wait out a birthday party going down. The locals offered us up free cake and pulled pork sandwiches, saved us from having to cook. 🙂