July 13, 1999 - Day 38 - Burlington, Iowa to Princeton, (our fair state) Illinois

122.1 miles - 17 mph average - 2456 total miles - 28.9 mph max speed

19 roadkill

    Tour de France ends tomorrow, but...
    Tomorrow is THE big day of this part of Route 99. I come HOME!!!!! Hello, Lois, girls. Hello friends and students. For those of you who are going to participate in any phase of tomorrow's "events" I want you to know in advance how excited I am. Route 99 will be over 2500 miles "old" when we meet. You won't recognize me. I've lost at least 15 pounds - I'm a lean, mean fightin' machine. Don't mess with me!
    You need to know that the events planned for The Grand Entry on the 14th did not just happen; they are the result of hours of work by DGN faculty members Tom Redig (Science), Chris Tomek (Physical Education/Health), Lynn Colaluca (Special Services, which is the new non-descript name for Special Ed), Lois Graham (Social Studies), and Michelle VanAcker (step-daughter). Make sure you thank them, ok?
    I leave special mention for the person who has put in the most time in this whole thing: Matt Marengo, the Man in the Middle. Everything you see on the web site is him.
    See you all tomorrow!!! (Or today, I guess technically)

    I was joined today by my friend Lon Oury, from Wheaton, Illinois, who completed his own transcontinental trip just last month (San Diego to Jacksonville in 25 days and never broke a sweat). Lon came out to "pull me along" for this last day and a half. And did he ever! His company has been the greatest.

Mississippi River
Mississippi River, looking north from Rte. 34 bridge
    I'm starting to get emotional. As I came across the Mississippi River today I just found tears welling up. I've been across that river dozens of times, but this one was very significant. Is there really a truer "Great Divide" in our country than this magnificent river? All that water you and I have been seeing since the top of the Rockies (even that spit, or half of it anyway) runs to this river.

Mississippi River
Mississippi River, looking south from Rte. 34 bridge
    Yes, in the words of that great American traveler, Clark Griswold, "There she is, kids. Big Muddy, Father of Waters, Old Man River..."

Illinois Sign
Welcome home
    In my home state. I'm sure to get a warm welcome!!

Police Car behind Bike
Police escort
    I had talked with Lois yesterday and she had mentioned a police escort being arranged in Downers Grove when we all get to town, but I was quite surprised to find it so early. Just east of Monmouth, Rte. 34 broadens out into a beautiful 4-lane road with an 8-foot paved shoulder. Heaven!!! But I missed the sign saying I couldn't be on it.

State Police Officer
Officer Friendly
    He was just doing his job. He told me I would have to turn around and go back and take the two-lane road (Rte. 164). I said I wouldn't do it because that road was more unsafe than this one. He asked me if I had any idea how fast cars were going on this road. I said I thought I had a pretty good idea since I'd been on the road for 2500 miles, and that's why I would be riding well onto the SHOULDER of the road.

Police Backup
    I said I wouldn't go back onto that road because it would be more dangerous than staying on this road. I had the choice of breaking a law or endangering my life and I chose to break the law. He said that road had very little traffic and I would go back onto that road or spend the night in jail. I contemplated this, thinking it would make a great journal entry, but then thought about getting HOME! Things were tense. I'm a stubborn person and don't like being treated like I'm stupid.
    Before turning around and going back, I insisted he write out a traffic complaint on my part about the situation so that there would be a record on file if I got hit. He said that would hold no weight in a court of law, but I'm not so sure, if you compared this roadway with other identical roadways in the nation (and even in Illinois) where it is legal for bicycles to ride.

Rt 34 - Nice Shoulder
You be the judge
    This is the section of Rte. 34 I was kicked off of.

Rt. 164 - No Shoulder
The road less travelled?
    And this is the road I was forced to take. Since there is no shoulder, I had to ride on the roadway. No danger, though.

Corn Hallway
Corn Hallway
    This picture is for my daughters. When they were little and we took the 2-laners on vacation, we always called a road like this a 'corn hallway'.

Sujata, Graham, Ruth
The day gets better
    A LOT better, as a matter of fact. On the left is Sujata Bharani, a student at Knox College in Galesburg. Suj was the winner of the Downers Grove North Social Studies Award a few years ago and Lois and I have enjoyed keeping in touch with her.
    And on the right is my daughter, Ruth!! I haven't seen her since June 6. I can't tell you how sweet it was to give her a hug. So what's Ruth doing here?

Ruth, Graham, Lon
Ruth, me and Lon
    She drove Lon Oury out to Galesburg to ride his bike with me the last day and half in to Downers Grove (see above).

Kastle Kreme Shake
Fueling up
    So after one more for the road, Lon and I left the old Kastle Kreme ice cream stand in Galesburg at 5:00 p.m. and headed northeast on Rte. 34. With the help of a good tailwind and beautiful temperatures, we made an incredible 70 miles AFTER 5:00. That's unheard of, but the miles rolled, the traffic was light, the roads were great. And tailwind.
    Combined with the 50 I had done between Burlington and Galesburg, that's a second 120 plus mile day in a row.
    Lon is now sawing logs while I finish this up. We are getting up at 6:30 and hope to be on the road by 7:30. We have 70 miles to put in to reach Oswego by 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

    Lois, see you SOON. Alyce, see you SOON. Sarah and Michelle, see you SOON. Ruth, it was great to see you, and see you SOON!

Aledo Sign
For you, Gary
    Aledo, Illiinois is the hometown of our social studies department chair, Gary Mitchell. Well, Gary, it may not be very big, but it does get the mention down here on the "big" highway, Rte. 34. Thought of you immediately. Hope your summer is going well.

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