Monday, August 02, 2010

Post RAGBRAI Day 2 - Lisle, IL to Niles, MI

Today was a day of obstacles.

The obstacles were:
* My digestive system is better, but still a mess.
* I discovered it wasn't my legs getting shorter, but my seat has been sliding back.
* The fabulous route.
* My rear tire exploded.
* The pavement on the road went away with no warning.
* There are no motels in Buchanan Michigan.

All obstacles were overcome, resulting in a very long 113 mile day.

The Digestive System
It's better, but not good. My food intake for the day was
1 cup of coffee at Murray's
1 McDonalds Sausage McMuffin, hash brown, and 16 oz orange juice.
1 small bag corn nuts
1 apple pie flavor Clif Shot
8o oz Cytomax mixed from powder
20 oz Blue Gatorade
80 oz water

Basically, I sustained myself on liquids. I threw caution to the wind when I got in, and had takeout Singapore Rice Noodles for dinner. I'm either going to be over the stomach bug, or I'm going to really regret it tomorrow.

The McDonalds for breakfast.

The Chinese food (down the strip), your basic deal where there are pictures of the food over the counter. It was actually pretty decent.

I wanted to do the Home Plate Restaurant, but it was closed when I got there. I lost and hour entering Eastern Time today.

The sliding seat

It's the little things that creep up on you that really cause problems. Normally, the T-Bone is incredibly comfortable, and a perfect fit. I have no aches and pains. But the last couple days, my butt has been sore, my legs have been achy, and the idler wheel has been pinching my leg. Today I finally realized the seat was sliding back. It was about an inch and half behind where it should have been.

Before and After, in the McDonald's patio.

As soon as I fixed this, I picked up 2-3 mph. My legs had been stretching to reach the pedals, and I was not in the optimal power position.

The Fabulous Route
In just one day, I got to ride through all these extra-special places:
* The south side of Chicago
* Calumet City, Illinois
* Hammond, Indiana
* Gary, Indiana
plus 40 miles of heavy industry on the Indiana lake front, with all the railroad tracks, truck traffic, and beat up roads that implies. This was the industrial wasteland tour.

I did get to see a lot of cool trains.

The Exploding Rear Tire
Riding 60 miles of industrial wasteland on the shoulder of a major highway is a problem waiting to happen. I was almost to Michigan when the rear tire exploded. It sounded like a gunshot. The tire and tube both had a half-inch gash.

I was very sad, because I was riding these obscure Hutchinson 26x1 racing tires that have a fabulously smooth ride. I don't think they've been made for years, but I found a pair at Mount Airy last fall. I put them on the bike for RAGBRAI, and hoped they would not fall apart from age. My previous experience with these tires was they wear out after about 1000 miles. I got 900 miles out of the rear one, so I shouldn't complain I guess.

It took me about a half hour to fix the tire. I am carrying two spare tires and four spare tubes. I'm down to one spare tire and three tubes, which should get me home no problem.

The Vanishing Pavement

I headed inland from the lake, with 23 miles to go to get to Niles, my chosen end point. I had a nice back road that was a straight shot. First, though, it started to get surprisingly hilly. Then I came to this:

This is only one lane wide, and it's totally bumpy. Why bother to pave it at all? After four miles of this, they didn't pave it at all, the road became dirt. It cost me two miles to find a paved road, plus about a half hour fighting that mess. So I decided to shorten the day, and stop in Buchanan, and be happy with 107 miles. But wait...

There are no Motels in Buchanan
I swear there was one when I looked at the route last night. But no. The iPhone says no motels in Buchanan. The nearest motels are six miles away in Niles. Starting with a steep climb out of Buchanan.

But here I am, in my room writing blog updates with a happy full tummy. Obstacles are overcome.

I crossed two state lines today, into Indiana and Michigan.

This is my first time riding my bike in Michigan.

I went by a giant nuke plant in Michigan City, Indiana.

And here is my very cheap and ugly but perfectly satisfactory motel room at the Nile Motel and conference center, run by an Arab guy named Jamal, who apparently just sold off the camel herd a couple weeks ago. He's trying very hard, and he's a really friendly and nice guy, but he's obviously new at this, and this motel appears not to have undergone maintenance since the 60s.

Here is the track for today's ride.

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