2014 Illinois – Kickapoo State Park: The trip begins

My parents were not raised to be outdoorsy people. Yet in their pursuit of free, healthy and educational activities to engage their kids, they began taking my brother and me to state parks on weekends when we were very young. Nearly every Sunday, nine months of every year, they would pack up us kids and a picnic and drive up to three hours to explore a new or favourite state park. When nearly all of our neighbours were sitting in church pews, our family would be traipsing up and down creeks Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 1 – Kickapoo State Park to Pontiac: The requisites

Monday May 19, 2014, 101 miles (163 km) – Total so far: 101 miles (163 km)

There comes a time on every tour when every piece of gear and clothing has its place in a pannier, when each pannier finds its spot in your tent at night, and you can find things simply by feel. You can dress and pack in complete darkness. It is the rhythm of the road and your pack/unpack/sleep routines hum just like your tires on an empty, silent road.
But that time is not the first night. Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 2 – Pontiac to Henry: In the spirit of Huck Finn

Tuesday May 20, 2014, 52 miles (84 km) – Total so far: 154 miles (247 km)

Today is the day I tear up my ass. The rip in my seat covering is now so huge there is a large ridge between the edge of the seat covering and the foam underneath. The long lump lines up perfectly with the padding edge on my bike shorts. Eventually, this creates a 3-inch long blister where my leg meets my butt. Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 3 – Henry to Kewanee: Like a salmon swimming home

Wednesday May 21, 2014, 40 miles (65 km) – Total so far: 194 miles (312 km)

The morning air is thick with humidity. The fuzzy haze filters the sunlight as I pack up my gear. Thicker grey stratus clouds frame the western horizon. You can see the air this morning – the sunlight reflects off droplets of vapor floating in the sky. The moisture is everywhere, in the sky and the soil, in the wide, full-banked rivers and the lush green tree leaves. It is almost extravagant. It’s as if nature is showing off just what it can do with adequate rainfall and transpiration that doesn’t immediately evaporate. Read more

2014 Illinois – Day 4 – Kewanee to Muscatine, IA: Lost in Mercer County

Thursday May 22, 2014, 80 miles (128 km) – Total so far: 274 miles (440 km)

The roads do not do what they are supposed to today. Well, yes, they provide a surface upon which to travel somewhere (when I can find the right ones), but I encounter gravel where there is supposed to be pavement, gravel too big and thick to pedal, and roads that do not match the map. Through all of this, I get totally lost for the first time ever on tour. Read more