Staying alive at 95 (degrees)We finally thought we'd try the Early Start, using the other bicycle tourists in our camp as models. Getting an early start is the best way to enjoy a sunny day in beautiful southern Illinois, because the temperature quickly climbs to 95+ degrees. Still, it was cool early in the morning rolling along the Ohio River Scenic Byway to breakfast in the quaint town of Elizabethtown.
From the moment we entered Illinois, it became apparent we were in a state more oriented to cycling. The bicycle route signs that we appreciated in Virginia, but which had disappeared in Kentucky, were back, and the State of Illinois provided free bike route maps at the border. We ran into our first recreational bicyclists within a few hours, and they went out of their way to ask us if we needed anything and to tell us what to expect ahead on the route. We saw no bicyclists in Kentucky other than those traveling through.Mike says today was a good day but he wasn't speaking for me. As the day progressed, it was hot, there were many long rolling hills (a few 8% grades), and a headwind. There was some opportunity for me to draft Mike, but not much. It takes much concentration to draft. The leader's panniers obscure the road surface, and the drafter must be alert to avoid hitting obstacles or the leader's rear wheel. Earlier in the trip, Mike hit my rear wheel while we were both downshifting at the bottom of a hill, went down, and slid across the road into the guard rail, suffering only minor road rash and a case of "I told you so" from the person he was following too closely.Tomorrow we have a short day into Carbondale, a break, and some time with an old friend while Mike replaces his rear rim.