Unbelievable. We’ve got a tailwind this morning. Breezes blowing from the southwest, and we’re heading mostly east and a little bit north. It’s been weeks. Several weeks. I could hardly believe our good fortune.
I stopped in at the Denver Hotspot again for a cup of coffee, and ended up ordering a breakfast burrito along with Jack and Bill. We didn’t get out of the place until 9AM, and then Jack discovered a broken spoke on his rear wheel, on the cassette side of course. It was a) a good thing he had a cassette tool and, b) that the garage across the street was open and had plenty of tools, because Jack fixed it nicely in less than an hour.
Still, with 80 miles (x1.2) planned we definitely got a late start at 10AM. Through the tiny burg of Chili (not pronounced like the country or the food), and then a nice ride through more Indiana county roads, including plenty of corn and soybeans and farm houses with loose dogs. The tailwinds really made the riding lovely. With only a little effort it was easy to maintain 16 or 17 mph, pretty fast on a loaded touring bike. Everyone is a great cyclist with a tailwind.
At US24 we’d almost reached the town of Lagro (pronounced le-GRO’) and met up with a couple of local cyclists out for a spin. They helped us find Old Highway 24 out of Lagro, which promised to shave miles off the Advenutre Cycling route and play directly with the tailwinds. We enjoyed that for about 6 miles but hit a closure, then vectored up to the “new” US24, a full divided highway. Lots of traffic, but fortunately its shoulder was great and we sailed easily on the winds into Huntington IN.
We purused four of five eateries but then easily selected “Nick’s Kitchen.” Its tables were almost full and the place definitely had charm. We learned that Dan Quayle had announced his VP candidacy from the front eave of Nick’s, and photographs of the event were covering the walls along with plenty of other Dan Quayle stuff. And hey, my salad was large and tasty, too. Huntington seemed to be a neat town, rich in 1950s penache.
We crossed the Little Wabash River south, then found a county road due east in order to link back up with the Adventure Cycling route, and back onto our maps. The route took us through a bunch of little towns south of Fort Wayne, towns like Zanesville IN, Yoder IN, Poe IN, and Hoagland IN. I enjoyed the lady in the market at Zanesville right away when she said, “It’s about time you guys showed up!” when we first came in. She’d already met Frank and cross-country friend Tom earlier in the day and had been expecting us. She told us that the folks in Monroeville would really be welcoming of our cycling group, which was nice to hear. While I was there I bought a can of NeutraAir deodorizer to share among the guys. Those tents and sleeping bags are, well, ripe.
In Hoagland IN I was surprised to find Frank, Bill and Roger at the Marathon gas station. With our late start, and their speed, I figured they’d be long gone by now. Bill and Frank took off but Jack and I rode with Roger the rest of the way in to Monroeville. Riding with Roger sure is fun – he has crazy funny comments all the time.
We rolled into Monroeville and explored a bit, and eventually a guy yelled at us to come talk with him. He was holding a cigar and his shirt was all stained with what looked like cigar spit juice, and he answered questions that we didn’t ask about directions. A barmaid came outside and directed us a few blocks away to a pavilion.
The Monroeville pavilion (in the city park) was amazing. Set up twenty years ago, obviously by touring cyclists. Air conditioned, complete with shower, free laundry, soap, tools, bicycling magazines, maps, TV, movies, electricity, and even a full kitchen. This is all really fortunate for us because we’d already planned to take a rest day here, but the town is too small to have a motel.
Some of the guys scored free food, cupcakes, etc. from a family reunion that was breaking up. Bill, Jack and I eventually returned to the Pour House bar and grill and had dinner. I’d even say that my New York steak was not at all bad, albeit consumed with Bud Lite as a beverage.
Back at the park, I contemplated setting up my tent outside because the pavilion AC was almost too cold. But since it started raining, and since we found the thermostat, I’m now sitting cross legged on my sleeping bag on the tiled floor inside the dry air conditioned pavilion building.
An excellent riding day today. I am grateful for good riding conditions on a day when we wanted to cover a lot of ground. Jack and I completed about 77 miles today (less than the 81 planned because of that US24 detour). Monroeville is only about 3 miles away from Ohio, so in only three days we have managed to cross through Indiana. Looking back, it’s been only 6 riding days since we left Davenport, so six days across both Illinois and Indiana. I’m looking forward to a rest day tomorrow, despite the small size of this town. There is a café for breakfast, and a “Whippy Dip” for ice cream, and who knows, maybe we’ll find a bowling alley or horseshoe pit or something.