RA63: Illinois!

Davenport IA to Kewanee IL – 64.8 miles

A new month and a new phase of our ride.  Jack and I arose in the late morning to find out that our motel doesn’t serve breakfast.  We then headed out to the post office to mail our Ragbrai duffels (and some other gear) back home, since it had been impossible to link up with Phil after the ride.

South through Davenport toward the wide Mississippi River.  We searched for breakfast places along the way but found none, and so started our way across the Centennial Bridge.  A big sign declared that the sidewalk was closed to all foot and bicycle traffic – what the?   We considered finding another bridge, but finally decided to simply take the right hand lane ourselves, and rolled across.  Turns out traffic was not too bad and otherwise courteous to us.

A new state – Illinois!  It was quite an effort to take the obligatory photo in front of the welcome sign, since it was buried inside a garden on top of a hill, but we managed.

Across the Mississippi River

We also considered going back over the bridge to finally get a “Welcome to Iowa” photo for our scrapbooks, and we then noticed that the northbound sidewalk was open, and we then figured, Duh, we should have ridden that across on the wrong side. Duh.  But we finally nixed the photo idea and went in search of breakfast.

Now in Rock Island IL, we found a cool litle café somewhere around 3rd Ave. and 15th St., decorated with railroad signs and old photos and playing Elvis music.  They specialized in coffee, but had some pre-made egg burritos and great cinnamon rolls for our appetites.  We had fun with one of the servers when we overheard them say they were out of club soda, and so we ordered a glass.  A good stop.

South down 11th St., across the Rock River bridges, then east on Airport Avenue.  We finally linked up with US150 going east and south, a relief since we finally had a decent shoulder to ride on.  The rest of the day returned us to the touring mode.  Pleasant peaceful ride through miles and miles of corn and soybeans.  Through the towns of Coal Valley IL, Orion IL, and Cambridge IL.

The courthouse in Cambridge IL

Cambridge deserves some note, in that it appears nearly a ghost town.  Lots of empty buildings downtown, a few cars around but no people.  And yet it seems there are plenty of nice residential houses surrounding the area.  Where are the people?  What is going on in this town?  There must be some story.  We popped into a downtown bar, one of the only businesses open, found a small handful of real friendly folks, and were directed to a Subway as the sole source for lunch.

Cambridge IL. It occurred to us that this is what those Iowa towns must look like, too, without the Ragbrai masses.

So…lunch at Subway.  Another 18 miles took us to our destination town:  Kewanee IL.  We rolled around for about 3 minutes, turned a corner and found the McDonalds, and were both pleased and dismayed to find all 5 RA team touring bikes propped up against its wall.  What exactly is the allure of McDonalds?

The RA Team. Unfortunately, Gary got cut off to the right.

The Ra team was reconvened, if only temporarily!   Gary’s in-laws were there too and we all had an hour of hearty laughs.  Even after the in-laws left, the group continued to cut up and share stories.  You know, I had thought that perhaps we might all experience a letdown after Ragbrai.  No more rolling party and back to the tasks of finding food and camping, etc.  But I now think that everyone is quite happy to be back doing this.  It is a familiar and peaceful and simple existence that brings its own rewards, if only in bits and pieces.

About 65 miles today.  Today was the first day I found myself thinking about reaching the end of this trip.  We’ve completed about 3,300 miles and we expect to ride somewhere around 4,800 total, so by that reckoning we are about 2/3 completed.  I think reaching and crossing the Mississippi River initiated such thoughts.  But such thinking really has no place on a trip like this.  Touring is certainly something to be enjoyed in the moment.  Minute by minute.  Day by day.

Tonight we’re at Windmont Park, a really beautiful city park here in Kewanee IL.  Gary received permission from the police for us to camp here.  There is a fountain in the lake, nice restrooms, big trees, fireflies, and best of all, an orchestra of crickets, cicadas, and frogs to serenade us to sleep.

We met this couple in the park. They started Ragbrai and completed it, and are now heading further east. We'll probably run into them as we go.
Looking west from our tents in the Kewanee city park

Tomorrow we head further in to Illinois.  I have looked closely at the maps and have considered aiming south to Lincoln IL, home of my brother- and sister-in-law.  And even further south to Evansville IN, home of my father- and mother-in-law.  But, having no arrangements, and the fact that there are 7 of us, and the fact that either detour would add many days to our riding plans, I‘ve decided we should continue to stick loosely to our Adventure Cycling route, which will take us ESE through IL, then ENE through IN (skirting around Chicago).  My apologies to the Weislings and Seilers.