Best part of the day: We can eat whatever we want for only a couple more days
Worst part of the day: The rain gods getting their revenge
Distance: 58 miles Riding Time: 5hrs 16min
Bed count: 36 Sleeping Bag count: 20
We had a window open all night in our room as it never really got cold overnight. We got up at 6:30 and got ourselves and our things together. It was a somewhat cloudy morning, but, a pleasant temperature.
Julian and Noha had been out for an early morning bike ride and we had a breakfast of cereal, granola and yogurt while they were away. They wanted to be back before we were ready to head out. They had been a fantastic host for us. We learned so much from them. After pictures with them, we were on our way. (With our wonderful hosts, Julian and Noha!)
Returning to the bike path that was close to their home, we weaved our way through Bloomington and the neighboring city of Normal (originally pronounced nor-mahl’, I guess a French pronunciation). Then it was onto some city streets and the Constitution Trail bike path once again.
A lot of our route for the first couple of towns after Bloomington-Normal, Towanda and Lexington, was on a bike path. Actually, this paved bike path was one lane of a now unused 2-lane side of Route 66. In its heyday, a lot of Route 66 here in Illinois as well as in Missouri was a 4-lane, divided highway. Nowadays, only one side is used as a 2-lane roadway while the other half slowly deteriorates and get overgrown with grass. Our route also got us back onto the regular, busy, 2-lane Route 66.
(Auto races anyone?? All we need ar the engines!!)
This same type of bike path continued in short spurts before and after Lexington and Chenoa. We took a 2nd breakfast at a McDonald’s in Chenoa after 2 hours and roughly 27 miles under our belt. That told you that we had the wind behind us!!(Notice the graying clouds in the background? A foreshadow of what would come later.)
Back on the bikes, it was all on the 2-lane, busy, busy, no shoulder Route 66 again sandwiched between the railroad tracks and I-55. The skies flip-flopped all morning: cloudy at the start, then the sun came out, then cloudy, then sunny a bit, etc. The winds began to change away from being favorable.
We rolled through the town of Pontiac and arrived in Odell. (This old gas station as we entered Odell. Now a gift shop.)
Odell brought back memories for us as it was this town where we had our overnight stay back in 2015 on the Bike The US For MS northern tier ride. We had set up our tent at the Odell Pool Park. Nothing interesting about that except that a huge thunderstorm passed right through town that night! Winds and heavy rains and the threat of a tornado! The tent kept us very dry as compared to some of our other rider teammates!
(The Park’s pool area in the background. The pavilion and grassy area where our 2015 BTUSFMS group camped that stormy night.)
We stopped there at the empty Pool Park for a break of PB&J on flour tortillas. Looking to the west, the clouds were starting to get darker. We had about 10 miles to reach the town of Dwight where we planned to stay tonight at a motel.
So, we got a move on hoping to beat any possible rain. Well, the winds had picked up, possibly 20+ mph coming from the west now (we were heading north). We still had our helmet brims on and our heads were really getting pushed to the right by the winds blowing on the brims. Then we felt the first few drops and then several more. Made a stop to get out our rain jackets (for only the 2nd time!) and put on our panniers’ rain covers. We could see in the distance what looked like a pretty steady rain and we were riding right into it!
Now, it was raining harder and the wind gusts stronger, almost blowing us off the road! At about 5 miles from our motel, the winds blew Fay’s brim right off of her helmet and didn’t even realize it!! Rob stopped to go find it where it wound up about 30 yards back and 30’ off the road in high grass! When Rob returned to his bike, he saw Fay WALKING her bike along the roadside because of the strong crosswinds and was afraid of getting blown over. Rob did the same and struggled rolling his bike in the somewhat soft gravel road shoulder.
We probably walked about a 100 yards before the wind let up enough for us to get back on the bike. But, the rain was still coming down. Our feet were soaked! Arriving in the town of Dwight, we stopped at a nearby business for 1) shelter, 2) to get our bearings, and, 3) make our motel reservations. (Taken shelter after having been drenched for a few miles. Our Costco rain jackets worked well as did our pannier rain covers.)
Finally, finally, that storm cell passed and we were able to ride again on the wet and puddled road.
We had about a couple of miles left to go to the motel, but, quickly found a grocery store on the way. Fay picked up some items there for our motel room dinner.
We were never more glad to get to our room, get a hot shower, hang our wet things all over the place, and enjoy our evening’s meal.
Checking our remaining map panels, it looks like we’ve only have 100 miles left until we reach the finish! Two days, 100 miles, piece of cake! If only the weather will cooperate!
Right now, there’s ANOTHER (yes, another) thunderstorm rolling through dumping rain and blasting thunder! When will the Midwest catch a break from these storms??
(This is a screen shot from the My Radar app for our area (note the blue bullseye) at 10:25pm!)
More tornadoes are being reported right now in the Kansas City area!! Glad we’re safely indoors!
Until our next post….