Best part of the day: Not getting rained upon!
Worst part of the day: Wauponsee Glacial Trail (bike trail)
Distance: 63 miles Riding Time: 5hrs 36min
Bed count: 37 Sleeping Bag count: 20
Slept in a bit this morning. Last night’s big storm cell had long passed. No motel-provided breakfast where we stayed last night, so, it was oatmeal (Fay) and Pop Tarts (Rob) for breakfast. There was a McDonald’s next door where Rob took the short walk to get coffees for both of us. Rain water was still puddled out on the streets. Finally got ourselves ready and on the road at 9:30! That’s really late for us!! The only other time we left later was all the way back to Albuquerque when we left our friend’s, Rich’s and Susan’s, place at after 1pm, but, we only had about 16 miles that day.
Back on Route 66, we were once again splitting I-55 and the railroad tracks for the first 7 miles riding past more corn and soybean farms still very water-logged. When we reached the village of Gardner, there a short eastward ride, still on 66, that took us away from the interstate and through this quiet town. Then a nice ride through the village of Braceville and on to the town of Braidwood.
In Braidwood, we stopped at a Route 66 classic, the Polka Dot Drive-Inn. It’s been there since 1956!! A 50s-themed, active restaurant.
The restrooms were covered in pictures of either Marilyn Monroe (the men’s room, of course!) and Elvis (for the ladies!). We only had done about 16 miles of riding, but, ordered some food anyway! We split a large order of chili cheese fries and each of us had one of their large-size Artic Blasts (like DQ’s blizzard)! Not exactly regular cycling fuel, but, it was good!!
A few more miles further down the road in the town of Wilmington and we came upon the recently reopened Launching Pad, another Route 66 classic diner. They have their huge Gemini Giant statue out front. While we stopped for pictures of it, a motorcyclist had also stopped.
He was riding to Las Vegas and had started today from Chicago on a brand new Harley! He said that he was planning to take (only) 3 days to get there! We guessed he’d be riding about 11-12 hours a day!! Wow! And we thought we were putting in a lot of saddle time.
Back on the road, our route brought us to our first bike path, the Wauponsee Glacial Trail. Right off the bat, it was a crushed limestone surface. It was slow and go, about 8mph, as we had to negotiate puddles in numerous spots along the trail. This surface brought back bad memories from our BTUSFMS northern tier ride where we were on this same type of path on the Erie Canal Way, also after heavy rains, where our bikes’ drivetrains got all covered by the limestone particles! At least our fenders helped this time!
We stopped at a crossroad where Rob checked to see if there was a way to get off this trail and use surface roadways. It was already 1:30 and we still had almost 30 more miles to go to our ride’s end! He managed to find a road, US 52, which ran somewhat parallel to the trail and would lead us to where we wanted to go!
Snaking through a few more surface streets, we eventually got on the Old Plank Road Trail. This was fortunately a paved trail, even if it was a bit bumpy at times! For the vast majority of it, we were riding through a canopy of trees, but, we had 17 miles of this! There were also a whole bunch of cross roads to stop/start. A lot of these Illinois drivers don’t stop for cyclists waiting at a crosswalk to cross the street. We spent a lot of time waiting for an opening! So, it seemed like it took forever to get to where we left this trail to get to our hotel. Along the way, though, we encountered several other cyclist who when seeing our loaded bikes asked how far were we going. We’d chat for a few moments after which they would speed away.
But, get to the end of this trail for today we did (we’d be back on it again tomorrow). We’d found a Quality Inn in Matteson online as well as a grocery store, Aldi’s, nearby. Hit the grocery store first before riding the short distance to the hotel. It was almost 6:30 by the time we got in our room!
Along today’s ride, we’d been trying to contact our Chicago Warm Showers hosts to confirm our staying with them tomorrow and inquiring if it would be okay for a 2nd night, the 31st, as our train tickets aren’t until June 1st.
Tonight, we got the go ahead for both nights, thank goodness, as otherwise we’d have to find other arrangements for Friday! We had a couple of other Warm Showers host request acceptances, but, they were over 9 miles away from our finish! Tomorrow’s hosts are about a ½ mile away!
It’s nice again to be inside as another storm system will be hitting us late tonight! When will it all end? Rain is still in the forecast for tomorrow, but, it appears to be a negligible amount, and, we’ve only got 40 miles almost all on bike paths! So, it’ll probably be another somewhat late start.
AND, it’s our last ride day on this trip (well, except for when we get back into Sacramento and we ride home from the train station)!! We’ll have ridden the entire ACA Route 66 route!
Until our next post….