Friday, June 22, 2007

A Lovely Day for A Bicycle Ride

We last left our hero gloriously having completed 376 miles in less than 38 hours…

I awoke to knocking at the door. 11am. Housekeeping. “Not yet” I managed with some effort. She went away.

I slept about 12 solid hours. I took a long hot shower and moved slowly about the room gathering my things for the next hour. Picked up the greasy wrappers from a less than stellar victory meal. No alcohol sales after 9pm on Sundays, so no hangover.

After a heartfelt goodbye to the Super 8 employees, complete with promises of postcards from Paris, I began my journey… to the Delavan Family Restaurant, where I would have a decent meal (for once.) I opted to read the local-local paper from the preceding Thursday, dominated by the city council meeting concerning the road construction and minute details of the graduating class of 2007. I wouldn’t read the details of the horrific murder-suicide the night before, which had put this sleepy town in national headlines.

1:00 pm and I was on the road to Harvard. I did a careful inventory as I rode: bit of stiffness in my knees and ache in my elbow, some soreness in my hands and feet, but nothing that didn’t work itself out in the 20 miles to the train station.

Checking the schedule, I was dismayed to learn that the next train was 2 ½ hours off. I thought about sitting it out in the tavern or finding a shady spot to read. But the sun was shinning… a light breeze blew from the west… it was just the perfect day…

For a bike ride!

I had been quite concerned about riding 20 miles to the train the day after the 600 KM, but now I must tell you the truth: if I had known just how good I would feel afterwards, I would have saved myself $100 and ridden to the train that evening. Huzzah!

First order of business was procuring a suitable map, which I would find at the first filling station. At the ridiculously large scale of 1 ½” to the mile, it would need to be refolded on the handlebar bag every 20 minutes and could tell a man everything he ever wanted to know about McHenry County. Needless, I used it to wander the county roads, eventually ending up on IL120 and stopping to inspect some Cicadas.

I spun around downtown McHenry, IL a bit, birthplace of my stepmother. From there I jumped on the Prairie Trail, lesser known pathway running from the northern end of the Fox River Trail into Wisconsin and not to be confused with the Prairie Path. This state seems so desperate to name everything after the landscape it totally obliterated.

The last time I rode this section of trail was 2000(?) Back then I did it on a trip to Fox Lake, on a bikes-on-Metra pilot program, when bike access was but a dream.

A short paved section of trail just north of Crystal Lake features some steep rolling hills and sharp corners, riding like a roller coaster.

I got into Elgin and thought about continuing, but the pain in my toes had started to flare up and the dog was expecting me, so I bought some tall boys and boarded the 1st train home.

74 miles for a lazy summer day.