I woke up in an air conditioned firehouse. I made oats in my small camp pot, and used the station's coffee maker to make coffee. I shared with Matt, and we set out at different paces. Matt and I decided that Cave-In-Rock was a good destination. It was a reasonable distance, and it was in Illinois. Crossing a river on a ferry and getting to a new state would be a proud goal; a morale boost.
You can kill a man with this heat. This is something notable. Don't forget that nature can grind a human down like a bowl of grits. We humans have gotten weak in our evolution.
I got to Clay, Kentucky - a pitiable distance from where I began. I sat in a white gazebo, and consigned myself to books and sleep. The sun was beating on the borders of this timid edifice, and under the small roof I found respite that was merely adequate. Matt rolled up about ten minutes later. I had my shirt off, shoes off, socks drying, shirt drying. Clothes and I were all soaked in sweat. The humidity was turned on high, and I had my legs spread out all over the place. My bicycle was propped outside, and rays of sun were bringing my water bottles close to a boil. We got food at a cafe next door, and I ate stuff I barely enjoyed so that I could sit in the AC and drink Coke after Coke after Coke.
I wanted to spend more time. Matt and I stayed in the gazebo as I read many pages of a book, and slept just a little bit. Matt slept for a few winks, and decided to hit the road. Convinced I'd catch up soon enough, I continued to attempt sleep and hide from the sun.
I was done with sleep; done with books. I picked up the phone and called Dreamane; picked up the phone and called Kat. Two other cyclists pulled up, and it turned out to be a game changer. I was on the phone, and in my own world. Two young cats rolled up in go-mode. They hit the cafe, got water, and we talked a little bit. We exchanged abbreviated notes. I still wanted to lay around, but realized I was done. Five minutes after they left, I set out myself - following the same guidebook pages cut from my book.
I caught up about ten minutes later. I was rested, full, hydrated, and I felt better. The sun was a bastard, but I was alive. I caught up, and we rode together to the town of Marion about 20 miles down the road. There were hills and flats, and our paces were well matched. It felt great to ride with people to talk to, and it was great to climb hills with someone else who's good at it.
Stuart is from Scotland. He races some kind of bicycles over there. I don't race, and I was happy that my Hoopty found its way up the hills while we talked about some shit. Nick is from Connecticut. They're riding together for now, but they both started this trip alone. It's a good pairing - two solo cyclists who like to ride long miles. I think they were both happy to cross paths. After hearing what was up - and knowing from personal experience - I can say that I'd be happy with the same random pairing as well.
We parted ways in Marion, Kentucky - they stayed at a great church. I cruised to town and got slimy food and dessert. I rode to Cave-In-Rock, as planned to meet up with Matt at an official campground.
I drank a proffered beer on the ferry (thanks, Crazy Mitch), and I dealt with mosquitoes in the park. Matt was there when I arrived, and we made plans to cruise into "town." Before leaving the campsite, we learned that - even in Illinois - we were in a dry town. Fuck these assholes. (I'm sorry, but pleeeeeease). The town is dry, and their dry dogma decimated my demeanor. Fortunately, we acquired some windfall beers-in-a-bag. That's karma. (I've bought people beer-wine-liquor so much, and now I'm being paid back in kindness. The world is great, and life is in my favor.)