If you missed the first part of this post, check it out here….
Well, what to do? We were 50 miles from the truck, and not a lot of attractive options to choose from. We called the B & B to see if they had any suggestions, and it was obvious from talking to them they didn’t have a clue what to tell a cyclist.
After I got myself calmed down and we started talking about the options, we decided there were three:
Option 1 – The B & B folks suggested we continue downriver on the Illinois side to Chester, cross the bridge there and come back to St. Gen. They thought it was about 15 miles from us to Chester. We didn’t have internet service on my phone out there, so we couldn’t verify that. If we had taken that option, we were probably looking at close to a century, with the same distance back the next day. In addition, we didn’t have a clue about how bike friendly the roads on either side of the river would be so we rejected this idea pretty quickly.
Option 2 – Turn around and ride an unplanned century back to the truck. With this option, we at least knew what we were getting into, and the wind would be at our backs. We calculated we would make it back around dark if things went well. If not, we didn’t have a headlight and we weren’t sure how much battery we had for our tail light. This was better than Option 1, but still not very palatable.
Option 3 – We knew if we were to have to do the century, we needed to eat supper at Prairie du Rocher, so we decided to ride back there, get something to eat in the motorcycle bar on Main Street and ask whether anyone knew of a hotel, motel, b & b or cabin within reasonable riding distance. Luckily, the waitress did! She said there was a hotel in Redbud. We still didn’t have decent internet, but we did have enough to see the town on the map, and she said it was about 9 miles away. That looked about right, so we set our sights on that, even though it was off route.
Actually, the ride over there was about the most pleasant miles of the day. It started with a long climb out of the river bottom, then consisted of rollers most of the way. The final approach into town was on a pretty busy highway, but with the vision of a bed for the night instead of a forced death-march century, we weren’t complaining too much.
We reached the hotel with 70 miles behind us, which was considerably more than we planned. Pam was just flat worn out. She’s not ridden that many miles this year, and 50 would have been her maximum for the year. Throw in the flatland riding, heat and wind, and I couldn’t blame her. You can click the map below for the full GPS track of the first day.
I used my phone to lay out a route for our return trip and we made a paper cue sheet for Sunday’s ride. It involved a climb back over the same ridge we came up Saturday, and back roads back into the river bottom where we connected with Bluff Road to take us all the way back to Columbia. We couldn’t be sure about the distance, but I estimated it to be about 45 miles. When we walked outside Sunday morning, we were immediately struck by how hot and humid it was, but pleased to see that the wind was still from the south and probably blowing harder than Saturday.
The first twelve or so miles were pretty nice riding again because it wasn’t pancake flat. We had to ride over the ridge we came over Saturday, then a few rollers followed by a really sweet downhill into the river bottom. When it was all said and done, we both agreed that we preferred that over the flat as a pancake river bottom.
After we got into the river bottom again, we only had one road to follow, we had the wind to our backs, and a destination to get to. Bluff Road was our friend for the final 25.5 miles. We got lucky at mile 22 when we found a fertilizer distribution center with a pop machine outside that sold sports drink. That and a Honey Stinger Waffle was just the ticket for me on a hot day and I could tell I really needed it in the heat.
We made sure to stop again at Valmeyer for our final snack of the day. We would have liked to have found a c-store, but my phone told us it was over two miles away on the other end of town. Rather than add another 4 miles to our trip, we made do with our last Honey Stingers and water. We could tell from the map that we were within 15 miles of the truck, so we knew we had it made from there. The road also changed from a rural country road to a highway at that point, but traffic didn’t get bothersome until the last couple of miles.
We pulled into the truck around 1:00 PM, cleaned up a little in the bathrooms at Subway, and headed for home.
Here is the map and GPS track of Sunday’s ride.
I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Pam. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had gotten really grumpy along the way, but she didn’t and I really appreciated her being such a good sport about the entire situation. The trip certainly didn’t pan out as expected. I guess at this point, I probably owe her a non-biking weekend somewhere!