Michael and I had extremely different experiences riding today. So much so, that I wanted to make my own blog post to share stories from the road.

Today was by far the best day yet of riding for me. By the time the 81 miles were done, I was feeling good and could have kept going pretty much indefinitely.

The day started at 5 a.m., when I rolled off of my cot, promptly ate a protein bar, and packed up all my gear. I was ready to roll out by 6 a.m.

The first 12 miles were all country roads. At about mile 5, I passed next to a highway, and just as I was going past, a Tesla Model 3 prototype passed. It was a sight to see.

Just before getting on the first bike path at mile 12, I swung into a McDonald’s to grab a second breakfast. McDonald’s has become my favorite consistent place to go on the road. You know exactly what you’re going to get, it’s a great place to fill water bottles and consume inexpensive breakfast foods, and the people who are sitting around the dining area all seem to be amazed at my bike trip. I tend to strike up a conversation at every one I stop at. I visited McDonald’s 3 different times today–ha! 

Upon merging into the first bike path I connected with other two long distance touring cyclists: Kim and her father Tim. They left the Buffalo area on June 8th and were headed to Utah. After a few minutes of good conversation I continued on ahead.

The Indiana bike trail was very nice. Lots of bridges and underpasses to keep you away from traffic. The bike trail continued for 20 miles or so, before ending close to the Illinois border. I continued on side roads until crossing over into Illinois, which marked McDonald’s stop #2 for my third breakfast of the day. Not too long after the rest stop, I located another off-the-road bike path that weaved around the south-east Illinois woods before putting me right at the trailhead of the third bike path.

Michael and I had pretty different experiences here: Seems he wasn’t able to locate the bike path between the first and third ones, and had to navigate more urban territory. Go see his update for more info and his thoughts. 

Right before pushing onto the third bike path, I started to get hungry again, so I tracked down McDonald’s #3 of the day, and got lunch and refilled my water. To put it into perspective, this was at about mile 40. I swear I don’t stop at fast food every other block.

Back on the final bike path, another touring cyclist caught up to me. His name was John (or Jon, maybe?). Anyways, he’s a serious hardcore bike tourer, and I was completely envious of his bike, specifically the internally geared hub and belt-drive system he was running. John had some time off from work, and suggested we ride for the next 10 miles or so, which I gladly took him up on. He told me stories about his bike tours in Europe, told me about the local area, and gave me some great route reccomendations for tomorrow’s ride. I’ll be following John’s reccomendation to ride the I&M Canal Trail for tomorrow’s route.

This was what the second trail looked like. Another point that Michael and I disagreed on was which bike path was better: the first one (Indiana) or the last one (Illinois). I personally loved the Illinois side, because of the tree canopy, and the friends I met along the way. I was having an all-around great time. Also, halfway through the path I stopped at an alehouse, and filled up on a pink-colored beer and a pretzel. Yum.

Right after this pit stop, I immediately ran into some other bike tourers, headed east. They left Santa Monica, CA in late April, and we’re headed to Chicago! With only one day left of their tour, they seemed pretty energetic. We chatted for a bit before we both decided to head separate ways – rain clouds were overhead and both didn’t want to get poured on.

Coming into Joliet (which is home of the famous jail from Blues Brothers and Prison Break, the last bike trail ended, and it was another 7 miles to the hotel. Along the final stretch, I nearly jumped out of my bike seat when I saw a Dunkin’ Donuts in a side plaza. I hadn’t seen a Dunkin’ in several states! I swung in for a coffee and donut, and rode the final 2 miles to the hotel.

All in all, it was my favorite day of the ride yet. I managed to have all sunny weather, and listened to some ’90s music with my Bluetooth speaker during the quiet stretches between meeting people.

Check back tomorrow where we’ll be headed to Peru, Illinois to meet up with my Uncle Rigo–and then spend the night with him and my Aunt Linda in Bloomington, IL!

Check out my Relive ride here!