Monday, November 2, 2015

2014: Wrapping up - Day 6

(Day 6, the final day,  of my 2014 Connect the Dots Tour)
Tent packed, finishing loading up.

I woke up without an alarm in the pre-dawn twilight. I had heard a brief, light rain overnight, but it was hard to tell with the dampness of the heavily wooded campground. With the picnic table so wet, I finally had a reason to open up my sling chair to use while I ate breakfast.

I broke camp and packed, but didn’t change into riding clothes. I decided to get the shower I had missed night before, riding by the showers on the way out. Freshened up and dressed for the road, I started the day, the first mile under the cover of the trees, and finally out into the surrounding farmland. I expected to ride about 60 miles today, and figured I would connect with Linda around 5 pm.

Short lived company on my final day.
I was starting out under yet another day of overcast, with temps around 60. Riding along, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in almost a week, my shadow! The sun was making a rare appearance through scattered breaks in the clouds. It was a great start to the day, but it was very short lived, as the clouds closed in again after just a few miles.

I was headed straight north for a 5 mile stretch, and then turned east on US-36. At Hume I stopped for two bottles of Gatorade and ice for my Camelbak, along with a muffin for second breakfast. Next came Chrisman, followed by Scotland, my last town in Illinois. I was enjoying the good run on the smooth, wide road, with very light traffic in either direction. It was flat terrain, and for awhile I was counting the miles between trees and landmarks on the horizon.

Back home again!
It wasn’t long after Scotland that the Indiana state line rolled into view. This was the third state for the trip, and it meant that connecting the dots was almost complete. I stopped for a picture, of course. The first Indiana town was Dana, and here I turned heading toward the Wabash valley, and my rendezvous with Linda.

I have many riding connections with the Wabash River. While living in West Lafayette during the `80’s, we frequently rode in the valley, eventually riding all the way from Huntington to the Ohio River. I have also crossed the Wabash near Terra Haute while riding RAIN. Covington would be my physical intersection, and that was where I was due to mean Linda.

One surprise for my day was that while I had been on the road since a little after 8:00 am, Linda had been driving since before 7! This meant she was going to be getting to Covington before I would arrive, So rather than a relaxed ride with a wait at the end, I now had to pick up the pace up so Linda would not be waiting for me.

Crossing the Wabash south of Covington, IN.
After leaving Dana, headed north, I was riding the wide shoulder on 4-lane SR-63. While a little noisy, I had 6 feet of pavement to myself with the light traffic moving over most of the time. I continued on this route for about 15 miles, making good time, then headed east to cross the river. With that crossing, I finally connected the dots, hitting one of the Wabash River Run routes south of Covington. I had mapped and marked many parts of this ride almost 30 years before.

I had not stopped for food since 10 am, and was grazing through the last of my fresh fruit and Clif bars as I rode. I heard from Linda while about a half dozen miles south of town. She was parking the car on the town square and going for a walk. I was soon climbing the short bluff out of the valley to enter town, crossing over I-74 along the way. I came up the center of town and recognized a corner from the Wabash River Ride a couple of summers before. I found our Caravan on the town square, and then rode a couple blocks up the street to meet Linda on her walk. We snapped a picture, and I loaded my bike for the drive home.

I had finished my last day with a little over 65 miles. In 6 days on the road, I had ridden 460 miles, averaging almost 80 miles day. My longest day day had been 104, my shortest 45. I had camped 4 nights, with 1 motel night. I had only had 1 day of rain, but it had rained the entire day.

So now I could connect all my riding from Richmond, Indiana to Omaha, Nebraska and dozens, if not hundreds of cities and towns in between, all in a period of 30 years of cycling. My experience and choices had paid off in a number of ways, and I had learned some things to change for the next ride.
6 days and 460 miles - Covington, IN

What was next? While Linda napped on the drive home, I began the plan for next summer (2015). I only had to connect Ft. Wayne to my home in the family farm in Brooklyn, Michigan to connect the next set of dots, my early years of riding while growing up in Michigan.

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