We Made It To Chicago! (USA Day 30)
So, forty miles to Chicago. At half the distance of our usual days and with all day to achieve it, we spent the morning warning ourselves against complacency. The final day into Pittsburgh was really tough due to mental exhaustion mixed with the erroneous assumption that we were already there. With determined snarls, we climbed onto our bikes under the baking hot Indiana sun and knocked out the first few miles.
As a little interlude, we’d gathered that Target were stocking my book, but hadn’t actually passed one until today. Happy to report that it’s in pride of place in their activity book section, with it’s own restock label and everything! If you’re the sort of person to have a local Target (or any shop that stocks books, really) do go and have a look, and make loads of obnoxious noise about The Floor is Lava whether it’s there or not.
Our route into town took us down many little paths and offroad bits, including the final section of the Monon trail that we took out of Indianapolis. For a moment we worried that we could’ve been following it unbroken for the last two hundred miles, but googled it and found that no, it only exists for the first eighteen and the last four, and the rest of the path is lost to time. During a break, we played a quick game of Gary, Indiana, which mainly consists of being the person who can yell ‘GARY!’ the loudest. Amy put up considerable opposition, but was eventually beaten not by me but by the shame of yelling strange names in front of a well-oiled and very cool young man with a tiny, wiggly dog.
There are moments in every cyclist’s adventure that they’ll never forget, moments that make the backs of their eyes sprinkle just to think about them. We’ve had a bunch since leaving New York, but hitting the lakefront of Lake Michigan and rounding a corner to see the distant steamy skyscrapers of Chicago’s downtown was something very special. From there, we knew we’d made it. Hot wind buffeted us around the corners as we wound through the busy parks, past universities, football fields, bustling beaches, docks of pristine sailboats, then into the thick urban sprawl of the city. At the moment when our cycle path became an oblivious tourist path, I found myself braking and veering slightly too far to the right to avoid a blind spreading mass of photographers and clipped my rear wheel on a fence, toppling to the ground heavily enough for it to bruise, but softly enough for me to break no more than a butter cookie in a front pannier. No harm done. Two miles later, we were home.
Our hosts are amazing, just like everyone we’ve met between New York and Chicago. Benji is a dog who yips when he hears thunder, and he’s the real hero of the story. After it rained (it always does) we munched tacos on the roof, with good beer and baseball, and watched the city make art of a good sunset. We’ve given ourselves three days of rest to explore the city, edit a couple of videos and podcasts and regroup. My gosh, what a feeling.