The Worst Lunch Stop Ever (USA Day 34)
This is our 22nd day of riding, and I noticed something odd today. It’s not the cycling that poses problems anymore: it’s the bits in-between.
Take today: we were both a little apprehensive about climbing back on the bikes after three days on no wheels in Chicago, but the second we hit the road it was like we’d never stopped. We’d left late – later than usual – giving the sun ample time to bake the road and toast the air, and the Windy City provided us with none of its titular wind at all. But as long as we were cycling, creating our own breeze, we felt cool enough. Even stopping at red lights became a chore: the stuffy air would enclose upon us and we’d rev our proverbial engines, waiting for the instant the light turned green to shoot off into the cool of a handmade headwind.
We followed a few trails out of suburban Chicago along the Des Plaines river and adjoining canal, which were easy enough riding and shady too, emerging at Joliet for some quick, late lunch. And that’s when the problems started. As I mentioned, the heat’s just too much when you stop, but we didn’t want to unpack our bikes and take our luggage inside. We grabbed a burger and fries from a take-out place, which took ages because everyone in the world was too hot to function. I bolted mine down and ran across to a Mexican supermarket to pick up dinner and breakfast, but they had nothing except really unpleasant pig parts so I traipsed around a few other shops, each busy, each miles away from each other, each with one sweaty person manning the sweaty till while a dozen sweaty people waited to be served. By the time I’d returned with really the wrong food for dinner and breakfast, we’d somehow wasted two hours in Joliet on this awful street. Amy was hot, pinned beside a main road, panicking, scared to get out her phone because of the unpleasant men nearby and unable to move because of the two heavy bikes that she’d have to lug with her. Also it was half past five and we’d arranged to arrive at a fire station thirty miles away at six.
So yeah. We were both hot, angry, packed full of moderately disappointing burger and panicking about being late again. But you know what calmed us down? Our bikes.
Within five miles we’d settled into our rhythm. Another peaceful trail took us to a prairie grassland preserve, where we paced west towards the sun that dwindled behind some merciful clouds. Joliet became more and more of a foul, distant memory as we joined the historic Route 66, the road we’ll be following for the next week or more. Cycling’s never easy, but it becomes quite therapeutic, I think, like riding a trusty steed. We made it to our fire station with no further issues, met some lovely firepeople, had a tour of their trucks and set up tent in their barbecue area just in time to sit out in the parking lot and watch some far-off fireworks. It’s just begun to cool down, thank goodness, at twenty to eleven. We’ll be wishing for that sun tomorrow, though. More storms-a-brewin’.
Today: 75 Miles
Total: 1337 Miles