7/29/12 Clinton, IA to Savanna, Ilinois – 27 miles
We decided to push ahead with a short 25 mile ride to Savanna, IL and take half a day to rest. The mental letdown after the intensity of RAGBRAI is as tiring as anything else. We crossed the Mississippi River into Fulton, Illinois, the eighth state in our journey.
In Fulton, we were able to access the Great River Bicycle Trail all the way to Savanna. I am attaching a photo of the windmill in Fulton that also shows the bridge we crossed from Clinton, the Mississippi River and the bike trail. No motorized traffic and we had the trail all to ourselves, except for an occasional Sunday rider. It was cool and overcast, and we even had brief light rain showers that were welcomed. There is a definite shift in scenery to include more trees. There is a whole different feel from the endless corn/soybean fields that seems to coincide with the fact that today begins a whole new phase of the journey. The bike trail was totally flat and we cruised along with little effort. I was pretty much lost in my thoughts most of the ride. It was sort of like culture shock not having hordes of riders alongside and I felt a freedom I hadn’t in a week.
Near Savanna, we crossed several beautiful bridges over water leading into the town. There was a Subway at the point we accessed the main road. We stopped for lunch ( yeah veggies) and to find a motel. We had decided to take the afternoon off to re-group and rest. Plus, I wanted to watch some of the Olympics, which I had not been able to see yet. The TV at the really cheap motel in Clinton was iffy, at best, and of course the one channel that was totally out of focus was NBC. So, we decided on a newly remodeled Super 8 and I hunkered down for a long afternoon nap with the Olympics.
I met Randy at dinner and we got the maps out to plan the next several days of riding. Looks like we might have a number of bicycle trails to ride in lieu of highways. I am really happy about the new scenery and cooler temps. Also looking forward to the ferry from Milwaukee to Michigan.
Unlike the bike trail from Fulton, Savanna has several rather steep inclines. The motel was situated high atop one incline and had a very nice view. There was a deck with a picnic table where we spread the maps. We both had calculated how far we have ridden to date and were very close – my estimate is 2950 miles through Savanna. Then we spent another 45 minutes or so just talking about what led us to this trip and this point in our lives, what the trip means to each of us, and thoughts about how the trip has changed our outlook and us as people. I am also struggling a little to maintain my focus on what has always been the primary purpose of the trip for me – learn to be in the present. The future keeps trying to creep in. I think the very feeling that this is a turning point in the journey put both Randy and I in a contemplative and philosophical mood.
I returned to my room and tried to watch the Olympics, but found it somewhat hard to focus. So, I eventually just put on some music and that put me in a more relaxed place.
Tomorrow we head for Freeport, approx 45 miles away. Since the weather is so much cooler and it’s another short day, no need to rush out early. Just take our time to get there and evaluate if we want to go further or stop. One thing we agreed on during our talks earlier today is that RAGBRAI took us to a whole new level of physical conditioning. I would be interested to know how different some of the earlier mountain passes in Oregon might seem now.
I am attaching a bonus picture of George, the cat, who was staying at the same cheap motel in Clinton after RAGBRAI. I saw him peeking out from behind the curtain and asked his Dad if I could take his picture – not an exact Morris clone, but close enough to include in the club. (For those new to the journal, I talked about Morris is an earlier journal entry dated July 6).