Day 20, Ride Across America For GTG,Quincy to Springfield, IL

The benefit of grief group for me is that I don’t forget the good memories with my dad and I can talk about it with kids that have a similar experience.           – GTG High School Student


Humidity and the promise of heat met us as we started our bike ride today.  We left the charming town of Quincy and headed east toward Chambersburg, our first sag, 41 miles down the road.  We are now on back roads and small country highways with fields of wheat and tilled soil waiting for planting on both sides.  The air, though heavy with moisture, carried fragrances of honeysuckle and other wonderful scents, along with the inevitable and infrequent cattle farm aromas. ( see video of photos from Chambersburg).  We passed over the Illinois River at mile 47, our lowest point of the day.  Fortunately, the wind was mostly behind us and with consistent pushing on the pedals we could maintain 21- 22 mph.  As we entered the outskirts of Jacksonville, I saw the Nestle factory ( see video for photos )  and further into town, we passed a beautiful hospital and several medical related outpatient buildings.

We started east from the city on Old Jacksonville road, dating to the first half of the 1800s, ran from Springfield to Jacksonville.  An important artery for goods, crops and migration, it also had several historical features that we saw at Riddle Hill – 6.5 miles outside Springfield.  First, a sign marking the rest stop for the Potawatoni Trail of Death from 1838 – 850 members of that group were being forced to march into territory that would later become Kansas.  In the same area on July 4, 1861, the new 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Colonel Ulysses S Grant spent their first night after leaving Springfield.  At mile 95, just past the small town of Berlin, the beautiful fields gave way to the signs of urban sprawl with homes and small company offices.  In a few miles, the road became Monroe street.  Suddenly, here was the imposing and inspiring State Capital Building ( see photos in the video)  It is closer to the street, standing on a hill and appears significantly taller than our State Capital building.  Surrounding it are other government buildings and older, charming buildings that have avoid the rush for development.  We passed older, residential areas and saw many school children as they left class for the weekend.  Within a few more miles, we reached our hotel and were met by Jen’s parents.  Her Mother made a batch of cookies for each of us!

Today, we say goodbye to Jim our mechanic and hello to Jeff Lazer from Lower Town in St. Paul.  Jim flies to the ABB office in New Hampshire tomorrow, will get 3 days at home in Vermont before heading west to lead another cross country trip with ABB.  In a small world story, I had met him at a rest stop on a Tour de Cure ride 3 years ago.  He spins at the YMCA in Edina and knew one of our group who goes to the same classes.  A pleasure to ride with Jeff!

With a consistent tailwind over our right shoulder, we were able to complete the 106 mile trip before 3:30 pm.  With the sunscreen and sweat on our faces, you can imagine that we looked like a windshield after a long trip – covered with bugs!  A shower, a meal in the hotel and tomorrow a day of rest awaits us.

Now, for the good humor of the day.  It was told to me that I am an inspiration to all the 50 plus year olds in the group!          Yes, they had thought riding across America was NOT something an older man of 63 would attempt and here I was doing it!  ( I wonder if they think I’m doping?)

We will start the last leg of our trip on Sunday morning.

To all, have a safe weekend.

My apologies, I am having trouble with embedding the video onto this site.  I will publish the video ASAP.