Friday, 1 June 2012

Chester, IL

Today was the first day in which wind played a significant role in my ride. It was a strong, bitterly cold, north-west wind that blew in my face all the 77 km to Chester. I wore my rain jacket for protection. After an hour, I reached Murphysboro, the end of my third map section and the start of my fourth. From there I followed the main route to Ava and Campbell Hill. It was more heavily trafficked than I have grown used to, with a moderate number of trucks. The wind buffeted me about, pushing me left towards the trucks or right onto the rumble strip or back where I had come from. Every pedal stroke was a struggle. Eventually, the route turned on to a quieter road which sometimes afforded shelter from the wind and for four glorious km headed south. At Ava I had a hot snack and coffee. When I arrived in Chester, I collapsed into an Italian restaurant and didn't move till I'd consumed a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs and a bread pudding. Fighting the wind drains all your energy. I was glad the distance to be covered today was relatively modest.

Chester is the birthplace of E.C. Segar, creator of the cartoon character Popeye, and the town promotes the connection. There are statues, murals, and a shop selling Popeye memorabilia. For accommodation, the town has a cyclist bunkhouse run by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. There is also a motel. I chose instead to book a room in The Stone House B&B, built in 1846 on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. This turned out to be an excellent choice. The owner, Sandra, offers a discount to cyclists and made me very welcome.

The great river reflected in the stone house
It is a major milestone in this trip to have reached the Mississippi. It has taken me 23 days, including two non-cycling days, to get here. Tomorrow, I cross the river and enter Missouri, my fourth state. The long bridge has one lane in each direction and no shoulder. The forecast is for a west wind at 19 km/h.

Bridge across the Mississippi at Chester

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