This is NOT how you bike tour.
Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
91Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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Where I stayed
Anyway, when one does a biking trip usually they will go as far as they care to in a day and then settle in somewhere for the evening, usually at a campground or stealth camping. In addition, they will plan out a route, or at least something general, and they just assume they will get to whatever point by whatever point in time. Days are usually relaxed and when you see something cool, you stop. I'm not doing this. I've got a specific place I am going, but I've also got a very tight schedule to work on. I don't have time to go out of my way
I was supposed to leave last Thursday, but while in the process of going back home and confirming plans my friend told me (when I called him) that he had forgotten that they were busy with something that they had planned previously and couldn't get out of, so they couldn't see me or house me for the night. I decided to postpone leaving until Monday or Tuesday. Eventually I decided on Tuesday because that gave me time to get in a 100 mile ride and give me appropriate recovery time before leaving. After I booked myself a hotel room near a friend for Thursday night (they can't house me for some silly reasons beyond their control) she told me that she had forgotten about plans that she had already made and wasn't going to be able to see me. The middle night of the trip my friend is letting me stay at her house (where I am now), but she is busy preparing something for work and is away for the moment. She told me this well beforehand, but was very kind to let me stay at her place without her being here. It's not as much fun, but considering what I got last night and what I will get tomorrow night it's a really nice situation
So anyway, day 1:
It started off well enough. I knew my route 100% (or at least the first 60 miles or so) The first problem that I could potentially run into had to do with flooding of the Des Plains River, especially at the start and along the first trail. When I got to the trail head the place was completely dry and I started off smooth sailing. Very early into the time on that trail I started chatting with a professor from Northwestern University. I didn't learn much about him. I know he teaches Econ, and he did tell me his name, but mostly he just spent time listening to me complain about China or something else that happened. Maybe vent is the right word, but he was laughing a lot, so I just kept going with it. He helped make the first portion go very fast.
Things were going very well until I arrived at the Des Plains River trail
Once I got out of Illinois and into Wisconsin everything was fairly straightforward. The only problem I ran into was the road I was going on ended up having a detour up ahead. I decided to not take their detour, but one of my own. I didn't realize it until after I passed the area, but I could have kept on going straight, because where the construction was going on was after Hwy 45 turned off of the road that I was going on
Day two didn't begin as well as day one. Instead of having someone to talk to I was just off alone. However, since I started at nearly the same place I was a few weeks ago, so the first 10 or so miles were on some of the same roads I've biked before. However, it was about halfway through day two that I figured out that the saddle I have is a little too narrow at the back. So, sitting on the front of it is exteremly comfortable, but it's not so good for biomechanics and I lack power and a sustainable position. This would work fine as a race saddle, just not for touring.
The path I chose had me going on the Eisenbahn State Trail. This trail is one of the former railroad lines that has been turned into a bike trail. The first few miles were paves and that was lovely. However, needed to be on it for about 20 miles and I wasn't willing to spend that much time on a gravel trail. Last year I ended up crashing because of some gravel. Some people are fine holding a good pace, but I'm still paranoid going over 13mph or so on good gravel trails, 10mph on the bad ones where there is a lot of loose gravel, mud and water. This tails was one of the crappier ones, so I decided to jump off the trail and go on the road
This night I ended up staying in my friend's house in Oshkosh. Since the Experimental Aircraft Assosciation (EAA) show is currently taking place in Oshkosh I saw a lot of planes flying around, a couple of stunt planes going around, lots of water planes parked and tons and tons of people camping.
The most miles I had done in a day previously was a hair over 82 miles. Last week I did a 107 mile day just to get a century out of the way and to make sure I could do it. On this trip day 1 was 99 miles and day 2 was over 82, so I was a little tired. Day 3 was just a simple 60 miles, so I decided to sleep in, get a late start and take it really easy
Oshkosh has a lot of construction going on, so getting into my place in the evening was easy, but getting out wasn't
My last day I was thinking I should try to arrive before many of my friends left for the day. I originally decided to leave at 4am, but after not being able to fall asleep I decided to wait until it was lighter and warmer out. The terrain started off continuing downhill further into the valley. Plus, the wind was at my back so I was making wonderful time for the first 27 miles. However, then my path turned into a rails to trails gravel path. I was trying to beat rain, too, so I really wasn’t happy with the 11 mph average speed for the 25 miles that I was on the trail
However, once I was done with lunch that's when the hard part of the day started. I thought I had about 2 hours of biking left and that the terrain was going to stay flat. Nope. I encountered hills harder than I encountered on day 2. Instead of being constant short up and down instead it was long up and long downs. Instead of being able to power down I was usually so tired that I was just moving my feet instead of putting power down. Also could have been that it was the end of my too much biking not enough touring trip.
And well, that's that. Really this was more of a commute than a tour. Basically from here on out I'm going to make sure I don't bike more than 60 miles in a day so I can focus on checking stuff out as opposed to, "I need to make sure I get to my destination in time."