Day 26: Carbondale, IL
June 11, 2011

Our day off was productive, though not terribly eventful. We spent the morning with Alan and then had our bikes checked out at Carbondale Cycles. Bikes looked good so we got gyros for lunch, checked in to a motel, stocked up on groceries, and stood inside a lot of air conditioned stores waiting out the afternoon showers. Carbondale felt like a metropolis after the past few weeks. It’s pathetic, but the sight of a Super Walmart was so exciting. In most towns we pass through, the dollar store is the best bet for groceries.

Day 27: Carbondale, IL to Chester, IL
June 12, 2011

Today was great! The temperature was downright pleasant – low 70s when we left Carbondale at 8am. The roads were empty, it being early on Sunday morning. There are two cycling routes from Carbondale to Chester and we opted for the Mississippi levee alternative. Maybe not the best decision given recent events, but it turned out okay. The first 30 miles of the day were great–we cruised along at 14 mph on flat, smooth roads. Then we came across some flooding, backtracked about 4 miles, and had to ride the unfinished gravel section of the road on top of the levee for 3 miles. It was unfinished and really horrible to bike on. We kept fishtailing in the thick piles of rock and just generally felt jolted around. Once we got off the levee, we realized we were starving and went in search of a shady spot to picnic. On the way, a guy weedwacking his front yard flagged us down and invited us in for fried catfish. Fred Gilbert lives in Rockwood, IL and fed us catfish in his personal workshop / bar / antique shop. He is a painter by trade but enjoys projects like refurbishing an original Edison gramophone or converting a coffin that his grandfather built in to a grandfather clock. He showed us around his house (he also built that) and backyard and told us about the concerts and parties he used to host there during motorcycle bar crawls / rides. The fried catfish (delicious!) came with a side of moonshine. After hanging with Fred for a while, we rode the last 10 miles in to Chester, home of the cartoon Popeye. We weren’t really sure what that meant, since we though he was a sailor. Unfortunately, the Popeye museum / memorabilia store closes early on Sundays so we shall never know. We are spending the night at a cyclist bunkhouse at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. It has a shower and air-conditioning. Can’t ask for much more (except for more than 30” of clearance in the bunks).

  • Starting point: Carbondale, IL
  • Ending point: Chester, IL
  • Slept: biker bunkhouse at FOE
  • Miles: 57.5
  • Average speed: 10.9
  • Notes: ZOOM!!

Photos: yeti eats fresh spinach, water water everywhere, Fred, Popeye pride, el gigante in teeny bunks