Illinois was absolute craziness – from the moment we put our wheels on the territory of this state until the sign that said “Welcome to Iowa.” We said good-bye to Indiana on June 13th and headed towards our first stop in Ilinois, the city of Chicago. Both of us did not know what to expect from it. We entered the city from its Southern part that is notoriously known as the part of the city that should be avoided. However, those who are trying to avoid that neighborhood, risk to miss the best view of the city. As we started entering the city, we got confused by all the signs for different bike trails. We were going to spend the night at the apartment of a Dickinson alumna, Sara Abernethy ’03 who attends grad school in the city. We knew she lived somewhere near lake Michigan, so we followed the arrows for the bike trail that goes by the lake. We were awestruck by the view of what was ahead of us. We were only 5 miles away from the downtown, but it took us more than an hour to reach it. It was so beautiful and peaceful…
Once we made it to the downtown city, there was another surprise. It was the last day of the annual Chicago Blues Festival! Music, beer, happy people dancing everywhere – we couldn’t have asked for more after a rainy day of cycling. We spent about two hours chilling on the grass before it started raining again. We reached Sara’s apartment at around 10 pm.
Chicago Rest Day
lA pARTITA (tHE mATCH):
Traveled by Metro (CTI) and Bus 12 to LIttle Italy for the game. Tried to find Italians with whom to watch the game. Found “Italian” places where nobody spoke Italian. Settled into a Mexican restauraunt which broadcasted the game in English. Italy tied Paraguay 1 – 1.
Bus 12: Conversations from a wheelchair sittin’ man: a man climbed up city hall with his arms alone.
An aside about street movement: No left or right – North, East, South, and West.
wALK bACK iNTO tOWN:
Sculpture of the waist-down giants,
a pair of legs twenty feet high,
by sixty one.
The feeling of walking in a city where the sheer number and anonimity of its
residents makes you, the thinking, emotional person, seem lost in a world of others.
Among walking, working machines, you use words, but have no voice.
Those shoes and sticks,
are they so cold as the metal which bore them?
miLLENIUM pARK (mONDAY cONCERT sERIES):
A park of folks on the grass with friends, winding down, and up.
Intervals of applause.
Lots of personal moments.
Like the old saying goes: clusters of oats make granola,
but clusters of people and some very funky music* makes a big hot bunch of dancin’.
*i got my mojo workin’
The only reason we decided to spend a night in Aurora, Il was because Avi wanted to stay in the town that has the same name as hers. However, if we decide to go to Aurora again someday it would be to visit Jeanne and her husband Jamie. During our stay at their house we experienced the correctness of the saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” We were supposed to arrive at their house around 7 pm and have a nice dinner with them. We ended up arriving at 10 pm covered with mud and gravel from head to toe. We were anxious how they would welcome late comers that would make a mess in their house. However, all of our anxiety vanished the moment Jeanne welcomed us with her big smile and a hug and told us that a freshly caught fish from lake Erie is awaiting us on the table. We quickly put the bikes in their garage, washed the dirt off our feet, and ten minues after our arrival we were already sitting on the table and enjoying the nice meal accompanied by an entertaining conversation with Jeanne and Jamie.
The following morning was dedicated to washing bikes, clothes, and equipment off the mud. It was finally a nice sunny day with a lot of wind coming from the west. It was going to be a day fighting against the wind, but at least it wasn’t going to rain. We had to cover about 60 miles to reach our next destination, the tiny town of Franklin Grove. We found a nice back road on the map that would take us right to the town, so we were looking forward to a nice bike ride at a leisurely pace. However, we didn’t get on the bikes until it was half past noon. Cleaning all of the equipment and saying bye to Jeanne and her grand daughter proved to be harder than what we thought. We took a picture with them and hopped on the bikes. At the moment we would have never thought that we wouldn’t have to wait for a long time until the next time we see each other…
We easily found the back road that we had to take and it was exactly what we expected – almost no traffic, farms, corn everywhere, and a lot of headwind. No matter how hard we were pushing the pedals, we couldn’t go too fast, the headwind sucked up all of our energy, so we decided to stop for a quick lunch break. We would remember our lunch break with the guy who did a series of complicated driving manoeuvres only to get his mail from the mail box without getting off the vehicule. It was hard not to be amazed by that scene.
We got back on the road and tried to increase our speed, so that we could make it to Franklin Grove before it got dark. However, half an hour later we didn’t have to worry about making it to Franklin Grove because the flat roads of Illinois proved to be to big of a hurdle for Andre’s bike. His back shifter made “Crack” and suddenly we were on that deserted back road and a broken bike. The nightmare of any cyclist. Well, in this situation what else could have we done, but have some fun
After the photo session, it was time to find how we could get out of that situation. It was clear to us that Andre couldn't continue on that bike that had two flat tires during the first three days of the trip and every once in a while would have a broken screw in the frame that required to be drilled out. It was time to make some changes and this meant returning the bike and getting a new one. To do this, we had to go back to Chicago.