Monday, May 16,2016 61.4 miles(98.8 km)
As I had a scheduled longer ride and weather forecast called for rain starting about 8:00 am I wanted to get an early start to the day. (I hate packing up a wet tent). The route from the Refuge went on the south side of Carbondale, Illinois. I stopped at the first convenience store I came to and had a second breakfast. (In hindsight it was fortunate I did as it was also the last one I saw).
When I was on the south side of Carbondale I saw this fairly large herd of deer along the road. They stood and watched me as I was watching them.
After leaving Carbondale I rode on to Murphysboro, Illinois where Map 10 ended, I have now completed 3 of 12 maps. I am now on single digit maps. Map 9 goes from Murphysboro, Illinois to Girard, Kansas. On leaving Murphysboro there are two options on the route between Murphysboro and Chester. One option is a hillier but always open route and the other is through the Mississippi River floodplain and is closed during flood conditions. I opted for the floodplain route as it was open and flat. By this time it was raining fairly consistently.
Once leaving Murphysboro the route descended to the Mississippi Rive floodplain and was completely flat except for the times it had short ascents to ride on road atop the levees. There are a few small towns along this part of the floodplain, none have any stores not even convenience stores and only one has a restaurant, Neunert. Thus my plan was to ride to Neunert to eat lunch and ride on from there. Neunert does have a restaurant, open Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays, today was a Monday, next restaurant would be in Chester, my destination for the day. I dig into my food supplies and eat a couple bananas and fruit and grain bars and ride on.
It was nice riding on the floodplain with no hills, just nice consistent pedaling. It would have been more enjoyable if it was not raining.
The route went up on a road on the levee for the Mississippi River and I was able get a view of the river a couple times. I knew I would be crossing it the next day,
Once leaving the levee road the route continues north on Illinois Route 3, a busy highway with many trucks bringing coal to a barge terminal. As it was still raining and with the heavy traffic I want to make sure I was seen. I had noticed that my rear flashing light had become a little loose and had turned so it was not facing directly back so I pulled over into a safe spot to tighten it and up rides Tyler, the National Geographic writer/photographer I had met the third day of my trip and had met up with a few times since. He asked if everything was all right and if I was staying at the Eagles Club that night in Chester. I informed him yes on both and told him I would catch up with him at the Eagles Club.
I then continued my ride into Chester, known as the Home of Popeye, as the creator of the cartoon Popeye grew up in the town. I was quite hungry and I was wet but not soaking wet I decided to stop by Hardees for a taco salad before riding to the Eagles Club. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Chester have a bunkhouse for cyclists which was great as it was now raining continuously,
After changing into dry clothes I joined Tyler and an eastbound rider from the United Kingdom at the Eagles Club. As they ate dinner I had a few wings and a beer (my first since starting the trip) I caught up with Tyler as I could not figure out how I had gotten in front of him again as he travels further than I do each day. He had the cleats on his shoes set incorrectly and it put a bad strain on his knees and he had been laid up for a few days in a motel waiting for his knees to recover. He then told me that his first article had been published on NationalGeographic.com and it featured me. You can view his well written article here.