Day 12, Tour 10 Centralia to Chester, IL

A farm on the southern Illinois plains
The house, barn, and silo is on the left
The family cemetery is on the right

I woke early planning to get an early start to minimize the time I would spend fighting the wind and the chance of getting caught by a thunderstorm. It actually worked today! I was on the road by 7 AM. It was already warm at 7, but there was no wind and a cloudless blue sky. I headed south on IL 51 which is a divided four lane expressway with great shoulder for the first ten miles - down to I-64. Riding was easy and pleasant.

You can see my shadow in the bottom left of this image of IL 51

After crossing under I-61, IL 51 becomes a 2 lane highway with minimal to non existent shoulders. this was no big deal since traffic is very light - a vehicle ever few minutes - and driver are very polite. Again nice riding

A pump jack, probably the hundredth one I've seen, and often smelled, in Illinois
This one is power by an electric motor, but many of then are power by very slow running propane fuelled, engines
Currently, smelling the oil at pump jacks makes me mourn for the Gulf of Mexico

IL 51, looking south from near the pump jack

I rode south for about 15 miles before IL 51 jogged west for a few miles. It went back to wide shoulder mode for that jog.

On IL 51 heading west, following my shadow ;-}

I rode a total of 35 miles south on IL 51. By 25 miles, my knees were hurting, especially my good knee. I was worried that knees problems would force me into anther short day and, potentially, mess up this tour ;-{. I had already stopped to rest and snack once - at 9 PM when my pill reminder alarm went off - and, I stopped again at 10:30 to take an ibuprophen. I also started experimenting with moving my feet around on the pedals to vary the repetitive motion that was causing the problem. Both the ibuphrophen and changing foot position on the pedals seemed to help as I ground on south into the wind which had started up, from the south, between 9:30 and 10 AM.

IL 51, heading south again, to IL 154

Things got better when I turned west on IL 154. With a cross wind instead of a head wind and a good road, I was cranking along pain free making pretty good time. I stopped for lunch at McDs - there wasn't much choice - in Pinckneyville. I was unhappy when my wireless didn't work, but my Ceasars Salad and senior Coffee - only 25 cents for the coffee - were good and I figured I better get on down the road. It was 92 F and the wind was at 5 to 10 mph out of the south. I rode east for another 9 miles, hen turned south on IL 150. at that point I had ridden about 55 miles and had 20 mile to go to Chester. Despite riding into the wind, I was doing OK and feeling good. I stopped a Dollar General on the way out of Pinckneyville and picked up a quart of Gatorade to help me deal with the heat. I stopped again in Cutler to rest in the shade and, miracle of miracles, at a DQ in Steeleville for a milkshake and Chili dog. I thought I was ready for the last 15 miles to Chester, but I was wrong. Heading up the shoulderless hill out of Steeleville, I had to bail out twice because big trucks - lane wide and 40 foot long trucks - were coming in both directions. There was a loose gravel 'shoulder' at that point which was, barely, rideable. After riding it once, I didn't try again, but simply got off the road and stood over my bike.

Here is a side view, from later in this section of IL 150, of one of the big trucks

And here is a rear view of one that had just passed me

The ride from Steeleville to Chester was NOT fun. It was hilly, hot, windy riding with no shoulder and way too many BIG trucks. I bailed out at least half a dozen times to avoid getting run over and several more times to let trucks pass when the were waiting behind me for a safe opportunity to do so. With a good review mirror and good reflexes for self presevation ;-}, it wasn't dangerous, just stressful. The trucks often moved in trains of three or four trucks and, when two 'trains' passed me - standing on the side of the road - at the same time, the wind, noise, and dust was terrible.

The hill
The historical site is is to the left just over the bridge

Historical info about Chester

Historical info about the bridge

And one end of the Bridge

I did get one good thing out having to 'share' the road with all those trucks. About 5 mile from Chester there was a big climb. Just as the climb started, there was a historical site that offered relief from that road for a while. I pulled in, collapsed on the grass under a tree for while, then had a good time exploring the site. It was the site of a covered bridge - still there - on the old road from Bremen to Chester - which was long gone, but had been an important route from 1854 to 1930. It had some good information about the bridge and about Chester. Well worth the visit and wonderful for getting some relief from that road.
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