We’re staying in London tonight! No, not that London, London, KY! It’s the end of day 2 on the road to Greenville and I’m feeling like a lightweight! Admittedly we haven’t been pushing hard, but they’ve felt like long-ish days in the saddle and yet we’ve only covered around 800kms (500mi) a day!
We left Eden Prairie just on 9am Tuesday and despite workday traffic we didn’t have too bad a time getting out of Minneapolis. Joe kept us company as far as Cannon Falls then waved us off on our way to Rochester where we stopped for morning tea.
The day was overcast and my vented jacket was proving slightly cooler than comfortable in temperatures of 17-18 degrees and 120km/h windchill so on went the rain jacket before we headed off again. Not that the rain was all that heavy, but keeping the wind out made life much more pleasant.
From Rochester we headed east to La Crosse on the Mississippi River, crossing into Wisconsin and then followed the river south along some roads familiar from last year. We passed through Prairie du Chien, Tennyson and Dickeyville, then continued south into Illinois.
Being two or three weeks earlier than last year, the temperatures were much cooler (which was lovely) and all the fluff was coming off the cottonwoods along the river. Happily, the scenery was also rather more interesting as the corn is currently less than a foot tall! Being able to see past the side of the road and to the other side of the cornfields was a novelty!
Galena was as gorgeous as I remembered it, but yet again we whizzed past without really stopping to take it all in… Nonetheless there’s a real sense of history and the town is proudly advertising the Ulysses S Grant Museum ‘Coming soon’ in his old mansion at the top of the hill.
We’d planned on getting at least as far as Davenport, back across the river in Iowa, for the night and so at Savanna we hopped back West of the Mississippi and followed it down through Clinton and Le Claire. The ADM agricultural processing plant in Clinton was something to see and a nice distraction as the afternoon went on.
Davenport wasn’t particularly inspiring, so after fuelling up we got back on the interstate and continued south back to Illinois where we pulled stumps for the night at Galesburg and had a delicious Mexican feast at Hacienda Jalisco!
We covered a bit over 800kms but it took us 11 hours – partly the roads and partly some inefficient stops. I also ran into difficulties with nutrition: while not hungry, I was getting really anxious mid-afternoon and it wasn’t until after lunch that I realised that having had only a couple of pieces of toast, half a bagel and some coffee all day, it was most likely due to lack of sustenance (particularly protein and vegetables) rather than actual anxiety!
So we showered up and piled into bed, ready to face another day.
This morning dawned slightly overcast but pleasant and after breakfast at the hotel we jumped back on the interstate. Repacking the bike was a bit of a challenge. While we won’t need too much stuff on the rally itself, we still need clothes for the pre- and post-rally dinners as well as for schlepping around Greenville and so on… Getting everything into the panniers wasn’t easy and I’ll be pleased to leave a few things behind in Greenville when we head out on the IBR! Having to fight with the panniers each morning is not my idea of fun.
Aside from some interesting sights (including a guy surveying sitting in the open trunk of a moving vehicle on the interstate, a pair of generators hoisted off the ground using a crane (I presume to prevent theft) and a number of others none of which I managed to get photos of), today was fairly uneventful. It was a day of interstates which doesn’t make for a whole heap of entertainment.
We continued south west on I-74 and I-65 stopping for morning tea at Champaign and then crossing the border into Indiana where we skirted Indianapolis on I-64 for lunch in Columbus. Back on the interstate system, this time on I-75 heading south into Kentucky, we passed through Louisville and Lexington, again covering territory from last year, and finally on to London. We did pass Paris, Versailles and Frankfort on our way in, and Manchester isn’t far to the east of us right now, so it’s a very European tour of Kentucky we’ve done this afternoon.
We lost an hour when we crossed the state line into Indiana but nonetheless seemed to travel fairly efficiently, leaving at 8.20am this morning and calling it a day around 6.50pm this evening. Again, we covered about 800kms but I’m starting to feel tired.
Happily, the lowered foot pegs and the new seat are making the hours on the bike much less uncomfortable (thank you Philmor and MJM!) and I’m hoping that with some bonuses to hunt I’ll have more to do with my brain and less difficulty staying awake during the rally.
We did better with nutrition today – lunch was earlier and we had salads which felt healthier and morning tea wasn’t as carb-heavy. If we can swap the sandwich for some fruit and a boiled egg I think we’ll be on the money!
So it’s sleep time in another reasonably-priced chain hotel. An impatient guest is dinging the bell at reception incessantly and I think it’s time for us to call it a night. I’m feeling somewhat underprepared comparing the distance we’ve done in two days versus the distance we’ll need to cover in roughly 3.5 days!
But Kiwi has been very kind and reassuring, insisting that we’re doing fine and we don’t want to push it too hard only 4 days before the rally starts… only time will tell and it’s a little late now to be doing too much.
We’ll finish our journey to Greenville tomorrow – hopefully this time actually via the Cherohala Skyway (I’ll let you know how we go) but in the meantime some other photos from today: