Upflats and headwinds
This was a seriously tough day! Not much to mention except for the constant climbing and massive headwinds – typically blowing full in my face at reported 29km/h with gusts frequently up to 40km/h.
Given that my average pace is generally about 15-18km/h, such force to push against – and being pushed by – is quite considerable. At one point, I stopped and saw my pace at only 8km/h.
I had one humourous situation in the late morning. In a small town in eastern Indiana, when I stopped at a cafe for breakfast/lunch, I ordered a cottage cheese salad. A bowl of cottage cheese arrived. I asked if it came with a salad. “Oh no” the waitress said, “that’s extra!”
This kept me chuckling for a while, but the constantness and severity of the wind was bothering me no end.
Such times are the true challenge of persistence and determination.
I remember reading in Mark Beaumont’s book “The Man Who Cycled The World” that there comes a time when your bum hurts and you just want to get off the bike. If you do, your bum still hurts and you’re not making any progress!
Similar situation arose here. The wind was blowing to the extent that I just wanted to get off the bike. I could have done so, but the wind would still have been blowing (and not receding) and I would not be making any progress.
Eventually though, I had to stop. I was exhausted and felt like I was about to pass out through the exertion. As I lay on the grass beside a road junction, a few cars stopped and asked if I was alright. I was ok, just utterly drained physically.
I focused, then got up and ate several peanut-butter tortillas and made oat-water shakes with my porridge-sachets (actually tasty!), drank plenty of water, then feeling a whole lot better, got back on my bike again.
I was aiming for the camping sites available at the Lake Of The Woods forest preserve at Mahomet, Illinois, but it was already dusk by the time I got to Champaign, some 20km shy.
I checked my options: 1) Put lights on and ride to intended destination; 2) Find somewhere in or near to Champaign. I spotted on the map a couple of parks which might be suitable, and set off.
On my way, I passed a fire station with plenty of grassy space outside, so went inside to ask permission to camp. I was told, however, that it was a seriously bad neighbourhood with regular shootings. I was advised though of a couple other site options: 1) An industrial complex to the north, cleared for a new hospital – which was then never built; or the baseball fields just to our south, beside the university campus and heavily patrolled by campus police.
I opted for the baseball fields and quickly flagged down a passing police car out on patrol. He said I should be fine and put a note on the police computer system that I’d be camping there and not to be bothered.
Still, with plenty of passing traffic, I found a discreet spot, pitched tent and was asleep shortly thereafter.