Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | August 3, 2016

Days 47-48: Reconnection and hot reflection

People, I’m tired and sore and overheated so I’m going to keep these two updates short. Also, please tune in, if you can to KFJC radio in the Bay Area tonight (and on the internet, of course) at 8:30 p.m. CDT, if you want to hear me babble for 15-20 minutes about the RAGBRAI and the rest of this crazy journey with the fellows from Sports Middle. You can also follow that link to their archives where you’ll be able to listen to tonight’s show — and previous appearances.

Day 47
Destination: Wenona, Ill.
Tuesday’s mileage: 65 miles. Total: 2,580

Pierre and Roger

Me, Pierre and Roger at the end of our ride on Tuesday. At least at the end of my part of the ride.

Sometimes, you get a visit from an old friend. Sometimes you run into new friends on the road. That’s what happened Tuesday.


I was 40 miles into my ride and I was getting a little peckish. I rolled into Henry, Ill., asked for the best place to grab breakfast, and was directed to the Rio Vista Grill, a sweet little family restaurant right on the Illinois River.

There I was, munching on my pancakes and sausage and guzzling a big glass of chocolate milk, and in walks two guys I ran across in Oregon, more than a month ago. Pierre Rouzier, a doctor from Massachusetts who’s spreading the gospel of youth fitness with his book “Henry Gets Moving,” and his riding buddy Roger Grette.

I had met those two by chance back in Oregon and we rode together for a short time. But random connections and friendships spring up in odd ways out here on the road. They invited me to join them for breakfast (along with a young couple with three kids who had just attended a library reading of Pierre’s book). We chatted a while and then we jumped on our bikes and rode east.

I traveled another 25 miles. Pierre and Roger, who started their day’s ride in Henry, continued on. I’d be surprised if our paths don’t cross again in the coming days. But you never know. But it was nice to reconnect, if only for a short time.

Day 48
Destination: Ashkun, Ill.
Wednesday’s mileage: 75 miles. Total: 2,655

Today was one of those grinding days. But even on a rough day that ended after 75 miles in temps that hit triple digits, according to one local thermometer, there were some lovely moments.

The day broke foggy and warm. It threw a soft, fuzzy blanket over the corn and soybean fields I was riding past. The early-morning sun looked like it would burn that haze off soon enough, but I enjoyed the gauzy view while I had it.

foggy beginnings

My view of the hazy morning and Melody’s view (below) as I ride away.

Foggy morning

The joys of that part of the ride quickly gave way to searing hot sunshine and massive humidity as I rode through the cornfields of central Illinois. I don’t mind the heat. I don’t mind the humidity even. But what’s been killing me for the past three days is the wind. I’m pushing right into a steady wind from the east/southeast, meaning it’s a struggle all day long.

I was talking to Pierre and Roger about this on Tuesday. When you’re on a bike, you’d much rather climb hills or even mountains rather than face a constant headwind. That was never more true than today.

Historic gas station

Cool vintage Standard Oil gas station in Odell, Ill., on Route 66.

Route 66

Our old friend Yoram was on Route 66 the other day. I just wanted to let him know I found a section of it, too.

I rode 40 miles. I had a great lunch stop in Odell. Then I struggled — MIGHTILY — for the final 35 miles as wind and heat kicked my tail. By the end, I was out of water, out of gas and my body was screaming at me from more than a few places (most notably my knees and my, um, under-parts).

But, tomorrow is another day. And tomorrow I head into Indiana and soon thereafter I’ll be tackling the great state of Ohio. Here I come!

103 degrees

Yup, 103 degrees at the end of my ride. I was so, so done by 3:30 after almost eight hours in the saddle. AC feels pretty good right now.




  1. I know you’re riding a bike, not driving a car. BUT, it’s striking how in the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t take that long to get across a state. Impressive.

    Oh, and the wind. It’s a bear when you’re merely walking. Biking has got to be hell.

    Keep trucking, Mark!

  2. That heat will just knock you out.
    Be careful.

  3. Like Kyle, I’m kinda awestruck at the distances you’re covering — it seems like just yesterday you were leaving Nebraska! I hope Ohio will live up to its reputation of being flat and wind-free. (I’ve never actually heard that, but am officially starting the rumor because self-fulfilling prophecy.)

  4. Make sure you’re well rested. Take a day if you have too…don’t forget you’re supposed to enjoy, along with the agony…Find more pie…stay alert!

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