Georgia Chain Gang Day Five: Hamel Illinois – 5 Days and 2,064 Miles!

Thursday 5:00 pm – Hamel IL

We finished off Kansas and all of Missouri in the last 24 hours. Jerome and Tony started with a night ride in pouring rain, pushing through without a stop. Dave and Frank picked up before dawn south of Jefferson City, finished off Missouri, crossed the Mississippi and handed it back to Jerome and Tony in here in Hamel, Illinois. By early Friday morning we should be in the middle of Indiana and through Ohio by the end of the day Friday. After that we enter WV and Western Maryland – the hardest riding of the race. More and steeper climbing than the Rockies.

Some of you have asked what we eat. As the ride goes on most of us like the sports gels, blocks and drinks less and less, and crave regular food more. The crew makes sure we get a lot of variety, including fruits and vegetables. As an example, here was my meal plan today:

4:30 AM: cereal, bagel
6:30 AM: yogurt
9:00 AM: turkey and cheese sandwich, chocolate milk
11:00 AM: sub, coke
1:00 PM: pizza, coke
3:00 PM: more pizza, 32 ozs Powerade
5:00 PM: 32 oz Powerade, cracked corn, pint of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries
7:00 PM: hamburger, broccoli, soup and salad bar

The next couple of days will be interesting. The team is beginning to smell the barn, but are also tired and sore from 5 days of riding on 3-4 hours daily sleep. Tony is obsessively plotting and predicting our arrival times at the remaining Time Stations, figuring out variations in our rotation schedules to improve our performance. We are doing our best to make our party in Annapolis Saturday night, but also have a party planned for Sunday evening.

A special word of thanks must go out to our crew chiefs, David Payne and Jane Eastham. Dave is driving the Follow Van 12 hours a day, maintaining bikes and providing coaching where needed to the riders. Jane is riding in the Follow Van in the alternate 12 hours. She is also working closely with Tony to forecast our locations every 6 hours for the next 48 in order to find rooms at Holiday Inn for our 4 hours of sleep. I also know that Dave and Frank look forward to seeing her step into the Follow Van every day at 11am as she always brings something good to eat. Dave and Jane, and the whole crew, are always cheerful and positive when dealing with the riders, who can get a little ragged every day (some more than others…).

Pedal on.

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