Another great day – 510 miles in the last 24 hours – we are even surprising ourselves. Night and day shifts both put in great efforts, urging each other on using both encouragement and trash talk. Wed evening the “night train” picked up the baton southwest of Jefferson City, Missouri. They really pushed it and spent most of the night, riding 20-21 mph across Missouri and crossed the Mississippi about 1am this morning.
The Mississippi is a significant psychological milestone in the race. I think of it as the line where we can check off all of the west and two-thirds of the total mileage. We don’t quite smell the barn yet at that point, but it’s not too far off in the distance.
It is always fun and inspiring to talk to people we meet along the way who are interested in learning about the race and our team. Many offer to help in little and sometimes not so little ways. Andy at the Holiday Inn Express in Greenville, not only made breakfast sacks to carry with us (we checked out at 3:30am), but she also volunteered to do the entire day shift’s laundry in the hotel’s laundry room.
After crossing the Mississippi, Tony, Jerome, Lisa and Dave kept up the pace through a good chunk of Illinois, making it almost to Effingham by the time the “day trippers” caught up with them for the handoff around 5 this morning. Jerome was flying down the road so fast we weren’t even ready to ride and had to drive down the road to catch up with him.
As we’ve moved east, we’ve seen dawn earlier and earlier in our shift. The red sky of morning became visible within 20 miles of our start. This day was typical of others that did not involve a lot of climbing. In the cool of the morning we each rode about 15 miles at a time. As the day got warmer we shortened that to 12, then eventually to 10. Indiana, like Illinois, is pretty flat. We were able to keep the pace at 20+ most of the day, but after leaving Bloomington we began to run into more rolling hills and our pace slowed down a little. We also had two flats, and a couple of missed turns (our first of the race and they were caught quickly). Southwestern Indiana is dotted with interesting little towns and beautiful farms. One of the more interesting towns was Oldenburg where all the streets and signs are in German. These little towns also seem to have beautiful churches that seem to be big enough to serve all the people in the town and everyone else for miles aroung. We all have talked about doing this route at a more leisurely pace someday so as to have a chance to explore these interesting off the beaten track places.
Somewhere along today’s route we crossed paths with one of the riders from the 4-man United 4 Health team. The only reason we’d caught them was that they had a very costly navigation error and got 5 miles off the course before discoverying it. This team of 70-79 year old are schooling us on how to ride this race. We learned latter that they were on track for setting a record for their age group.
We met up with our night shift brothers and sisters about 15 miles short of the Ohio border. If we believe Jerome they will be halfway to Maryland by the time we see them at 5am, but our realistic estimate is that they will make it all the way across Ohio and just cross the river into West Virginia.
Friday is the big day of the race for us and should be exciting and challenging for riders and crew both, as we try to reach the finish line in Annapolis sometime late that night or early Saturday. Keep up the latest updates on this last day on our Facebook page or Twitter.
Your Georgia Chain Gang, Tony, Frank, Jerome, Dave, Jane, Lisa, Lee, Joe, Brigette, Charlie, Bruce, Amy, Lynn, Neil, Steve, Celeste and Chad!