After having eaten a ton and slept for about 12 hours, I woke in my motel room in Murphysboro still unsure of myself. Before I went to bed, I was seriously considering calling it quits. I was exhausted and simply done. After sleeping, I didn’t really feel any better. I was still sore, still tired and certainly not excited about racing my bike another 1200 miles. All that said, I couldn’t imagine quitting after having come that far. I had invested a huge amount of time, effort and money in the race. I couldn’t give up on that. I gathered my things, dressed and hit the road.
As I rode, I soon found that I frankly didn’t feel any better than the day before. Sluggish legs would be the flavor of the day. I tried not to worry about anything. The weather, wind, other racers location, the hills, the traffic- none of it mattered. I just rode. Fortunately I was going through an area that I really enjoy. I had cycled those roads on training rides quite a few times. Going by Devil’s Kitchen and Little Grassy lakes was wonderful. I was enjoying the scenery and rolling along.
I stopped at a convenience store in Goreville, lamenting that Delaney’s was permanently closed and I couldn’t have pie. I sat outside the store on a picnic table and ate while I people watched. After a short break, I hit the road again.
I kept on through familiar territory, riding past Tunnel Hill bike trail and on to Eddyville, where I made another stop. It was 2:30PM and getting pretty hot out. I ate an ice cream and refilled all my drinks. While I chilled inside the store, Michela and Stefano came in. The last time I had seen them was at Newton Bike Shop in Newton, KS. We said hello and chatted just a bit. The language barrier was sort of a challenge, so the conversation was short and limited. With them being there, the competitive part of me urged me to get going, so I moved on.
As I left the station and headed south on Eddyville Road, I really wasn’t looking forward to the next few miles ahead. With sluggish legs, the hills that I knew were there would be harder than I wanted. I took it easy on the flat parts and went immediately to easy gears for the hills and found them to not be as bad as I thought they would be.
My next stop was Elizabethtown for food and drinks at yet another gas station. I didn’t stay long and headed off again, through town and onto Tower Rock Rd for the pretty ride to Cave-In Rock.
Cave-In Rock is a significant spot on the Trans Am for a couple reasons. First off, it is the last town in Illinois. It is also the site of the only mechanized transportation that every TA rider uses- the Cave-In Rock Ferry across the Ohio River. The ferry runs from 6:00AM-9:30PM and historically has been a spot that can lead to a little racing excitement if someone gets there too late or too early. Although I didn’t really care, I was fortunate that I was there at 5:15PM, so I wouldn’t have to wait too long. When I came down the hill toward the ferry ramp, the ferry was on the Illinois side and had just unloaded cars, so I was able to ride right on.
On the ferry, I took the opportunity to sit down and chill. I leaned my bike up on the railing, sat down on the deck and pulled my shoes off to let my feet rest. The ride was short overall- maybe 10 minutes or so, but it was nice to just sit and watch the river go by.
Once back on “dry land”, I was in Kentucky! State number 9 and only 1 more to go!
While on the ferry, I had half expected to see dot watcher Michelle Hodge on the Kentucky side. Many times she will come out to the ferry to meet racers and welcome them to her state, but she wasn’t there. I rode the 13 miles to Marion and found Michelle and her husband Brian waiting for me near the center of town.
I had been waiting to meet Michelle for over a year. As a dot watcher, she has a pretty good presence on Facebook and we had gotten hooked up on there prior to my DNF of TABR15. This time around I wanted to be sure and meet the dot watching legend! She did not disappoint and had an Inspired to Ride poster she has the racers autograph. She had me sign as well andI’ll admit it felt pretty cool to get to be a part of her memorabilia. I thanked them for coming out to see me and then headed down the street a couple blocks to a Subway to eat.
I ate big at Subway and got cooled off. It was still quite early really at 6:30PM, but as I looked ahead, there wasn’t going to be much in the way of a place to stay out in front of me on the route for quite awhile and frankly, I wasn’t feeling like sleeping in my bivy. After eating, I decided to go to a little motel there in Marion and get a room for the night. I would then get up early and get a good start to the next day.
I ended my day in Marion with only 108 miles, but I was still racing. That was all that was important to me. I just needed to stay moving and finish this bad boy up.