Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5.....Bicycling from Vandalia, Illinois to Terre Haute, Indiana

103.16 miles in 7:27....average speed 13.8 mph....max speed 28.4 mph.....ascent 1585ft....descent 1598 ft ( 100 miles in 7:08:31 (14.0 mph)....total trip miles 1789.12.... Total trip ascent 35,628... Average mileage per ride....81.34 miles (22days riding)

The first thing I wanted to do before I left Vandalia, was to go into town, and see the Madonna of the Trail monument that is there, just like the ones in Wheeling and Bentleyville. At one point the National Road ran from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling, WV. At some point, the road was extended west, and the new western terminus was Vandalia. That's why I had heard of this town. I know stuff about places that I can't place, but I'm sure I learned this fact in sixth grade, in West Virginia history class. 

When I opened the motel room door, I was blasted by the morning heat and humidity. It warmed up pretty good, but the breeze kept me pretty cool, so it really didn't bother me. I probably drank more than I ever have on a ride, but that is the new me, so combined with my new nutrient regiment, there will be no cramping. Speaking of the breeze, as I usually do, today it was my friend. That may change tomorrow, but I had a pretty sweet tailwind today. How else could I average 14 mph for 100 miles, when I've been averaging between 9 and 12 mph for the most part of this trip. My time for the century, if not my best ever, is close. And it wasn't totally flat either. I climbed about 1600ft, the most in quite a while. US 40 wasn't always the perfect surface, but it wasn't bad. There usually was not a shoulder, but traffic wasn't terrible most of the time. There were a surprising amount of trucks, considering that I was paralleling I-70 for the whole trip.  I took  a couple of detours, one forced by road construction. I was detoured onto I-70 for ten miles. I'm not sure if that was the only way around the work, but I didn't hang around to ask questions about taking gravel roads like I did in Kansas. I jumped onto the highway, and the wind, plus the slipstream from a steady parade of trucks sucked me along at about 20 mph for those ten miles. My other detours were spontaneous turns off of US40 onto old sections of the original National Road. There are quite a few places were a more modern version of 40 bypasses some towns and villages where the National Road went. So, US 40 and the National Road aren't always the same. The roads were both well marked and signed all the way from Vandalia, where I picked it up. Many of the communities had museums and plaques, but I saw no advertisement for a National Pike Festival, like they do in our area. There were many towns along the way, the largest being Effingham, about 35 miles into the ride. I can tell that I'm not in the Great Plains, or the high desert any more, with those  desolate stretches. Now all I need is some nice shoulders, like those western states have. Missouri, and Illinois really don't do shoulders very well.
I did not see a marker telling me when I went from Illinois into Indiana, but the time of day changed on my Garmin, somewhere around the Wabash River, which is near Terre Haute. It was nice to go from riding into five o'clock traffic in that town, to hitting the tail end of it, in the blink of an eye, when the time changed. Once into town, I rode right past Indiana State University, the school of Larry Bird, the famous basketball player. Micycle Bicycle wanted to have his picture taken with his statue, so we did that, and I found a Travel Lodge right in town, and ate at a Wendy's.

Madonna of the Trail along US 40 in Vandalia



Scenery along US 40

Covered bridge on US 40

Effingham, Illinois

Terra Haute, Indiana - Indian State University

The home of Larry Bird


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