monday morning, we had big plans.
we had biked a long 66 miles the day before and had crossed into illinois. the bike was making some noise, so we were hoping to get to carbondale, a somewhat daunting 76 miles away, by the early afternoon to visit a bike shop before it closed at 5.
we cruised into elizabethtown, il on sunday evening and had a lovely campsite setup. we were camping in the backyard of a b&b right on the ohio river, which provided a wonderful sunset view, plus! there was a pool that we were welcome to use. we went to the floating restaurant nearby and ate some delicious fried catfish and got to bed early in order to wake up the next morning at 4:30am to get on our way to carbondale. our spirits were high and we were excited for the big day on monday.
we woke up to the early alarm (only hit snooze once!) and got moving quickly. we were almost ready to go at about 5:30 when it started raining. so, we waited. we checked the radar (because it’s always 100% accurate) and saw that it should pass soon. no worries! just a tiny bit later than we hoped. once we started biking (around 7), we made it about 3 miles before the rain started up again. it looked to be clear skies ahead so we loitered under a tree before heading out again. just another mile later, the clouds opened and it started absolutely pouring on us. thankfully, there was a church just off the road with a covered front porch. that covered church porch kept us dry for an hour and a half while it rained and rained and rained.
amazingly, our spirits were not entirely crushed once we got on the road again after the rain. after a few more miles, the bike was acting wobbly and i noticed that the back tire was looking funny. maybe it needed some air? it definitely wasn’t flat but it probably shouldn’t be shaking the way it was…. as david and i were communicating about whether and where to stop and check out, there was a very loud explosion. that came from our back tire. “well, that’s a flat tire,” said david.
so, at 9:45am, 13 miles into our day, david started changing our first flat tire. he was very speedy at changing the tube and we thought we were in business, until we realized that the side walls of the tire were shredded and would definitely not be patch-able with what we had (and we aren’t carrying a spare). soooooooooooooooooo, how to bike the remaining 60-some miles to the bike shop in carbondale?
hitch-hiking with a tandem bike is difficult. lots of old ladies in small cars stopped to ask if we needed help, which was much appreciated, but we needed a truck. or a minivan. and someone able and willing to drive us over an hour to a bike shop. AAA did not find it amusing when i called asking for “my vehicle” to be towed. apparently they only service licensed vehicles and even though our tandem is currently our only home and vehicle, they wouldn’t help me.
finally, we found a retired schoolteacher with a minivan and some free time who was willing to get us to carbondale. i’m not sure how genuinely he wanted to help us but as he said, “if i don’t help you, what will you do?” that’s a good question, sir.
so, all of the things went wrong. but! we made it to carbondale before the bike shop closed! they even stayed open 2 extra hours to fix her up for us to get on the road the next day (she needed quite a bit of TLC). while we were waiting for the bike, we had some tasty food and coffee at a local bakery and secured a place to stay for the night through warmshowers.
later, when our bike was fixed, our host for the night cooked us dinner (with fresh vegetables!) and we had local craft beers. as we were fixing my chacos with super glue (the soles had totally separated and the pink duct tape just wasn’t cutting it anymore), our host karen said, “oh, what size are you? i have a pair of chacos that i just can’t make myself like. i’ve been meaning to give them away and would love for you to have them.” welp, they’re my size AND green. we slept in an air-conditioned room, on a mattress and had some of the best sleep we’ve had in a while. on this day when so many things went wrong but ended up right, we were reminded that the plan for this trip is not in our control. we’ve got to be open-minded and trusting and optimistic that’s it’s going to be ok.
today marks 3 weeks on the road and we’re close to 1000 miles on a bike. we reached missouri (on a bike! how crazy is that!) and have had some “excessive heat warnings.” we feel like we’re getting into a groove and have found a way to find routine in the ever-changing circumstances of each day. tomorrow, we’ll get into the ozarks and we hope that having the hills of appalachia under our belt will help us to tackle them.