I got up
around six and went through the final packing routine on the bike. I
already did some of this the night before, but left the finishing touches
for the morning. I wanted to make sure I was not going to leave anything
behind. Food? check. Spare tube? check… etc…
the garage sale bike as I bought it. There was a small emblem on the frame
near the chain that read “speed master” This was an oxymoron, since
the bike was obviously a mountain bike with big fat knobby tires -not a
not an endorsement for transit-Pro bags, but they were the largest I could
find for the back rack. The two bags together had a capacity of about 2000
cubic inches. This was just enough room to pack my food, stove and pans, and
sleeping mattress. They also had nice loops that you can see in the lower
part of the picture. I used these loops with a bungee web that I had from
the motorcycle days. These bags attach to the bike very easy. The front bags
used elastic instead of a strap. This is a great design feature. The elastic
bags in place. It also allows quick bag detachment. The bags weighed 60
pounds loaded; I was not going to
detach them, but there is good flexibility that comes with detachable bags
for shorter trips.
sack did a good
job of cinching down my oversize zero degree mummy bag. Also pictured here
is a little cordalette… once a climber always a climber. It is nice to have
a small rope in case you have to improvise something. Note the offset rear
wheel. A harbinger of things to come.
This is a shot of the control panel. I turned
the front reflector up. Utilizing an office clip; I mounted the directions
in front of me, so that I could reference them while riding. I used laminated maps. They looked “cool” but in a 4"x6" format, they
were very hard to read. Also pictured on each side of the front wheel are the
totally rubberized and waterproof front bags. The olive bag holds the tent in a stuff sack
wrapped in plastic canvas to keep it dry in case of rain. The plastic canvas
doubled as a ground cloth.
“dressed GITride trail vehicle.” Complete with tire pump,
ceremonial carabiner, and a black bandana. The bag bungeed inside the frame is the rain suit top.
I left Joliet by 9:40 am. I am beginning about a mile off the start of the
I&M Canal in Joliet. I enter it at a local bike path that connects to the
I&M on Larkin Avenue in Joliet. All the
planning complete, we enter implementation. With every implementation,
mental preparation meets fear of the unknown. And I feel it. To reduce
anxiety, I start going through the checklist in my head.
By 9:50 I was backpedaling in fear. Before I left home, two sets of
maps were good enough. I got a copy of a book at the Joliet public
library and xerox'ed the map pages. I had the www.openlands.org
maps, on which I spent a lot of time laminating. The third set of maps
left on the kitchen table turned me around. Maybe it was fear?
The excitement of getting started? Whatever it was, the maps I retrieved
were the best maps to use.
Had I relied on the set of maps that I laminated, navigation would have been
a disaster. I carried three sets of information and ended up using one. The
were the best maps for me.
About an hour or so into the trip. This is
the lock tenders house in Channahon. The trail is mostly
chipped limestone. Paved trail is the easiest to ride, but this is pretty
The I&M Canal at
Morris. You are looking West. Just north of these fountains is the Morris city
center, and to the South
is the Illinois River.
bridge near Seneca is another
architecturally pleasing example. It feels good to see that Illinois places
priority on making their bridges unique; Especially in places where tourists
are likely to pass by on their bicycles.
1st stop 1st
day: Wow. This is much harder than I anticipated. I really cannot get any
speed up and have found myself dying in the first three hours!
Other than the immediate feelings of weakness in the knees and a dull pain
in my neck/upper back, everything seems to be ok! (That's a joke.) It is
lunchtime but I am not really hungry, however food, and at its prescribed
time, is probably a good idea, and a key part of this
Chautauqua. This trip is about healthy living. I figure I've
covered at my first 23 of 450 miles which is less than 10%. In order to be
within my plan, I will need to complete 18% each day or about 80 miles each day.
Oh yeah. and just noticed my ass already hurts too!
The grain Elevator at Seneca is a familiar
landmark on the I&M Canal. It is probably a museum or something now.
Marseilles is a water recreation hot spot on
the Illinois River. I am heading to the point where the I&M Canal trail
ends. I had to do some calculating so that my days endpoint would have me
camping in more of a wilderness area.
The readjustment of the timetable came quick. 80 miles a day? No way. Much
depends on how I recover tomorrow, and the day after that. I ache in my legs, my ass, my back, and my feet. I really thought
10 miles per hour would be the slowest. I routinely
do a 14-16 mph average on my 25-40 mile runs, so even fully packed, I would
never have believed this would be so difficult. Boy, was I
wrong. Now I am figuring that If I go 6mi/hr for 10 hours, and the route is
truly 450 miles, I will be able to finish the trip in about seven or eight
days. It is a good thing I over-planned my food-days. I may have just enough
provision to cover this.
Today I covered about 54 miles. I am beat, dead tired, but it is a good
feeling of total healthy exhaustion.
END DAY 1: Joliet to
Route: GIT Clockwise
Stayed At: Ottawa near lock #12 in a tent under a tree with a little rain
Total Miles 58.7
Total Time 7:02:55
Average Speed 8.3
Maximum Speed 18.9