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Park Forest, IL to Elizabethtown, OH

This chapter was written and sent on the Internet from our home in Lynchburg, VA.

May 24, Sunday
A network of scenic country roads took us to the Indiana border. Al and Harv again came with us as we all conferred as to what was the best route for the ADT. Although the ADT route is basically defined, it is still in its infancy and changes will be inevitable as new trails are developed or optimal locations reviewed.

A favorite part of today's ride was crossing over the Kankakee River on a very old highway bridge with the water only 3 feet below the bottom of the bridge. Some canoeists went under it while we were there. They had to lie down in the boat to slip under the bridge.

Al and Harv left us after lunch and we were again on our own. We rode to Roselawn, Indiana where we camped for the night. Roselawn is, strangely enough, home to not just one but two nudist resorts and two other campgrounds. Hmmm — how do we describe this next part? The resort we chose is a clothing optional park and Bill was anxious to give it a try as part of the "discovery" process of the ADT. Bill had remembered that this place existed since we both had attended nearby Purdue University 30 years ago. The place has obviously seen better days and many of the facilities would love a new coat of paint and some general tidying up. It was a warm day and people were, as they say, enjoying the sun. And what an unusual assortment of people it was. We did not have to worry about not having picture perfect bodies in this crowd, although our biker suntans gave us away as not being "regulars". The people here seem to have a love of tattoos and body piercing. If you are expecting any further details you will have to buy our book, when we get it published!

43.8 miles, 12.7 mph average, 3 hours 25 minutes, 1585 total miles

May 25, Monday, Memorial Day
Today was a day to make miles. The land in northern Indiana is mostly flat, the temperatures only reached the low 70's with light north winds, and seldom traveled paved roads were our route. We made few stops, only a lunch break at Tippecanoe River State Park and snacks at Lake Bruce. We reached Rochester by 3:15 PM, even after stopping to replace a broken spoke on Bill's rear wheel. He has gotten pretty good at this procedure and can replace a spoke without even removing the wheel or tire.

66 miles, 13.9 mph average, 4 hours 44 minutes, 1652 miles total

May 26, Tuesday
This was a slow easy day. We have only taken one day off since beginning our trip almost 6 weeks ago. We normally take days off when it rains, but we have had hardly any rain, so we take an easy day once in a while. We left Rochester and passed Manitou Lake and headed south on paved country roads. (We haven't had to ride on gravel roads since leaving Nebraska.) We stopped at a cafe in Denver and were surprised and interested to see that this is where the American Discovery Trail crosses the northern cross country route of the Adventure Cycling Association (formerly Bike Centennial). When we sat down for lunch, the waitress handed us a biker's register log. Wow, that's the first register we've signed on this whole trip. We were the first riders to sign it, however, as following the American Discovery Trail.

We arrived in Peru, Indiana and found the bike shop. They were very friendly and are supportive of the ADT. Bill was hearing some clicking noises in his crank and had his bottom bracket removed and had the threads of the retainers cleaned, greased, and tightened. This, however, did not turn out to solve the problem. Oh well. We rode past the house where Cole Porter, the composer, was born. Later, we visited the museum, had an interview at the local paper, and stopped at the library to write part of this journal chapter. Peru is also known as "Circus City". It was home to several large circuses a few decades ago. As we walked back to the B&B from dinner, we saw a large, open building resembling a huge circus tent. We stepped into an open door and found it was, indeed, the training ground for a three ring circus. This was, however, the amateur division. Whereas many towns offer dance or swimming lessons to their youth, Peru has numerous classes for children in acrobatics and juggling. There were rings, trapezes, tightwire, and other paraphernalia suspended from the structure. Kids were busy practicing juggling machetes, pins, and rings. This is one of only about three places in the country where people can attend classes in circus skills.

32 miles, 11.6 mph average, 2 hours 45 minutes, 1684 miles total

May 27, Wednesday
The day started with a good breakfast at the B&B and only got better from there. Upon leaving Peru, we saw the Circus Hall of Fame. Since Peru was the winter quarters for several different major circuses over the years, this is the chosen location for the Hall of Fame. Parked outside the main building were numerous wagons, rolling tiger cages, and ornate coaches. Inside we saw a large display of miniature circus figures, more decorated wagons, and posters advertizing circuses from long ago. In another gallery were pictures and histories of the great performers such as the Flying Wallendas, Emmett Kelly (the clown), and Dan Rice, the inspiration for Thomas Nast's Uncle Sam. It was actually a very touching and somewhat sad experience realizing that all these performers and the circus way of life are almost a thing of the past. We both agreed that neither of us were ever very fond of circuses, but we are sad to see them fading from the American scene.

We rode on nice paved roads along the Mississinewa River and Lake. At one point we passed a man standing in his front yard. "Are you the Happy Feet?" he asked. "Have a nice ride!" He must have seen our picture in the morning paper. It was fun to think to think of strangers cheering us on. We saw the gravestone of Francis Slocum, who was a white child captured by the Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania in 1778. She grew up with the Indians, moved around a lot, and eventually married a chief. She lived in the area for many years prior to her death in 1847.

We ate lunch in Sweetser and to our surprise, we found and rode on a one mile long paved rail trail called the Sweetser Switch Trail. We then entered Marion, spoke with Mr. Curfman at the bike shop, and then did an interview with the Marion Chronicle Tribune. We spent the night with Maud Davis, who is the mother of Laurie's sister's (Jan), husband.

44.2 miles, 10.9 mph average, 4 hour 2 minutes, 1729 total miles

May 28, Thursday
We left Marion and passed through Jonesboro and Matthews on our way to Muncie. We rode on rural roads paralleling the route of the planned Cardinal Greenway on an abandoned CSX right of way. When completed, this trail will extend for 70 miles between Marion and Richmond, Indiana.

When we arrived in Muncie we met the construction manager for the Cardinal Greenway. We found out that 10 miles of the trail had just been paved with the first layer of asphalt, and though, totally unofficial, we could ride it. We were likely the first bike riders on most of this 10 miles. In fact, we had to walk about one quarter mile which was still being paved.

It was very hot and humid today but we at least had a light tailwind when riding east in the afternoon. We stopped in every store and gas station to drink juice, pop, or lemonade. In Williamsburg, an Amish community, we stopped at a small bulk food grocery and talked to the teenage Amish clerk. After we proudly told her that we hadn't ridden there in a car but on bicycles, she explained that her community was not allowed to ride bicycles either, although some Amish communities do allow it. Decisions on what is allowed are made by the elders (men only) in the community. The teenager speculated that the reason bicycles weren't allowed is that someone might go and do something crazy like us and ride across the country.

We ended our long day in Richmond and ran into some more trail magic. Calling a local trail supporter, Don Royer, we learned that the Wayne county ADT club was going to leave for a hike on the Whitewater Gorge Trail (part of the ADT and open to hikers only) in about an hour. So we went on their hike with them and were invited to spend the night at one the member's homes — Peg Brown. Peg, in her seventies, had a young at heart spirit and Bill told her she "just sparkled".

72 miles, 11.1 mph average, 6 hours 30 minutes, 1802 miles total

May 29, Friday
In the morning we hiked the northern leg of the Whitewater Gorge Trail with Don Royer. This was an unusually steep sided valley in the middle of surrounding flat land, right in the heart of the city. It had a remote feeling to it since in was very wooded and deep. Thistlethwaite Falls was brimming with water that cascaded over the rocks in a lacy show.

Two members of the Wayne county ADT club, Ruth & Sam Naff, rode with us to the Ohio State line. The route was rural, passing through farmland and over a covered bridge. Riding through the Midwest on the ADT gives us a real appreciation for the amount of agriculture that exists in America. From the Great Plains corn and cattle ranches we rode through the prairie lands with corn and soybeans and pigs and into the Midwest with more corn and soybeans. Does America really eat that much corn?

We are glad to be nearing the end of our trip now that the hot weather is hitting us with full force. Laurie ran out of water today (with only 4 miles left to go) meaning she drank one half gallon in about three hours. When we reached Oxford, we stopped first to get some lemonade, then at the bike shop to say hello to the owner who helped us out last year, on to the ice cream shop for a malt and sundaes, and finally to Paul and Lois Daniel's house. Paul is the Ohio ADT coordinator and we stayed with them last year on our trip west. So, only one more day to go to connect the dots, then on home via Amtrak out of Cincinnati.

35.4 miles, 11 mph average, 3 hours 11 minutes, 1837 miles total

May 30, Saturday, The End of the Line
We had a severe thunderstorm last night. One lightning bolt sounded like it was right outside our window. We hoped the rain would clear out the humidity but it did not. Our last day on the Trail was destined to be hot and humid. The route was wonderfully rural considering we are close to Cincinnati. Paul and his helpers have done a great job putting up the ADT trail markers. We hardly had to refer to our maps at all.

When we arrived at the Miami Whitewater State Forest, we repaired a flat on Laurie's rear tire — our fourth for this trip. Then we entered the Shaker Trace — a paved bike trail with dozens of bikers, rollerbladers, and joggers out for their daily exercise. After a nutritious lunch of corndogs and nachos at the concession stand, we rode on to Elizabethtown and the junction of the northern and southern route of the ADT with the eastern route. We were at this same exact spot a little over one year ago as we rode west and opted for the southern route to Denver.

We were pleased to see Paul and Lois there to greet us with a sign saying "Congratulations Happy Feet". Next, they produced a bottle of champagne that we opened and polished off in no time. Paul suggested that we look behind the ADT Trailhead sign. We did and we found a note from Brian Starke, the runner, congratulating us for our successful trip. Brian, by the way, has reached St. Louis on his running trip across the country on the ADT.

This was a fine finish and it was fun having someone here to share it with us unlike the end of our trip in Utah last year at the Dewey Bridge over the Colorado River. Though proud of our accomplishment for a very successful trip, it did not leave us with an emotional impact. This is probably because this trip was so much shorter than last year's and it wasn't the first time we were attempting a trip like this. The overall result though is that, at least for the time being, we have seen more of the ADT than anyone else in the world. We are glad to have been able to generate some publicity through interviews and through our online journals.

After having a snack at the convenience store we rode on to the Amtrak station in Cincinnati, some 20 miles away. We were escorted by Don Burrell, a bike rider in the Southwest Ohio Trails Association (SWOTA), who took us on a safe road route into the city. Our next surprise was that the Amtrak ticket counter would not be open until 11 pm that night, so we could not get our bikes and gear boxed and checked. We ended up getting picked up by Ron Sondermann, who took us to his brother in law's house, Don & Caroline Lemmink. Both of these men are members of SWOTA. So, by a serendipitous combination of trail supporters we finally slept our last night on the ADT.

63 miles, 11.5 mph average, 5 hours 26 minutes, 1900.2 miles total

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1998, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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