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Local Rider's Journal 7-20-98


Hi all-

You last heard from me from my rest day perch high atop the gorgeous Sheraton in the idyllic university town of Madison, Wisconsin, a place where I'm sure in could live happily without batting an eye. For the last three LONG days we're been grinding our way south from Madison to Belvidere, Illinois, a tiny farmland burg, then to Lisle, IL, a Chicago suburb, then southeast across Illinois into LaPorte, Indiana this evening. There was a marked change in scenery and feel from Wisconsin to Illinois. Wisconsin was bucolic farmland with postcard barns and silos and rolling hills - Illinois suddenly became eastern-industrial looking literally at the state line. Suddenly the terrain and buildings looked like eastern sprawl and not the west. We pedaled a wide berth around Chicago for obvious reasons - taking nearly three full days to get completely around its far suburbs, then once again ended up today in (very) rural Illinois, back to cornfields, mosquitos and unbearable heat and humidity. The attached pictures are a summary of the terrain from Madison, Wisconsin, to LaPorte, Indiana, omitting of course some very beautiful farms and old houses and city halls and shots of riders, all of which will be available when I return.

I still would like to make a few composite shots for you of the amazingly beautiful town of Madison. It deserves its own pages.

I am TOTALLY exhausted. It is all I can do to get rested enough to extract myself from bed in the morning, let alone pedal all day. Oddly enough the heat is not so bad as long as one is pedaling, but it catches to you after you pull into camp at night and have to extract your bags from the mountain at the luggage trucks and then walk the quarter of a mile it often is between the food and the shower trucks -- sweating buckets of sweat for an hour or two until the body recovers from the riding. I don't even attempt to change out of my cycling cothes until after dinner in order to have time to cool down.

We will have had six full days of near-century rides before the next rest day in Sandusky, Ohio. Only ten more riding days from today to DC. Incredible.

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Hi all -

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One very interesting place we pedaled through yesterday was the Fermilab complex in suburban Chicaco area. This HUGE complex (many hundreds of acres - several miles across) showed a fascinating glimpse into big science. Huge monolithic concrete buildings surrounded by lakes and motes, miles of experimental structures and detritus from past experiments, huge sculptures including the GIANT Calder at the entrance, and amazingly, a buffalo herd. It all was very "Andromeda Strain" or "Soylent Green" looking.



(Updated 07/29/98)

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