Day 3: Winona to Kempton
August 14, 2014 § 2 Comments
The longest, and possibly best, day of our week!
The weather today couldn’t have been better. Sunny skies, 70 degrees, and a steady tailwind to push us along. It was beautiful! We made great time in the morning, pedaling down completely flat one-lane county roads. We may have been passed by a dozen cars all morning, and none for over an hour. Perfect. Our front tire worked great!
The story is not the same for our back tire, however. It seems it had a very similar shelf life to the front tube, because a little after noon we noticed a flapping sound behind us. It had lost a good amount of air, so we refilled it and went on our way. The tire wouldn’t hold pressure for long, so we wound up refilling more and more frequently until we hit some rocks and the exhausted thing just gave up and went totally flat. We were four miles from the nearest town and forty from the nearest bike shop.
The road gods jest at tires that had never felt a wound.
[Enter JOHN COUNCIL and DEBORAH COUNCIL]
But soft! What truck around yonder corn turns?
It is the east, and the Councils are the sun.
Just as we decided that the tire was no good, a white Chevy appeared to us and stopped. Deborah and John (not yesterday’s John) asked if we needed help and immediately offered a lift when we told them our situation. We loaded the bike into the back and drove off to a Casey’s General Store in Cornell. John made a few calls, Dad and I Googled, and Deborah tried to get the attention of her friend Carol who she noticed was working inside (this is a critical detail—read on). John recommended a bike shop in Peru that would serve us well, and he even drove us there! That’s Peru, Illinois, not Peru, South America, but it was still a heck of a drive. One hour got the bike into a bike shop and repaired, and another got us back to the Council’s home. Luckily, their home is right along our route just a few miles before our breakdown point, so we got happily rolling again!
We biked to the Casey’s we had stopped at earlier and stopped in to buy a very late lunch from Carol (told you! But wait—there’s more). After consulting the map and the time, we realized that we were very behind schedule for completing our ride. There was no way we could get to our stopping point before sunset unless we got a ride for ten miles or so. We asked random Casey’s customers if they would, but none could until Carol volunteered. As soon as her shift was over, she opened up the back of her SUV for us and drove east.
We got out at the intersection of County Road 3000 and Illinois Route 17 and set out to finish our day. The weather was as perfect as it had been all day, and our lengthening shadow made it all the more beautiful. Our lodging for the evening is the Greenhouse Bed and Breakfast, which is certainly the prettiest B&B I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a house on a hill overlooking miles and miles of fields, with a front yard full of flowers, a pond, and a gazebo with an incredibly comfortable. We approached it as the sun was just beginning to kiss the horizon and it looked incredible. Truly a perfect end to a long but enjoyable day.
Today was another day of people that astonished us with their kindness. The Councils sacrificed more than two hours of their day to help us get back on our wheels, and Carol went well out of her way to help us get back on track. These people did this just because they wanted to help, not for any sort of reward or recognition. It was a challenge for us to find a way to repay them for their vital service to us, even just a refuel for the gas we cost them. We’re blessed to have met them and to know that there are people like them in the world.