It was a GOAL-den sunrise at the Wayne Rugby Park. (Nothing like starting the day with a pun!)
I really have to give Wayne credit – they had the most abundant and well-kept portable toilets of any city we stayed in. Handwashing stations and trash receptacles, too.
I had a great breakfast from the MOPS fundraiser booth – a yogurt, fruit and granola parfait – with homemade granola.
Last night I’d gone back and forth about what route I would take today to Wakefield. There were three options. One – a 90-plus miler – was out of the running for sure. The question was, do I do the 46-mile route, or the 28-mile route?
I’d decided on the 46-mile route before I fell asleep, but this morning I was just feeling so tired. I decided to do the 28-mile route. I dawdled a bit in camp and was one of the later cyclists to make it out.
I rode at a lazy pace instead of trying to push myself all the time. Gentle hills, gentle breeze. It was very nice.
Except . . . my dawdling this morning meant I’d had time to drink an extra cup of coffee. Gosh, a bathroom sure would be nice about now!
I arrived at the Sag stop 10 miles in, where the 28 and 46 routes diverged. A couple of bikepacker bikes were parked nearby. A few people were using the support of the BRAN ride to test out their gear and strategy prior to undertaking a bikepacking adventure. Smart!
The slow pace that morning had been so refreshing, I was now rethinking my route choice. What else would I have to do the rest of the day? Might as well keep riding, right? But I was still torn. I really needed a rest.
I decided to ask the SAG volunteer whether Concord, the next town on the 28-mile route, or Laurel, the next town on the 46-mile route, had a bathroom. He didn’t know. He pointed to a tree and said, “There’s your bathroom.”
Remembering from my ruminations the previous day that Laurel was the bigger town, and thinking it would be more likely to have a publicly-accessible bathroom, I decided to take the 46-mile route.
Indeed, Laurel had relief for me: TWO gas stations (neither of which shows up in Google). I wound up learning something interesting. I saw an older gent get out of his farm truck and walk over and take a box and a paper out of this cabinet in front of the gas station.
Another man was smoking a cigarette nearby. I asked him if he knew what the cabinet was all about. He did.
There used to be an ag implement dealer in Laurel. It was bought by a bigger company. Promises were made about the location staying open. Two years later, it closed. The cabinet is a way of accessing parts without having to drive 15-plus miles each way to the closest remaining dealer in Wayne. When you’re in the midst of a planting or harvest operation trying to beat a change in weather, taking an hour or so out of your day to get a needed part is the last thing you want to do.
An interesting conversation I had with a fellow cyclist later in the day stemmed from this ag-implement-parts dilemma. His son, who recently got into farming, thinks that if the regulatory hurdles currently blocking package delivery via drone can be overcome, farmers would some day be able to order small replacement parts for their equipment via cell phone, and have the items delivered right to wherever their malfunctioning implement was located.
This is what I love about travel by bicycle – being on a bicycle versus being enclosed in a vehicle breaks down conversational barriers and opens opportunities to learn new things. Would I have noticed the ag parts cabinet and asked questions if I’d stopped at the gas station in a car? Probably not. I probably would never have come through Laurel, since it’s off the beaten path. And I certainly never would have had that conversation with my fellow cyclist if we were traveling on that same road enclosed in separate cars.
I think being enclosed in a vehicle all the time cuts us off from our fellow human beings. I think our habit of rushing from one place to another at the highest possible speed, pushing 70-80 miles an hour, contributes to the social divide between people. I think rides like BRAN help to improve our civil society if they provide an opportunity for people who never would have a chance to meet otherwise – urban cyclists and rural residents – to learn from one another, face to face.
On a relaxed ride day, I think about a lot of things!
Once I departed Laurel and followed Highway 20’s 90-degree curve to the east, I began grumbling to myself about the quality of the road surface. The road had been chip sealed sometime in the recent past (sprayed with tar and coated with gravel), and the excess gravel had not been swept away, so I was constantly having to dodge around or carefully, carefully steer through pools of loose gravel on the road shoulder. (I rode out in the travel lane whenever I could.) I was annoyed until I started imagining that, rather than being a carelessly forgotten road hazard, the piles of pink gravel were instead the aftermath of a FABULOUS pink-gravel-confetti party. Whee! Gravel par-tay!
Speaking of “Wheee!” – on the last bit of Highway 20 before the route turned south onto Highway 9, there was a downhill with a 7-8% grade (per my Strava). There was no traffic at the time I hit that downhill, so I got out into the lane and let ‘er rip. Gosh, that was fun!!!
I was getting hungry, so I was glad there was a welcoming shade tent set up for us in front of the gas station in Allen. (The shade was very much appreciated!)
For a freewill donation, there were supplies to make sandwiches, but I was a little unsure about the food, since most of it was crowded with flies that had come for a visit from the exotic animal farm across the road.
One of the volunteers at the tent told us about a newly-opened restaurant up the main street hill in Allen – the yellowish building you can see in the above photo through the gas pump canopy. She also told us the story behind Allen’s strange claim to fame. Our ride guide had stated:
The original town was built out on a higher hill than now and the townspeople decided to lower the town. To accomplish this, its buildings were placed on stilts, the earth was excavated beneath them, and then they were lowered to their present elevation.
The volunteer elaborated that the reason for this crazy feat of earthmoving was that the slope of the main street was too steep for newly-popular automobiles to make it to the businesses downtown. She said the original slope could still be seen behind the bank at the top of the hill. Here’s the link to the town’s history website.
First things first: food!
Here’s Henry’s. You can see by the line of the building versus the slope of the road what kind of hill Allen was built upon.
Henry’s is clearly a quality establishment – there’s a bicycle above the bathrooms. 🙂
And the Chicago gal in me appreciated the random presence of the Blues Brothers up in the rafters.
I sat down with a group of cyclists who were already in the restaurant. It didn’t take much prompting for me to order a beer to go along with my buffet of BBQ ribs, beans, chicken alfredo and salad. I probably sat in the cool air of Henry’s for an hour and a half. I really like relaxed days on the bike!
It was soon time to get moving, though, and to check out the story of the Allen hill reduction operation.
There sure is an odd swale of hill behind the brick bank building at left, and across the field near the water tower in this image there’s a retaining wall holding back earth. Strange topography indeed.
Still . . . if something so monumental were to occur, wouldn’t someone have photographed the effort, or written about it? I really wanted to check out the Dixon County Museum in Allen to see what evidence there was, but it was only open on Sundays or by appointment. A post office worker and customer were happy to help track down someone to open the museum, but it was already past noon, and the day was growing hotter. I wanted to get going. The mystery remains!
Another 15 miles down the road, and – TADAAA! – a Wakefield welcome! (The bigger bikes fell over, but I get what they were trying to do.)
And then there was this really weird “tandem” trike:
I learned it was introduced to the market in 1998 by Midwest Contracting and Manufacturing, Inc., for party rental companies and campgrounds. (I also learned that these exist, and that I kinda want one.)
A church conveniently located on the route to the campsite creatively attracted attention to its evening fundraiser meal.
I detoured a couple of blocks into the neighborhood and found this utterly delightful yard display: 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!
I did feel very welcomed in Wakefield!
And I did enjoy my stay! (I took this picture from the vantage point of the tractor that was pulling a shuttle trailer between camp and the downtown.)
In the welcome bags we got upon arrival, we got a vote ticket and instructions to head downtown to view the decorated planters and vote for our favorite one. What fun!
Here’s a compilation of some of the bicycles decorating Wakefield’s downtown:
And individual comments on some of them:
Gosh, do we cyclists really have that much of a reputation as drinkers?
Another attempt at commercialization?
Cute, but I kinda feel like this is bad juju, Crashing is not a good thing.
I think perhaps the same decorator was at work at the railroad museum. (I did laugh.)
This one was very cute, in front of the Little Red Hen Theatre.
I’m a bit baffled here – why a raccoon? And why is it wearing an origami paper hat?
Well played, Miller Building Supply. Well played!
And someone taking advantage of an opportunity. (Love the beetle-green color!)
Here was another very cute form of fishing for opportunity. A couple of kids’ bikes in front of a restaurant? I learned from the boy who was riding one of them that his mom asked him and his sister to park their bikes in front of the restaurant so the BRAN riders would see them and come in.
Well, it worked! I was so excited to see pupsas on the menu! Ever since I learned about pupusas at the Des Moines, Iowa, farmers market, I’ve been on constant lookout for them. They’re kind of like a super thick corn tortilla, stuffed with cheese and beans and/or meat and accompanied by a spicy cabbage slaw called curtido.
Man, Wakefield has some great food! Check out these snaps of a menu at Snack Attack. They also had AMAZING looking fruit cups and popsicles. (If I lived in Wakefield, I would be in here All. The. Time.)
There was a beer garden and band downtown, but I headed back to camp. I needed my sleep!
day 5 stats
1,975 feet of climb
10.6 mph avg
(weather data from Wayne)
low temp 60
high temp 85
avg humidity 49%
wind 7-16 g 22 SW
Copyright 2017 by Katie Bradshaw