Day 34: Utica to Sebree

Last night, I didn’t sleep well. I couldn’t stretch my legs because the couch was too short, so I ended up sleeping on the floor.

Crispin and I woke up a little before 5 AM. It was still dark out. We did our usual morning packing routine then walked across the street to the convenience store for breakfast. I had a sausage and egg biscuit with a cup of coffee.

Another convenience store meal

I was looking at our route for the day and thought we could go further than Sebree, maybe past Dixon and go to Clay since Sebree is only 26 miles or so from Utica. Crispin agreed we should go as far as we can before the heat hits in the afternoon.

With the sun behind us, we rode west

Together, the two of us left the “Taj Mahal” Utica fire station at 6:20 and headed westward. The roads were mainly flat with a few small hills. We stopped at a convenience store in Beech Grove to have a break and eat ice cream. That’s the n-th ice cream bar I’ve had on this trip and I predict more will be eaten as I ride.

The only flavor I haven't tried, strawberry shortcake

Some kind of a factory in the distance

We made it to Sebree in no time. At Bell’s Drug Store, we stopped to have some milkshakes. The locals told us where the First Baptist Church was so we can stay there for the night. Crispin wanted to take a look so we made our way there.

A lady making our milkshakes

I knew the church was friendly when I saw their sign welcoming cyclists out on the front yard. We were soon introduced to the church’s pastor by a church member. The pastor’s name is Tony and he showed us around. What a great place! They even have a ping pong table, a foosball table, an air hockey table, and a pool table. There is a shower and a kitchen, along with three private rooms. A cycling room was set up for the cyclists where there are bike parts we can exchange. On the walls are huge maps indicating where the all the cyclists of the past came from. The church also has internet, so I don't have to use Crispin's iPhone as a hotspot. All these convinced me that we should just stay in Sebree for the night even though it’s only 10 AM.

Sebree First Baptist Church

The Grand Hyatt of church hostels

Logistically, we need to get to Carbondale, IL, by Saturday the latest so I can get my Ortlieb panniers from the bike shop. Since today is only Tuesday, we can spend the night in Sebree and still be on schedule.

We also talked with Chele, short for Michelle, who is another member of this church. She told us where to get lunch. Soon after dropping off our panniers and other things, we rode our bikes to the Sebree Dairy Bar for lunch. I had a spicy chicken sandwich with fries and a drink.

Food is getting a little better

When we got back we found ourselves with a lot of time. I started to think about my destination. Do I still want to go to Los Angeles instead of San Francisco if the heat continues to be like this? I decided to stick to my original route of taking the Western Express from Pueblo, CO, to San Francisco. This is the northern route going to California rather than going on Route 66 to Los Angeles, which I predict will be hotter.

Crispin and I played some ping pong to pass away the time. Bob, another church member, decided to check in on us. I told him about my route to San Francisco instead of Los Angeles. He told me it’ll be hot either way. This is contrary to what Aaron the trucker had told me back when I was riding to Silver Spring, Maryland. Aaron informed me the temperature will be dramatic despite the seemingly small difference in distance. But I feel San Francisco is a better city and if Aaron’s right then I benefit, if Bob’s right then I come out even. So San Francisco it is! Bob also offered us some Subway sandwiches he had brought to the church. Crispin and I ended up eating all of them.

Bob and Crispin

Just as a coincidence, my old college friend, Sandra, contacted me on Facebook. She asked me if I’m still going to San Francisco on the Western Express. I told her yes. Since she’s big into athletics and lives in Colorado, she wanted to know if she can join me on the ride for a a couple of days. Of course! I’d be happy to ride with Sandra.

I weighed myself again. This time I weighed at 160 pounds. I'm not sure which scale is correct, but I think the 160 is the more accurate one than the 151 I had weighed at Robby's house.

I took a shower and will sleep on the couch. This time, the couch is big enough to stretch out my legs. I hope to get a good night sleep for tomorrow’s ride to Marion, a town that’s about 42 miles west of Sebree.