Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - Savanna to Galena

For the only time on this trip, I was able to ride out of the motel parking lot and onto the trail. When I began the climb out of Savanna on 4th Street, I was disappointed to see a sign: " Road Closed!" Wow, two days in a row! This appeared to be more extensive work than a tiny bridge repair, so rather than being forced to double back a long way, I decided to take the busier IL 84 to Hanover instead of the inland route. On the bright side, at least it was a few miles shorter.

I embarrassed myself at the south entrance of Mississippi Palisades State Park. I pedaled through the grass around a kiosk to see if there was a map. When I got back to the front, I came to a complete stop and pulled my uphill right foot out of the toe clip. For an instant, I knew what was going to happen but was powerless to prevent it. My left foot stayed in the clip, my weight shifted, and down I went! As far as accidents go, it was pretty lame. I landed on my side but escaped injury aside from a few scrapes (no blood). At least there were no witnesses. That turned out to be my only fall on the GIT.

I reached the main entrance of Mississippi Palisades State Park around 10:15 AM. There was roadwork there with a flagger. It appeared that they were adding a left turn lane from IL 84 into the park. I took a picture and headed for Hanover.

I decided it wasn't worth hoisting the bike over the guardrail, so this time I posed instead.

The ride was scenic and only mildly hilly. Traffic wasn't as bad as I expected.

Kind to wildlife, not so kind to trespassers!

I was getting psyched up for the big hills ahead on Black Jack Road toward Galena. The cue sheet said, " Up, up, up then down." It sounded like the L'Alpe d'Huez (a legendary mountain ridden in the  Tour de France) of the GIT.  Passing through Hanover, I saw a lot of new home construction. I passed under a banner for Mallard Days, a festival held in mid-September.

Hanover billed itself as the " Mallard Capital of the World."

Coming up the hill from the Apple River bridge, I almost missed the turn onto Black Jack Road. The street sign was hard to read the Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort sign would have been a better landmark. The first climb was indeed challenging. I dropped all the way down to second gear for much of it and stopped once to take pictures (really just an excuse to catch my breath!).

This was the big climb on Black Jack Road. It never seems quite as bad looking back as it does going up.

There were a few ups and downs, then a major descent where I hit my highest speed ever, 45 mph! What a rush! There were several more hills, but none matched the difficulty of the first. After all the build-up, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't harder. The scenery was fantastic, though, and I often stopped just to enjoy the bucolic view.

I was rewarded for my climbing with a lovely view of the Mississippi River.

I started to worry about a knocking noise in my bottom bracket that was steadily worsening. I couldn't remember when it started, but I didn't notice it until I was cranking hard up that first big hill. For a while I only noticed it when I cranked hard, but by the time I reached the end of Black Jack Road, I could hear it with every spin of the pedals. After a mad dash across the Galena River bridge on very busy US 20, I turned onto Main Street in downtown Galena. I spotted my wife walking down the sidewalk. She said she was disappointed because she once really liked Galena, but now it just seemed like a bunch of stores selling the same stuff as in any tourist town. She directed me to the car, which was parked right in front of the Old Market House State Historic Site, another GIT checkpoint. It was only noon and I felt really good, so I was disappointed that my mechanical ills were going to end my day early. I logged 33.2 miles for the day at a 14.1 mph pace. I thought that was pretty good considering the climbs I had, and it was significantly faster than the previous day.

Old Market House State Historic Site was another GIT checkpoint, but it was closed on Monday.

Since we were going to stay in Dubuque for two nights, I decided to look for a bike shop there. The women at the Iowa visitor center gave me a brochure and directions to the Bike Shack. Though I braced myself for a big expense, it turned out to be just a few loose parts. They tightened up the bottom bracket, and it gave me no more trouble for the remainder of my trip.

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