Right now I am sitting at the kitchen table of my in-laws house in Illinois.
For all intents and purposes, day 3 should have been a wonderful day. The forecast called for sunny skies. Most of my riding would be on the famed Raccoon River trail. The goal for the day was 60 miles instead of 90 or more. It should have been a cake walk. For me, it wasn't.
I was burned out. It took me way longer to pack up camp since my numb palms sapped my finger dexterity. It was the first time I had my camping stuff out in a while and I had to remember how it all went back together. I got off to a late start.
Shortly after getting on the trail in Jefferson, I came up to a roadblock that said the bridge was out. Apparently the ice build up was enough to take out a section of the bridge during the spring thaw.
I made the five mile trek around the section– two thirds of the distance being gravel--before rejoining the trail.
The rest of the day was uneventful except for the internal struggle I was facing. I knew this trip was going to be tough. I was hoping that it was going to be fun as well. That is the slice of "crazy" you latch onto as a cyclist--the idea that taking the harder way from point A to point B will reward you in some other way--exercise, endorphins, a sense of accomplishment, just something.
I was on vacation and I was having a really hard time calling the trip "fun." The too long days on the bike were taking their toll physically. At the same time, I was disappointed in the fact that I wasn't able to find a campground closer to Oskaloosa, my first destination. That meant I was probably going to have several hours of downtime by myself at the campground. Every option had its downside.
I'm not extroverted by any stretch of the imagination. At the same time, I'm used to being around my wife and five kids. Traveling, eating, and camping by myself was getting kind of old and lonely.
I had one more day before I reached Oskloosa and I decided to wait until arriving before making any decisions about the second half of the trip. That's what I told myself anyway.