Riding Route 66: A bad noise, but a good day

Published 12:09 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

Editor’s note: Rowan County resident David Freeze is off on his latest summertime cycling adventure. This time, he’s riding the famed Route 66 from California to Chicago.

All seemed normal this morning when I got up in Granite City after my first night in Illinois on this trip. The Economy Inn gave me a nice room and the WiFi worked just enough. I finally got some ice cream too, this time from the first Hardee’s that I had seen.
I left out of Granite City planning to go about 70 miles today but knew I was winging it to find a good motel. I started pedaling about 5:45 a.m. and right away there was an unusual noise with the bike, one I had never heard before. It was a scraping sound that wasn’t too bad at first, but kept getting  worse to the point that I was afraid I was damaging something.

I kept stopping and trying to figure it out. The noise seemed to be coming from the front wheel but I couldn’t be sure. Nothing seemed to work. I took off the front wheel and it seemed fine, messed with the gears and the chain and still was clueless as to what the problem was. There was a bike shop in the next town coming up and I decided that I needed to pay them a visit, knowing that at least half a day would be wasted.
Finally, after the scraping got so bad that I could feel the vibration in the seat, I just parked it and tried to come up with the answer. I decided to drop the back wheel out too, and when I put it back, everything was fine. It ran so quiet that I couldn’t believe the simple solution,
Now an hour behind, I rode to Edwardsville, one of the prettiest towns that I have seen on any of my rides. They had so many stately older homes that it looked like Fulton Street in Salisbury reborn.
The next town was Hamel, significant for a couple of reasons. Sam Parker from Mt. Ulla had asked me to stop and visit his friend, Gary Sievers. Sam works with Gary in the farm equipment business and also has some family in Hamel. The other reason is that my first wife’s maiden name is Hamel and she was born in Illinois. I can’t remember where most of my wives were born due to the significant volume but this one stands out.
Then it was on to Staunton, where I continued to follow one of the older alignments of Route 66. I was fun to see all the VWs buried in the dirt just the same way the Cadillacs were buried at Cadillac Ranch. There was a Route 66 information center there too but I had pedaling to do.
Next came Mt. Olive, which has one of the oldest remaining Shell stations in the country, and it has been beautifully restored. The same family ran the Soulsby station from the 1920s until 1991. Right down the road was Litchfield, the first town of the day that had Route 66 plastered over it. Litchfield had a cafe still in operation from the 1920s but it also has the nation’s longest running drive-in theater. It apparently is still a big hit and the grounds are beautiful. There is an information center out front complete with sound bites from those who were first in line when the theater opened in 1950.
I rode through Farmersville where my intended motel was closed up tight, but this time it wasn’t a surprise. Gary Sievers thought there would be motels coming up in Chatham but I was assured by several convenience store operators that there were none. One guy said, “My God, man, your are going to have to ride 45 more miles to get a room!”
First, I had to ride through a bike trail that would get me past the big lake in Springfield. The I-55 frontage roads which ended up being Route 66 this afternoon didn’t cross the lake and I can’t ride the interstates in Illinois. Remember that I said that.
So finally, I ride into Springfield, Ill., famous for its time with Abraham Lincoln. I had to come in from Chatham and asked yet another convenience store operator where I could find a reasonably priced motel. She pointed to her right and said, just go this way and there is a Motel 6, the cheapest that she knew of. I did what she said, drove right onto the road that she pointed at and was making my exit for the Motel 6 when I got pulled over by an Illinois state trooper who kept me standing for 25 minutes. Hs attitude was not the best in the beginning but we ended up having a nice talk after he finally got back out of the car with my warning ticket. I had been cycling on the I-55 and didn’t know it.
Tonight, after a day filled with lots of interesting things, I am late getting off the road. Today’s total mileage was 96, way more than I intended and most of it came after noon. The weather was spectacular today, moderate wind and cooler temperatures and not a hint of rain. I think I am about 220 miles from Chicago and am still working on plans to make it to Michigan and ride part of the lakefront before turning south.
It was certainly a full day, but it was a blast too! I will see you again tomorrow with some more adventures.

Contact David Freeze at david.freeze@ctc.net.