Heat, Humidity and Thunder – Sweating Across Indiana

I felt bad yesterday morning (Tuesday).  I’d had a good night’s sleep and a splendid fry-up to kick the day off, so all should have been well.  At first, I put it down to pushing too hard, or maybe a bug of some sort.  No energy, and feeling dehydrated despite drinking three litres of water before lunch.  I’m a bit slow sometimes, and there was a headwind which I was blaming for all my ills, as usual.

I did get to see a couple of covered bridges in the morning, which was nice.  I’m not sure exactly what the point of a covered bridge is; maybe it’s just so you stay dry in a storm while waiting for the bridge to be washed away.  But they are very much a mid-west institution.  This one was outside Darlington.20140821RTW_2

At lunchtime, I stopped at a petrol station to grab a load of sugary stuff to kick-start myself; I still had a way to go.  Coming out of the shop, it finally hit me.  Like a sauna (or at least the air within a sauna).  The humidity, which the headwind had been masking as I rode, was immense.  I struggled off into the afternoon, passing two helpful signs suggesting it was either 87 or 91F.  I’m not sure what the centigrade equivalent is (and probably don’t want to know), but I do know that’s pretty hot.  This all cheered me up.  After all, I’ve been beating the elements every day (even if they always come back for more).  Something internal would have been much, much worse.

I continued south-west through a town called Waveland.  Which is so named because the land around it is kinked up into a series of short, sharp rolling hills.  Like waves.  A brilliantly literal name for a place.  I was heading for Rockville, but was disappointed to discover very few rocks.  And very little rock-n-roll.  Obviously doesn’t work everywhere…


What I did find at Rockville was a colossal thunderstorm, which hit just as I got the tent half-up.  This was bad because all my bags got soaked, but also good, in that the people in the RV next door dragged me in, dried me off and fed me.  While having a long discussion about rugby, which I was not expecting in the US.  Oh, and they somehow reduced my camping fees to zero as well, slightly mysteriously.  I know almost every post is turning into an Oscar acceptance-speech list of thanks, but I can’t let that go without acknowledgement.  Or the free breakfast I got this morning from a bloke in the local diner.  I might have to just put a ‘thanks’ page up.

I checked the weather forecast, and it looks like the whole week ahead is going to remain in the 90s F, with loads of humidity.  There are weather warnings out for heat in the area I’m riding into (around St Louis), and thunderstorms are breaking out pretty regularly, which is a little alarming on the bike.  I turned today into a half-day just in time to get under cover before another couple of inches of rain dropped in.  So more strength-sapping heat, worries about carrying enough water and dodging lightning strikes to come for a while…

But tomorrow looks drier, and I’ll finally be leaving Indiana, and crossing into southern Illinois.  Probably sweating like a pig and moaning endlessly about the heat and humidity, but still making ground.

More soon, I hope.  And I finally updated the Progress map!  Many more exciting red markers to explore; how much more fun can you have?



Little Switzerland and Roller-Blading Amish – Indiana Rocks!

Having tanked up on a bucket of coffee at the edge of Ohio, I headed for my first state line. State lines have a sort of mythical status, derived from old films; make it to the state line, and the police can’t catch you. Make it to the state line and everything changes.


Having seen masses of fields with nothing but soya beans and sweet corn in Ohio, it was a little disappointing that I crossed the line to find, on one side of the road, a field of soya. And on the other side a field of sweet corn. But I pressed on, and things did, indeed, change.

I stopped at a petrol station for a drink. There was a young guy sat outside, who I think was Amish (might have been Mennonite, or something similar – I’m not an expert, and somehow we never got round to it in conversation). Anyway, Phil had a home-made haircut, a clean-shaven face with a beard sprouting enthusiastically from under the jawline, and was dressed in a sober white shirt and sensible black trousers. We had a chat, with him seeming especially interested in ‘campsite hotties’, which I couldn’t really help with much. And then he got up to leave. On his roller-blades.

It may (well) be my ignorance, but I’m not sure that roller-blading is a standard Sunday morning activity in either the Amish or Mennonite traditions. Phil may well be a dangerous radical within his community, so I’ve changed his name to save him potential grief. But he was a sure sign that things were different in Indiana. I was happy.

Another sign was the amount of horse droppings I was having to navigate around on the edge of the road. There were more blacksmiths around than I’d seen for a while too. And the road signs were different.


I only saw one actual buggy, which I flashed past at a junction. I guess it was pretty quiet because it was Sunday. But I’m definitely not in Ohio any more.

Pressing on to Berne (the clue’s in the name), I was suddenly transported to Switzerland. Chalets popped up by the roadside, and I sat for a while next to Berne’s magnificent Swiss clock tower. Slightly disappointing that it’s not a cuckoo clock tower (at least literally) but still impressive.


I decided against heading further south to Geneva, as the alps would be in the way, and turned west towards Marion. I got distracted by ice cream (again) at The Point, a nice little restaurant on the highway. Phenomenal strawberry cheesecake ice cream, incidentally. I headed on, looking for a campsite. Four miles further on, a man had parked his car, and was waving what turned out to be free T-shirts at me. This was the owner of The Point, who’d heard I was English from his staff, and chased me up the road to give me free stuff. Amazing.

I mentioned looking for a campsite, and he stood aside, revealing a sign (I should point out that he wasn’t so big as to entirely block the sign, I was just distracted by the T-shirts). 200 yards up the road, Wildwood Outdoor Escape beckoned.

Serendipity is not to be denied. I’d done a hundred km, so decided to call it a day. I came in, paid for my spot, and had a chat with the owners about the ride. And a few minutes later they came to my site and gave me my money back (and a little extra) to ‘help me on the road’. Astonishing.

It’s fair to say that was quite a day. I’ve been a little bit blown away by Indiana so far, and have to offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who made my first day here so memorable.

Maybe there is something in the old state line myths after all…