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Day 18 - Kankakee, Illinois to Wabash, Indiana
137 miles
1010' climbing

We were really getting into the flat section of the country with cornfield after cornfield after cornfield. This was definitely the place to form pacelines and just hammer. I got into a small one in the morning along with two of the Three Amigos. Dan and Lori can really move on flat land and did very well in a paceline, despite not having ridden with large groups before. Unfortunately, we also got quite a bit of rain in the morning, so staying in the paceline meant getting sprayed in the face with water from the unfendered wheel in front. We kept our group together fairly well until lunch.

Lunch was in a nice shelter and included some nice hot soup and nachos with melted cheese. Lunches really varied a lot day to day. Throughout the trip we had pasta salads, rice, grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches, and burritos, among other things. We did discover that Susan really liked black olives, but she began to notice that many of us didn't, so somewhere near the end of the trip, she stopped putting them in every single salad she made!

I rode with Dan and Lori most of the rest of the day. I tried to convince them that they didn't have to be in a large group to take advantage of drafting. I had noticed in the mornings when I'd catch the three of them (David was off riding by himself that afternoon) that they were never drafting. I guess they had a lot to talk about. We got a little three person paceline going until we reached a few hills near the end. I did try to egg Lori into a town line sprint, and that's when I think I hurt my achilles tendon. All the sudden I was in extreme pain. I stopped and stretched and took an ibuprofen. I ended up taking my foot out of my shoe and pedaling one legged most of the way for the final ten miles. I iced it most of the evening in hopes of salvaging the trip.

I was greeted with another great surprise when I reached the hotel in the form of a half dozen roses from a friend back east. It was exactly what I needed. I never anticipated how lonely I could get in a big crowd. I was almost always with people and for the most part, they were really great, but a card or package from home really lifted my mood considerably. Lori had given out the hotel list to all her friends and family and received stacks of encouraging letters and cards every day. I will definitely do the same if I ever take this kind of trip again.