Cherokee Pass to Cape Girardeau
After having not slept well Sunday night and the massive climbing of yesterday, I fully expected I would sleep log a log, but it wasn’t to be. The wind was blowing and gusting something fierce all night and with it blowing the trees and my tent around, I had a hard time falling asleep and staying that way. After tossing and turning for hours with little shut eye, I finally resorted to ear plugs about 2:00AM. I wish I would done that from the start! I slept well from that point, so well in fact that I slept through my 5:00 alarm, which I had set to get a head start on the day and woke at 6:00.
The forecast for the day was for a warm one with stiff winds out of the south that would build throughout the day. I hoped to hit the road early to beat the heat and wind as much as possible. Losing an hour early on with the alarm thing bugged me, but it is small beans and nothing to worry about too much. I’m on vacation!
I quickly gathered and packed my things, with the intent to make breakfast in camp before I left. However, even with the wind blowing, there were a lot of little gnats buzzing around that where just too resilient. I decided to pass on camp fare and head to the truck stop a half mile away in Cherokee Pass.
Breakfast was a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, a honeybun and a cup of coffee. Breakfast of champions!!! I ate it sharing a bench outside with an elderly local man, Dave. As I chatted Dave up (who wasn’t real interested in talking, but I forced the issue. Imagine that), a couple rolled up on their Harley that knew him.
The guy said, “well, how you doin Dave?” Dave’s reply was a sullen, “waiting to die”. I don’t know if I helped or hurt his demeanor! They asked where I was headed, I told them Cape and offered to race them. He said he would only do it for $50. I told him I would love the chance to race him, but I wouldn’t bet. 🙂
I rolled out of Cherokee Pass and enjoyed a fantastic ride to Marquand. The hills weren’t too bad, the morning was cool and the scenery spectacular.
I stopped in Marquand for a couple pics of the river. I also did a “drive by of the historic log cabin in the park, then headed to the grocery store across the street for a Power Aide. I drank a bit, then strapped the bottle with the remainder in it to my rack for later.
The highway from Marquand leading to Highway 51 has some big climbs on it that I had been anticipating. They definitely got my pulse rate up, but I made them without issue.
I then had a short 2.5 mile stent on 51 headed south. Unfortunately, that was exactly where the wind was blowing out of at a good clip and most of it was uphill. I made fairly quick work of it and made my left turn on to M, which leads to Scopus. This would be the first road of the trip that I had never been on.
The miles clipped off easy and I started getting pretty hot. When I rolled into Scopus, I found the mercantile there and stopped for a break. I had a nice cream sand which and chatted with Elaina, the lady who worked there. She was nice enough and asked me where I was from and headed to. She thought the idea of me touring was neat, but said she has no desire to go anywhere at all. She has lived all her life in Scopus and doesn’t plan to go anywhere, not even on vacation! “It takes all kinds”, was what she finished with. How true.
I hit the road again and made my way to Burfordville, where I went to the covered bridge park to make myself lunch. I whipped up some oatmeal and had half a bagel with peanut butter on it. Feeling stuffed, I took off and headed toward Cape Girardeau.
On the way, there were plenty of hills and the wind that had been forecasted was pumping along too, right in my face most of the time. I just put my head down and pedaled.
I made it through Gordonville and on to Cape. Right away, I headed to Cape Bicycle to grab a new computer for my bike. Mine was a fairly nice one at one time. Wireless mounts with a heart rate monitor and altimeter, it served me well for about 3 years. Awhile back, the heart rate function quit. Yesterday on my way from JSI to Cherokee Pass, the rest of it’s functions ceased as well. It is quite demoralizing not to be able to keep track of your distance actually!
I spoke with Don at the bike shop, bought a very simple wired computer model and put it in my handle bar bag to install later. Leaving the shop, I was starving! My early lunch had burned off covering the hills and fighting the wind. It was just 2:30, which was way too early for me to go to my host’s house, so I went to Wendy’s for a late second lunch. I had a burger and fries with lemonade. Their lemonade is the bomb!!!
After hanging out and cooling off awhile at Wendy’s, I left, called Judy, my host for the night and headed toward her house.
Flashback about a month ago. I had stopped by Cape Bicycle while working in the area. I spoke with Don and explained that I would be coming through on tour soon and wondered if he knew of anyone in town that might let me pitch my tent in their yard for a night. He gave me names and numbers of a couple people, but Judy’s was the first. Come to find out, Judy is a Warmshowers.org host and regularly hosts cyclists who are traveling through. I had heard many times about Warmshowers, but had never used it before.
Judy Cureton is a staple in the cycling community in Cape. She grew up in Cape and has been involved in the bike club there for a long time. There are many things that I could say about Judy and her storied life of cycling, but by far the coolest to me is that she rode in the Bike-centennial celebrating the bicentennial of our country in 1976!
She told me the story of how after not having ridden as much since childhood, in 1974 she went to a bike shop in St Louis to buy a 10 speed because she thought they were really neat. It was at that shop that she saw the flyer posted about the upcoming bicentennial tour. She decide then that she was going to go. 🙂
This was the original Trans Am and what started the route that Trans Am riders follow today. About 4000 people rode, mostly in groups of about 12. It was a bike touring event that had never been matched in scope and size, nor will it likely ever be again.
My evening with Judy was spent discussing her many cycle tours (she has toured every continent except Antarctica), her beautiful home (designed by her grand mother and built in 1904) and her family. Judy has a daughter and 4 grand kids (in their teens and twenties) who live in Indiana.
Judy gave me the grand tour of her beautiful old Victorian home. I even got to explore the attic and the roof!
One of the coolest things was looking at her scrapbooks from her cycle tours. The Bike 76 scrapbook had many pictures in it that looked just like my pictures from my 2011 trip, just 35 years older! What a treat for me to meet this lovely lady and get to share in her memoirs. Very, very cool and the highlight of my trip!
A side note of coincidence that I thought was really cool- Judy hadn’t toured or rode that much before her Trans Am, just like me. She was 38 when she went, just a year younger than I was when I went on my trip. She said that after her Trans Am, “I was hooked.” I couldn’t agree more. Judy has went on to have wonderful adventures by bike all over the world, be involved in the community in support of cycling and has lead a life doing the things she loves to do. She inspires me and I look forward to what is to come with my life and cycling.
Judy and I stayed up way too late chatting. She went to bed about 11 and I stayed up another hour catching up on Facebook and the like. A long day, but one I won’t soon forget. I made a new friend and I look forward to making the drive down to Cape to introduce my wife to Judy.