A glimpse into the past, or is it the future? GRS/TA day 3

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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!

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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.

 

I take the road less traveled- GRS/TA day 2

Johnson Shut-Ins to Cherokee Pass

After the nice evening Sunday, the night turned cold. Much cooler than I thought it would. My sleeping bag is rated at 45 degrees, which actually means it is probably better suited for 50 and above. I’m pretty sure it got down into the upper 30’s overnight. If not, it certainly was below the recommended range for my bag. It was a long cold night and I was very cold. I even wore my sweatshirt, long pants and socks in the bag, but it did little good. I didn’t sleep much at all from being uncomfortable.

Once morning rolled around, I had little interest in getting out too early. Better to let it warm up a little. I ended up laying around until 7:30. Then I got up, made breakfast and took my time getting going. When it was all said and done, it was about 10:00 before I rolled out of camp. Still sight unseen of any camp attendants!

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Right out of the gate I had a pretty good climb going up out of the park. Not too bad, but it got my pulse up quickly. It wasn’t long and I came to the end of N highway. The Trans Am goes right and the Great Rivers south route turns left. Two roads diverge in a wood. I took the one less traveled. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The ride to Lesterville was pure joy. Almost no traffic and the beautiful scenery of the Ozarks. The same could be said of the ride from Lesterville to Glover and on to Annapolis. There were some pretty good climbs and plenty of sweat spent getting up them, but overall, it was a treat to ride roads I hadn’t ridden before, even if I have driven them.

I stopped in Annapolis for lunch at the local general/convience store. A BBQ pulled pork sandwich and potato salad with a Power Aide hit the spot. Then it was off again.

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Just outside Annapolis, I followed the map and turned on C highway toward Cherokee Pass. I knew from driving this road that it would be a long, hilly ride.ย You know, you just don’t realize how big and steep those hills are in a car!

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There were lots of rollers, but nothing too bad all the way to the St Francis River bridge. I stopped for some pics of the river and Bullseye.

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Now the climbing begins. I knew it was coming. I went up and up, each turn bringing another stretch of road to the heavens. I thought it might not end, and finally I saw what I was looking for: the point where C turns to the left and N goes straight. I now had a reprieve!

With my turn to stay on C, I started down. BIG downhill! So big it was scary with a loaded bike. I went down for what seems a mile or so. So very nice to go downhill! Then I realized…. I will have to go back up.

At about mile 50 for the day, the up started. It was a very nasty, steep climb and it went on and on. Even more so than the stretch coming up from the river. Then when I thought it was over and I would get a little stretch of down, I would go up twice as far. When the day was done, I would see on my graph that I had basically 10 miles of upward inclination from the base of that nasty hill. It was hot, I was tired and I just wanted it over with for the day.

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Finally I saw my oasis, Pinecrest camp. Pinecrest is owned and run by the Nazarene church and is a beautiful facility. They were so very gracious to allow me to stay and I am thankful for it. I had a nice spot to pitch my tent in their RV campground and a great shower! Oh yeah!

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After rehydrated supper and resetting the network settings on my phone (if you have tried to reach me Sunday or Monday by text, I didn’t get it. Resend please!), I hit the sack. It was really noisy with lots of wind in the trees, but I hoped for a good nights sleep. What a day!

On the road again- GRS/TA day 1

What a day! I started the day off bright and early with a mountain bike ride with my buddies Ben and Lindell. We took off before 6AM and drove to Council Bluffs lake to do the lake trail. 12 miles of premium single track to start the day is the bomb!

We I got home, I finished packing and got ready for my son’s graduation at 2:00. I didn’t know how I would react to seeing my oldest graduate high school. Would I be a blubbering mess? Turns out, I was just beaming with pride. It’s been a rocky road at times, but I am excited to see what Mark chooses to do with his life. Way to go buddy! I love you!

After graduation, I changed clothes, threw my stuff on Bullseye, said my goodbyes to the wife and kids and headed out of town. Sing it Willy! “On the road again…”

After 2 1/2 years of not riding my bike loaded with gear, I had completely forgotten what it was like. A totally different animal to balance and steer. An added challenge is I am carrying more weight this time, mostly due to food. Feel free to crack a joke there. I am certainly carrying more weight around the middle now! But seriously, I have close to ten pounds of snacks and dehydrated food with me. The plan is to cook the majority of my meals to save money and practice for backpacking and bike packing on the MTB. More on that later.

I left Farmington and had a beautiful, uneventful ride to Pilot Knob. It was pure joy to be on the road! The only improvement I could see making would have been to have Jeneen with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I found myself paying particularly close attention to traffic. Not to say that I ignore traffic on a regular ride around home, but this was more than normal attention. I remember reacting like that on the first few days on my 2011 trip. I’m not sure why that is.

Knowing that I wouldn’t have cell service at camp, before I made the turn off 21 to N highway, I called Jeneen to let her know everything was going well. Then I turned south toward Johnson Shut-Ins.

Along the short 15 miles from 21 to JSI, you will find some of the prettiest scenery in this part of the country. Rolling hills and streams make for great picture ops, but I missed them. I was hurrying to get to camp before dark. Hope to not be doing that anymore this week!

Also along that same 15 miles, I had a young guy in a truck holler obscenities at me and two separate people flip me off for no reason. All three instances were pick ups going the opposite direction with no other traffic around at all. I wasn’t impeding there way or in any way doing anything to disturb them. I can only assume they are locals that just don’t like cyclists on the road, or they assume that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road.

Of course the law states that cyclist are considered vehicles on the road and should be approached and passed just like a car. Passing should only take place when it is clear to pass and in a safe manner. Also a cyclist has the right to take the lane, meaning cyclists can ride in the middle of the lane if they deem it necessary for safety (bridge crossings, poor or no shoulder, to avoid debris that would be hazardous).

The reactions from those three were disappointing, but I have come to expect that from a few people in this region. Whether it is selfishness, entitlement or ignorance, I am not sure, but there are some that just have no regard for others. From my experience, it does seem to be an issue concentrated here. It saddens me really.

Back to the road. I rolled into the campground about 7:30 or so. There wasn’t anyone at the gate, I didn’t see a host anywhere and didn’t all evening. I had a pre-paid reservation, but it looks like I could’ve just rolled in, camped where I wanted and rolled out without a fee!

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My reservation was intentional and nostalgic. It was for Lot 409, where I camped with the English guys on my Trans Am trip in 2011. I pulled in, set up my tent before dark and scooted to the shower house to bathe. Afterward, it was back to camp to make dinner. My meal was two courses. The first was corn, rice and potatoes. The second corn rice and chicken Stove Top. That left me full and warm. Good stuff!

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After dinner, it was now dark and I walked about a half mile to the general store here in the park to catch their wifi and leave Jeneen a Facebook message. I met a couple there using the wifi as well. They are from Cape and questioned me a little on my trip (and my sanity, I think).

After telling them I was riding my bike for a week long tour, the guy’s first question was, “I assume you are armed with some sort of weapon?” I replied with a truthful no and proceeded to watch them be completely astonished. He had a large hunting knife and a side arm on him and was quick to point that out. I guess there is grave danger in our state parks.

Before he left, he said, “Be careful. There are lots of crazies out there.” I wonder if he was warning me about himself. As grandma said, It takes all kinds I guess. The armed couple left, I sent J a note and I then walked back to camp and went to bed, thoroughly ready for sleep!

Overall, it was a great first day on the road and I can’t wait to ride roads I have never ridden tomorrow!

Work is doneโ€ฆ and work begins!

I should be knee deep in packing and preparing for next week. Not so much.

After finishing up my work day and most of what I needed to accomplish before I call it quits for a week, I got some yard work done and went to my least favorite place (Wal Mart) to pick up groceries for my trip. Now it is WAY too late to do much else, so I will make it happen tomorrow.

First things first tomorrow, my youngest son, my wife and I are going to team up to do the Farmington Sprint Triathlon in the morning. Nothing like a bit of sweat to start the weekend off! Brad is doing the swim, Jeneen the bike and I will be tackling the run. Just for fun. Should be a good time. I will report back about that later.

Tomorrow afternoon I have to get serious about meal preparations and packing my gear. I have meant to get things together for a couple weeks now and it just never happened. It’s crunch time now!

I will be camping 5 nights of my 6 day trip (with one night staying with a Warmshowersย host), so I will be taking all my camping gear and preparing dehydrated meals for ease of use. The ingredients for my meals include things like oatmeal, Ramen, instant rice, instant potatoes and dehydrated vegetables.

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a few of my ingredients

Throw a concoction in a ziplock freezer bag, add a bit of boiling water and you have a ready made meal in just a few minutes. The bags pack light and small, for added benefits. It shouldn’t be too bad putting things together and it will make meal time really easy. I will fill you in on my recipes tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Time to sleep!

I’M BAAAACK!!!

Wow! It has been such a long time! About two and a half years have elapsed since my last post and quite a bit of water has went under the preverbal bridge. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will say that I am dying to hit the road!

You might say, “What?! You haven’t been riding????” Of course I have ridden my bike! But I haven’t toured at all. Not even an overnight. That is about to change.

This Sunday afternoon I am setting off for a short adventure through Southeastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. It will only be for a week this time, but hopefully it will scratch my itch for a while.

I am combining a section of the Trans Am with a section of another Adventure Cycling route, the Great Rivers South Route, to form a 400 mile loop. Just a small tour to clear my head and enjoy the road.

Stay tuned for some changes on this website and my Facebook page (you can find it here). I will be adjusting some things to make it easier to navigate and add more and better content.

Sit back and enjoy the ride!