I am done with Missouri…or some would say Missouri is done with me… and my fellow TransAm riders who entered Kansas today. Air temperatures have been in the mid nineties, but road temperatures have reached 105 degrees. Locals say this high a heat usually doesn’t arrive until July. The hottest time of day is between 2-4. We try to find someplace to lay low for a time, unless water resources are high enough to frequently douse your head.
The Ozark Mountains are not my favorite place to ride...lots and lots of short, very steep hills...but also very pretty rural scenery.
As I anticipated, the TransAm bike trail has lots of riders going and coming. When there's a bike journal available such as at hostels and even the restaurant last evening in Golden City, MO, I can see the number of riders before me separated by only a few miles of very hot asphalt. Not everyone will travel the same route. I, for one, plan to cut off in Colorado to travel down into southern Utah before heading up to Jackson Hole, WY and rejoin the TransAm. The U of Pennsylvania group will continue west upon entering CO to take the WesternExpress trail directly to San Francisco. Most at this time are traveling west (WB-westward bound in TransAm parlance; EB-eastward bound for the west coast departing riders) since that is the wave I ride with. Some may only be on the trail a few days as they head to other destinations…such as John from Bell Buckle, TN and of” Rebellion Ride, Seattle to Jacksonville, FL”, www.RebellionRide.com. “It's time to overthrow the government.” John is a retired junior high school math and English teacher. He once ran for US Congress just to keep a hard-core conservative from winning and allow the more tolerable likely second place candidate to win. It worked.
|Dan, Aysha, Keenan, Jerry, Robert, Garrett|
There were others…
Jerry from Pilot Mountain, NC, Robert, Garrett (EB), the EB college brothers who had sag support on the day I encountered them.
|Blackie makes new friends also|
• Bonnie…retired 40-year long restaurant owner who for decades served fresh squeezed lemonade to the bicyclists passing outside Ellington, MO.
• Bob from Jacksonville, FL as he and I had a lovely conversation standing in Jack’s Fork River in Alley Spring. The Alley Spring is one of several in central Ozark Mountains that flow at a rate of over 60M gallons a day each from the underlying limestone caverns. The water is so refreshing. Bob is retired military, helping teacher daughter and two grandsons move from Florida to Bend, OR and start a new life. Daughter would have liked to move to NC, but state has not been seen as very supportive of teachers lately. Our loss! Bob will begin a year long boat trip from Jacksonville, leaving late this winter following the Intercoastal Waterway, Chesapeake Bay, Hudson, Great Lakes in late summer, Mississippi, Tennessee-Tom Bigbee, Mobile, Gulf, back to Jacksonville by following winter…the Great Loop. We spoke about William Least Heat Moon’s book “The River Horse” that influenced both Bob’s plans and my route of the 2013 x-country ride.
• Sharing an evening with the locals wrestling a wayward bull that happened to wander off his farm and walk one mile down the country road to the city fairgrounds where I was just setting up my tent for the evening. No one knew who he belonged to until they started calling around asking “Have you seen your bull recently?”
The most impressive aspects to date are the high temperatures and the Missouri State Park Johnson’s Shut-Ins between Farmington, MO and Ellington, MO where the Imbolden Fork River becomes constricted by hard, convoluted volcanic rock and cascades through multiple pools. This is blissfully refreshing swimming hole!
|Robert in yellow not yet wet|
There was also the Farmington, MO Al’s Place Bike Hostel. An 1870 jail where the second story was converted into a five star accommodation for bicyclists…air conditioning, showers, multiple bedrooms with various number of bunks totally 14 beds, laundry, computer, wi-fi, kitchen, lounge seating. Farmington was the Missouri town that seemed to have it the mist together…very clean, new street improvements, some very good restaurants, lots of vineyards in the area.
|Technically Chester, IL at the Mississippi River|
And be sure to check out my friend Bart Cohn on Facebook, who left Astoria, OR the same time I started at Yorktown, VA, both on the TransAm trail. His weather conditions have been the opposite of mine...rain, sleet, snow, being held up until mountain passes clear of new snow and the conditions improve closer to the "summer" clothes he has packed. He also has some beautiful photos of the areas I will see late summer. We will meet on route somewhere.
And for the geeks among us...statistics...
7 days riding, 479.8 miles @ average 68.5 mpd, 12.1 average mph, 23,628 feet of climbing (and some downhill). Highest temperature I recorded while on the road was 105 degrees. No rain yet during ride time.