Day 37, Missouri
From Springfield to Mountain View
It had rained during the night, so the streets were wet. But the dawn sky was now clear as I pedaled out of town on Highway 60. Good thing the traffic was light to non-existent because in some areas the road had no shoulder - especially where the highway crew was constructing a new cloverleaf.
Then for about two hours the shoulder was wide but littered with bicycle tire flattening things like chunks glass, sharp rocks, bits of metal falling off cars, and worst of all, the highway cyclist's nemesis: blown truck tire wires. At times I felt like I was pedaling through a minefield.
But all of this pales compared to the one real danger. The traffic was well mannered as it built throughout the morning, no one tried to run me off the road, not even close. But this morning's danger was the rumble strip between the shoulder and the road. Designed to wake drowsy motorists driving off the road, but woe be to anyone on bicycle who pedals over a rumble strip at any kind of speed - say above 10 mph. Ordinarily the strips are not much of a problem, but here, in this part of Missouri, they are cut extra deep, and could throw a cyclist wildly out of control. In fact, running over that kind of rumble strip at 15 mph felt like a knock-out punch. I had one, two days ago, that had me full-body aching for 15 minutes. Then this morning I inadvertently hit another one. Man, that was bad. The problem is you have to ride very close to the rumble strip for hours, and you have to pay attention all the time. It's like hiking the A.T. where you look up then Wham! You trip on a rock or a root.
Curtis had asked me which is harder, hiking the A.T. or pedaling the Trans-America bike route. In my view, this bike trip is more difficult. The exertion levels are higher, as is the heart rate. On the Hello America bike trip we didn't find that true, but oh, the many steep hills on this route through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and parts of Wyoming. Colorado had only a few hills of note, and Kansas was essentially flat. Fortunately I'm packing light. But then there are headwinds to get the heart pumping also. Sounds awful, but it's just what the body needs. What would be awful, to me at least, would be to slowly rot in some easy chair. For me I choose the strenuous life as the more interesting and fulfilling.
The afternoon temperature climbed into the ugly-hot, and I had to stop in the shade a few times, what little there was out on the road. Once I rested under an overpass, with cars and big trucks flying past on both sides. Strange what a cyclist will get used to.
Resting in the shade of an overpass.
About to pass an Amish couple.
Mid-afternoon I was hopping from town to town, from one c-store to the next, for cold drinks to beat the heat. And finally I called it quits in Mountain View.
I did laundry like this at almost every motel, using the sink, hot water and shampoo.
This evening's motel was a mile east of town, but as luck would have it, there was a bar/restaurant next door. So I ate dinner there. This was a watering hole for a few dozen locals who gathered there at day's end to enjoy each others company. As an outsider I was essentially ignored, but not in an uncongenial fashion, so I liked being with them anyway. They were the kind of people who would have accepted me, I'm sure, in a few more evenings. They were having karaoke night later on, and I would have enjoyed that, but I needed to get some sleep for the next day's adventures.
Miles pedaled today: 100