Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 23: Nuked by the heat

Day #23) July 5, 2011. Augusta, MO to Jefferson City, MO: 80 miles in 7:01 hrs.

I'm going to throw in some pictures from yesterdays ride on top of today. Enjoy.

First of all, this had to be THE hardest day thus far, just because of 90-degree heat and the stifling humidity. After 7 hours or riding I got a motel room in Jefferson City and literally stumbled in, closed the door and got down and my hands and knees for a few minutes, with my forehead propped on the floor. Then I lay down on the floor in my soaking wet kit. I was so unconditionally spent. My head was aching, my legs were quivering and I had gooseflesh. I just didn’t have the energy to take off my sopping cloths for about 15 min. I swear I could have just fallen asleep right there on the floor, but I had to get nutrition and hydration and I had a bunch of work to do. So I damned near crawled into the bathroom to take a shower and wash my kit off.

Ok, to recap last night. Had a bit too much to drink last evening what with some more of that great Augusta red wine. Did the fireworks and had a lot of fun in a very small town atmosphere with my hosts Mark and Jan. Sat on the tailgate of Mark’s truck and watched several of the locals putting on a fireworks display. The skeeters were a bit nasty, down there along the Missouri River, but we survived. They dropped my off about 10:30 pm, and I ended up hitting the hay about an hour later than my usual time. Woke up this morn with a bit of a wine/beer/wine hangover. Not a good way to do a long day in the heat! So I wolfed down a fruit platter Jan had made me and that was it. I beat feet to get out on the trail before 7:30am. Made it by 7:15. The trail was super fogged over and the humidity was already just gagging. Twenty min into the ride and my top was soaked!

Now I’ll tell you right here that riding on that crushed limestone is NOT easy. It’s harder and slower, but put a trailer on the back of the bike and it’s downright tough! What in the hell was I thinking about in trying to drag that thing across 2-3K of dirt roads? About the best I could average on this crushed gravel was like 11 mph. And that’s working not lollygagging. And the amazing thing is that this surface, the crushed limestone, it’s WAY easier than the gravel roads, many of which I had to ride over as the trail crossed them. Couldn’t imagine being in AR or OK right now in 100-degree weather dragging a yak all day on gravel roads. Nope, not the way I’m feeling right now. This was just a monster day for me and I only covered 70 miles in seven hours!

The good thing about the Katy is that the sun is shaded by the bluff and the tree cover on the northern side of the trail, and that lasted for about 2 hours today. And then there’s sections where the sun is just totally shaded by the thick cover, especially when the trail is right along the river. So that helped a ton. But still, it was just so hot and humid it was ridiculous. Conversely, there are sections which are right out in the sun, where you just bake like a fish on the frying pan.

So I knew I was not going to have a great day what with my imbibing last eve and my late start this morn. So I really tried to put a good spin on the day. I mean really, I was riding out of traffic, through the super backcountry of MO along the Missouri River, and I was riding in a new place and new trail. So that kind of worked for a bit to keep me from fixating on the heat and humidity. There was definitely going to be stops on this ride, and not one gonzo ride with no stopping. I would need many a refill on my fluids. The river was just overflowing from all the flooding, and each and every feeder stream that I crossed was equally as flooded, some just a few feet away from flowing over top the small bridges.

Now you go for quite a ways between towns and hamlets on this trail. Parts of it are just way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, so I knew that I’d have to refill bottles at specific areas that are listed as water/food stops. I mean some of these hamlets just do not have anything but a PO in the town. Made it 39 miles in like 3.5 hrs on my first two water bottles and then stopped in the hamlet of Rhineland. Now honestly, by this time I was just thoroughly worn out. Had there been even a B&B there I’d of been done. I’d of cashed it right then and there. Seriously! But such was not the case, so I stumbled in to this little diner and got a refill on both bottles and then bought a liter of cold water and a 16oz coke. Also ordered a burger. Just thinking of riding another 10 miles was crazy to me, but I had zero choice there. The next two towns up the trail, Portland and Mokane were just tiny, and only Mokane was supposed to have a B&B in it. It wasn’t until the third town west, Tebbetts, that there was supposed to be food and lodging. So I tried to get it in my head to just keep pushing on, albeit not hammering, just survival riding. I decided to ride to Tebbetts and do whatever was there for lodging and go no further. That would be an additional 26 miles of riding on top of the 39. I could live with that and not go to my original destination – Jefferson City, which is the capital of MO, and has a gazillion dining and lodging options.

Funny thing was that sitting down in that little diner, my shorts were so soaked that the swivel seat was completely wet. When I left I had to grab a few napkins to wipe all the sweat off of it. So I left the sanctity of the AC in the diner and went back out into the blast furnace. I mean it was like a shock. I did feel a bit better eating and getting all that fluid in me, so the next like hour or riding was decent. But the sun was getting pretty high in the sky by then and my shaded areas were considerably fewer. Much more riding in the oven! The miles and the farm country just ticked by as if in slow motion. I’d get out of the saddle to stretch my legs, and then go back in. Most of the time I’d be at about 11.2-6 mph, and sometimes in the 10 mph range, so the going was tough and slow. Pasted Portland – nothing. Past Mokane – just a little grocery market and nothing more. I mean it did not even have a stoplight.

So it was Tebbetts for sure for the end of the day. And I just kept watching the mile markers counting down to the moment when I could get out of the sun and in some AC. Made it to Tebbetts at about the 5:30 hrs mark, and I was aghast to see that there looked to be nothing in town. Again, it was a no stoplight place with just a couple of cross roads in it. There did look to be a grocery store next to the PO. But the grocery was closed, so I ambled into the PO hoping that I’d be told that there is something just around the corner. Quite the contrary that was it according to the PO lady. She said there’s nothing but a little bunkhouse to stay in, which is free, but there were zero places to buy food. Told me that my best bet was riding 15 miles further west to Jefferson City. Now I wasn’t crushed, but it did make me think that I’d be operating on the edge what with the heat and humidity. She offered my this little fruit cup from her frig and I just drank the liquid and inhaled the fruit. She also gave me the keys to the bunkhouse and said I could get water there.

So I walked across the street to the bunkhouse and man, it was bare bones basic, with like plastic on the mattresses and no AC. Tell you what though, had there been food in that town, I’d off laid my sopping wet arse down on one of those bunks and cashed it in for the day. I drank another couple bottles of water, refilled, returned the key and off I went to tackle that last 15 miles. For some reason, I don’t know why, maybe because of an impending sense of urgency, I was riding at 12-13 mph, just putting it down. And that helped to waste me for sure, but I just had to get the hell out of that heat. At about 13 miles I ran into two guys coming cross-country from Oregon. Now they evidently wanted to jaw for a bit, and I tried to do my best to engage them for 5 or so min, until the one guy gave me a good lookover, took a picture of me and then told me he’d never before seen someone sweating with goosebumps. Told him I was close to cracking and that I just had to keep moving before I couldn’t move at all! So I left them a bit unfulfilled on the trail gossipy side, but I just had to get the hell out of that heat. I think they could have hung there for 30 min trading trail experiences, and on any other day that would be fun. But NOT in this day!

Took the side trail to Jefferson City, and then rode up onto the bridge to cross the Missouri. Problem was that I missed the ped crossing and just rode on the road. At that point I didn’t give a (*&^^%, just wanted to finish. So I got into the city, and had to do this little cookie killer climb up to the state capital. No motels up there, so I road onto a main street and asked a lady about motels. She directed me down from the capital to a pretty busy street where I found this place. And what followed was that first paragraph I started this post with.

Made a few phone calls and then I went straightaway to this little local burger/chilie dog stand. I slammed two foot long chilie cheese dogs, a cup of potato salad and a turkey club. And drank three 16oz icewaters. I’ll go back in another hour for about the same thing. As I’ve been working here on the computer I’ve downed another 4 16oz glasses of ice water.

I’m signing off. Feel much better, but my legs are just totally gassed and my head is still a bit sore. But all in all I’m good. Until tomorrow…..Pete

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