Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 24: New life

Day #24) July 6, 2011. Jefferson City, MO to Boonville, MO: 61 miles in 5:04 hrs.

WAY different day than yesterday. Wow, I mean I just cannot believe what a difference not having a hangover makes! No, I don’t want to paint myself into a corner here. Actually the humidity yesterday was some of the worst I’d experienced on a long bike. Cloud cover helped a ton today to.

So yesterday evening I wandered back over to the local burger joint , Zesto, which was quite good on the first outing. And I walked in and the people behind the register were the very same people who were there when I ordered 2 footlong chili cheese dogs, a turkey club and a pint of potato salad. I immediately prefaced my next order with: “I kind of rode my bicycle a long way today, so I’m still pretty hungry”. The young fellow behind the counter kind of chuckled and proceeded to take my next order, with several of the young ladies in the background just listening on in amazement. So I ordered another of the famous Zesto footlong chili cheese dogs, a kielbasa and sauerkraut sandwich and a grilled chicken sandwich. The faces of them all, I wish I had a camera to get the expressions in digital. It was just too funny.

Got the stuff to go and just wolfed it down bedside back in my motel room. Chased it was a glass of that Norton dry red wine that Mark from Augusta had given me, and I hit the hay at 9pm. Man I was just so wiped out. Hit the road at a very good hour, 6am, and off I was again into the heat and humidity of Central MO. Now the good thing about this morning was that there was a nice layer of cloud cover to shield me from the sun. Made it to the bridge over the Missouri and this time took the pedestrian crossing back to the sidetrail and then back to the Katy Trail. On the Katy in 20 min and time to go west.

This particular section of trail has been my favorite thus far, what with the Missouri River on my left and these spectacular bluffs on my right. Some of the bluffs jetted up 1-200 feet above the trail. As a once-in-a-while rockclimber, they looked to be just amazing, similar to the wonderful wall in the New River Gorge in WV called Endless Wall. Much of the time I was just kind of looking up at the walls thinking of climbing routes as I wandered all the hell over the trail with my bike. Couple times I caught myself as I was going off the trail I was so mesmerized with the bluffs.

Now the amazingly lucky thing about the Katy Trail is that the ballast in the old railbed had the trail elevated about 4-8 feet above much of the surrounding land, and I say this is lucky because with all the flooding, there were times when I had water on both sides of me from the Missouri flooding to the left and the feeder streams coming out of the bluffs flooding to my right. Local roads had been flooded to the extent that there were several signs on the trail warning of local traffic needing to share the trail with the trail users. But I was so far out in the middle of nowhere that I experienced no traffic on the trail. There were some sections were I felt as though I was on the Overseas Highway, the road that connects Miami to Key West. It’s just amazing to see how high all the water is. As I mentioned yesterday, there are a gazillion like bridges on the Katy that cross feeder streams which flow into the Missouri. Now some of these streams are so swollen that they are a mere 2-3 feet below the bridge.

Most all of my ride, from Jefferson City to the little hamlet of Rocheport was shaded and secluded in this wonderful bluff/river area. Pulled into Rocheport with the intention of getting a bottle refill and maybe something to eat. But as usual the eating establishments listed on the brochure are now OOB. Even this little bike shop along the trail, I pulled in there to get a refill on the bottles and put some air in my tires, and that place was closed. It kind of made me think back to yesterday when I was in Tebbetts looking for food and a place to bag it for the night. The trail brochure listed several eateries and 2 grocery stores in addition to some places for lodging. But the lady in the PO had told me that everything just dried up. “Bad economy,” she told me. “Just nothing left in town!” And it’s pretty sad that all these little independent folks are going under. Heck they’re the backbone of this country. And I’m seeing and hearing the same thing….”just can’t make it anymore.” That’s why I was so impressed with what Mark and Jan were doing back in Augusta with their cabins. I mean they both work full time with other jobs, and they went out on the limb financially to put together those cabins to try to make their own destiny – to be independent small businesspeople. They work on the cabins during all their free time. I mean hell, even on July 4th, when I’d come through, they were still working on their second cabin. So seeing the destruction of this in all these little towns and hamlets, that’s not only disconcerting from a big picture standpoint, but it’s also very sad on a personal level.

Ok, off my soapbox. So I had to go through the ghost town of Rocheport and continue to the next town. Went through this tunnel that was cut through a bluff, and it was pretty cool, but then I came to a barracade: “Trail Closed, take blah blah, to blah blah, and then turn on blah blach, and finally get on blah blah. So the flooding had finally bit me in the arse. I memorized the paragraph of directions to get around the closure, and off I went. Now they had zero out there as far as detour signs, so I had to really get those directions down in my head. Took off and not more than five min down the road I saw this gravel road that sounded like the road I had to turn left on, and it seemed to be going in the right direction, so I get on this thing and it just juts way the hell up into a super steep climb. So I shifted into the little cookie, and then I shifted up to the easiest gear. And it was useless, I mean there I am thinking: “I’ve ridden 2.5 times across North America and have never walked a climb, but I’m about to tip over.” I mean I was out of the saddle and the rear tire just wasn’t grabbing in the gravel. I was skidding it out…no matter how I positioned myself on over the rear tire. And then I did it. I dismounted and began pushing, and let me tell you, my feet were skidding this thing was so steep. I mean I was wondering if I could even push this train up there without disconnecting the yak and then doing it in two stages.

So that got me thinking: “this is freaking crazy. If I can’t climb this sucker how in the hell is Joe Q Public going to do on this maniacal thing? This just isn’t right.” So I tenderly turned the rig around on the gravel hill and then gingerly rode it back downhill, and then returned to the town. That’s where I saw that I’d made a mistake. I mistook the gravel road left for a left that was still down the road another mile. So I rode on to make the correct left. So my record is still intact! That climb did NOT count! The asphalt road was a nice country road with plenty of rollers. And it was about at this time that the sun had broken through the cloud cover and man, it was just scorching again. My detour lasted like 4 miles, and I found my way back to the trail – with not one detour sign. Such a famous trail and nothing in the way of current warnings or detour signs.

The final 10 miles into Boonville was all unshaded and right smack in the burning sun. But having drank like 2.5 gallons of water yesterday afternoon and evening, I was still in great shape and plenty hydrated. Made it to Boonville and then rode up Rt 40 to the motels that are situated off of I-70. I had to do a stout little cookie climb out of town, and ended up using the sidewalk. No berms in MO. None. And going up that nasty hill, I felt way better going out of the saddle on the sidewalk than on a bermless roadway. Found my nirvana alongside I-70 – motel and Subway. Life just doesn’t get any better!. Did two footlongs while I waited for the motel to ready a room. Same reaction in Subway as I had at Zesto last night – a kind of disbelief. I mean I’m in line with all these people having their lunches, and they’re ordering 6-inch subs with chips, and then I roll up and order 2 footlongs for the dining room. And they kind of watch me on occasion to see if I’m really going to eat all that food in one sitting.

Got me room, shower, washed the kit for the umpteenth time and then walked outside with the wet cloths to hang on a 7-foot high fence that guards the garbage containers. I’m pretty overt now about drying my cloths outside of motels. I just walked through the lobby with them wrapped in my bath towel and waltzed over to the fence and hung those puppies up. This hot weather dries the stuff completely in just over an hour.

Ok, done working on the computer, and the phone, and the blog. Blog is usually the last thing that I work on before I call it a day and veg on TV. I’m not a TV guy, but on the road, once I get done riding half the day and then working the other half on the computer and phone, I’m all about just letting my brain go numb with TV. Problem is that with the TDF on right now, most of these little motels do not have Versus as a channel. So I’m left with the Food channel, the History Channel, the Weather Channel, and the Science Channel. That’s my life after riding and working!.

Until tomorrow……Pete

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