Archive for June, 2010

Day 32: Fun In The Sunshine

Monday, June 28th, 2010

68.17 miles (Total: 1558.86) Avg Speed: 11.9mph Max Speed: 37mph

I took my time this morning knowing I was getting picked up around 9:15. Joe and Terry packed up and headed off towards Golden City. The Sunshine Bike Shop car pulls up and Alex gets out to introduce himself. We stick my bike and bags in the van and head to Springfield. Once at the bike shop I introduce myself to Kay who I spoke with last night. The shop was great, far better than the Carbondale bike shops, I wish I could have had my full service here. Kay tells me to look around the store for supplies so I pick up a few Cliff bars and energy shots. Once Alex has fixed my bike I ready my wallet to pay when he tells me its all free!

Out of all the generosity I have received so far this one is overwhelming. Alex returns me to Fair Grove to continue the trail and I thank him again for his work. Time to get the show on the road, I head up to the gas station to grab even more supplies and eventually get going around midday. This was to be the last day in Missouri and the end of the Ozarks, I had almost 70 miles still to do so hit the road.

I cruised up and over the last few rollers, on every climb the sun managed to dip behind a cloud for me it was all going to plan. I stopped only briefly at each services to refuel so I was making great time. I passed through a town called Everton which amused me, no sign of any scousers though. Towards the end of the ride I got stuck behind a mower cutting the sides of the road which had a van behind it to warn drivers. It was going around 12 mph so I would have to race to get by it. After waiting a while I got the opportune moment on a downhill and flew by it, only problem was the huge uphill afterwards. I had gotten a head start but the mower began gaining on me as I reached the crest but then left him in my dust on the next downhill.

Me vs Mower

The Ozarks hung on right to the last minute before the roads eventually began to flatten out, a sign of the riding to come through Kansas. I cruised into Golden City and made my way to the park where I hope to find Terry and Joe. I met Terry outside the gas station, then we found Joe at the park. After taking a shower we watched a softball game and ate some food. The humidity was incredible, I laid in my tent dripping with sweat and had to get out and wait an hour or so before trying to sleep again. Tomorrow is state number 5, I can’t wait.

Golden City, MO

Day 31: Spoke Out!

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

69.97 miles (Total: 1490.69) Avg Speed: 11.7mph Max Speed: 39mph

For once the temperature cooled off last night and my tent didn’t suffer too badly from condensation as it has done. We were out of options for breakfast so rolled to McDonalds for a cheap one.

The elevations profiles on the maps showed we would continue to ride through the rolling Ozarks so it was back to the same rhythm of the past few days. Starting early in the morning means you can get around 40 miles in before the heat really picks up, so we managed to make it to a family cafe for lunch around this point. There was a sign outside saying welcome bikers, we soon realised it was motorbikers judging by the personnel.

After lunch we got riding again and I began to here a strange sound coming from my bike, it was a random clunking sound that seemed to go off regardless of me pedalling or not. It got worse so we pulled over to take a look. I spotted a broken spoke in my rear wheel on the driveside a.k.a I can’t fix those. We got to a Wal Mart and reassessed the situation, there was about 15 miles left to Fair Grove and the broke spoke hadn’t unsettled my wheel to much, it was still running pretty straight. Terry offered to switched his front panniers with my heavy rear ones to lighten my load which I was grateful for.

These are touring wheels, one broke spoke isn’t the end of the world right? There was a bike shop 20 miles off route in Springfield tomorrow I could try get too. I nervously pushed on, standing on my pedals as much as possible to distribute my weight across the bike. We made it to Fair Grove without incident and pulled up under the park pavilion where we can camp for free, they also have toilets and showers.

Once settled in I reassessed my options when some local cyclists pulled up. They were friends with a bike shop in Springfield and gave them a call to try and help out. Amazingly the owner Kay offered to send somebody across in the morning to pick me up, fix the spoke, then return me to Fair Grove. One second I’m sat considering riding 2 hours off route for this then yet again I’m saved by more generous people, when is my luck going to run out?

We sat and ate Subway when some eastbounders pulled in, 3 young guys from West Virginia. We swapped advice on the days ahead before hitting the hay, I’m being picked up at 9:15 in the morning. Terry and Joe will ride on to Golden City whilst I will catch up with them later in the day, at least thats the plan.

Day 30: Houston, Texas (County)

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

45.17 miles (Total: 1420.72) Avg Speed: 11mph Max Speed: 47mph

Breakfast this morning was amazing, we had everything and more. The calories would soon be burnt as the climbing continued straight out of Eminence. Joe got a flat really early in the ride so we pulled by a kayak rental place to fix it. It was Saturday so the place was was busy, there are lots of rivers around here. I overheard a bunch of people my age who pulled up in their cars talk about the “crazy” road trip they were taking to the next town and back today, the next town! that must be 30 miles away!

Ozarks, roughly translated from the French Aux Arcs.

My view, all day everyday.

Collectors item shot of me riding.

We passed by a fire tower and coudln’t resist going up to see the view, it didn’t disappoint. The mileage for today was going to be slightly frustrating, but its not always a case of how far you want to go. We are restricted by the places on route. Today was a choice of 45 miles or around 90 miles. On better terrain we would have done the latter but decided early on to take it easy so we soon stopped after 25 miles in a town called Summersville for lunch.

Sitting in the park for lunch we saw the temperature on an electronic board climb and climb, it was going to be an uncomfortable 20 miles but we knew the park in Houston (which is funnily in Texas County) had a pool. After we arrived we made our way there to find it full of kids jumping off the diving boards while the parents bathed themselves. We slipped in to cool off before going to the pavilion to set up our tents. It was a relaxing day and probably the last time we will do under 50 for a long while.

Day 29: Rollin’

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

58.74 miles (Total: 1375.55) Avg Speed: 11.2mph Max Speed: 44mph

With no breakfast options this morning we had to make the ride to to Centerville on an a packet of instant Oats made up by Terry. We were beginning the Ozark mountains, they are very different from the Appalachians. The climbs are short and over before you know it but then start again just as quick. This morning I also had to make the choice of whether to set off around 5am to get to Eminence in time for the England – Algeria game. As soon as I woke in my tent I decided against it. The highlights are always on ESPN during the evenings and today was going to be a tricky ride. I resolved to make sure I catch the third and final group game.

Every town since day one has been covered in election posters like this.

In Centerville some fat guy in braces was walking around picking up coins, I asked him for a place to have breakfast he pointed to the only diner in town but said they take too long to bring the food, I bet. We ate there anyway then pushed on towards Eminence. There weren’t many services along the route today so I had gotten stocked up beforehand. The hills rolled up and down all day, nothing too strenuous but technically challenging. You change down a bunch of gears at the foot of the climb then its done and you have a split second to change back and generate some speed for the downhill only to have to change down almost straight away. It can make you pretty lazy and I ended up just staying in one of my bottom gears most of the ride.

Dr Lee back in Radford had said Missouri was his toughest state. The hills really do roll relentlessly but its not too bad. Maybe its just my fitness has improved so much since the start. I also failed to really capture it in pictures because like I said I got pretty lazy on the bike today.

We had been looking below at the rivers all day as we passed over bridges, then we saw one that looked too nice to pass on. We put our bikes in some bushes by the road and walked down to it. The water was nice an cool and shallow enough just to sit in. Me an Joe were there for a while when Terry caught up and popped his head over the side of the bridge to see us.

The only problem with the rivers is that they are always at the foot of a climb, and after this stop it was the biggest of the day. I was out of Gatorade and my water was running low too, I huffed and puffed over the final few hills before finally seeing the Eminence sign. Me an Joe pulled into a really old Dairy Queen and spoke with another TransAm guy who had just ended his trip due to continuing bad health, he was fairly old and had shingles! I have been laughed at by the rest for being paranoid about ticks, everytime we stop by the road I manage to see when crawling up my leg, I have since stopped standing by the grass. I glanced down at my thighs to see one embedded, he can’t of been freeloading blood from me very long it was tiny. I got my tweezers out and pulled him from the head, he crawled around on the table a few seconds before I destroyed him. They are pretty harmless but the odd one can give you Lyme Disease which requires antibiotics if you leave them in for a few days.

We booked ourselves a room at a B&B up the street. Joe had said we were cyclists and when we turned up the woman seemed pleasantly surprised, she had been expecting Harley riders. I find the England score, then watch some highlights, what a joke. I was so glad I didn’t waste my day again like the first match just to see them. We had burgers and beers over the road and then returned to slice of chocolate cake at the B&B before falling asleep in the comfy bed.

Day 28: The Show-Me State

Friday, June 25th, 2010

78.24 miles (Total: 1316.81) Avg Speed: 12.4mph Max Speed: 39.5mph

Terry had left early this morning again leaving me an Joe to sleep in. One thing I forgot to mention in the previous post was the roads into Chester were literally melting it was that hot and the ridges on my new tyres picked up the sticky hot tar followed by every small stone I past over. So I spent about and hour this morning combing through and picking out every last bit. The ride out of Chester and over the Mississippi was going to be hairy. We had to pass over a very narrow bridge so used by yesterdays coal trucks so we waited for a small car to get behind us and shepherd us over the other side. Once across we had passed the state line and arrived in state number 4, Missouri!

State No. 4

Only 15 miles into the ride and we spotted a gigantic black cloud forming on the horizon. Everything went eerily quiet and the day suddenly descended into darkness. We took shelter at a gas station as the dark clouds rolled over each other as the thunder rumbled, I’ve never seen anything like it. The storm soon came and past after spending about an hour sat inside. The weather was clear skies and sunshine again so we pressed on.

We met with a couple of East-bounders from California who had taken the Western Express route from San Fran then joined the TransAm trail in Pueblo. They talked to Joe about the first section of the route because that is the one he will be taking when we reach Pueblo, then advised us on a detour today that would save us around 6 miles.

After reaching the end of the detour we were only about 20 miles from the campground we had planned to stay at. We stopped at a small store in a place called Pilot Knob for some milkshakes and then cruised the last stretch of the ride both in our top cranks barely going under 20mph. I had deer running in the fields beside me and an Osprey swoop down in front of me, I hadn’t expected the Missouri scenery to be this good, its probably the best yet.

We arrived at Kyles campground to find Terry already set up. They had showers but the small creek was more inviting. Tiny fish nibbled the dead skin of my feet, I bet people pay good money to get that done. The place had a dingy looking bar at the entrance but inside it was actually great fun, the locals swilled beer and played rock music and were really friendly, although a pregnant woman drank and smoked in the corner whilst having a domestic with her husband. We crawled into our tents thinking about the ride tomorrow which would mark the start of the Ozark mountains, described by the maps as one long self propelled roller coaster.

Day 27: I Hate Popeye

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

48.99 miles (Total: 1238.57) Avg Speed: 12.3mph Max Speed: 33mph

Leaving Carbondale we went off route and took a detour on  highway 13, it looked obvious and turned out to be a good call saving us around 3 miles. It was looking like another day of 95+ heat so the sun block was lathered. Its still going to take me an eternity to get rid of this farmers tan. My hands are the funniest because of my gloves, my wrists are brown then it turns white up to my knuckles then brown again.

Nice shoulder on our short cut

Terry had left early this morning to try and beat the heat. Me and Joe had an optional alternate route on the maps today to follow along the Mississippi levee, it was completely flat compared to the other route. Michael had told us last night the route might be closed because of flash flooding yesterday but we had an email from Cooper this morning who said it was great so we took it. The riding was the easiest yet with flood plains either side of us.

Just as we thought this route was perfect it took a turn for the worse. The last 11 miles to our destination, Chester (The home of Popeye) turned out to be a coal truck highway. There was no shoulder and we had huge 18 wheels flying past us and almost pulling us under. I must have had around 20 near death experiences in about half and hour. As we go to Chester things didn’t improve, they allow these trucks right into town cruising up and down main street. Its crazy. As I mentioned the town is the home of popeye who can be seen painted on just about every building. Me and Joe both agreed it was the worst place we had been to. We then met with some members of the ACA group, when of the women, Joyce had been clipped by one of the trucks and was really shook up, so much so that she had decided to quit the ride! The sheriff came to meet them as they reported the incident. Michael was contacting Adventure Cycling immediately to get the route changed.

Like always though the worst situations always seem to turn out good in the end. We made our way through town to the Fraternal Order of Eagles where we are allowed to camp for free. Its essentially the equivalent of a working mens club back home, they have a nice bar with a few pool tables and tv screens. We pitched our tents out back and went inside for food and beer whilst watching some world cup highlights. Not bad at all.

Day 26: Takin’ It Easydale

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The rest day started early as we all woke around 6:30 and headed down to Mary Lou’s cafe for breakfast before saying our farewells to Cooper. He was the perfect trail companion and everybody was going to miss him. I’m just glad I had his company up some of those incredibly tough climbs in Virginia and through the dogs of Kentucky. He has also loved all the comments people have left about him on my blog.

Cooper Hanning

Once Cooper left me an Joe went back to the motel room and watched the Portugal – Ivory Coast game on TV then headed out to a coffee shop to finally catch up on some blog entries. I’m constantly about a week behind now, I type them up offline each night but its uploading the pictures to accompany that slow me down. Also I tend to do them in my tent when I’m really tired so they are usually full of spelling mistakes which you will have to ignore.

We met Michael again, the leader of the ACA group. They were also taking a rest day in Carbondale and he invited us to join them for dinner tonight at a thai restaurant downtown. We picked our bikes up and I replaced my tyres with some Schwalbe Marathons as my others had around 2,000 miles on them and I also had an extra layer of soft chunky bar tape added. The bike was spotless and working a dream, they had stayed up after hours just to get them done.

Day 25: Cooper’s Last Ride

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

55.44 miles (Total: 1189.58) Average Speed: 11.3mph Max Speed: 37mph

I woke to the sound of horses trotting about this morning and got myself up to a breakfast of eggs and bread. Cooper was last to get up as he often is, his face is hilarious on a morning as he takes a few minutes to wake properly and looks around bewildered at everybody packing up their tents. I tell him he looks like death warmed up which gets a laugh then we finish packing up. The early riding was uneventful, stopping where we could to take shade from the relentless sun.

We stopped in Goreville for lunch at a well known cyclist stop, Delaneys. I ordered the Taco Salad which was then followed by free Cherry Pie, dished up to all riders who pass through.

Immediately after leaving Goreville there were storm clouds overhead. We heard rumbles of thunder around and it seemed a matter of time until we got soaked. However the route changes and turns somehow managed to take us right around all the nasty stuff and we remained dry except for a small welcome sprinkling.

As we continued to coast along towards Carbondale Joe’s front tyre suddenly let out a huge scream of air, he had ridden over a thorn. We stopped so he could repair the flat and Cooper took the chance to replace one of his. he had been riding with an extremely slow leak in one of his tyres for the past day,  after a pump it would last for hours until it was noticeable.

Roadside workshop

Once everyone was fixed up we headed out again an soon passed by a huge lake. The chance for a swim was too good to pass up on such a sticky day so we pulled up and jumped in. The water was perfect, nobody even bothered to change out of their cycling clothes, they would be dried within minutes of riding anyway.

After finally arriving in Carbondale we made our way to the motels and got ourselves checked in. Joe had earlier rang a bike shop in the city to get our bikes serviced, being the busy time of year for bike shops they are always full but make special room for cross country cyclists. So we unloaded everything and rode down to hand them over before the store closed. We would be taking a rest day tomorrow and then pick them up in the evening. For supper we went to the Chinese restaurant next door and had some great food with even better beer. This was to be Cooper’s last night, tomorrow he would leave us before then making his way back home for a wedding and then returning to continue the trail in about a week.

Day 24: Emancipation

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

48.33 miles (Total: 1134.14) Average Speed: 11.7mph Max Speed: 41mph

The breakfast at the B&B consisted of an omlette with bacon, it certainly hit the spot. Today we would finally be getting to the Illinois border which I had initially intended to do yesterday. After packing up we rolled out an began the 12 miles to the state line. Michael the leader of the ACA group caught up with us, he is German born but has lived in the US for 12 years and is the friendliest guy ever. We reached the Ohio river at which point you have to hop on the shuttle ferry as there is no bridge, the river also acts as the state  line between Kentucky and Virginia.

Joe, being a swimmer and from Ohio had said leading up to today  that he was going to swim across the river. So we walked onto the ferry with his bike as he snook back off to pick a suitable spot to start his crossing. As we pulled away he lowered into the water and began but soon found himself slowly getting swept downstream. It’s pretty narrow so the crossing only takes about a minute by boat however by the time we had hopped off on the other side his head was a dot way down the river. After a few brief moments of panic we saw him emerge onto the shore and begin walking up the side, he had ended up about half a mile down from where he had started. The banks had thick sand and mud which he waded through as we stood by laughing at his predicament.

Show over, we passed through the small town of Cave In Rock to find the Illinois sign, state number 3. As today was going to be a scorcher we had planned to beat the heat by riding early then taking the entire midday/early afternoon off before finishing the ride later in the day. So a further 20 miles in we reached Elizabeth town. After eating at yet another home cooking café type joint we went to the local bar, afterall we’re out of Kentucky and back into civilization. The dogs are tied up, the roads are clean and the towns have bars. This particular one served us drafts in frosted glasses which was amazing on such a hot day.

State No.3

Jenks House

E-Town as the locals called it.

After finally getting back on the road we head for Eddyville where we plan to camp. A series of long but gradual climbs sap the energy from us but we eventually arrive in the early evening. The campsite is a mile of route, we have two options. Go set up then come back to the bar in town for food or go for food and cycle to the campsite in the dark, we opt for the latter and it seemed like the right call.

The campground has lots of people with horses who are making use of the local trails. The whole place smells like horse, even the showers but its not unbearable. Plus its only $14 for on site split between the four of us. Once I was washed I headed straight into my tent and fell asleep.

Day 23: The Big Match

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

45.79 miles (Total: 1085.81) Avg Speed: 10.7mph Max Speed: 33.5mph

I woke at 6:30 knowing today I had about a 50/50 chance of watching the England game. Everywhere around was dry meaning no bars to go watch the game, the church had a huge TV that would have the game on but it wouldn’t finish till 4pm in the afternoon leaving me with around 50 miles to cover afterwards. Alternatively I had decided getting to Cave in Rock, Illinois and getting a motel room would be the best bet, although time was tight. I couldn’t wake any earlier because I had to sleep after yesterday plus I hadn’t called home for a while so did that. Terry & Cooper weren’t ready but Joe agreed to ride with me to try catch the game in time.

Lets do it

As soon as we stepped outside we knew it was going to be tough, hot and humid again. We pushed through the first 30 miles stopping only briefly for a snack and fuel but the time kept flying. 10am, 11am why can’t we pedal faster, why are these hills here! My average speed dropped from 12.8 to about 10.5. I thought about all the people back home filling the fridge with beer or casually walking to the pub, I thought about how my friends had probably organised to get together for it and planned a nice Saturday for themselves. Here I was pedalling with every last drop of energy just to try and make it into a town for kick off not even knowing if I can watch the game. Because we crossed into a new time zone yesterday kick off would be 1.30pm.

There were some long rolling climbs into the town of Marion at which point I had ran out of water, luckily Joe had a spare bottle. We were now 12 miles from Cave In Rock and an hour before kick off, seemed doable. But then the plan was dealt a blow, we were informed a Harley Davidson biker weekend had packed out the motel in Cave in Rock and there were no bars in town. As my head dropped we decided the only option was to look around town, Joe spots a cafe grill and we poke our hands in to see a TV at the back, “Are you showing the game?” I asked. “We sure are” replies the woman. I thanked her a thousand times before sitting down to order food and ice water. I can’t believe I’m getting to watch the game! Jeff from the ACA group also turns up follwed by Cooper and Terry who find us in town.

Not in HD but its on!

So the game was a disaster and I’m left furious with the England team after putting myself through so much stress this morning for them to let me down like the always do. Lampard up to his usual tricks for England shooting miles over everytime he gets the ball, Heskey laying about on the floor mid attack and Green doing his best to get Calamity James back in the team. I had predicted a draw before kick off, it always seems to be the case with the first group game but still disappointing. To finish the day we had to find a place to stay so went to a nice B&B before heading out to Dairy Queen for a Grill & Chill Dinner followed by a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard. It eases the bad mood, I just wish we didn’t have to wait a week for the Algeria game.

What's this?

My name is Ryan Anderson, in Summer 2010 I rode my bike across America. Starting on the east coast in Yorktown, VA and finishing in Florence, OR. Read more

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