Wednesday, July 4. Booneville, MO to Clinton, MO. 72 miles of riding in 5:16 hrs of riding.
Happy 4th everyone. Hope you got out there and did something fun.
So today was the last section of the Katy Trail for us. We did our Groundhog Day thing this morning and got going on the trail at 6:40 AM – with no potential for a Barbie and Ken episode that we had yesterday. Good thing because this is THE toughest section of the trail there is. You’re off the Missouri River from Booneville onward. And this whole 72-mile piece of riding is pure false flat. And you know it from the first pedal stroke onward. I’d ridden this as two days last year when I was pulling the trailer, so it was a treat this year to do two days in one day without pulling a trailer up this never-ending false flat.
Judy noticed it the minute we got going. Me to. Heck, we were starting at 9-10 mph – and working to do it! It’s that pronounced considering that we’d been starting at around 12-13 mph on the last three rides. Now I’d also say that this is the least used section of the trail, due I think, because it’s just tough and up hill, it’s not along the river, and there are really few big cities along the way… oh yea, and there are sections where if the wind is blowing there is just zero cover amidst all those corn fields. So the cycling traffic out here is just really low compared to the previous days of riding the Katy.
Judy did a great job today as we slowly bumped up the speed as we warmed up more. And after a while we were doing this long false flat sections at 11-12 mph. Then you’d hit this little false descent and crank it to 15-16 mph. But really, the trail from east to west is this series of stair step climbs with little teaser descents in between. We passed several thru riders on that first stretch, and just a smattering of rec riders on this, the 4th of July holiday. Judy turned around at about 1:15 into the ride. After that I got very ambitious and cranked it up to a pretty good pace, taking some of those long false flats at 15+ mph. I mean I felt like I was on fire, just flying up this long, long, long series of ups. Now one nice thing is that the trail was super shaded for the first 2.5 hrs, with very few sections out in the sun. It was as if the trail was this ribbon of shade trees amidst all the sun exposed corn fields that just stretched into the horizon.
The other interesting this is that you could actually look around and see that the terrain was really getting pool table flat. No more hummocks and hills off in the distance – just a flat landscape. Except for the trail!! So it was pretty sweet riding in this tunnel of shade on the trail. Only problem with this section today was the fact that I was pretty much unsupported for the whole trip. Now I was good with water because at least half of the TH’s had water fountains. But it was the cold coke and the food that I’d miss today. And the way I ride, where I just put it in cruise control and try not to stop, I knew that I would likely not stop to buy food. Only stops would be water.
My pre-ride nutrition was 2 bologna sandwiches and 2 yogurts. I had kind of figured that it would get me thru 70 miles of riding, where I’d only have to stop to refill water bottles. And that’s just what I did. When Judy was with me we stopped in Pilot Grove and refilled water. Then when solo I refilled in Clifton City. So by that time I’d gone through about 5 bottles – and I felt pretty good. The whole time I was kind of expecting to get to the “High Point” marker on the trial – the highest point of the trial – that so I would level out and not expend so much effort in the ride. But the damned thing just didn’t come. I couldn’t remember from last year exactly where it was, and I kind of figured that it was like 2-3 hrs in. Nope! Hammered all the way to Sedalia and still no highest point marker. Once in Sedalia I refilled yet again, this at the 38-39-mile mark in the ride.
Hammered again on the endless series of false flats out of Sedalia to the next TH of Green Ridge. More water refills, but this was where I really was beginning to feel the effort of the previous 3 hrs – in a big way. Gave Judy a call and was happy to hear that she made it back fine and was on the trek to meet me in Clinton. Cool thing thus far in the trip is that our cell phones have worked pretty well such that we’ve had no need to go to the Ham handheld radios. The only minor glitches were in Southern OH and Southern IN where the cell service was just negligible. So in that dept, so far so good.
After I’d gotten through Green Ridge I really noticed that I was not getting back up to speed as quick as I had been, and the next false flat was totally exposed to the sun and this witch of a headwind out of the southwest. No tree cover to deaden the wind a bit and shade me. This was just like sizzling in a frying pan with a hot hair drying blowing on high in your face the whole time. Wind had to be gusting in the high teens or low twenties. I mean it would just stand me up. So my previous rhythm was just shot to hell. Rode up and up and up and up on this false flat, in and out of the saddle feeling more and more drained with every pedal stroke. And I’d purposely not look at the mile markers because I know I’d just fixate on the numbers and the time would just stand still. Yup, I knew I was in store for a good “cracking” today. Just went too hard with nothing to replace my blood sugar.
Made it to the High Point marker of the Katy and I was about to enter the zone of running on fumes. Problem was that the trail was just going up and up and up past this high point marker – and it was totally exposed to sun and the relentless wind. Made it to the next TH, Windsor, feeling more like a car whose water pump was ready to blow and the temp gauge was running on hot. Guzzled 2 bottles of water and refilled yet again. At that point I was like 16 miles from Clinton. Went through Windsor and just kept doing the false flat. I mean HOW IN THE HELL could I still be going up when I’d passed the high point marker? It was just crazy. Now I would hit these occasional stretches where I could crank again, and where it seemed as though I was on the flats or a false descent. But the majority was climbing.
Got through Calhoun TH with one more bottle refill and I was still getting slammed by the wind and the up. Just about that time my phone rang and that kind of scares me, with my first thought always going to me thinking that Judy was having problems. Stopped and saw that it was indeed Judy who called and her message was for me to call her back asap. “Not good,” I thought. Called her only to find out that she was excited to tell me that two of my cycling clients had came in 1st and 2nd in a road race today back home. That bit of good news was really just what I needed to get me the rest of the way to Clinton, cuz my mental and physical states were cracking in a big way. By that time I’d looked at the mile markers and found that I had about 7 miles to go. And let me tell you that those 7 miles just went on forever, what with the headwind, the sweltering heat and the incessant false flat. I just did the countdown passing each and every marker and just living for the last mile.
When I saw a watertower in the distance I knew that I was pretty close to Clinton. But man, that last stretch of 2 miles…I shifted down to the middle ring and out of the big. And that pissed me off. So I re-shifted back up to the big ring and just hunkered down and got low into the wind and cranked it. Got to the TH in Clinton with Judy and a gentleman and his family sitting there in the shade under the roof of the TH kiosk. The guy had just finished doing the Katy with his wife and daughter doing support for him. They had been talking with Judy and waiting for me to ride in. Well, my ride in was not that of a guy who had just finished a great ride for the day, but one of a dude who had just been crushed by the elements. I mean I was just toast. I tried to be cordial and talk a bit with the folks since that had waited there with Jude to congratulate me on the ride. But honestly, I was just a mess, wiping sweat from my face, neck, arms and hands, and guzzling this ice cold bottle of water and a coke.
Damn, I had to look like a real piece of work, a blob of toasted protoplasm hunched over on a bench in the shade of the kiosk roof. We shook hands and the folks headed home, with us both congratulating each other for a final time. Judy fixed me 2 bologna sandwiches, gave me a second ice cold coke, and then brought out a quarter of a watermelon, which I just destroyed. I just sat on the bench for 30 min, almost catatonic, and shaking my head at how hard the ride was today. Hell, it was my fault - for going out and blasting the first 40 miles! What a dipshit! We got a cheap motel in Clinton and here we sit in the AC as the temp approaches 100 again.
We’ll do the Subway gig in a few, as there is a special going on this month where if you buy 2 regular footlongs you get them for 5 bucks each. Done! We’ve been doing this one for the past 3 days. What a money-saver. So that’s it. We’re 50 miles from the KS border. I mapped out a ride for tomorrow, and my tact for this ride through KS with kind of parallel what I did last year. I’ll try to use gravel if at all possible to parallel the main roads and interstate to keep it easy for Judy in the van. We’ll head west, but gradually try to parallel I-70 and move up to the north of the state with gradual northwesterly tracks each dayStay cool everyone. And major congrats and kudos to Marie and Tiff. Great job ladies, I’m really proud of both of you!!! All the best to everyone today……pete