Tuesday, July 3. North Jefferson City, MO to Booneville, MO. 47 miles of riding in 3:34 hrs of riding.
Hey, sorry... I had the comments thing messed up. I think I changed it so anyone can now add comments - good or bad.
Pretty easy day actually. I’d figured that this was to be 55-60, but for some reason I’d goofed on the mileage – erring on the short side.
Munched chips and watched some of the Oly. Trials coverage last night and then in the hay before 10 PM. Up before 5 AM to go through my whole morning routine again, packed, out the door and on the trail by 6:45 AM. Now just finding the North Jefferson City TH is quite a job. It’s tucked damned near in the middle of this massive cloverleaf of interstates. So you have to know exactly what series of small roads to get on to make it. That’s what tripped Judy up yesterday, to the point to where I just rode back a half mile to meet her on Rt 94 in the parking lot of some big company. So I’d googled it last night and wrote down the roads to get there – it was like 4 different little township roads that finally got you tucked down into the trailhead.
One of the big issues at our morning parking areas is finding a good tree/trees to park alongside so as the sun rises out of the east, the van will be shaded for the 2-3 hrs that Judy’s gone. Don’t do that and it’s like 90-some degree by the time she gets back, and it’s over 100 in the van. So we scout out the parking lots – as does every other rider down here in the morning – for the best possible shade area in the morning. Ended up with a good one today. So we got changed and were on the bikes with the sun hidden behind the treecover, thereby providing some great shade.
Judy like to start off on the mellow side to WU, so I’ve been cool with that. I usually just put it in the middle ring and spin it at 12.5-13 mph for a bit as she drafts and gets in her WU. Well today we’re going through that same routine and not more than like 5 min into the ride this dude and chick just fly by us. I’d seen them getting ready to ride in the same TH as we had pulled into so I knew that they were just getting under way. But I mean they were cranking at like 15 mph. Now under normal circumstances – and I can hear some of you kind of saying: “ok, here he goes again with someone passing him” – if that were some cyclists, I’d be “hey, have at it man.” But these two, they were like tennis shoes, no clips, running shorts, tank top – like Barbie and Ken riding rental bikes in Aruba for God’s sake.
So I looked back at Judy, and she kind of went: “oh, go ahead.” So I dumped it into the big ring and just matched their pace, leaving like a 40-50 foot space between us. And I could see each one of them give a look back every once and again. So the chick pulls for a bit with the dude drafting, and then they trade spots and the dude bumps it up to like 16 mph. I looked back at Jude and asked if she was good. And she was, so we just kept it rolling as I matched their pace. Now the dude would crank it to anywhere from 13-16, kind of yo-yoing in his speed, and giving that curious look backward every couple min. I just maintained our distance and let nature take its course.
So they traded pulls for like 4 or so times, each time looking back to see if they dropped our sorry asses. And again, I mean we’re talking rec riders here in tennis shoes – and I’m totally ok with that – who are acting like Eddy Merckx and Connie Carpenter doing a team TT. So in a final act of desperation the Eddy takes this final pull at like 16.5 for, oh….had to be 5 min…and I looked back at Judy and gave her a thumb’s up sign, saying “dude is cooked.” As soon as that act of valor was over we could hear them talking and then they slowed down and I hear the Connie yell out: “Stopping.” And they pulled over to the right on the trail. I gave them a few words of encouragement as we went by and that was that.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very, very far from being Joe Cyclist, and I can and have swallowed my pride on many occasions when passed, dropped, spit out the back, humiliated and otherwise had my rear end handed to me in very big ways. That’s the way it is. I ain’t no bloody Lance Armstrong now or ever. But I have this thing about some of the folks out here, there and everywhere, who are bound and determined to pass you just for the sake of passing you – especially the folks who don’t know that they don’t know a freaking thing about cycling. So that’s the game I play – it’s called “Burnout.” I just match their pace and let them dangle as long as they want out in the front until the their match is burnt all the way down to their fingertips. This is a tactic that is often used in cycling, let a breakaway of one to several people (who you know cannot maintain the break) dangle off the front and just cook themselves while the rest of the pelleton just sits back and watches the show. When they’re smoked, game’s over. And then…ouch – burnout!. Well, in this case, Barbie and Ken were gone after about 20 min.
So once we were at that good pace we just continued to move along, riding in the shade the whole time with the sun still coming up in the east. The temp was probably in the 80’s by then, but in the shade it felt pretty good. Most of that stretch with Barbie and Ken was out to the east, a bit away from the Missouri River. Jude turned around at 1 hr in, and just past that the trail pulled up alongside the Missouri again. Felt awesome to be riding in the shade so much. Made it through like nearly 2.5 hrs almost all shaded. I’d look off to the south of the trail, at all the cornfields in the sun and I’d think how that’s going to be my fate once I get off the Katy and back on gravel and chip-seal pavement in Western Missouri and KS. This is where the sun is on you all day long. You’re like a weenie on a rotisserie just slow roasting for hrs on end.
The stretches that were along the Missouri River were pretty stunning, especially where the limestone bluffs are just in your face, and tower up to 200 feet above the trail. There have been several foot trails that lead up to lookouts at the tops of the bluffs, but I’m just not in the mood to do that with the temps as hot as they are right now. I’d end up coming down absolutely soaked. Heck, I’m wringing out my sweat rag each and every day as it is now. Gave Jude a call about 2.5 hrs in, and found that she’d made it back safely and was on her way to meet me in Boonville. The final “cool” place of the day was the trailhead town of Rocheport. Now I’d equate Rocheport to a kind of Peninsula down in the Cuyahoga Valley – a gateway place for the Katy Trail. You have some cool little cafés and bakeries, some bike rental places, a B&B, a campground and some really stunning stretches of the trail along the Missouri. I dipped in there for a short spell for some water and then I shot some video off the bike as I rode a loop past some of the establishments.
From there, it was through the trails only tunnel and then you’re in the sun and just baking amidst the cornfields. No wonder I was just about the only rider on this stretch. Everyone else in Rocheport was riding to the east along the river, not to the west to bake in the sun with nothing but cornfields. Add a very stiff headwind out of the SW to the mix and this was a tough stretch to do. At times the wind was just in your face bigtime. That 10-mile stretch between Rocheport and New Franklin, that’s probably the worst section thus far – just a nasty false flat into the wind totally exposed to the sun. There was a water fountain in New Franklin thank goodness, so I was able to guzzle down a couple bottles of water to get the last few miles to Booneville.
And that’s where my misconception was, in the last stretch. I’d figured it to be like 10 miles. But it was just 3, and the trail goes off gravel to paved and concrete. This is because the old RR bridge that crosses the Missouri in Booneville is still waiting to be redone. This 500 or more foot long expanse of RR bridge is slated for a couple million dollars in project money according to the locals. But for the time being, you’re shunted along this asphalt and concrete bikeway up to Rt 40 and on the bridge across the river. No way around it – because I rode off trail right up to the old RR bridge and checked it out to see if I could cross – no bloody way on this one, fore the middle third, the third directly above the river, is elevated in the up position as are some of the elevator bridges down in Cleveland in the flats. So it’s a good 50-100 feet above the east and west ramparts.
Rode back across the Missouri on Rt 40 and called Jude, who was just about a mile away in the downtown getting gas. I rode down the next trailhead, and then back up to meet her. All in all a good, very easy day, with the heat backing off just a tad today. Temp right now at 1 PM CST is just about 100. We’re parked in a hospital parking lot under a tree as I do this blog, that because the dude at Super 8 told us we couldn’t check in until 2 PM. We ended up getting a watermelon at Walmart, eating it in the Walmart parking lot and then driving up here, about a half mile from the motel to find some shade where I can work for for a couple hrs.
Tomorrow we’ll finish the trail in Clinton, and maybe, just maybe we’ll try to camp down around the Lake of the Ozarks area just south of Clinton. I’d really like to get back to camping and get away from this motel crap for a while. Have to check the weather forecast to see what we have in store. A very friendly gal (originally from Athens, OH) down at the Visitor’s Center in Booneville had told me that the weather is supposed to break – just a bit anyway – down to the low to mid 90’s by Monday. Man, I’m praying for that. Baking in KS was such a tough experience last year. I’d hate to replicate that again this year, especially if I’m to try to do gravel through the state. Hell, we’ll also need some rain to get all that lime dust to settle, or else I’m going to have to buy some breather masks to put on in KS for my rides. That ought to be quite a sight to see, some old goatee dude in lycra on a mt bike riding gravel farm roads with a bloody breather mask on.Well, until tomorrow…………Pete