Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day 26 Terre Haute, IN to Indianapolis, IN

Day 26 Terre Haute, IN to Indianapolis, IN 73.1 miles 2120ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

It was another perfect morning to ride. Relatively cool, in the mid 70's, and clear. Our hotel did not have breakfast, so we rode to breakfast via Starbucks. One benefit of a restaurant breakfast is greater variety and larger portions. You can really feel the fuel from the first meal of the day. When it's oatmeal, it's good for 15-20 miles. When it's a nice big balanced meal of eggs, fruit, potatoes, and bacon, it's good for 35 miles. That was today's meal. We rode a more rolling terrain than the last three days of riding but the grades were mild. Lauren is tracking our average speed and today we rode at just under 14mph. Google maps wanted us off of the direct route and when we rode into two different construction zones we knew why. The first was easy to navigate around via alley and sidewalk. The second had no alternative route, once we reached it, and it was repaving, so there was only one lane in our direction. Fortunately the construction vehicles were in and out of the lane and the traffic was moving more slowly at about 35mph. We rode in the lane and no one passed us for about two miles when we pulled into a driveway to let everyone by. Absolutely everyone waved to us from their car as they passed. When we got started riding again we purposefully chose to move into the lane in front of a big construction dump truck. He was happy to go 15mph behind us to the end of the construction zone. The good part was fresh pavement. Lauren was surprised we managed 18mph up the hills while we were holding up traffic. I explained that I think of it as a respect thing. I'll show people I'm going as fast as I can because if the roles were reversed and someone was lolligagging their way along I wouldn't appreciate it. Staying on the most direct route saved us ten miles for the day. We stopped for lunch in Plainfield and then hopped on a trail for a few miles. There is some amazing bicycle trail infrastructure in Midwestern towns. I wish our local government in Santa Fe, and perhaps even more importantly, government agencies, understood the potential economic benefit of a trail system. A majority of our city council gets it, but the functionaries seem to have contempt for it. We're taking a rest day here and then back on the road.






Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day 25 Effingham, IL to Terre Haute, IN

Day 25 Effingham, IL to Terra Haute, IN 68.1 miles 1430ft climbing

It was another beautiful day. We kinda dragged butt out of bed because they were so comfortable and we were all sleeping hard. We had what I think was the best breakfast, in a hotel, that we've had. We stopped for two gallons of water on our way out and didn't stop pedaling for thirty five miles to Casey, IL. We saw the world's largest pencil, the world's largest wind chime, and what is disputably, because we saw the "Guiness record holder" in Missouri, the world's largest rocking chair. If nothing else, this one was much more authentic with wood gliders and arms. That left at least five world's largest things unseen by us but laid claim to by Casey. We had excellent baked snacks and for me, cream soda. I don't remember if I mentioned the day before yesterday but the last stop in Greenville on our way to the hotel had a most excellent soda selection. I appreciate that when we're done for the day and I'm looking for cold, quick, tasty energy. W while we were pedalling along, a fawn sprang out of the woods and ran with us for a couple of hundred yards. It was like swimming with dolphins. Very cool. It was the second fawn we've seen. By this time of the year, they're getting big and frisky. We arrived in Terre Haute ten minutes from our hotel but two miles from Starbucks, from which a chai latte was Lauren's fixation of the day. The sky had been looking very dark for the last hour and it finally let go. We had put our rain flys on after lunch so no harm but when it started sprinkling we worried it would become a deluge. As we ducked under an entrance awning, it let go. We waited it out and after fifteen minutes or so went straight to the hotel. From our room window we could see a tv station next door so Chandler called them and got us an interview before dinner. She's amazing. Tomorrow, a day off in Indianapolis.







Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 24 Greenville, IL to Effingham, IL

Day 24 Greenville, IL to Effingham, IL 55.3 Miles 730ft Climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

Another nice, cool day. The riding was good all day and we made good fast progress to lunch. We had a great lunch at Open Door Diner in Altamont and seemed to have so much time we ended up talking with folks, eating, and checking e-mail for 2 hours. It was still early as we left and as we were getting ready to go someone came in and said it was thundering outside. We stepped out and it was sprinkling very lightly. We put flys on our panniers just in case and rode the last fifteen miles. It went fast, easy, and really pretty. It probably didn't get above the low to mid eighties and was hazy to overcast all day. Flat as can be and pretty easy spinning. The heavy bike makes it feel like a train. You maintain a lot of inertia. When the short, steep climb sneaks in you end up in the little ring. Otherwise it's big ring riding maintaining a constant output which was an adjustment after the big rollers we've been riding for the last cuople of weeks. Yesterday it made my legs feel tired. Today they felt strong. Everyone is riding strong in the cooler air.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 23 St Louis, MO to Greenville, IL

Day 23 St Louis, MO to Greenville, IL 65.9 miles 850ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

Riding today was a joy. We left from the hotel and after a few blocks were on a bike path that put us in a separated lane on a bridge over the Mississippi. On the Illinois side we rode a few blocks in s quiet neighborhood to another bike path which put us on a network of paths that took us the first thirty two miles. It was fantastic and beautiful. We rode ten miles or so on a nature trail then a paved former rail bed into the countryside and the corn and soybean fields. The temperature never got above ninety degrees and I'd swear we had a tailwind. As you can see from the climbing stat, it was not a particularly demanding day except for the fact that being flat riding it requires continuous pedaling. It is different from riding rollers and will take a little adjusting to. We've been watching the weather and big rains and mega temps are happening all our original route. After one day, it seems like we made the right choice. I can also say that after one day we have already had almost as many friendly drivers in Illinois as we had in four days if Missouri. St Louis being the exception. As an incidental observation, people in Illinois smile more than people in Missouri. Again, excepting St Louis.




Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 22 Day off in St Louis

The Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, represents the entrance to the Western frontier. For us it felt a little like the entrance to the East. A little more cosmo, definitely more urban, and appearing to be enjoying decent economic times. We rode the train from downtown to an area called Central West End. The station is in the University Hospital campus. We had an excellent breakfast at a restaurant associated with a chess club. Like a major league chess club. Then cupcakes. We rode the train back and picked up a fed-ex pkg from Colin with maps and spares. We've planned out the next four days gett my is to Ohio. It looks like eight ride days to Columbus. We'll take our next day off in Indianapolis and one in Columbus after that.





Day 21 St Claire, MO to St Louis, MO

Day 21 St Claire, MO to St Louis, MO 65.5 miles 2930ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

WOO HOO. A day off tomorrow. It has been a brutally hot week but last night the skies opens up and the temp never got above 85 degrees today. For the first time in three weeks, it was a great day for a ride. We left fairly early, unfortunately another hotel breakfast with no protein. No eggs at breakfast can be felt three hours down the road. It was only forty miles until we began riding into St Louis suburbs. We stopped for a great lunch with a menu that included something beyond BBQ and burgers. Salad and chicken felt really good. We entered town following the Acventure Cycling maps. The Route 66 map set has too often kept us on dangerous byways rather than keeping the cyclists safety a priority. It would be a great as a motorcycle or automobile route, but it has not always been so well conceived a route for bicycles. After stopping for coffee and speaking with the barista we decided to follow a Google bike route. It was an immediate improvement. The man behind the espresso machine told us about his mother being hit on her bike on the very stretch we were riding. Chandler experienced motorists slowing their car or truck, rolling down their window, moving closer to her and yelling obscenities. I mentioned this in a post yesterday but I feel compelled to include in this journal my belief that Missouri is as unfriendly to cyclists as Florida. We ride into Forest Park and as we came closer to the city center motorists became more friendly and deferential. That says something for city dwellers. It was twenty one miles from the edge of town to downtown. Thus is a very spread out city. We rode to our hotel at the gateway arch on the river and received a warm welcome.






Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 20 Rolla, MO to St Claire, MO

Day 20 Rolla, MO to St Claire, MO 61.2 miles 2360ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

The day started pleasantly. Hotel breakfasts typically include either make your own waffles or make your own pancakes. Today was pancakes. I like the make your own. You just push a button on a countertop machine and about three minutes later you've got two pancakes. It was in the mid seventies at 6:30 and really nice. But he time we left at 8 it was already in the mid eighties. It was another day of endless rollers. Both Chandler and I had legs of cement from the get go. Our less than stellar dinner was at least partially responsible for a marginal overnight recovery. The brutal afternoon heat yesterday was another. Today was forecast a little warmer still. The forecast did not disappoint. We took in a couple of sights including the worlds largest rocking chair. We did not take the opportunity to stop at the vacuum museum. I know, it sucks. Apparantly there are some vineyards in this part of the state. We saw signs for wine tasting and the for Concord grapes. I don't know if they're all concord boy the vineyards were lush and green. This is heavy duty God fearing territory so most things are closed on Sunday. We rode past a bakery and coffee shop at 10:30 and it was closed. That was disappointing. We pulled into a market for cold drinks and an older woman was getting laboring to get out of her car. She told me her legs hurt but she didn't listen to them. I told her I tell mine to be quiet. I thought it would be impolite to say I tell mine, "shut up legs". We rode on into the day. It got very hot again. As that happens we need to stop more frequently to drink. We also have to eat, but have determined it is not really possible to ride after 3:30 or so because of peak heat. The cloudless days make it even hotter in the saddle. I use primarily paper maps but when we start getting close to our daily destination I use google maps on my phone to guide us directly to our motel. The past two days my phone displayed a thermometer and said it was too hot to function. It's hot. The forecast this morning warns of a higher chand of precipitation tomorrow but the high is supposed to be nine degrees lower. That would be joy. One more day to St. Louis and s day off. Then we're in Illinois. We're getting there slowly but surely.





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 19 Lebanon, MO to Rolla, MO

Day 19 Lebanon, MO to Rolla, MO 67.4 miles 2810ft climbing

Have I mentioned it's hot? Now we're in the 98-102 degree range and the humidity is in the 95 percent range. Anyone who has experienced that kind of combination knows how it feels. I thought to myself today that it is like riding a spin bike in a steam room. We're also beginning to move into corn country and ot's swearing too. We're getting out by 8AM and the mornings are very nice. The dangerous heat comes after 3:30 or so. Today our route had two big climbs and at 6mph you don't make enough breeze for cooling. We stopped at the town of Devils Elbow for lunch and the market was closed. We started getting nervous when we rode up a little further and saw The Elbow Inn. It is a big biker bar. We went in the door behind about a dozen people who had just come in off the Big Piney River. We sat down and immediately had a couple approach us wanting to know all about our trip. While Chandler filled them in I went to the bar to try and order food. It was really nice to feel like we were receiving a lot of respect for being out riding in the heat. The woman behind the bar told us that the kitchen was slammed and it would be 45 minutes for a burger. I told her we needed food but couldn't wait because the delay would put us smack in the worst of the heat before we got to Rolla. She followed me to the table and leaned in and whispered she could get ours out fast. I assumed everyone else wouldn't mind since they were all enjoying a cold beer. The beer looked quite good, but I know far better than to think I could ride in the heat after having one. Our lunch came in about ten minutes. We ate quickly and got back on the bikes for the last twenty miles. When we got to Rolla, I realized I was completely cooked. I started to pull into the first hotel we came to in Rolla and Chandler reminded me about dinner options so we pressed on another few hundred yards. We're riding some of the most beautiful miles yet. The forest is very dense to our sides most of the time. In fact, much more dense than the jungle of the Mekong in Southeast Asia. Tonight the cicadas and frogs are so loud I thought at first it was some kind of machinery. I brought Chandler a Lauren outside to enjoy the sounds and then a grove of lightning bugs started lighting up. It's been very interesting riding through different climactic zones and ecosystems. This is certainly a more verdant place than the Southwest.








Day 18 Springfield, MO to Lebanon, MO

Day 18 Springfield, MO to Lebanon, MO 55.5 miles 4170ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

It was a roller coaster ride all day. Up and down, very rarely level. We made the decision to remain on 66 to St Louis and head East through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The route change shortens the trip by a couple of hundred miles but more importantly it levels the roller coaster ride quite a bit and keeps us closer to cold drinks, air conditioning, and help if we need it. We had a nice ride today until about 3:30 when the temperature became extreme. The further we got from Springfield the friendlier drivers got. We had been warned about the drivers in Southern Missouri and it is true, they have been the most dangerous and least courteous of the ride so far. They reminded me of Florida drivers. It only takes a dozen scary drivers to make the hundreds of others scary too. About 25 miles into the ride we came to the intersection of the Trans America route and Route 66. We stayed left for 66.  We checked into a hotel and hit the pool. It was very nice. For dinner we had Chinese buffet about 50ft from our front door. When you're hungry and there are no concerns about overeating, buffets can be great. It was a good one. As we laid in bed we heard an explosion nearby and the power went out. Apparently it was a transformer blowing. The power came back pretty fast, but the hotel didn't have a generator. In the middle of the night a short series of smaller explosions and one bigger one woke Lauren and I up. This time the power did not come back quickly. I rolled over and went back to sleep hoping the lack of A/C didn't make the room warm up too quickly.

Day 17 Day off in Springfield, MO

Day 17 Day off in Springfield, MO

 I experienced Uber for the first time in Tulsa and I'm surprised it does not exist in Springfield. As I said to Chandler, when you have to reserve a cab in advance and it will still be late (as we have been warned about by locals in Springfield), there is a place for Uber. Fortunately, on our way into town, we stopped in a bike shop just before closing to find me a new tire. I don't know how I would have gotten to one if not for that good fortune. I plowed through my rear, one of the most durable touring tires made, in 1000 miles because of heat and weight. Jeff at Queen City Cycles didn't have a new one but had a low mileage set used that he let me have for a song. Thanks Jeff.  We had a nice day off, stopping by a bookstore and coffee shop. Lunch on the square and an excellent Thai dinner. These little slices of civilization are nice. Springfield is a college town but school is out so we had the benefit of the restaurants, shops, and services without any waiting. Chandler and Lauren had a massage in the afternoon while I planned on laundry and route planning. Unfortunately neither could be done at the hotel because the laundry was out of order and the Internet was too. Bad show, University Plaza.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Day 16 Carthage, MO to Springfield, MO

Day 16 Carthage, MO to Springfield, MO 62.4 miles 2240ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

This morning began with breakfast at Iggy's Diner and a lovely expression of support from both the staff and other diners. The couple at the booth next to us bought our breakfast and the staff gave us an insulated mug for Lauren to remember them by. It turns out our booth neighbor was a city councillor. He and his wife have very proudly supported bike lanes in Carthage. Thank you for your support of cycling in general, and of our effort. Heat, heat, heat. We are riding through extreme heat warnings everywhere we go. 220 miles in the last three days and gallons of sweat. We are living water recirculators. The conditions have caused us to pause and re-evaluate our route. I don't look forward to trying to sleep in a tent without showers and nightime lows in the 80's. Not to mention long stretches without cold liquids. We have completed the Route 66 portion of our ride and are considering a more direct route East rather than the Ozarks and Appalachians with a lot of camping and a little civilization. Even in MO, a region that is home to a disproportionate number of climate deniers, the weatherman came on last night to show this as the hottest trend in recorded history for the region. Eventually it becomes impossible to deny facts. Springfield reminds us of how much college towns have going for them with excellent food and coffee. It's a warm walk, but at least we can duck in for A/C. Not so on the bikes. As we pulled into town, the skies let loose with a deluge. I remember rain like that in Ohio summers. We ducked under a McDonalds awning for cover and donned rain flies on our panniers. No hail thankfully, which we have seen forecast from time to time. As I texted a friend, I'd rather they forecast ping pong ball sized than golf ball. It sounds more survivable. More about route changes to come.





Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 15 Miami, OK to Carthage, MO

Day 15 Miami, IK to Carthage, MO 47.8 miles 1720ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

The day started hot. We are in a heat wave with high humidity. We rode in three states today. Beginning in Oklahoma, riding through a corner of Kansas and into Missouri. Kansas may have the smallest claim to 66 but it is some of the most interesting. So far, Missouri has been the biggest mix of friendly and not. At one intersection we had a pick up truck towing a trailer cut us off at a stop sign and then had the driver get out and ask us what our problem was. The very next moment had another driver stopping traffic to let us cross. Hopefully we get more friendly than not as we go. Drivers sometimes forget how vulnerable a bike is or how miserable it can be at 100 degrees and 90 percent humidity. We don't have air conditioning in the saddle. It was a particularly hard day and we would sit out the heat if we could but we need to keep moving. Unfortunately we're on a stretch now with few waystations between destinations. That makes it even harder. We might make a course correction at Springfield for a more direct route. In the meantime, on we go.





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 14 Tulsa, OK to Miami, OK

Day 14 Tulsa, OK to Mimi, OK 100.5 miles, 2340ft climbing #NM2NY4LFSA

We got up early and had breakfast. Then we carted all the panniers downstairs and pulled the bikes out of the employee lounge and one in a meeting room. Kristin was back on duty and wanted a a picture of us in front of the hotel entrance. Off we went, uptown, to a coffee place we saw on our way to dinner Saturday night. Joebot's Coffee was worth the trip. Downtown a few blocks and we were back on 66. We rode easily and uneventfully,  feeling reasonably recovered. Channel 8 in Tulsa aired teases of our story on at least two broadcasts and a :45 second story on a third during the weekend. The anchor got some details wrong but we figured if just one person sought more information then it was a good thing. Today we were sitting on the highway, or should I say "Mother Road", outside a cafe in Foyil, Oklahoma, on our bikes, talking about lunch. We decided to go another ten miles before stopping when a woman came out and asked if we would come inside so she and her husband could buy us lunch. He saw the story the night before. That's at least one confirmed. Thank you Jom and Beverly Riddle. On through the afternoon we rode. The temperature peaked at 98 or 99, about 107 on the bikes, but now the humidity is climbing. It must have been 80-85% today. It is shocking how much water and Gatorade we went through. We found ourselves 85 miles in with an extremely limited choice of food and accommodations and after a Snicker between the three of us we decided to head all the way in to Miami. It was our first century and the longest day we've had so far. The route sheets I created are not absolutely accurate. I generally started and ended routes in the center of town which is not necessarily we we stay. Today it was 100 miles to the hotel.