Sunday, June 1, 2008

Miserable In Missouri

The title is hyperbole, but I'm a sucker for alliteration. That said, yesterday was one of the tougher days of the ride thus far. I must have woken up physically and mentally fatigued because not long into my ride I felt weary.

It was my first day off the Transamerica Trail. I was blazing my own path North to catch the Katy Trail, a 225-mile bike path that runs East to West across Missouri. I was also planning to visit friends who live in Columbia, not far off the Katy.

The first road that I picked to head North was Highway 61. The State of Missouri has designated this road the Mississippi River Trail, an official bike route. I have no idea why, as it is a terrible road for biking. There is no shoulder and in most places there isn't even an edge to the road because it has crumbled away. (The road in the picture above had a great shoulder -- that is a road on the Transam.) The road also carries a considerable flow of traffic.

This brings me to the drivers. While it is dangerous to make sweeping generalizations, I'm going to live dangerously -- Missouri drivers are the worst drivers around cyclists that I've yet to encounter. Up until this point in my trip, the vast majority of drivers have give me considerable room when passing. Here, that is the exception rather than the rule. It's almost as if they want to prove how good of drivers they are by coming as close as possible without hitting me. It's ironic because there are far more signs in this state than any other state I've been in encouraging drivers to "Share the Road" with bikes.

After about thirty miles I pulled into a roadside store for lunch. My right shoulder, which has caused me some discomfort from the start of the trip, was bothering me and I was ready to get off the road. As I ate my turkey sandwich outside the shop, the two women working there came out to find out where I was going. They seemed genuinely excited by this "crazy" idea. They were telling all their customers about it and introducing me to people as they stopped in. Before I left they brought me out two large bottles of water and a few protein bars. It was just what I needed to boost my spirits.

I managed to find some better roads, but within an hour of leaving the store I had my first flat of the trip. Despite having no recent experience changing a flat, I managed to get the tube patched, the metal thorn out of my tire, the wheel reassembled, and the bike re-packed in good time. Unfortunately, my pump can't get quite enough pressure into the tire so I had to complete my ride on a slightly deflated back tire, making the hills especially difficult to climb.

The day ended with a thunder and lightning storm bringing premature darkness. Fortunately, I was close to the Robertsville State Park. My luck wasn't all bad, as there was an open tent site. After setting up my tent in a light rain, the storm passed and the sky brightened for the half hour until sunset.


mouderki said...

Sounds like a good thing I didn't make it to MO - I might already be roadkill. And thanks for the date column add - awesome! Looks and sounds like you're eating pretty well - keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Don't take any crap from the Show Me State!

Anonymous said...

Watch out for those crazy drivers, yikes! I am glad to hear that there are nice people out there helping you with food and keeping you nourished.
God bless!

JRoot said...

The bike awareness in this state is abysmal...but we will make it worth your while in Columbia.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brian... it's Mike from the A.C. group..... Sorry about the misinformation about US61, maybe the southern part of it was how i remember. Good to see you escaped without any permanent damage.