Monday, July 7, 2008

Missouri – home to a memorable July 4th and some tough terrain

Umm, yeah, so, uhhh, did anybody know that Missouri was really hilly? Well, Missouri is really hilly. Oh, and it’s also hot and humid. The first day over the state line we rode 100 hilly miles into Missouri and showed up at the Community Southern Baptist Church hoping for some hospitality. After only a minute of exhausted small talk they offered to put us up for the night! Dustin and company brought us a huge bag of food for dinner and the next morning they even made us breakfast. It was awesome. They even made us freshly baked cookies, the breakfast of champions. Thanks to everybody!

Now, back to the hills and humidity. To help put it in perspective, everyday was so hot and humid that after filling up our water bottles with ice water we could feel the cool air coming off the bottles without even touching them. The condensation acted like an air conditioner and it cooled our legs off as we pedaled! We did, however, continue to sweat like it was going out of style (wait a second, was sweating ever actually in style?).

We met up with some other people going cross-country in Houston, MO and exchanged tips, suggestions and advice that one wouldn’t be able to find on the maps. For instance, it’s always helpful to be told things like: “there won’t be a shoulder ahead, so be careful” or “take a big rest before Powder Mill, there’s a big ol’ hill right after it.” It’s also nice to run into people who are willing to drive our gear to the next town for us, which saves us a lot of effort on the steeper climbs. You see, on the steep climbs like these (try 22% grade) we literally feel every ounce of our gear pulling us back down the hill. At the end of the especially hard days we go through our bags and dump more and more things we really don’t (or hope we don’t) need to save grams. This includes trimming our overabundant nose hairs, just kidding.

Like we said, this July 4th was one we won’t soon forget. We arrived in Ellington, MO just in time for the fireworks. For those who have never experienced fireworks in the heartland, the July 4th fireworks celebration consists of pick up trucks, Harley Davidson motorcycles, a lot of Busch Light beer and a ton of people lighting their own fireworks off in a parking lot together. Everywhere we looked people were smiling, crushing beers, revving their trucks, and enjoying the holiday. Although we felt slightly out of place in our post ride attire, we were welcomed by everyone in the parking lot and we enjoyed the show. We will never forget this 4th of July for it was very American.

OK, now just a little bit more about the hills. Every time we climbed over a hill there was another one sitting there just waiting for us. This was mentally much tougher than the Rockies because we didn’t really know when the hills would end. Now we really know why the guy at the bike shop in Telluride said to “savor the mountains, brah.” We finally dropped into the Mississippi River flood plain and then crossed the river. The river must have been half a mile wide and was clearly overflowing. The water was nearly up to the bottom of the bridge and had flooded the route we had hoped to take once we crossed over the bridge. Once we crossed over we were in Chester, IL and were able to cross another state off the list. We rode about 100 miles to get to Carbondale where it was time for another rest day. This is by far the most sore we have felt over the course of the trip so we’ll have to do some recovering in Carbondale.

Donations keep comin’ in but we still have a lot of fundraising to do! Please continue to share our journey with friends and family! Thanks.

1 comment:

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