I'm taking a rest day in Marshfield, MO today. I only took three rest days in the last thirty, but after the Ozarks and the oppressive heat/humidity, my body told me to take a beat... since I'm beat. My last two days in Missouri await me, along with a thunderstorm front for my first week of Kansas. From the Kansas border, it's 620 hot miles to Pueblo, Colorado, and the beginning of my ascent into the Rockies. Kansas brings the challenges of very few services and the fickle wind which blows all the time, hopefully at my back most of the way. After the Appalachians and Ozarks.... and the dogs of Kentucky, I'm getting pretty use to taking things as they come.
Yesterday, a couple of experiences caught me by surprise. About 15 miles into my ride, I hadn't seen any cars for quite a while, partially because of the early hour, and the fact I was in the middle of the middle of nowhere, when I heard what I thought was a siren. I hadn't heard a city sound for a month so it caught me off guard. Sure enough, an ambulance followed by four police cars, all lit up and screaming, came flying by as I stood out of the way in the high grass hoping the ticks would stay off me. An hour later, when I reached a small general store and asked the old timers about it, they said that it probably had something to do with a meth deal gone bad. They said the labs were everywhere, and in their words, "Shit happens around that stuff."
Secondly, and on a more benign note, as I pedaled up more hills while contemplating if I can send any more of my stuff home (sent home one package already), I unknowingly rode into an Amish Settlement area. When you pedal up a long incline, although you check your mirror and look ahead, you mostly keep your eyes on the road ten feet in front of you. Not only to avoid a hazard, but to keep your eyes off the incline ahead, to minimize the thought of climbing. It's so quiet on these roads, you can hear the cars and trucks long before you see them. I looked up and saw a horse and buggy coming toward me in the opposite direction (see pics below). I jumped out of the saddle and pulled out my phone/camera and snapped a few. When the driver came very close and saw what I was doing, she pulled her wrap over her face and turned it the other way. Had I known that it would make her so uncomfortable, I wouldn't have snapped them. I rode away thinking that I wish she knew that the passing made me feel uncomfortable too. Live and learn.
Lastly, on a tech note: A few days into my ride, my new bike computer started doing weird things and basically not working. Although it told me everything from speed, mileage, average speed, temperature, altitude and more, it was the mileage that I needed, or thought I needed the most... as some of the map directions I follow say, "make a left at the unsigned road in 4.5 miles...". A couple of days later I reached a bike shop, bought another, and it stopped working in 3 miles. A couple of weeks passed, and I bought one in Carbondale. Again, two hours in, it started going crazy, making me realize that my front wheel charging hub which powers my lights and a usb port for my phone, must be interfering with the sensor. So, for the last thirty days, I haven't been able to look down and see that I only have so many miles left to reach a town or landmark. And I've grown to like it. I don't analyze how many miles I've ridden or have to ride during the course of the day, I just ride and follow landmarks (rivers etc) on the maps. And when I get there, more often than not, I'm pleasantly surprised - except for the last five miles of the long days (8-10 hours), when every mile feels like ten :)
As always, thanks for coming along - but if you really want to support me, get behind and push on the steep ones.
1. Amish coming my way
2. Passing the horse-buggy
3. Early morning looking west after coming out of the Ozark foothills
4. Just another ribbon of uphill
5. After a lovely morning surprise call from LaVonne - feeling happy and less alone.