After two days that were pretty different, but also pretty similar, we've hit the Kansas border. Now we're looking back on MO and the trip so far.
Day 36 we slept in, all the way till 7:30am. After Bald-F#@king-Eagle Day, we needed the extra couple hours. Then we went looking for a post office and failed (long story, not worth telling), but ran into a guy who told us about the water being out last night. We're still not quite certain what happened (it involved the words "boiler maker"), but what we discerned was that we shouldn't be drinking the tap water in Marshfield, MO, just now. So we dumped our bottles and bought a gallon at a gas station. We hit the road in earnest around 9:15.
Day 37, we were at Maple Lane, an excellent bakery in Ash Grove, MO, shortly after it opened at 6am. We were happily sated and cycling before sun up.
Day 36 we rode less than 50 miles, but the late start and continuing hills kept it somewhat of a push. Day 37 we topped 65 miles, but we started earlier (we've decided that any riding done before dawn is just free miles — when the sun comes up you still feel fresh, don't feel the weight of the first 15 or however many). The landscape also started leveling out on Day 37; there's a sense that the land in MO is like an accordion: in the Ozarks it's the most compressed, with higher peaks and deeper valleys. As you approach Kansas, the accordion expands: hills have gentler grades and are further apart. So Day 37 was a longer but easier ride. For the most part.
There's still hills, though. We'd read that, at some point on Day 37, we'd reach a crest and be looking out over a long flat landscape: the easyriding promise of Kansas. That wasn't our experience. We witnessed more of a gradual (and never quite complete) evening out. But the riding is getting easier. When you start seeing the giant wind turbines, you know you're close to the border.
Day 37, the road brought us a train, a cow, and another turtle to rescue.
Day 36, we passed two east-bound TransAmers, both riding solo, both using their trips to raise money — Andrew's fundraising for The Trevor Project (and doing insane amounts of miles per day that made us feel like Olds), and Adam is riding for addiction counseling and recovery awareness. Running into the two of them is part of what turned our minds to the idea of putting our own trip to some use. More on that anon.
Toward the end of Day 36, Beau's chain jumped the top cog on his derailleur and he had a handful of issues. We managed to get rolling again but Beau was leery (once again) about his cycle-situation. Day 37 ended with taking his bike into Tailwinds Cyclists in Pittsburg, KS, where the expert folks reset his shifting cables, then showed him how to adjust the tension. Much appreciated.
Day 37 we slept in the camper of a generous family who lives exactly on the Kansas-Missouri state line. Day 36 ended in Ash Grove, MO, where we stayed in a cyclist hostel that the city provides, had some excellent margs and a lot of chips at Mama Loca's, then made carbonara once again. Ya'll — if you haven't tried carbonara yet… It's so easy, and it's sooo gooood.
Day 36 Stats: Marshfield to Ash Grove, MO, 47.2 miles, 2550' of elevation, one chain-related incident, 2 inspiring east-bound riders
Day 37 Stats: Ash Grove, MO, to Pittsburg, KS, 65.6 miles, 2125' of elevation, some chain-related assistance, our FIFTH STATE!!!
STATS SO FAR
Total miles in Missouri: 374.1
Total trip miles: 1622.1
The towns of Farmington & Ash Grove, both so cycling friendly, with excellent places to sleep and eat.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways — we've certainly had harder rides with less payoff.
Best MO Eats:
Maple Lane Bakery — All-around great baked goods, and the closest thing to a legitimate mocha latte that Beau's been able to find (this is a side-quest that will surely be followed up on later, if he ever finds success).
Mama Loca's — Great bartender. We only had the chips and queso, but they kept bringing chips long past the normal stopping point (were we drinking that much?). Good folks.
12 West Bar & Grill in Farmington — We only went in for drinks. But then the menu looked great and we gave in, and the food delivered on being great.
Some Mo' Cyclists' Thoughts:
We noticed, on crossing into Missouri, that gas and booze and everything was instantly cheaper. We guess they don't tax, but they could use the $ — the roads are unquestionably the worst we've ridden. And there's rumble strips again—deep, chunky ones—after a short respite in IL…
MO drivers are also the most aggressive we've come across. In central KY, there was the occasional coal or logging truck that seemed to be driving in the spirit, if not the presence, of methamphetamines. But for the most part the drivers there were almost shockingly patient (trained by tractors on the roadway?). Illinois was notable for having the worst signage (the only biking-related sign we remember passing didn't say Share the Road but Cyclists Use Caution, a telling shift in impetus), but the drivers weren't so bad. But the folks in southern MO seemed not only to be in a hurry but to be angry. They often seemed that way both on and off the road.
And then there's the stores… We don't really know what to say about the stores. We're just… Gonna have to show you…
That last one's in Kansas, but we still blame Missouri for it — we've talked before about how states bleed together. Honorable mentions to "The 4-Way" and "Nail It" (a construction business) — neither of which we felt able to grab pictures of, but both of which were right across the street from "Munch-N-Pump" in Ellington, MO. Whew.
Alright, ya'll — all for now.