Day 29, to ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: A rainy and yet still glorious day to cross the Mississippi - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

May 21, 2022

Day 29, to ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: A rainy and yet still glorious day to cross the Mississippi

"Hey, there's the Arch!" I reached St. Louis! From the western edge of Illinois, I snapped this selfie of myself, wearing my helmet, cycling glasses and yellow rain jacket, as I pump my fist, which is covered in a blue latex glove (for some light protection from the wind and rain). In the background is the Gateway Arch and a strip of the St. Louis skyline. There's also a black railing directly behind me because I'm standing along the side of an overpass before I get onto and cross the Eads Bridge.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Saturday stats

STAGE ONE COMPLETE: St. Louis reached!

Start: Super 8 in O'Fallon, Ill.

End: Rob and Jenn's house in St. Louis

The Daily Progress: 28.91 miles

The Ascension: 702 feet

Ice cream flavors: Salty Peanut Butter With Chocolate Flecks and Darkest Chocolate, at Jeni's

Saturday highlights

What a relief to be here — and to be done fighting the weather for a while. Today was full of rain and thunderstorms. I ended up in St. Louis a few days earlier than I'd expected, aided a bit by tailwinds yesterday but mostly rushed by thunderstorms and the lack of other appealing indoor options to stay last night or tonight.

I was stuck at the Super 8 until after 12:30 p.m. today at I waited for a break in the storms. Google Maps led me along a nice bike trail from Belleville, the SCCTD MetroBikeLink Trail (ain't that a mouthful?). The amount of debris on the trail made me glad I had waited. Better to have the debris on the ground than in the process of falling to the ground.

Some huge chunks of a tree trunk were piled up along the trail here. The wood on the inside was a very light color, which I took to mean it had not been exposed for an especially long time, making me wonder how recently it had fallen. It was conveniently (probably too conveniently to be coincidence?) off to the side, leaving half of the trail still accessible. The trail is beautifully paved with grass on either side, and it winds through a wooded area between neighborhoods and streets. Very pleasant.
Heart 1 Comment 1
Keith AdamsYes DEFINITELY better to have waited the storm out than to contend with that, as it was happening!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago

When rain and thunder reappeared, I took cover under an overpass, looked at the map, and decided to sprint a mile to a pastry shop, which seemed like a better place to wait it out. 

This was in East St. Louis. I ultimately skipped the pastry shop and instead stopped in a grocery store to try to use the bathroom and buy deodorant but found neither, to my astonishment, and then stopped in a Walgreens (success! phew!).

I don't remember exactly who had warned me (if you're reading this, sorry for forgetting, and of course, thanks for trying to advise me), but I do remember being told that East St. Louis was not a good place to ride through. I could imagine feeling a little creeped out at nighttime. It seemed to be like it had been experiencing some urban decay, with a lot of seemingly closed-up or just unmaintained shops. But riding straight through it was actually a much better experience than what I've had riding into several other cities. There's a possibility that the rainy day kept traffic lower than usual, but I don't know.

In any case, "Hey, there's the Arch!" Now that's an encouraging sign! I wanted to stop at the park across the river from the Arch, or at the Arch itself, to get a great photo of it … and the rain started picking up and I think I heard thunder. I settled for a pic from under an overpass, then hopped on the Eads Bridge and watched the Mississippi River pass below me and the Arch, to my left, grow larger and slowly swivel in my view as I approached the western side of the river and passed the Arch's plane.

I made it. I have crossed the Mississippi and reached the Gateway to the West.

I pushed through the rain for the last few miles and pulled up to the garage of my friends (and newly minted Warmshowers hosts!) Rob and Jenn. High fives! 

After getting cleaned up, we went to grab some tacos for dinner at Mission Taco Joint, followed by ice cream and a walk around the Central West End, then back home for a drink and more catching up. 

It is so comforting to be under my friends' roof. Ah.

Note: I'll be staying here about a week and don't plan to blog regularly until I get going again. Don't worry, I'll be back.

Today's ride: 29 miles (47 km)
Total: 1,311 miles (2,110 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Keith AdamsKeith Adams
Back in the late 1980s, the unemployment rate in East St. Louis was staggering, and with it the poverty rate. Virtually all of the heavy industry in town had shut down, leaving the place with zero economic base on which to fall back and recover. I vividly recall the wasteland of already-decaying factories and other buildings, crisscrossed by out of service rail lines and spurs.

It was the most hopeless and depressing tableau I think I've ever seen personally.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Laila AzzouzYou’re making great progress, but I’m glad you’re giving yourself some down time. And by the way, congrats on your new niece… she is beautiful, like her Mom!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago