Day 26 - Sullivan, MO (Comfort Inn) to Wright City, MO (Super 7 Inn) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

October 17, 2022

Day 26 - Sullivan, MO (Comfort Inn) to Wright City, MO (Super 7 Inn)

Wintry Weather Calls My Bluff and Ups The Ante

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today; 2,678 ft                        Cumulative;  54,088 ft

Roadkill Seen Today;   Raccoon (6),  Possum (3), Snake (4), Deer (1), Turtle (3), Armadillo (3), Unknown (6)                                                                                      Cumulative; Hawk (3), Raccoon(12), Possum (22),  Mouse (1), Squirrel (12),   Armadillo (9), Bird (2), Coyote (1), Deer (5), Snake (8), Skunk (5), Rabbit (1), Turtle (4), Unknown (16)

Found Money Today;   $0.60                      Cumulative; $1.50

Lodging Cost Today;    $75.00                   Cumulative; $1,850.81

Bad Drivers Today;    0                                  Cumulative; 13

Dog Chases Today;    1                                   Cumulative; 20

Confederate Flags Today;    0                     Cumulative; 6 (plus 30 little flags decorating confederate soldiers graves on the Natchez Trace)

Average Speed Today; 9.0 mph                 Cumulative;  9.81 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Cold north wind added significantly to today's challenge,  otherwise a great ride. 

Only 1 dog chase today and no problems with redneck drivers misbehaving. When I looked out the hotel window this morning I noticed the trees were shaking around.  I hadn't bothered to check the weather last night because I was pretty tired from yesterday's ride that included nearly 5,000 feet of climbing.  It was 35 degrees farenheit when I headed off this morning, and I was glad I brought the silk balaclava along.  I wore it beneath the desert wear neck drape and it worked well to protect my face.  My path was mostly north today (see the map above), directly into the wind of course.

It Got Rather Cold Overnight
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The forecast for tomorrow morning is 27 degrees with a northwest wind that starts at 7 mph and picks up to 14 mph by early afternoon.  My route tomorrow is mostly north, except for the last 10 miles which is northwest. Sigh...the weather gods have not been nice with the wind for this entire journey.  However, the forecast calls for warmer weather commencing on Thursday AND the winds are supposed to swing around from the south.  So maybe my last 3 days of riding will be pleasant.  Today was not pleasant and the next 2 days will not be pleasant weather-wise. 

But hey, let's jump around a bit as we tell today's tale. No use in pretending that I'm organized or something - we'll get back to the wintry weather later.   Leaving town this morning I had planned to stop in the intersection where I noticed a dime yesterday.  Before I got there, I did a quick turn-around when I noticed a coin on the road near another intersection, and added a quarter to the "Found Money" fund.  As I was leaving from that find, I spotted another coin and added a dime.  Then I cycled to where I had seen the dime in the intersection yesterday, and was disappointed when I picked it up and discovered it was just a metal slug of some sort.  

Leaving Sullivan this morning, the route follows the old Route 66 road which is now the access road along Interstate 44.  As I rode over I-44 to enter St. Clair, I spotted something and braked quickly and backed up, and added a very beat-up quarter to the collection.  It's hard to recognize it really is a quarter without a close examination, but it is - it has the ridges on the outside edge and just enough detail to tell.  So then, wow, the fund grew by 60 cents today!  It now stands at $1.50, which is enough to buy a medium size McDonald's coffee, so there will be a celebratory coffee at the end of this ride - assuming I can reach the end of the ride, of course.  This wintry weather has added a huge additional obstacle in the way of that goal.

Today's Beat-Up Found Money
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I passed several places that I call "junk tourism" today.  By that term I mean places that are not really part of the local natural attractions but are designed to capture tourist dollars.  For example, this place includes lions and tigers, which of course aren't part of the natural ecosystem here.  I'm near Meramec State Park and folks are trying to capitalize on the location.

I Passed Several "Junk Tourism" Places Today
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I rode past a VFW post that had this bronze statue of a WWII soldier.  My father fought in WWII and survived 5 major battle campaigns that claimed all his friends.  So the symbolism of this statue is something I find to be meaningful.

Bronze Statue of WWII Soldier
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Let's jump back to back to today's wintry weather, on account of I just thought about it.  Honestly, it caught me by surprise.  Today was Day 2 of this last 7-day run, and I had enough to deal with just handling the Ozark hills - especially so after the very tiring day I had yesterday.  Quite frankly, I was concerned as to whether I could handle it today.   I had to ride more hills today, and now I had to deal with this headwind that was generally about 15 mph but had occasional gusts that were maybe double that.  So I had the load of the hills and the added load of the headwind.  But I also had to deal with the wind chill, and that was harder than I expected.  

The silk balaclava and the desert headgear combination worked well and kept my head and ears warm enough.  I wore the thin cotton gripper gloves underneath the leather work gloves, and that worked fine - my fingers were a little chilled in the early morning until the sun warmed things up a bit, but overall the glove system worked okay.   I didn't wear the leg warmers today - I just wore mountain biking shorts with the dual layers of chamois and outer layer, and knee-high compression socks.  And that worked okay too - it helped a lot that for the first 17 miles I was traveling east and the wind was from the north.  For covering my torso, I just wore one of the long-sleeve fishing jerseys that I like due to the good sun protection and my lightweight wind jacket.  That's usually enough in cold weather once I get warmed up from exercise, but it really wasn't enough this morning.

By the time I reached St. Clair, I was chilled and needed an inside break. I had a good breakfast this morning at the Comfort Inn, but 2 hours later after battling the cold weather I was ready for an inside break and some hot coffee.  My coffee was used primarily to  warm my fingers by holding the cup, and secondarily to warm my insides from drinking it.  I had a second breakfast at McDonald's and took my time to warm up and plan the rest of the day.  Marthasville was the last place where there would be any services before I reached Wright City, so my simple plan was to push on steadily to Marthasville and hopefully get some lunch and then finish up the ride.  Frankly, I was a bit anxious because the cold was sapping not just my energy but my desire. 

From St. Clair I had to ride State Route 47 north for 20 miles.  My experience on SR 47 yesterday was not fun -  narrow shoulders and plenty of traffic made it a demanding ride.  I was concerned that this section of SR 47 would be a repeat of that, but fortunately this section had good shoulders.

Today's Section of State Route 47 Had A Much Better Shoulder Than Yesterday's
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It was a long slog against the wind.  My nose was dripping snot and I couldn't do much about it.  I had to keep moving to stay warm, but at the same time I needed to be efficient and conserve energy because the wind was adding a lot of load.  So there was a lot of spinning in the low gears today.  On the one hand I kept reminding myself that this wasn't a race, but on the other hand I was really looking forward to being inside someplace warm for the night. 

The Missouri River will be the last great river I encounter on this Great Rivers South tour.  I stopped to snap this pic on the bridge (there's a protected bicycle lane on the west side)  and the wind was gusting so hard that I was worried it would blow things out of my handlebar bag.

Missouri River - The Wind Was Blasting Me As I Took This Photo
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Once across the river, I had about 3 miles to travel across the open floodplain.  That was not fun, because there was nothing to shelter me from the wind and it gusted erratically.  Finally, once I was across that section, my route used the Katy Trail for about 4 miles to reach Marthasville.  I had never ridden on the Katy Trail before and was concerned that the gravel surface would be soft and hinder travel.  However, it was fine gravel and it was very well packed such that it made for a good cycling surface.

Katy Trail
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I made a mental note to myself to come back sometime and tour the entire trail.  The trail is an abandoned railway line and is some 240 miles long, all in Missouri.  I get notices from the Missouri Bicycle Federation and am aware that it takes constant diligence to keep Missouri politicians from parceling off and selling the trail, so maybe I better ride the trail soon.

Creek On The Katy Trail
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When I reached Marthasville there were quite a few cyclists around; some were riding the trail and some were in the town looking for food.  There was a shuttle van operation that brought a lot of them to this point.  It's a popular trail for day use and short tours by the cyclists in St. Louis.  

I stopped at a grocery store and got a Powerade and a Snickers bar.  I planned to stop at a bar & grill that was on my way out of town, but to my disappointment they were closed on Mondays.  So I evaluated my energy supplies and decided that I had enough to reach Wright City.  I had 2 jalapeno & cheese crackers and the Snickers bar I just bought and only had 19 miles to go.  But I was tired and would be missing lunch.  I headed off and worried that I had made a big mistake after a couple of good climbs, but as you can see on the profile, the route reached a plateau and was fairly level after those climbs.  I ate a jalapeno/cheese cracker after a few miles, then the other one after a few more miles, and I thought I could make it after that.  But I found myself getting pretty tired and feeling empty with just a few miles to go, so a bite of the Snickers bar provided the fuel to get me in to town.

I found this sign amusing.  There were several such signs along the way, but the only thing rough about the road was the wind I was dealing with.

This "Rough Road" Was Way Smoother Than Roads I Ride In Oklahoma
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Okay, getting late and I need my rest.  I'm not going to be in a hurry to leave tomorrow morning.  As I mentioned earlier, the forecast calls for a low of 27 degrees here, and the wind will start at 7 mph and pick up to 14 mph in the early afternoon.  I'm traveling north, of course (you do know that Iowa is north of Missouri, right?), and the only good news is that the wind will be from the northwest tomorrow.  So it won't be a direct headwind, except for the last 10 miles of my ride which will be northwest.  I may break down and wear the leg warmers tomorrow.  I'll probably wear my rain jacket also, because it's warmer than the wind jacket.  The riding mileage is only a couple of miles longer tomorrow, but I'll have an extra 1,000 feet of climbing as compared to today.   

Those cyclists who suffer from sleep apnea may benefit from this paragraph. FYI, the portable CPAP machine I bought is probably worth it.  It enables me to sleep a couple of hours at a time without waking up, and sometimes I may sleep as much as 4 hours using it.  That doesn't sound like much, but it's better than I would sleep without it.  It's not as good as the full-size CPAP machines with a water container for adding humidity, but you do get used to it after a couple of weeks. I have it packed in the little egg-carton-like thing it came with, and the package is about 10 inches across. I put that package inside a zip-lock freezer bag.  I carry it inside one of my panniers, packed on top of everything else.  

Portable CPAP Machine
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Good morning, Missouri! 

Now good night Missouri.  You've beat me down and I need my rest.  This was Day 2 of my final 7-day run.  Days 3 and 4 will also be hard ones.  Sleep well and stay warm my friends...

Today's ride: 58 miles (93 km)
Total: 1,229 miles (1,978 km)

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