Day 28 - Louisiana, MO (River's Edge Motel) to Quincy, IL (Microtel Hotel) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

October 19, 2022

Day 28 - Louisiana, MO (River's Edge Motel) to Quincy, IL (Microtel Hotel)

Goodbye Missouri, Hello Again Illinois!

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today;   2,746 ft                        Cumulative; 60,368  ft

Max Grade; 13.8%

Roadkill Seen Today;   Raccoon (3),  Turkey Vulture (2), Unknown (4)              Cumulative; Hawk (3), Raccoon(14), Possum (26),  Mouse (1), Squirrel (12),   Armadillo (9), Bird (3), Coyote (1), Deer (5), Snake (12), Skunk (5), Rabbit (1), Turtle (4), Owl (1), Unknown (20)

Found Money Today;   $0                          Cumulative; $1.50

Lodging Cost Today;    $96.38                  Cumulative; $2028.58

Bad Drivers Today;    0                                 Cumulative; 13

Dog Chases Today;    0                                  Cumulative; 20

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

Average Speed Today;   8.7 mph               Cumulative;  9.72 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Cold and hard first half, much warmer and easier second half.

**************** begin pre-ride musings ********************

It's almost 08:00 am and I'm sitting in my room at the River's Edge Motel in Louisiana, MO contemplating the day.  I just microwaved the gas station biscuits and gravy I bought earlier to reheat them - it's surprisingly good.  The current wind chill in Hannibal is 21 degrees f, and I'm just not going to get out in that.  If I had a place to stop in an hour or so I would probably suffer through it, but I don't.   If I chill here in the motel room (yeah, that's a play on words, cause chilling is exactly what I'm trying to avoid) for another hour, the wind chill will rise to 26 degrees f.  That's still unpleasant, but I really need to get rolling by then and if I suffer through that for an hour the wind chill will have risen to 32 degrees f, and yesterday's experience tells me my clothing (gloves in particular) can deal with it at that point.  So then, here's my plan; wait an hour, leave and suffer for an hour while the day becomes more tolerable, continue cycling for another 3 hours or so to reach Hannibal, get inside somewhere and eat and recharge, then it's on to Quincy, IL.   The wind will be most adverse this morning, coming from the WNW as I'm rolling north, and will change to a westerly wind by late afternoon.  During the night it will start swinging around and will be from the WSW tomorrow - so I just gotta get through today.

This bad weather experience has made me realize one of the benefits of touring solo.  I can make myself suffer through the heat, or ridiculously long days with lots of climbing, or even the windy cold weather; but I'm not very good at making others suffer.  So if I was touring with others today, I would probably agree to take an extra rest day or do something else to avoid today's misery.  That would mess up the schedule of things, of course, but it would sure make life easier today.  I've never been an easy path guy, but the thought of staying warm and toasty versus suffering in the cold is a tempting one. 

Back to my schedule issues; I have one non-refundable lodging ahead, and that's tomorrow (Thursday) night.  So if I didn't ride today I would lose about $100 - that's not a huge deal, but it also means I would have to cancel and re-book 3 night's lodgings, and that brings up the possibility that I might not be able to get lodging on one of those nights.  So I really do need to push on today - hey, what's a little bit of cold weather in the grand scheme of this overall tour? 

Okay, enough of my early morning musings.  I'm going to finish packing, then I'm leaving at 09:00 sharp. I really am. 

*************** end pre-ride musings *********************

It was 09:16 before I reluctantly forced myself to leave the warmth and security of my room at the River's Edge Motel.  It was a fine place to stay, older but clean and with a fridge, microwave, coffee pot, and wifi it met all of my needs.   In the immediate area of Louisiana (the town name in Missouri, not the state of Louisiana) I was sheltered from the wind by houses and trees and thought "this isn't so bad."  I climbed a small hill on the route out of town and as I rolled down the other side it hit me; "uh oh, there it is." The wind chill was quite noticeable when I rolled out onto the Mississippi River flood plain and my fingertips felt it, but only for 45 minutes or so.  At that point, 2 things worked in unison to warm me up; the air temperature was slowly rising, and I encountered the series of steep climbs that I knew was coming.  The first one was pretty tough (if RWGPS is correct it was a 13.8% grade, so yeah that's tough), as was the second one, but the third big climb felt much easier.  I was dreading the combination of these climbs and the cold wind, but I was climbing the south side and so I was sheltered from the north wind.  They were hard, but as is often the case, they weren't as bad as I had imagined they might be.  But in truth, I was very relieved to have them done, because those were the last significant physical challenges on this journey.  The weather is forecast to be warmer for the final 3 days, and the wind is supposed to swing around to the southwest, so it should be smooth sailing for the rest of the ride. We'll see about that. 

Once I felt safe from the cold wind, I started taking photos.

Bigfoot Is Ready For Halloween
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Missouri Landscape
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Missouri Farm Scene In The Mississippi River Bottom-lands
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Trees Are Turning Color
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A Photo For You Jon Wedgeworth
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Typical Of My Path In Missouri Today
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Fall Color
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After I climbed the first steep hill, I rested a bit and ate a couple of bites of the breakfast sandwich that I brought along to reward myself after each climb, then headed down the hill.  I expected that I would have a few miles before reaching the next big climb (guess I need to pay better attention to the profile next time in my pre-ride planning), but there it was looming immediately ahead!

Heartbreak - I Just Climbed A Tough Hill, Now Look What's Ahead
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Once I got that climb out of the way, I stopped to admire the view of the Mississippi River from above.

Mississippi River From A High Vantage Point
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The following sign surprised me - I actually had to turn around and ride back uphill a bit to capture this photograph.

Village South Of Hannibal
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There's no reason that a small village in Missouri shouldn't be a sister town to some place in Slovakia, but I guess I was just surprised that someone went to the effort to make that happen.  I don't know how that sort of thing works, but I think I'd like Tulsa to become a sister town to Wiesbaden, Germany - I'll put that on my do list.

Outskirts of Hannibal
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There are many "Lover's Leap" locations along the Mississippi River, including no less than 8 in Missouri.  I cycled past one of these last year in Wisconsin, a "Maiden Rock" which is the same thing.  Here's the story of this one --> Hannibal Lover's Leap.  It's worth a read and includes the tale of the Baptist Millerites who awaited the second coming of Christ at this location.

I was pretty happy to make it to Hannibal.  Honestly, this cold weather really threw a bomb at me and I wasn't sure if I could stay on schedule. It certainly made this tour memorable for me.  

Hannibal Is Hilly
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Mural In Downtown Hannibal
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I was looking for a diner where I could get inside and maybe have pie and coffee, and I found one with a name I couldn't resist.

Becky Thatcher's Diner - How Could I Resist?
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I was very fortunate to even get inside.  It was 2:05 pm, and the diner closes at 2:00, but the waitress saw me roll up on the bicycle and took pity on me cycling in the cold.  As I walked in she said, "We just closed but you look like you could use some inside time."  There were others in the cafe finishing up their meals, so it wasn't like I was the only one there.  I asked for pie, but they were out.  I asked for a BLT, but she said "We made fresh chili today, you really ought to try it."  Okay then, it was warm inside and she wanted me to eat the chili, so I would eat the chili.  I asked for a bowl of the chili and she said "A bowl is going to be way too big for you.  A cup is about the size you need."  Okay then, I said a cup would do.  Then she told me I should order a grilled cheese sandwich with it too, and so I did.  She said she was sorry they were out of pies, but that I should try one of their cinnamon rolls instead.  So then I ordered that.  Basically she told me what to order, what size to order, and I just said "Make it so."  She brought me coffee in a large cup, and that warm liquid was never any better than it was today.  And she was right about the size of chili I should order, a cup was quite enough.  And the cinnamon roll was delicious.  So I think it's wise to listen to the waitress and just order whatever she says.

She told me that she was a farm girl who grew up near Hannibal, and that her mother was a strict follower of the Farmer's Almanac. According to the Farmer's Almanac (at least as she told it anyway), this winter is going to be a bad one and we are going to have snow in November, and that's related to the last few days of cold weather I have experienced.  So now you know. 

Leaving the diner, my next goal was to cross the Mississippi River.  The only bridge is the I-72 bridge, and that's the route for me.  Bicycles are permitted on the shoulder for the bridge crossing.

Merging Onto I-72
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From the point I entered I-72, it was downhill to the bridge so I had a bit of a rolling run at it, and the wind had become more westerly so I had a little tailwind as well. I rolled across the bridge at the breakneck speed of 25 mph and considered riding in the fast lane, but my exit was immediately after the bridge crossing so I just stayed on the shoulder.

But I Just Left Illinois A Few Days Ago?
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So I was in Illinois a few days ago and crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri, now I have crossed the Mississippi River again and am back in Illinois, and in a few days I will cross the Mississippi River from Illinois into Iowa - my head is spinning from all this fast-paced bicycle travel! 

I have to admit that I'm glad to be out of the Ozarks and rolling on some flat ground for a change.  The Ozarks are beautiful, but gee whiz they are tough on a bicycle.  It's not that any one hill is overwhelming, it's just that they never stop coming and it seems like you are constantly climbing.  So I'm ready for the flat lands of Illinois.

Illinois Farm Scene
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Mississippi River Bottom-Lands
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The roads today were all great.  In Missouri the roads had very little traffic.  In Illinois, State Road 57 had moderate to heavy traffic and varying shoulder widths.  I constantly watched my rear view mirror, and if there was going to be oncoming traffic at the same time as traffic was approaching me when I was on a section with very little or no shoulder, I would just pull off the road until the traffic passed.  I only had to do that a couple of times, and I really didn't mind - riding flat roads was worth a little hassle. 

On the outskirts of Quincy I saw a couple of sealed openings into a cliff face.  A bit of Google research showed that there is a commercial underground storage space operator at this location.  Here's the  details should you care --> Quincy Illinois Underground Storage.

Midwest Controlled Storage Operates An Underground Storage Facility Near Quincy
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It's late, I'm very tired but happy to be past the cold weather and the mountains.  This was Day 4 of this final 7-day run, and the remaining days should just be "normal" cycling days. But you never know, that's why it's called an adventure.  I have a somewhat unusual lodging lined up for tomorrow night - I have mixed feelings about it, more on that tomorrow.

I'm back in Illinois, so let's have a little Illinois-themed music tonight.  Good night folks, stay warm wherever you are...

Today's ride: 54 miles (87 km)
Total: 1,342 miles (2,160 km)

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Mark BinghamUff da! That was some tough riding: in the cold, against the wind, up the hills.... hats off!
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1 year ago