May 13, 2001

5/13/01 Farmington, MO

52.3 miles

If you've never slept outdoors much, you might not know just how loud birds chirp in the morning. Talk about nature's alarm clock! I kind of like these early starts because traffic is usually lighter and it gives us a lot of flexibility in our time schedule.

Chester seemed very much still asleep when we headed out. Had to stop at the Popeye statue for a photo-op. I would have thought the city would have put the statue closer to the city offices or city center, but they have it down by the river.

Popeye

After so much draught areas we've ridden through so far, it was weird to see the Mississippi River swollen in its banks. I think we got a glimpse of what Kansas will be like. As we crossed the flood plain on the Missouri side, you could see the road miles ahead. So we had about 10 miles of flat, straight asphalt. Then the hills of the Ozarks hit us.

Swollen Mississippi

The ups and downs were more like Virginia. Sometimes we could see several waves of road ahead. A little harder than we'd had in a while. My biggest problem was I couldn't get the bike to shift into my hill climbing gear, the granny. Kind of made the hills a lot harder. Traffic wasn't bad, considering that it was Mother's Day Sunday.

It seemed appropriate that we would ride through St. Mary, MO on Mother's Day. And since I'm a "good" son, I called mom to wish her a wonderful day. Mike and I had breakfast at the Cashotte Café. The locals are always excited when they hear that Mike is from Australia. We thought of stopping in Ozora for an early lunch, but the restaurant turned out to be on the far side of town.

In Missouri now!

The rest of the day was a perfect Spring day. A little on the cool side, especially when you're flying down some hill. That is one very nice difference between the Appalachian Trail and this bike trip - I can coast on the downhills. Top speed today was 39 mph.

We actually made better time than we thought as we reached Farmington (population 12,000). Had a very nice lunch at El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant amid the Mother's Day crowd. Stopped by the police station to get directions to the park and to tell them we'd be camping there tonight.

Spent the afternoon just napping in the sun. After dinner, I look up, and another rider is headed our way. Ron is from California and started his ride in Louisville, Kentucky. "I rode from San Francisco to Louisville 10 years ago," he said, "and now I'm doing the return trip." Besides doing a lot of bike touring in his retirement, he's also an ultra runner (50 plus miles) who has competed in the Western States 100 (100 miles) and a 72-hour marathon. Not bad for a guy 64 years old.

We're planning a short 35-mile day to Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, but this is supposed to be some pretty hilly country. After that, I say goodbye to Mike, as I make my way to St. Louis. I've looked over the route and it might take me 3 and 1/2 days instead of 2 and 1/2. Just depends on the terrain. My legs are strong enough, but I think I'm developing a saddle sore. So I need to take lots of breaks and keep my "in the saddle" time shorter. No more 8-hour riding days.