May 15, 2001

5/15/01 Meramac State Park

94.3 miles

What a day! 94.3 miles in 12 hours. What was I thinking? But I get ahead of myself.

This morning, as part of our final ritual together, Mike and I were on the road by 5:58 A.M. That's right, folks, even before sunrise. We rode together, the same as always -- me in front and Mike trailing behind. It didn't take us long to warm up with the many short, steep hills, but we did ride some downhills, too. At the 9-mile mark, we said our good byes. I don't know what my future will bring, but it would be great to see Mike again sometime. I hope we can keep in touch.

Good Luck Mike!

The first couple of miles after I headed north, I found a great candidate for worst road. Just rough enough to keep your teeth chattering. Thank god it only lasted a few miles.

This morning was a day of animal frolicking. Twice I came upon puppies wrestling in the grass, then to have them chase me. Since I didn't have Mike and his dog spray, I had to resort to the "dad" voice when a few dogs got too aggressive towards me. I also saw a lot of deer and rescued three more turtles.

And then, after what looked like a long climb out of the valley, I had a smooth flowing uphill that I never noticed. I felt a little guilty because I knew Mike was having a huge climbing day on the TransAm route. Needless to say, I flew down the road. Even with a bunch of climbing near Potosi, I was able to do the 60 miles in less than 6 hours.

Had a vanilla shake at Sonic and then headed to the library to catch up on my email. Because the morning went so well, I got cocky and decided to do the 35 miles to the next state park. Little did I know that the terrain would become a lot worse and the temperature would rise even higher than predicted.

I pushed the bike up more hills than I can count, some not only steep, but long, too. I ended up stopping at Tracy's Quick Stop just to get out of the heat for a while. Tracy took over the store 2 years ago after moving from St. Charles. She said business was good, mainly because she was over 10 miles from Potosi and there were a good number of people in the area. While there, I also talked with a guy from St. Louis who was in the area looking at property with his daughter and her family. They just had that look of shock on their faces when I told them what I was doing.

After a 45-minute break, Tracy let me fill up the water bottle with ice and I was back on the road again. The odometer seemed to be stuck all afternoon and my sixth sense of when the next landmark would appear seemed an hour off. The heat and the miles were definitely taking their toll. A new sound appeared today. For some reason, a strong breeze through the trees sounds just like a semi coming up behind me. Traffic was pretty light going my direction, but the blind turns and frequent hill crests kept me jumping off the road to get out of their way.

As the sun was getting lower and lower, I finally came to the Meramec State Park entrance. Because the visitor center was closed, I consulted the map about camping. Three miles off route! And to top it off, you have to climb over a mountain to get to it. I just didn't have any oomph left, so I pushed the bike one final time.

At the campground entrance, I find Courtney, the attendant, standing in a bucket of water to keep cool. I laughed pretty loud. Courtney was nice in helping me get situated. I even asked her to stand in the bucket again for a picture.

Courtney keepin' cool

The campground is pretty big, but not crowded. A couple behind me are from Vermont, headed for jobs in New Mexico for the summer. I'll talk with Libby later to get directions to their place in St. Louis. She has Thursday off, so I can show up any time. Mike, her husband, says he has a ton of questions. I'm looking forward to a day off, too. Maybe Libby and I can go to the movies while Mike watches their son Justin.

Oops, forgot to tell you I passed the 1500-mile mark today.