May 23, 2001

5/23/01 Kansas City, MO

116.4 miles

Yes, you read right - one hundred sixteen miles, plus change. And that wasn't even the hard part. I think the weather gods were trying to slow me down, as I had a nasty headwind the WHOLE WAY.

Jim and I had woken to a chilly sunrise in Sedalia. People said it had gotten down to 40 degrees. A lot different than I've been used to. We decided to put in a few miles, then look for breakfast.

I was riding with wind pants and jacket, but the skies seemed full of clouds. Now that the Katy Trail had left the Missouri River, our scenery was limited. I was really getting tired of how slow it was to bike on this crushed limestone. Kind of looking forward to some fast pavement (little did I know!).

When I walked into Field's Restaurant in Green Ridge, MO, I thought I'd interrupted a farm meeting. About 20 farmers were all seated at the main table. The waitress said, "don't mind them." It was a good thing we took her warning about the pancakes, because they were huge. I think I was already feeling the pull of KC, because I was anxious to get back on the road.

Caboose in Windser, MO

We were traveling southwest on our final 10 miles of Katy Trail. But even in those miles, we saw two thunderstorms fly in front of us. I was a bit worried about getting wet in these cold, windy conditions. At Windsor, MO, it was a right turn onto highway 2 all the way to Harrisonville. I was very happy. For a minute.

Almost immediately, the wind started to pound us as we turned west onto the road. And even though we're in farm country, the road was a straight-line roller coaster of hills. I honestly had to pedal downhill at times just to keep going. Here I was expecting to be in Harrisonville for lunch and it was really looking impossible.

The cows wondered why we were taking a break

Traffic was light, but with the hills cresting so often, some cars had difficulty passing. We stopped a few times for water, but as the morning moved into afternoon, we didn't do it enough. The day just kept dragging on. I drifted off the road several times because of the total effort with cycling into the wind.

Twenty miles outside of town, I had completely run out of water. We should have stopped at a farmhouse or somewhere, but I kept thinking, "just over the hill will be a gas station" or something.

Finally, about 4 P.M., we reached the outskirts of Harrisonville. Water never tasted so good. I hadn't realized how dry my lips were, probably not helped by the sun and wind. I made the decision for a quick bite to eat, then back on the road. It was 72 miles to here, a lot farther than I thought. And even though I didn't know the exact mileage to KC, I thought I still had another 40 miles. Jim decided to take a shorter route along 71 Highway using the outer roads. I still had the romantic notion of using the back roads, so we said our good byes.

The other reason for my haste was the winds had moved in a dark mass of clouds looking for a cyclist to drown. I put on my rain gear and headed back out into rush hour traffic.

As soon as I left the city, I knew my mileage was off because the highway started turning south (not the place I wanted to go!). It seemed to take forever to reach Peculiar, MO, even though I was also moving closer to the dark marrow of black clouds.

My goal was to be in KC proper by sunset so I'd at least have street lights. It sounds pretty far, but I knew I was at least spiritually close when I saw a street sign "246th St." Just 169 city blocks to go!

Got lost coming through Peculiar, not because it was big, but because of the roads splitting off with little signage. I asked a skateboarder, "Does this road go to Belton?" He assured me it did and that he had walked the seven miles himself. Turned out to be one of those outer roads I was trying to avoid. So with interstate traffic whipping by, I moved closer to home.

The highway side of Belton looked new and built up, but traffic was pretty heavy. I kept looking for side streets to go around it all, but ended up lost. I flagged down a woman to ask for directions. "I wish my husband was here," she said. "He owns the newspaper." Turns out I was on the right road after all.

Amazing how torn up everything is on the opposite side of town. Finally on Holmes Road with the sun setting fast, I needed to get off soon. This road wasn't much better and traffic was very fast. Found the side road that would take me to Kenneth Road, then State Line Road. Funny how I have to bike into Kansas just to find a safe route into Missouri.

I passed the 100-mile mark somewhere on Holmes, but felt pretty good. The clouds had blown away, so I could watch the sunset. Soon I was on my familiar bike route along Indian Creek. I'd ridden this way so many times, I was on automatic pilot.

Pulling up to my mom's driveway, 116 miles later, I am ecstatic. I left Sedalia at sunrise and finished under the stars.

Even though I was a day early, mom said she knew it was me when I knocked. 9 P.M. and I wasn't tired at all - too much excitement. After visiting with mom and getting cleaned up, I ended up thinking of food. And in KC, that means Minsky's.

Everyone was surprised and excited to see me, even my favorite waitress, Heather. Besides work, the gang at Minsky's is my second family. I'm having a good time on the trip, but it's great to be home, even for a few days.