Archive for May, 2011


Farmington, MO to Centerville, MO

Rude horn honks: 1

Miles: 46

Total so far: 1,703

Trees down from the storm in front of the old jail, but we prepare to leave

The violent storms are behind us for now, but the unsettled weather is still here. We take off in the drizzle of the day. Riding isn’t bad. It’s a little cool, so the knee warmers are back on. The high today is supposed to only reach the low 60’s and one look at the sky tells me there is a lot of work to be done in if the sun is going to burn through the gray soup above. No predicted thunderstorms though, no tornado sirens for today, so we are off.My glasses fog and blur with the droplets that won’t leave, but it’s good to get back on the bike. We are working our way into the Ozark Mountains and the mixed growth and variety of hardwoods is dramatic.

We stop for the day in Centerville, where Julie’s equipment will be shipped, but we learn it will not come in until tomorrow.

This is a small town of less than 200 residents, and we swing into the small building housing the Reynolds County Sheriff’s Office to find that we are permitted to camp in a little square on the grounds of the County Building. There isn’t any fanfare about our arrival, as this is apparently a common occurrence for the town, however they ask we not set up our tents until after 4:30. I can’t say I blame them. A bathroom is provided at the Sheriff’s office for our use through the night. I don’t really fit in the sink for a shower, but I make do.

Shirley - the owner of the 21 Diner

We set up shop at the “21 Diner”, a small eating establishment – the only one in town. They have lettuce and milk there too if needed, as there isn’t a grocery. Again, there isn’t any fanfare about our arrival. The folks there know the habits of cyclists and they know we’ll spend the rest of the day there. They offer us playing cards to pass the time, but the bonus of the day was the dill pickle milk shake they make. We cannot resist, so we order one after assurances from the proprietor that it’s not a joke, that people really do consume the things. It’s not exactly something that will start a craze in the country, but it is quite, well, not bad. Somehow the sweet plays against the dill and makes it work.

It’s a little bit like cycling in the rain. It works better than one might think, so you just have to push off and go.

Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Rudy LeTourneau

Rudy LeTourneau

My Dad was riding a bicycle when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Such a loss of wisdom, advice, and unconditional love now that he’s gone. My heart aches most for the grandchildren who will never know him. We work very hard to keep his memory as vivid as possible for them, but what I wouldn’t give to have him back here making memories of his own. We miss you Dad!

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Jail term extended

Farmington, Missouri

No miles today as the weather was too unstable.

The dedication posted last night for Kiran Rao will be continued tomorrow.

These fellows are cloud spotting outside the shelter at the Farmington City Hall

The weather in Farmington today is a series of fronts and cells moving fast across the state generating tornadoes, hail, and other unpleasant conditions.   Sallie and I find ourselves spending a bit of time in and out of shelters as the tornado sirens were constant.  The weather has been so poor this spring for the folks in this area that tensions run fairly high among the residents.  I do not fault anyone for that.

The city set up a shelter in the basement of city hall, and there are other businesses around town that opened their basement areas as well.

Julie will be joining us as her riding partner has abandoned the route.  He has their tent and some other equipment and is shipping overnight to her at our next town.  The current plan is for Sallie and I to accompany her to Pueblo, Colorado so she will not be alone on the Trans Am.

That is…if we can keep up.  Julie has two things going for her in her riding pace — she is carrying quite a bit less weight than we are.  She is also the beneficiary of considerable youth.  She has been knocking out 80 and 90 mile days in some pretty hilly country, and she’s pushing a pretty aggressive schedule to get to San Francisco thus far.  We will do what we can and see how it works out.

The weather is supposed to stabilize tomorrow and we look forward to getting back on the road and moving on to see the beautiful state of Missouri.


The dedication posted last night for Kiran Rao will be continued for tomorrow’s ride

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Chester, Illinois to Farmington, Missouri

Friendly horn taps: 1

Rude Honks: 2 (one from a motorcycle!?)

Miles: 50

Miles so far: 1,657

Julie and Sallie get ready outside the bunkhouse at the Chester, IL Eagles Club

This is Julie from Brooklyn.  We first met her at the campground in Goreville and we’ve kept touching base every evening on the route thus far.  Julie is riding from Brooklyn to San Francisco. Her partner in this adventure is David.  David has had some serious mechanical issues and has dropped behind by a couple of days.  we hope he catches up soon.

Across the Mississippi!

We entered Missouri today!  In leaving Chester, Illinois, we stopped to take a couple of pictures of Popeye.  Popeye’s creator was from Chester, and there is quite the Popeye theme running through town.

Popeye (I had a spinach omelet this morning in his honor)

Our Mississippi crossing lies ahead on this bridge at Chester, IL

The old jail in Farmington, MO

A new life for an old structure

Our stopping place for the day was in Farmington, MO.  We found out quite by chance that was an excellent choice, as Farmington has invested some serious time and money in supporting Trans Am riders.  They have an old jail building here that they’ve remodeled and turned into a dormitory for riders.  They ask for contributions of $20 per night, $2 per load of laundry in the supplied heavy duty machines, a full kitchen, showers, and room enough to bunk 14 people.

Roomy, new, comfortable -- jail?

One of the three bunk rooms. This one sleeps six.

The facility is called Al’s Place, in honor of a local businessman and cyclist, Al Dziewa.  Al apparently succumbed to cancer in 2005 at the age of 49.  He was such a friend to cyclists, the city put this facility in his name.  It’s easy enough to find — there are markings and arrows on the pavement small enough to be unseen by motorists, but conspicuous enough for a cyclist  in town as one rides through.  What an amazing asset for the town of Farmington, MO to offer to Trans Am riders!

Julie and Sallie catch up on the comfortable couches, just like the jails I know


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kiran Ayn Bandari Rao

Kiran was a wonderful child, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter and friend to many. She had a bright future ahead of her when she was killed.  Her name meant ray of light and she shone brightly for the 10 years and 8 months we were blessed to have her.

She was smart, beautiful, thoughtful and kind to others. She was caring, loving and a joy to know, with a smile that lit up a room.

We want her memory to shine forever as she is with us forever in our hearts and we miss her terribly.

Love Always,

Himavanth, Jennifer & Alex Rao

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Riding the storm out

Goreville, IL to Chester, IL

Friendly horn taps: 3

Miles: 71

Total so far: 1,607

The humidity has kicked up.   My shirt is stuck to my chest as I breathe steadily in and out, watching the threatening clouds, and staying low into the unnerving wind.  Illinois is not supposed to be this windy, but the weather has been sketchy ever since we crossed the Ohio River.  Lots of wind.  Gnats and wind.  Not two of my favorite things.

The clouds are darkening.  We were pounded in camp last night with a thunderstorm that rolled over us at midnight.  A tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing nearly 100.  I cannot make out cloud formations.  I don’t see any forms.  No wall clouds, but I can’t see them in that sky anyway.  We’ve pulled off for lightning already.  The rain is hitting us now.  It’s not cold, we’ll be fine as long as the lightning stays away.

What am I going to write about?  I cannot think in this wind.  The music in my head stops.  I no longer look around, I just tuck and go.

There’s a guardrail.  A guardrail in the rain.

I remember I once stopped a college student for speeding east of Rock Springs, Wyoming on Interstate 80.  It was a summer afternoon and there were thunderstorms all around us. The lightning was popping off like popcorn.  He began asking a number of technical questions about radar frequencies and modulations.  After some time, I told him that I was happy to answer his questions, but he’d need to ask me these things in court, as the longer we were on the side of the road,the more dangerous it was to both of us, and I mentioned not only the traffic but the lightning.

He got out of his car and sat on the guardrail on the shoulder.  It just happened to be one of those guardrails that runs about a mile long.  I suggested he return to his car with the lightning all around us.  He said this: “I’m a third year electrical engineering student, and I am very happy to be here on this guardrail because I am grounded, and that is the safest place to be during a lightning storm.”

I wrote his ticket out in the comfort and safety of my ungrounded car.

They don’t refund tuition.  Sometimes that seems unfair.

Morning - after the storm

Little Grassy Lake

A port in the storm. The Eagles Club in Chester, IL hosts cyclists in their bunk house - no charge to Trans Am riders. What a perk!


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Joseph and Christopher Hughes

Joseph and Christoper Hughes killed near Lebanon, Tennessee in 1996.  Joseph and Christopher are shown on the left side of this picture.  Traci Hughes and her son Peter survived the collision.

Joseph, Steven, Christopher, and Traci Hughes.

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Cave in Rock, IL to Goreville, IL

Miles: 62

Total so far: 1,536

Today during our morning ride, Sallie commented, “It’s hard to believe we’ve ridden all the way to Illinois.” In some ways it is. Maybe it was the day off, but it seems like the days we’ve spent on the road have flown by in a blur and I hope the rest of the trip does not give the same impression. I trust it won’t – maybe Kansas may put that to rest.

Souther Illinois - the green is on, the hay is deep

I’ve also considered, with some reservation, that we are somewhere near one-third of the way through the journey. The raw map mileage for our route works out to somewhere around 4, 500 miles. That’s without detours and we’ve had, and will have, plenty of those. Something tells me not to mark off progress like that. I’m inclined to think that is not wise, but it’s certainly on my mind, especially because we’ve now joined the venerable Trans-Am route.

Sallie helpsa turtle cross the road - good karma

The Trans America route I’ve been referring to runs from Yorktown, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon. It was established and first promoted in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration, and was at the time operated by a group that called themselves Bikecentennial. They’ve since become the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), a non-profit operating in Missoula, Montana. ACA supplies the maps we use and keeps tabs of updates and road closures with the help of the hundreds of cyclists out on their routes. They have guided tours of all kinds too.

Saratoga, Wyoming is on the Trams Am. Thirty five years ago I was living in Saratoga and the Bikecentennial riders came through town all summer long and the subsequent summers after that. It made an impression on me that still lingers, but at the time I’d have rapidly denied it if someone were to tell me that I would attempt that ride someday.

There is a little bit of magic for me as I now join that route. I have some sort of impression going on that the Trans-Am is a bit like the famous yellow brick road. Riding today turned out just to be another day of cycling, nothing too special, but there is power in knowing those individuals that precede me have done so over these same roads. I’ve read some of their journals. I am inspired. I guess there is enough magic in that. Besides, we’ve ridden all the way to Illinois!


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Kayla Elizabeth Bain

Kayla Elizabeth Bain

Kayla was a 19 yr old aspiring chef college student attending her second yr of Baking & Pastries at Johnson & Wales university in North Miami Florida. From a small local town in Fort Ann NY Kayla always wanted to live in Florida & be a chef at the young age of 19 how she got what she wanted in life. But on Jan 2, 2011 her life along with 2 others was taken by a drunk driver they were killed on impact many families & friends lives never to be the same.

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