Chanute KS to Eureka KS 62 Miles. The day of weather surprises

We got up this morning expecting high temperatures (93 degrees) and high winds ( 20 mph +) only to experience just the opposite. When we left Chanute the wind was blowing at 12 mph from the South, South East with clear skies. As the day went along the clouds rolled in and the temperature fell. When we arrived at Eureka the temperature was around 70 degrees. The light wind pushed us the  last 19 miles into Eureka, but then this is Kansas. As I write this the temperature is 82 and they are still expecting it to go up to 90 degrees by 6 pm. They are also forecasting a 73% chance of Heavy Thunderstorm by 11 p.m.

Kye and I have checked into hotels for the night so I could get up to date with the Blog. After hearing about the possible thunderstorms some other riders have also taken the hotel route.

Today’s ride was an easy ride. No big hills, no high winds, no strong winds, what else could you ask for. How about a pet lizard from a place called “Lizard Lips” and from the Lizard Lip Lady herself. This is just outside of Toronto Kansas on Highway 54. I had heard about this place from other bloggers but I didn’t realize where I was until I asked for the key to the restroom and the Lizard Lip Lady gave me the key and pointed to the floor and said “just follow the yellow brick road”. I was in shock, I definitely did not want to miss this place and I almost did. My lizard as a place of honor on my bike for the rest of the trip.

IMG_0450

Now we hope for a quite uneventful night. No Rain, No High Winds, No Thunder.

Pittsburg KS to Chanute KS 58 Miles First full day of riding in Kansas

After a great stay in Pittsburg we hit the road again and like always this state lived up to its billing also. Why couldn’t at least one state NOT live up to its billing. The roads were basically flat but then the wind came. Since I was borne and raised in north central Kansas, I knew what we could expect in the winds. When we left Pittsburg the wind was blowing out of the south at 9 mph. By the time we got to camp there was a sustained wind of 22 mph with gust up to 32 mph out of the south. This made it great when we went north but that accounted for 9 of the 58 miles. The remaining 49 miles were westerly so we had a stiff crosswind. That made for hard riding.

The challenge continued in camp. Hang on to your tent while trying to set it up or hope you could find it somewhere in the next county. We hope the wind will subside this evening.

We are camping at the Santa Fe Park Campground in Chanute. They have warm showers and a number of ball diamonds. We are in hopes there will be a game tonight.

Pittsburg KS Rest Day

What a great place to have a rest day. Not only because of the special treatment we received but it is a convenient place for some of my family and friends to come out a visit us.

Last night Shaun, Ashton, Theo and Thatcher Hill joined Kye and I for dinner. We had a great time catching up and covering the bike ride to date. The boys provided us entertainment as only young boys can.

On our rest day we did a service project for a lady that is bed ridden with MS. She has two windows that she looks out of. So we focused on cleaning the yard and fence outside her windows but like always we extended it to include all the fence and the yard. The trash collectors will have extra work this week picking up all the bags of trash we filled.

This evening Kye and I were treated to dinner by our great kayaking friends Larry and Heidi Scroggins from Kansas City, MO. Ryan, Julie and the boys joined us also. We had a great time catching up and sharing the BiketheUSforMS experience.

Ash Grove MO to Pittsburg KS 68 Miles and Kansas flatlands.

At each breakfast we have found the locals have their own special table. When a person comes into the café they head to this designated table. We don’t know if they assigned seats but they welcome each other warmly. It reminds me of my home town when I was a kid. You knew when you went to the cafe you never had to eat alone unless you wanted to. What a great custom.

The sign in the hostel last night said “hills end in 23 miles for westbound riders.” That was a true statement and the ones we did have were tame compared to what we are used to.

The highlight of the rest stops were in Golden City. This is a perfect name for a city that has “Cooky’s Café”. This Café is well known by the biking community for its pies. They are all “homemade” on site. The hardest part is choosing what kind of pie you want. I stopped counting at 6 different pies, but our favorite was the strawberry/rhubarb. I had to verify this by having a piece of cherry pie with ice cream first. 

IMG_1351

State Line KANSAS. I am home again. I was born and raised in Kansas and I am happy to return on a bike.

IMG_1358

Tonight we are staying at the Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium. What a treat to stay inside again tonight with 4 showers, wifi access and to top it off great food for all meals. All this is made possible by outstanding volunteers lead by Gina Peak. She had taken the initiative to get involved years ago and we are reaping the benefits today. This is just an outstanding example of type of people that support MS and the BiketheUSforMS ride.

Thanks Gina, we all appreciate what you and all your volunteers do for us. Words don’t begin to explain our gratitude.

Hartville MO to Ash Grove MO 74 Miles

The day started later due to some miscommunication with server the night before. Even then the morning cook let us in early which was much appreciated since it was cool this morning. With all this said and done we were on the road by 7:40 a.m.

The ride itself was basically the same as the last, more steep rollers which after two 80 plus days taxed our legs and lungs. At the end of the ride the road turned rough and really vibrated our hands.

Three long hard days in a rows, we are looking forward to Kansas.

Tonight we stayed at the Ash Grove City Park which also has a hostel where a number of us slept. Others setup up their tents.

The park was next to the local swimming pool which a number took advantage of. The pool was free for the BiketheUSforMS riders. There were also showers in the hostel and adjoining pool area.

Dinner was a small challenge due to this being Sunday. All the restaurants were closed except a pizza/sub shop in one of the convenience stores. They also had great milk shakes.

Eminence MO to Hartville 80 Miles

As usual breakfast around 6:15 a.m. and on the road before 7:00 a.m.

Charlie has ridden this route before so at about 5 miles out we stopped at a park to checkout the old Mill. It was beautiful and well worth the time.

IMG_0432.JPG

When we got back on the road my legs were tired and a little sore after our 90 mile day yesterday. Some of it may have been psychological.

Our second rest stop was in (no kidding) Houston in the County of Texas. This was the largest town of the day (population 2,084). There wasn’t a 610 Loop, Beltway 8 or Grand Parkway. Just a good place to grab a bite to eat and then back on the road.

Tonight we are camping at the Hartville City Park. We are definitely roughing it here. No water in the park except for the women and men’s restroom for the toilets only. No sinks.

One resourceful member of the team found a water faucet by the only business in the area and next to the street so most of us used it to clean up a little.

The one redeeming feature of the park was the view of pond and surrounding hills.

Farmington MO. To Eminence MO 89 Miles

This was expected to be a long day and rough one so we stopped for breakfast at the place the locals called the best breakfast ever. From what we have experienced it did not live up to its billing.

We started the ride expecting the worst but the first 60 miles were a piece of cake, but the last 30 miles made up for it. Here we experience the Ozarks at its finest. There were a lot of steep climbs but they were shorter than we experienced in Virginia and Kentucky. What made them harder was this was a 90 + mile day. This day was topped off with a very steep climb up to the local high school. It had started to rain and my back tire slipped so I got off and walked up the hill.

We also found the drivers in Missouri were not as courteous as the other states. They honked more, didn’t give us as much clearance space when passing and a number were more vocal. What the drivers don’t always understand is the shoulder they think we should be using is usually taken up with rumble strips so we have no choice but ride in the driving lane. When we got to narrower roads without shoulders the drivers were better.

We stayed in the high school gym. This gave us access to the shower locker rooms as well as rest rooms. No waiting lines here. This was great.

Kye and I decided to cook tonight because we were just exhausted and cold. By the time Kye had made us a hot meal and hot chocolate all was well.

Chester IL to Farmington MO. 46 Miles. First day in Missouri

Today we rode across the Mississippi River Bridge into Missouri by police escort. The escort, arranged by BiketheUSforMS, was a safety measure. All of our team riders met at the Illinois Visitor’s Welcome center before 8:30 a.m. so the police stop all traffic both ways. The MS support vans lead us across and the police followed us across. This was much appreciated by the riders as the bridge is just a two lane bridge. Once across, the team stopped for a group photo in front of the welcome to Missouri sign.

IMG_0417

20170622_084020

Before beginning today’s ride, the weather did not look good. One forecast was for rain starting at 9:00 a.m. The clouds were heavy and the wind was out of the south at about 10 to 15 mph.

As is turned out, the only rain was a light mist a couple of times during the day and cloud cover. And with he slight wind and cool temperatures, we had a pretty enjoyable day. The ride did give us indications of what we are about to experience as we ride across the Ozarks, but that is a story for tomorrow.

Our second and final rest stop for the day was at the Crown Valley Brewery. It has a very nice food menu as well as a list of adult beverages. Many took part in both or one or the other. This stop was 13 miles from today’s finish so many took a longer than normal stop.

Tonight’s camp is at Al’s Place Bike Hostel. It is a nice place with bunks in a number of rooms. It is first come first serve. At many camp areas we, BiketheUSforMS team, are not the only bike rides staying there. This one, as well as previous night, had 5 other unsupported riders in camp. We get to know each other well. One room was dedicated to the “Early Riser” group which includes all the “Older” riders.

Al’s Place has TWO showers and LAUNDRY facilities. Another nice benefit.

Carbondale to Chester IL. 49 Miles. Popeye here we come and last day in Illinois

Today we have a short day and compared to the past days very little climbing. The only real challenge was the heat. We got to Chester around 11:30 a.m. and the temperature was already 91 degrees. We started the day around 7:00 a.m. anticipating the heat, but we still did not avoid it completely.

We took the southern route which is called the “Mississippi Levee Alternate”. The road ran very close to the Mississippi river and occasionally on the Levees. We stopped at one point and went to the shore line of the Mississippi. The river is wide at this point and flowing at a fairly high rate of speed. I am making the comparison to the Missouri River since I spent many hours on that river when we lived in Kansas City Missouri.

IMG_0381

Chester, Illinois. Birth place and home of Popeye the Sailor Man. The city has a Popeye Character Trail which focuses on an individual Popeye character. This is a smart marketing ploy by the city because you have to see most of the city to visit each character. I have only attached two of the main items to the Blog.

Tonight we are camping at the Fraternal Order of the Eagle. It has a hot shower and a restaurant which is convenient. Tomorrow we go into Missouri which is just across the Mississippi River.

Cardondale IL. Rest day. No riding

Today was a service project day. We went to a young lady’s house that as progressive MS. Her parents try to keep up her house but certain things are hard to do. So here we come.

The lady’ car was very dirty and needed so TLC, so the cleaning crew went to work on both the outside and inside of the car. They even waxed the car. It didn’t look like the same car when they finished.

Others did yard work, cutting down a couple of trees, raking and cleaning all the flower beds.

Some washed all the house outside windows.

Others cleaned the storm gutters and cut off tree limbs that were rubbing the house.

And lastly, some pressure washed and scrapped paint off a white picket fence in preparation for painting.

This bike team is amazing when faced with a task. They go above and beyond the original scope and kept asking for more. It makes one proud to know these people.