Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018, Sullivan, MO to Euricka, MO

37.44 miles. I worked overtime yesterday, so we could have an easy day at the KOA, hit the pool, and relax before taking on downtown St Louis tommorow. RT 66 pretty much followed closely to I 44, with some side trips through small towns. It began rolling, as usual, but there was nothing serious to test my beat up legs. I took it easy, and gradually got my wheels back, especially as things leveled out. About half way through the ride, 66 descended into the Borboeuse River valley, which I had never heard of. I crossed the bridge and began a long, gentle climb out of the valley. The shoulder was really wide for 66, and the busy traffic was not an issue. The road peaked out at Gray's Summit, which would be the highest point on the trip. Then the fun started. The long downhill ended with a nice level ride through the town of Pacific. The shoulder of the road in town was not real clean, and you guessed it, flat tire number six. It was a very slow leak, and I just pumped it up and tried to go as far as I could before I needed to do it again. I pumped it up one more time, and the town of Pacific blended into the town of Eureka, after a short ride along some bluffs, similar to the ones I saw on the KATY Trail, which is a bit north of here. As soon as I saw the Eureka city limits sign, the KOA appeared, before the main part of the town. Six Flags amusement park is only a mile or two away, but I didn't even know it. Pam and I hit the pool for a few hours, during the hottest part of the day, with about ten of our closest  juvenile friends and their families.
At about five o'clock, we cleaned up a little and went into town to hit a bike shop to get a tube, and eat at a sports bar, before calling it a night. The bike tech thinks I've been getting flats because the rim trim between the metal rim and the tube was crinkled up. He worked on it, and hopefully got it straightened out.

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 11, 2018 Waynesville, MO to Sullivan, MO

80.0 miles. As I write this, I am exhausted. Today may have been the toughest 80 mile ride of my life. I was gassed at 35 miles, but I kept going. I don't know if it's cumulative fatigue, my age, or the fact that it was the hottest day of the year in this area, or the stifling humidity, but it took all that I had to finish. Pam offered to come and get me, but it was just time to man up, because I don't know if I will ever do this again. The fact that I got through today without cramping up, is testament to the 'Extreme Endurance' pills that I have taken the last couple of times I've ridden long distance. I discovered these pills at Landis bike shop in Phoenix, and they are loaded with the minerals I need to keep from cramping, and they also keep lactic acid from forming, which makes your muscles sore. That's why cumulative fatigue gets my vote as a reason I bonked. There was just no juice in the legs, especially on the hills. And, oh, what hills there were! I only climbed 3200 ft, but there were three hills where I climbed 250-500 ft in a mile, or a little more. It was epic tenderization of my quads.
Now, for the details. I was out the door at my normal 7:30 a.m. or so. I had a sweat going before I got out of the campground. It was near 75 degrees and 75 % humidity. The first six miles were pretty much downhill into Waynesville, but the first of the big climbs from downtown Waynesville to St Robert, took more of a toll than I would know. As I was leaving town, I got the fifth flat tire if the trip. I have no idea what caused my back wheel to go flat, but it set me back about a half an hour.  I was sweating so bad I had a hard time getting things together, and it wasn't yet 9 a.m. US 66 was not in the best of shape for this entire ride. There were some stretches of origional concrete in the early one third of the trip, but they weren't in the greatest shape. It felt like I hit a frost heaves or a crack every twenty feet for 80 miles. That's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. My butt only has so many positions I can sit in, and even my wrists bothered me for the first time in this trip. I stuck with the RT 66 biway signs, and even took stretch of 1926 to 1941 road that was really rough, because I wanted to find out what Devil's Elbow was. It was a bend that went around a hill with a wall holding the road up. It then descended quickly to a nice river, and an old bridge with a new surface. An old, origional stretch of four lane road, provided the second big climb of the day. It didn't look terrible, but it felt terrible. When I got to the top of the hill, old 66 was eaten up by I 44, and the 66 biway signs disappeared for the first time in Missouri. I was baffled at first, but I broke out the Adventure Cycling Assn. map for one of the few times I've had to, and the road veered quite a bit away from I 44, on RT J, to P, to T (Missouri roads often have letters instead of numbers, and they really don't  make much sense to me) RT P took me down, and rode along quite a stretch through what I believe was the Mark Twain National Forest. Huge oak and pine trees kept the road semi shaded. It was mostly flat and quiet, and I even saw a deer cross the road in front of me. It was definitely the coolest part of the ride, in both senses of the word. P took me through the small town of Newburg, and there was a pretty good climb up to the small town of Doolittle. From there I was back on 66, and the biway signs reappeared. I ran parallel with I 44 until another leg smashing climb into Rolla. At this point I stopped for lunch at an Arby's, and tried to cool off and regroup. I was only 35 miles into it, and I was running on fumes. Rolla had a nice college, Missouri S & T, which I had never heard of (Science and Technology), but it had a huge and nice πka house, which is my fraternity, and in the past I have seeked the houses out on the campuses I explored.
The last half of the trip just went on forever. There was zero wind all day, which made it seem hotter. I dreaded every uphill, and took quite a few short breaks in each small town. It really leveled out ( as much as Missouri does), but the damage was done. I limped into the Flying J parking lot, which is where we stayed, in Sullivan, nestled amount the big trucks, after 8 1/2 hours to do a measly 80 miles. What a struggle it was.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018 Strafford, MO to Waynesville, MO

73.81 miles. All of the bad wind days that started this trip are turning into a string of good wind days, just like they were supposed to be. The prevailing south west wind is doing its thing. Not so much blowing me across Missouri, as much as keeping me cool on what has been some hot days, and giving me just a little push. Once again , the weather was supposed to be in the middle 90's, with high humidity, and it did not fail. I rolled out at 7:30, with winds at my back and temps in the low 70,s.
The first third of the trip was headed mostly northish, it seemed, and I had plenty of shade from the tall trees on the east side of the road. The scenery was more forested, and less farm land than previous days. Small towns dotted the route every 10-15 miles, and the area was steady with residential homes along old 66. The hills were very apparent, as I climbed about 3000 ft. for the day, but the downhills seemed just a little longer than the ups. If someone rode the route that I rode today going east to west, they would have climbed 700 ft more, into a headwind. Which begs an answer to the question: " Why would anyone want to start the route 66 trip in Chicago, and go west?" When I was still riding with Ben, we came across a young guy who was headed east to west. We met him near the Oklahoma/Kansas/Missouri border, and he went on about how hilly Missouri was. Duh. If you start your trip at the Mississippi River and climb to the Great Plains, it's gonna be tougher than if you come out of the high desert, down to the Great Plains, and on down to the Mississippi, in St Louis. After you do all that climbing, headed west, you are greeted with the desert Southwest of New Mexico and Arizona, where it is 110 now, and getting hotter.  This guy we met was named Graham, and he really didn't think his trip through. Youth is so wasted on the young. But I digress.
Now, back to my trip. 66 finally was void of the damn rumble strips in the shoulder, but that's because there were no shoulders. Nor was there traffic. It was Sunday morning, but even so. As close as 66 parallels I 44, there is no reason to be on meandering 66 unless ur a local. The rumble strips were replaced by frost heaves and cracks, but they weren't terrible.  I made the larger town of Lebanon for my 50 mile marker, but did not stop for lunch, as I packed a couple of sandwiches, which I ate as I rode. I did stop to refill some water bottles and wet down my sweat band, as the heat was starting to crank.
Somewhere near the sleepy town of Sleeper, I came across two curious things at the same time. There was a sign that said "bridge closed ahead.   Three miles. There was also a biker that seemed to be debating what to do, because the 66 biway signs were putting us in to I 44. These two developments caused me to stop and chat with the guy. He was French, with very silver hair, which made him look like he was pushing 70 years old. He had a heavy duty little bike with a single wheeled trailer, and a gas motor on the bike to assist him. His grasp of our language was pretty good, but not great. As we were talking I noticed that he had two, basically flat tires. I guess he had been stopping as often as needed and pumping up his Slime filled tubes, so he didn't have to change them. As we were chatting, a pick up stopped and told us that we could cross the closed bridge on bikes, just not cars. Frenchy was happy about that because he hated the interstate, and I, who love the interstate, couldn't resist the temptation to cross a closed bridge. He insisted that I go ahead, while he pumped up his tubes, so with a fist bump, I was on my way.
Three miles later, after some wicked downhill where I hit nearly 40 mph, I came to the bridge. By the old age of some roadside signs pleading to fix the old bridge, not replace it, because of the historical value, I could tell that the bridge has been closed for a long, long time. I lifted my Surly Ogre (that would be the name of my bike) over the guardrail blocking the bridge, and as I dodged potholes, looked longingly at the clear water of the  Gasconade River flowing below, and entertained the thought of going down to it and basking in it's coolness. It was hot, but I kept my eyes on the prize, and kept moving.  The far end of the bridge was also blocked by guardrail, but the pavement had been torn up to show the same concrete surface, with the little curb, that I described riding on through a large part of Oklahoma. The history of the bridge hit me when I saw the origional pavement, so I hope they refurbish the bridge, not replace it. It will probably cost more to refurbish it than tear it down and start over again. As I was starting up the equally wicked hill on the other side of the bridge, I looked back and saw Frenchy, who had recruited someone from somewhere to help him lift his cumbersome bike and trailer over the guardrail. I figured he would catch me soon, as I muscled up the hill, but I never saw him till my trip was done ( more on that later).
The last 25 miles to my destination of Waynesville was more hills, and much of the same ol, same ol, until I rumbled down a pretty big  ( like two/three mile) hill into Waynesville. I stopped at a convenience store to turn on the GPS and see where the campground was, when Pam called at the same second I was getting my phone out. She told me that I had blown past the campground and went about five miles too far. (She can track me on a special app that we have)   It wasn't much of a decision that I wasn't going to climb back up that hill, so she came and got me (Such a great wife and support person). In the meantime I googled the nearest Dairy Queen, and it was only three miles further down the road, so we decided to get lunch.(as I was loading my bike in the Jeep, ol Frenchy came rolling by, about 20 minutes behind me I would guess. I wonder how many times he stopped to pump up his tires). It was about 2:30, so we were both hungry, but the damn DQ was shut down, as often happens in these small towns, with lots of restaurants that we might have eaten at. Fortunately, there was a Sonic right next door, so that, it was. We backtracked the eight miles to home base. The campgrounds in Missouri basically suck, and I missed ours because it's sign only faced one direction. The other way. And it was down in a hollow off the road. Pam sat outside and tried to figure out next campground, and totally struck out, so tommorow night may be spent at a truck stop. Did I mention that the campgrounds in Missouri are few and far between, and that the ones we can find, suck? Just a word to the wise, who read this blog.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

June 9,2018 Carthage, MO to Strafford, MO

74.55 miles. Another early start (for me), around 7:30 a.m.  I grabbed some breakfast, and rode back to RT 66 through town, even though GPS told me that there was a shorter way. ( Yea right.....on some cow path). 66 started out wonderfully, as the first 20 miles I rode was on brand spanking new asphalt. Nice shoulder, not even line painted yet. I rode past a festival of some sort that they were just starting to set up in the town square, near the Courthouse in Carthage, and past a kids fishing tournament at a lake just outside of town. The roads rolled very gently because I climbed over 2000 ft for the day, but smooth surface and a tailwind make the hills seem smaller. I only switched down to the granny gear on the front sprocket twice. The scenery was non descript hay fields, either cut and bailed or not, corn and soybean, cattle, lots of farm houses and ranches, made of the roundish stone that must be plentiful here. There were lots of signs and billboards reminding you to fear God and fear hell. Small towns and ghost towns were the only things I saw. There was exactly one convenience store/gas station from Carthage until I hit the outskirts of Springfield, 60 miles later. Traffic picked up as the day went on, and the road gradually deteriorated as far as bicycling after those first 20 miles of fresh asphalt. The road was fine, but the shoulders got narrowed down to about two feet, and then, the rumble strips in the middle of the shoulder began. I rode out in the road and just did my best as traffic was at it's worst when I had the rumble strips. That seems to be a Missouri thing. Adventure Cycling has been working with States on that very problem, but Missouri hasn't done much. With the old 66 route coming through their state now, at least they hadn't put them in where the new asphalt was.......yet.
Springfield is a town of 160,000 people, and was very easily navigated just by following the blue,  Rt 66 biway signs. Downtown was nice, with a neat square in the middle of town, Missouri State University, and I saw the crowd arriving at the convention center for an indoor football game against the Tulsa Roughnecks. Drury University is here as well as Evangel University. I sorta get the feeling I'm in Bible thumping country. Ten miles east of Springfield, I ran parallel with I 44, past all the trucking companies that weren't working because it was the weekend, I came to the town of Strafford, where Pam was wedged into a very narrow site at the Strafford Rv Park.
Overall, the cloud cover was pretty good today, but there was a big, badass, cloud just ahead of me when I pulled into the Rv Park, but even though Pam had gotten damp a little earlier, I felt exactly two drops. I may complete this entire, shortened trip, without getting wet. Traffic was really light through town, probably because it was a Saturday, but 66 had more truck traffic than I expected on both sides of Springfield.

Friday, June 8, 2018

June 8, 2018 North Miami, OK to Carthage, Missouri

48.06 miles. Campgrounds that can handle our stegasaurus are few and far between in this area. My choices, after consulting with my trip concierge, (Pam) were 50 miles, or 100 miles. I chose 50. The wind was good, the cloud cover was apparent at times, I had the time, just not the desire. Temps were going to be in the high 90's, with heat index near 100, so I decided not to kill myself. With the realization that I'm not going to finish this trip, I've lost motivation to pound day after day. I'm good with where ever I stop, and the reason for stopping is as good as it gets, with our son getting married.
Ben and I rode out at about 8:30 after I grabbed a breakfast sandwich at the casino, and filled up all the water bottles with the type of ice that I like. ( lasts longer than cubes). We were on the same road, but it seemed to have many different names. 66, 69a, among others. We passed thru the small village of Quapaw, and then it was mildly rolling  through the very Southeast corner of Kansas, and into Joplin, Missouri. Ben and I parted ways on Main Street in Joplin. He was headed north to ride the Katy Trail across the state to St Louis, and I was staying the course on old route 66. Joplin was smaller than I thought it was, but Webb City, and other towns stretched along 66 all the way to Carthage. I got onto a limited access road, for a few miles between Webb City and Carthage, but I soon tired of it, and walked my bike through some grass to get back on 66. Once I got to Carthage, I let Google maps guide me through residential areas until I found the Red Barn campground, where Pam had set up shop, near I 44. It was a short day, so I took advantage of my free time to lay around in the air conditioning and do some down time. We couldn't get the Rv door open to get the water hoses out, so Pam called a mobile Rv mechanic, and we got that operable, though not fixed. Then we ate supper at a little RT 66 diner that wasn't on 66, and Pam did some wash while I faded off to an early finish.

June 7, 2018 Catoosa (W. Tulsa) OK to North Miami, OK

87.07 miles. I woke up pretty early and went into the Hard Rock to fill my water bottles with ice, went to McDonald's and had egg McMuffin s until Ben got ready and met me to roll for the day. There was a cloud cover, which lasted all day, and a tailwind was a surprise that also lasted all day. We were barely out of town on old 66, when we picked up a local biker named Pete. He rode with us for about 8 miles, chatting up a storm about his love of bicycling, as we rode down a really nice shoulder, until he peeled of to head home. The nice shoulder stayed with us for just about the entire trip. We were making great time, ( I was gabbing to Ben the entire way...don't know what got into me), and rolled into the town of Vinita, at about the fifty mile marker, in about four hours. We stopped at a store to have lunch, and several cowboy/farmer types were checking us out like we were Martians. They wouldn't make eye contact, let alone speak, but you could tell that they felt we were very unusual types. We probably are in this area, Oklahoma is just a little different when it comes to bicyclists. Earlier we had one pick up truck slow down for us, even though we were on the shoulder, he put on his flashers, passed us slowly, turned his flashers off when he got past us, then resumed his regular speed. And we were on an eight foot wide shoulder! Pretty funny. They just don't have much of a clue as to what to do with us!
We had a storm trailing us for most of the day that dumped four inches of rain in OKC, and had cars floating down the streets, but it went south of us, and we got nothing but the welcomed cloud cover. We passed through many little towns that brought back memories of my last ride through the area. We ended up at the Quapaw ( pronounced  O gah Pa) Casino, which was just north of Miami, where we have stayed a couple of times (in town). Pam found it in her casino camping book. FREE pull through sites with 50 amp power and water, for as long as three days. Ben was allowed to set up his tent in the grass right next to us. There are several small casinos in the area, each belonging to a different tribe. At the Buffalo Run casino, three miles back towards town, I noticed the sign advertised that Grand Funk Railroad was playing.... Tonight! I jumped on that right away. Plans changed. Pam had been cooking supper, but we cancelled that until after the show. I don't how how much Ben knew about GFR, but he went with us. It was worth every penny, as thoroughly enjoyed seeing a band that still sounded great, but are probably near the end of the road. Yesterday, at the Hard Rock, we missed the Charlie Daniels band and Marshall Tucker by a day. We considered hanging around, but the show was sold out. After the show, it was still light outside! We came home, had our supper, and called it a night. Life is not worth living if you can't be spontaneous!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6, 2018 Chandler, OK to Tulsa, OK

79.88 miles. I walked out the door at 7:30 in the morning, only to be greeted by some heavy humidity. It did not relent all day long. Temps started in the seventies and we're still in the nineties at nine o'clock at night. Historic US 66 ran conjointly with OK 66, but they are not the same. OK 66 was a straightened out, wider version of the old road, with nice wide shoulders in most spots. Therefore, the feel was a little different today than previously. I'm not complaining, but OK 66 is a much busier road than the old 66 I've been on. It is a main thoroughfare for locals, because the interstate that Pam was on today, I 44, is a toll road. Old 66 was apparent in many places, as a residential road, and through the towns. It started and stopped with dead ends in many places, and if I wasn't looking for it, it may have gone unnoticed.
The ride was pretty uneventful for the first half of the trip. About 42 miles into the ride, I came across Ben, who I rode with yesterday some, in a convenience store. I stopped for water, and  saw his bike parked out front. I filled up and rolled out ahead of him, but we discussed routes, and I invited him to meet at the Hard Rock Casino, and set up his teant next to the Rv.
About ten miles later, in the town of Sapulpa, I pulled into I little town park on the corner, with, shade, tables and chairs, and ate a sandwich I had packed. I was about 50 miles into the ride, and just getting into the suburbs of Tulsa.  Somewhere near that town I believe, Ben went in a different direction, where old 66 and OK 66 split. I missed it, and that was ok, because I really didn't want to go out that way. Ben said it was mostly country riding, with not much traffic and decent road.  OK66 was rolling  along just fine, as a frontage road to I 44, then, the toll road portion of 44 ended, and my frontage road merged right onto 44. So, unsuspectingly, I was suddenly on I 44 headed to downtown Tulsa. I was totally good with that, but I knew I better not press my luck. I rode a few miles and got off an exit to turn on my GPS, to see what I needed to do. It turns out that I got off just before the interstate crossed the Arkansas River, which is a really wide river, just not very deep and not navigable. I rode a nice Riverside bike trail system for 5-7 miles to get to a bridge that bikes could cross. It was nice, with shade trees and rest areas. Once crossing the river, I got in more bike trails, heading north towards downtown. At some point I turned to the east, and went right past the University of Tulsa, which I explored by bike last time I rode through. It was too hot to revisit, so I continued my gradual climb from the Arkansas River. About ten miles further east, I finally saw the big guitar and tower with ' Hard Rock' written on it. Pam was in the casino winning money when I pulled in. She came over to the Rv, I took a shower, and we went back to the casino for the buffett, drinks, and Pam won more money. When we got back to the Rv, Ben's tent was set up in the grass behind us, but he wasn't there. We finally hooked up and talked a little about the differences in our route today, and possibilities for tommorow. We ran the generator all night so we had AC in the back bedroom. It was still an oven in the front when we called it a night.