Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bicycling from Poplar Bluff, Missouri to Sikeston, MO April 22

April 22.....59.88 miles in 5:18...mileage total for the trip so far is 14,866.4 miles... I woke up this morning with my legs feeling like pan fried flank steaks, a little tired from negotiating the never tall but ever rolling Ozark Mountains. Today, the wind was blowing out of the northeast, and I was traveling northeast. Need I say more? By the end of the day my legs felt like they had been cooking in a crock pot for a week. So much so that I got the ice bags out and rapped them on my quads while watching TV and blogging.
I rolled through the pleasant little  (17,000) town of Poplar Bluffs on business60, until I came to the bluff that the town was named after, overlooking the Black River. The Black River is the east boundary of the Ozarks, as I was soon to find out. As soon as I crossed the bridge over the river, the land became absolutely pancake flat. I mean, flat line flat. The rest of my ride was a flat as anyplace I have ridden. It couldn't have gotten any flatter. I was cruising at about 325 ft above sea level, very low. And did I mention that it got real flat? I learned later that pioneers found cypress swamps here, and undertook a huge project to drain the area and make it farmland. Supposedly they moved more dirt here than they did to build the Panama Canal. I was riding in serious farm country, and the farmers were just beginning to turn their dirt in some of the fields. Every road had a ditch along side it, and there were uncountable numbers of streams that were laid out through the fields, some bigger and more full of water than others. I had read that President Bill Clinton's dad was killed in an auto accident near Sikeston, when he drowned in a roadside ditch. It sounded weird at the time, but I understand now. All this flatness made for an undying wind, which I am not very fond of. I would rather climb mountains all day than pedal into a relentless wind, but I probably have said that before. More headwind tomorrow . 
I could have taken US 60 four lane for the entire trip, but I deviated from that course a little. I took business 60 through Poplar Bluff, which might have added on about 5 miles, and at my halfway point, I took business 60 through the flat as flatbread town of Dexter, MO. That is where I decided to do some back roads. I took MO 25 south out of town to MO 114, where I headed east. This road had some traffic, zero shoulder, bumpy surface, but it got me off of four lane for a while, which is smoother, quicker, and yes safer, but that's how I like to roll. I got to see some snakes, frogs, and pterodactyls that I wouldn't see on the main road, and I experienced some of the biggest farm tractor traffic I've ever seen. I went through small towns like Essex, where Main Street was gravel, and a bar had a sign advertising Stag Beer. Really? Yes. I've actually heard of it because I have a can from the seventies in my now forty year old beer can collection.
MO 114  paralleled US60 for a while, then eventually crossed over to the north side of it, and thank goodness, the road became lined with some native trees. It's amazing how a row of trees will cut down on wind, on the open plains. This road took me into the tri cities of Morehouse, Sikeston, and Minor, where Pam found a campground right next to Interstate 55, which goes north to St. Louis and south to Memphis. 
 I have been looking for a Pizza Inn restaurant, which is where I worked back in Wheeling as an eighteen year old, and met many of my life's best friends. I knew they were still in the southern states, and today I found one, so we HAD to go there for supper. I expected to walk right back into the seventies when I walked in, but obviously lots had changed about the way they do business. It was a buffet, with a reduced menu, and no beer, different from my day. I recognized the pizza sauce recipe that taught me to like pizza as a young punk, but it wasn't as good as I remember. I was going to get a pizza to go, but I decided not to. Things from your youth should stay as fantasies that can't be brought back, I guess.

The Black River - the eastern boundary of the Ozarks

They put big tires on things besides farm tractors!

Mike saw several snakes like this one - he was the only one still alive!!  Hey Tirzah!  Any idea what kind of snake??

Tractors were pulling over to let other tractors pass!!

Tractors take up the ENTIRE road when they go by!

Remains of last years cotton crop

Mike remembers Stag beer.  Do you?  Pam doesn't!

Ahhhh!  Flat ground to ride after negotiating the Ozarks!

The corner of E and Z!  Somebody really does live there!!
Mike missed the signs OO ZZ!

Sikeston Methodist Church Pillars from the church that burned down

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