Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sikeston, Missouri to Paducah, Kentucky April 23

Wednesday, April 23.....66.11 miles in 6:05....I rolled out of the campground, right into the teeth of a headwind, right out of the east. Fortunately, it was only about ten mph. As I rode out of town, I was passing many huge, farm equipment dealerships and repair shops. US60/US62 zigged and zagged around the farmers fields and creeks. For as much farming as there is out here, I have seen no big irrigation rigs set up, until today. I saw a few, but I think this region really depends on nature more than nurture for their rain. The road was basically headed in a northeast direction, bouncing from small town to smaller village. It went through a town called Charleston, that had a dogwood and azalea festival last weekend, and I can see why. The streets were lined with pink and white blossomed trees at their peak. Everyone's homes had red azaleas that were going off also. The same was true in every town, as far as the trees being at their peak of color, which made for a really nice ride.
After leaving Charleston, the road turned north, and was elevated above the level of the ground about 30 ft. What little shoulder there was disappeared, and the traffic, especially truck traffic was pretty heavy. As I approached the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, there is only one bridge across them, and the next bridge, on with interstate 57 or 24, I'm not sure which, is way north. Even though US60/62 is a narrow road, trucks must save a lot of time by using it, much to my dismay. I thought the elevated road that I was riding on was a levee, because it had a dry side and a wet side, but I don't think that was the case. I came suddenly upon a left hand turn, and boom, there was the bridge across the Mississippi. I couldn't see the river yet, but the bridge was elevated over a lot of land before the actual river. The bridge over the Mississippi is very old, and very narrow. Rv'ers had recommended to Pam not to drive this stretch, because of the narrowness of the bridge and the elevated road, as well as the truck traffic. As I went across the bridge, there would not have been any room for me if traffic was coming both directions, so I made up my mind that I was taking up my entire lane, and any traffic could just go MY speed. Well, it wasn't even a problem because I got lucky and had zero traffic while I was on the bridge. I even snapped some pictures as I rode across. It was narrow, though. 
While in Missouri, the only hill I climbed was the hill up to the elevated part of the road, because it was still very, very flat. It must flood for miles away from the river when the Mississippi overflows its flood level. The second hill I climbed was the actual bridge itself, then it descended, and remained elevated over land, into a little park in Illinois, which commemorated and noted the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio, and also the fact that Lewis and Clark spent a week in that very spot on their expedition. There was a museum also, but it was closed down. 
Next, 100 yards after the bridge across the Mississippi, there was a 90 degree right, and it was onto the bridge over the Ohio. Much heavier traffic was coming from the north, in Cairo, Illinois, and turning onto that bridge. The second bridge was almost as narrow, and this time, the traffic was heavier. I got across pretty quick, but still held a few people up, ( even though I still got some pictures!). Pam - unfortunately, I did have to drive over the second bridge, but I was directly behind an 18 wheeler and hung on for dear life!!  At one point we did pass another 18 wheeler and we had inches to spare!  It was a white knuckle drive to say the least!  And it didn't get any better as Mike goes on to tell you! As I came off the bridge, I expected the road to widen out, but it made a sharp right, and the road stayed elevated once again. There was no shoulder, and there was rumble strips in the white line on the edge of the road. The road was also crumbling on the edges, and the trucks just kept on coming. It really wasn't a place I should have been on a bike, and once, I almost unclipped because I figured I was going over, and into the muddy, bayou abyss that was off to my right. But I stayed on the road. Welcome to Kentucky. After a mile or to of elevated road, I was entering the town of Wickliffe, KY. Immediately I started to climb into the hills of Kentucky. As flat as it was on the Missouri side of the confluence, it was that hilly on the Kentucky side. There was even a mound there, just like the Moundsville mound in West Virginia, near Wheeling. The shoulders got no better in Kentucky, but the wind that was smacking me on the flatlands was at least getting broken up. The road split, with US 60 going more north, and US 62 going more south, but both roads would meet again in Paducah. I knew I could go either way, but chose 60, because that's what I've been riding on for days and days. After studying ways that Pam can travel in the motor home, 62 looks better than 60 from Paducah on, so plans change, and I will be on 62, and hopefully will see an improvement in conditions. This ride though Kentucky was a real white knuckler, as US 60 just kept rolling along with no shoulder, and now there were dips and turns and blind crests of hills, as opposed to straight flat ground like I've had. 
Eventually, ten miles out of Paducah, 60 widened into a four lane, and things calmed down, or so I thought. I can honestly say that on this nice section of straight, level road, I ran into the first person in 15,000 miles that intentionally tried to do me harm. This cross bred pissant hoopie, pulled up along side of me going my speed, looked right at me, and cut me off as he made a right turn. I slammed on the brakes, got stopped, but what I didn't realize was that he was pulling a trailer with gravel in it. Of course the trailer cut sharper than the truck, and came within inches of taking out my left leg and front wheel of the bike. I have to think that he came closer than even he thought he would, as his trailer ran into the ditch that I was almost in. He looked back at me and I flipped him off and yelled something with a bunch of cuss words in it referring to his heritage. I wanted him to stop and get out of the truck because I was going to bear spray his face and kick him in the balls, but it's probably better that he kept going. Nice welcome to Kentucky. I hate these Appalachian rednecks that have a tooth in the middle of their forehead, that do stupid things, and give the rest of us a bad name. I was pretty pissed. 
Paducah, once I got into it, was a nice town. It was much flatter and bigger than I anticipated. I let my GPS girl take me though the city, to the other end, where Pam had set up at a Walmart. The west end of town was very nice, with all the trees in bloom around the nice homes. Then I came to a big hospital and medical district, and then through the older, worse part of town. The Walmart was right on US60 and 62, which had turned into an interstate type road as Business I-24, and then back to a regular road. From here, I will take US 62, because it parallels I-24 and  I-69 towards Lexington. If I would take US 60 as originally planned, I would more closely follow the Ohio River, but there are no good roads for the RV, and there are low overpasses that Pam read about. We ate at a cafeteria style restaurant across the street, and we saw our first BP station and Krogers in a long, long time, as we strolled around the area.

Big farm machinery dealers were numerous as we left Sikeston

St Charles, MO - beautiful tree lined streets

Mississippi County Courthouse
We just missed the dogwood and azalea festival in St. Charles

Different streets, same trees!

Azaleas were everywhere!

Flatness every where you looked!

Wet side of the levee near the rivers

Dry side of the levee

No shoulder on the narrow, pre-WWII bridge across the Mississippi River

Here we go!

No trucks or cars on this bridge made it nice to bike across!

Mississippi River - Ohio River bridge in the distance

Mississippi was running high and muddy

This is one big river!  Different shade of water in distance is the Ohio

The confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio

Middle of the bridge

Barges at the confluence

The end is now in sight!

Bridge over the Illinois flood plain

The Mississippi bridge is a distant memory!

From the short ride in Illinois - RV camping at the confluence

Mike was on this trail for a very short time

Historical plaques.....

The Ohio River bridge was quite a climb!

3 US highways converge over this bridge, making more traffic!

There was a 1 foot shoulder on this bridge for Mike to ride, and Pam drove the motorhome across this too!!

The Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois

A break in traffic so Mike took a picture!

More barge traffic

Train bridge in the distance

Coming off the bridge into Kentucky

Welcome to our 26th state!!!

Make sure you TRUN at the light!!

Mounds just like in Moundsville, WV

These good old boys were having a battle to be "jailer"!

Kentucky was very green compared to what we've been seeing!

......and let the hills begin!

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