Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9...bicycling from Hebron, Ohio to Wheeling, WV

107.93 miles in 9:22....ascent 4941 ft...descent 5144 ft.average speed 11.5 mph....max speed 36.1 mph....total trip miles 2185....total trip ascent 45,960ft... Average mileage per ride for 25 days riding...87.42....

The anticipation of a long, hot day woke me up at 6:30am, and I was on the bicycle at 8:00. It was very humid from the get go, but the saving grace was early morning clouds, as there had been a tad of overnight rain ( only about five minutes of rain fell on me for the entire trip). US 40 started to roll on me, just as I had expected, and even more than that, there were some flat out hills, even before I got to Zanesville, which was 40 miles into the trip. The road was generally four lane, and on one stretch just before Zanesville, there was a bike lane on each side of the road. Traffic was light, as has been the case most days on 40, and the wooded hills pretty much have overtaken farmers fields as the main scenery. Before I got to Zanesville, the stretch of up and down hills ended with a descent into the Muskingham River valley, and a nice long ride along the valley floor gave my legs a chance to get a break, a second wind, and that was a good thing, because I was only a third of the way into the ride and had already climbed 8-900 ft. 
After riding through Zanesville, and seeing buildings that I had only ever seen from I-70, I had to climb out of the Muskingham Valley, on a terrible piece of road, bumpy, turny, and narrow.  US40 could really use some TLC in Zanesville. The neatest feature in town was a "Y" bridge that carried 40 over the river, and also carried a road over a creek, and they intersected, with the bridge forming a Y. 
Twenty miles or so passed, with again some bad road, some nice road with a bike lane, and then the towns of New Concord, and Cambridge, pretty close to each other through a stretch where the hills were calmer, but I was still racking up some ascent, at least compared to what I've been accustomed to. About five miles after Cambridge, I came to a very small village of Old Washington, but I made a very big decision. The next twenty miles of US40 had long ago been eradicated by the days of strip mining for coal in this area, so there was a alternate bucycle route through Amish country that would have added on unwanted miles, and more so, added on much more climbing. Or, I could follow the signs for US 40, and hop on I-70 and make a run for it, hoping I didn't get stopped by the Ohio Highway Patrol. On another trip, under other circumstances, in a different place, I would have gone for the Amish country, but not today. I hopped on the interstate, and it all started out well. A few miles of gentle downhill got me rolling on a surprisingly clean shoulder, but then I hit a two mile upslope, and I climbed about 600 ft, which is pretty severe for an interstate in the state of Ohio. That slowed me down more than I had hoped. A few more rollers, and when I was just a few miles from my exit it Morristown, I saw road construction signs. I also saw that my shoulder became a lane, and they squeezed my eastbound side over, so the westbound lanes could ride on some eastbound lanes. UH, OH! There was nothing I could do but roll with it, so there I went for about a mile in the traffic lane on I-70. Traffic wasn't terrible, and everyone saw me and got over, and only two trucks even bothered to honk at me, the idiot biking on the interstate. I should have been arrested, or at least caused a traffic mess, but neither happened. After reviewing my life as it flashed in front of me for about five minutes, the construction zone mercifully ended, and there was my exit. Thank god it wasn't a five mile work zone! 
When I got off the interstate, things got really ugly. I was about 80 miles into the ride, I had just pedaled my ass off to get out of the construction zone, and now the serious hills began. I have to say, that the stretch of US40 between Morristown and St. Clairsville is one of the most difficult 15 mile stretches I've ever ridden. The shoulder was crap, the surface of the road was crap, and the 8-10% grades just came one after the other after the other, until I thought each hill would be the last I could do. Even in downtown St Clairsville, nothing near level to be found. I figured it out later, but an absolutely amazing statistic is that I did 12% of my total trip ascent today!!!! One day-12% of the trips total climbing. Amazing. I will recommend right now to any bicyclist traveling US40. AVOID ST. CLAIRSVILLE at all costs. Go thirty miles out of your way on US22 through Cadiz, or choose another way, but..... The east end of St Clairsville lightens up quite a bit, but then there is Blaine Hill. If your westbound, it will be the nastiest hill you on your entire trip. If your eastbound,  like me, I had wind whistling through my hair as I rolled down the very rough hill at 35 mph, with bone jarring bumps that could cause a bike to lose control. Especially, at the bottom of the hill, after the new bridge over the creek, the road is so bad, it will break your bike if your not ready. Fortunately some backed up traffic caused me to slow down before I came off the bridge, because the next stretch of US40 through Blaine, and Lansing is the Worst Road In The Country. I think by now I am qualified to make that statement. Bone jarring bumps every two feet, potholes the size of a kitchen sink, dirt and gravel and car parts that have rattled off the cars litter ant type of shoulder or sidewalk there may be. Pathetic. Dangerous. Inexcusable. Why is the Ohio Valley turning into the armpit of the nation?
Things got a little better as I went through Bridgeport, over Wheeling a Island, and into downtown Wheeling. Somebody forgot to turn out the lights on my once proud home town. Wow. I got on the Wheeling Heritage Trail and stayed in level ground all the way through Goosetown, through the train tunnel, and to Washington Ave, where I departed the path, and headed for the Alpha, one of my favorite establishments. This was decided to be my ending point long ago, because I've pedaled the stretch between there and my home a hundred times, and I don't need to do it again, along with its additional 35 miles and 3000 ft of climbing. 
So there you have it. Another trip successfully and safely completed. Now, to heal up the cuts on my feet where my sandals cut into the skin, and to heal the parts of my butt that took a beating, yet still somehow keep off the weight that I lost, and keep my legs in shape. Because my legs are in 'beast mode" after eight consecutive days of 90 miles or more ridden. Now I've gotta get some rest....bye.

One of the many historical plaques on the National Road

One of the oldest historical markers

Zanesville railroad bridge crossing the Miami River

Famous "y" bridge over the Miami

Stately Zanesville courthouse

One of the few remaining concrete mile markers on the National Road

US 40 disappears due to strip mining near Cambridge

St Clairsville - getting close to home

Woo hoo!  West Virginia!

Madonna of the Trail in Wheeling, WV



End of the trip at Ye Olde Alpha!!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8...Beavercreek Ohio to Hebron, Ohio on US 40

97.61 miles in7:39...average speed 12.8 mph...max speed 27.9 mph, ascent 1388 ft...descent 1483 ft...total trip miles 2077.48 miles....total trip ascent 41,019 ft. Average daily ride ...86.56 miles (24 rides)

Brett had to leave for work at about 8:30, so that's when I tried to get out of there, but first, biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and then we exchanged photos and e mail addresses in case Brett ever comes through our area. The day started out at about 70 degrees at nine am, and only got warmer. The wind was inconsequential, or maybe I had a SSW tailwind for most of the day. I started off downhill, to the Creekside Trail and the Little Miami Trail in Xenia, Ohio, then north on a rails to trails for about twenty miles to Springfield, Ohio, to see the Ohio Madonna of the Trail. Ive got to say at this point, that I am very impressed with the trail system in the Dayton area. I hope they know how nice they have it. All the trails I was on were nicely paved, and had great stopping points scattered about.  It was 27 miles to Springfield, almost all on trails. A very nice ride paralleled US 68, and we were climbing out of the Little Miami Valley on an incline so slight I barely noticed, instead of rolling like the road did. 
Once I got into Sprinfield, I asked a few locals where the Madonna statue was, and it took four different people, including a cop, before I found someone who knew what I was talking about. I stopped a snapped my picture, and chatted with a guy who had questions about riding cross country, then I was on my way. Springfield was a little bigger than I expected, and after climbing out of town, US 40 became a four lane, all the way to Columbus. The shoulder was pretty nice, but I seldom used it because there was no traffic. I could see I-70 off in the distance, which is where all the traffic was. US 40 was actually labeled as 'alternate I-70', that's how nice the road was. There were some small towns on the 40 miles from Springfield to Columbus and I stopped to fill up with ice water a couple of times. There were some historical taverns and barns along the way, with each town having a couple of '√Ďational Road' historical signs or plaques. Mostly, however, there was very mildly rolling or flat corn fields. I stopped in West Jefferson at a Subway for lunch, and also ran into an oriental guy walking from Santa Monica, California, to New York, carrying a crucifix. I stopped and chatted with him, until people started stopping in the middle of the road to talk and take pictures, so I moved on.
I spotted the Columbus skyline from about eight miles away, business gradually picked up, and the road started to get really crappy. The next twenty miles through town was a traffic nightmare. Bad roads, even though random areas had a bike lane, dirty roads and sidewalks, lots of people turning off and on in front of me, red lights, etc.  The downtown area is very spread out, with all the tall buildings pretty far away from each other. I pretty much went right through the middle of the town, even though I didn't see the capital buildings, nor Ohio State, which is north of town. US 40 was named Broad Street all the way through town. West of the downtown seemed to be older and rundown, and the east end of town seemed to be the old money. I passed Capital University, many museums, and then got into the swanky suburb of Bexley. Whitehall and Reynoldsburg followed with jammed packed Friday afternoon four o'clock traffic, and some construction zones to top it off. About ten miles from downtown, traffic calmed down again, cornfields gradually reappeared and the road improved greatly. I stopped and bought a fifty cent lemonade for Jesus off some kids on the side of the road, and then cruised to near the town of Hebron, where I had to go south about a mile, to I 70, to find a Red Roof Inn. There was a Country Buffet at a Truckstops of America across the street, so I plopped down $13 and ate $26 worth of food. Money well spent. There was a sign on the interstate that said 'Wheeling 99'. That is my goal for tomorrow, even though I think it may be another 100 mile day on US40.

My host, Brett and his recumbant bike

Madonna of the Trail in Springfield , Ohio

This guy is walking across the US while carrying a cross

Coming into Columbus, Ohio on US 40

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 7...Greenfield, Indiana to Beaver Creek, Ohio

101.11 miles in 8:35....average speed 11.8....max speed 21.2.....ascent 1818 ft....descent 1726 ft.... Total trip mileage 1979.87....total trip ascent...39,631 ft... Average trip distance...82.5 miles a day

By the time I got out the door at about 8:30 am, I hadn't heard back from Brett, my potential host for the night, so I didn't know if I was riding 102 miles to his house in Beavercreek, or if I was going 115 to Springfield. It didn't matter, because I would start out the same way, with either destination. I was staying on US 40 to Richmond, Indiana, which was about 48 miles away, and by then hopefully I would know. Those first 48 miles were very rolling, with the long, gradual climbs that I am not so fond of. The road was just not good anywhere. Shoulder width varied, sometimes there was two lane road, sometimes four, traffic was very quiet, but generally the pavement has seen its better days. There has not been any recent paving done on US40 in any of the three states I've ridden through. There are many small towns along the way, each with some historical building, or museum, or something associated with national road. Abe Lincoln is also a part of the history in this area, so there is many attractions related to Honest Abe.
Richmond is a larger town than I expected, and it took me some time to get through it, because I stopped for lunch, and for pictures at the Indiana Madonna of the Trail, and also at the Ohio state line, which is right on the east end of town. Whereas the terrain had been rolling in Indiana, with lots of wooded areas, things leveled out some in Ohio, the trees became less numerous, and corn fields prevailed. Just before I got into Richmond, Brett made contact with me, so I would be heading to Beavercreek to spend the night at his home, and it will only cost me a few extra miles. Basically I will be going south of Dayton, whereas I would have stayed north of Dayton on US40. The road in Ohio was consistently a two lane road, but the shoulder was a little wider, and the pavement smoother. The wind had been out of the south all day, so it was pretty much a neutral wind. That explains why my century time was slower than other days. I rode into Ohio about 15 miles before I picked up the Wolf Creek Trail, a beautifully paved trail that headed in a southeasterly direction, and took me towards Brett's house. There was a mishmash of roads and trail that took me right into the big city. Near downtown Dayton, I picked up the Miami River trail, which I was familiar with because I ran a half marathon on it in 1978. I placed 74th out of thousands of runners (Frank a Shorter placed 37th). It was in the heyday of my running career. Anyhow, there was a detour on the trail, and GPS girl totally loses it when there is a detour. It took a while, but we got that straightened out, I got across the river to the proper trail ( because there is a trail on each side of the river), and headed out the Mad River Trail ( there are five rivers that meet in Dayton), then to the Creekside Trail, then to the Iron Horse Trail, then through a residential area to Brett's house. As I traveled all these trails I went through many areas that I recognized because of my days as a coach. Many Dayton teams would come to the Bellaire Relays and the Wheeling Park Invitational back in those days.
Brett was cutting the grass at his very nice property when I got there. He finished up while I cleaned up, and we had a few beers, a nice dinner, and good conversation until about ten o'clock. He is a former catholic high school principal, his wife, who was in Washington DC on business, is still a nationally competitive age group swimmer, and they have four children from college age to recently graduated from college. I'm glad things worked out the way they did, because it was a nice evening. Brett has plans to ride The National Road from Cumberland to St. Louis, and also to wind sail on his recumbent trike from Canada to Mexico. It will be interesting to keep in touch and see how that goes!


Madonna of the Trail in Richmond, Indiana

This sign was leaving Indiana, not entering!




My bed at my host's house

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 6....Terre Haute, Indiana to Greenfield, Indiana.

89.64 miles in 7:00...ascent 2185 ft.....descent 1552 ft....12.8 average speed.....max speed 27.6 mph total trip miles...1878.76.....23 riding days averaging 81.68 miles per day....trip ascent...37,813 ft.

I was blessed with a flat tire when I woke up at about 8am. I'm not saying that sarcastically. It is so much better to have a heads up about a flat tire, and being able to change it in the comfort of your motel room, rather than out "there" somewhere. I bought a new Kevlar lined tire and a thorn resistant tube when I was in Witchita, with this day in mind. My front tire was showing signs of wear when I got a flat (in a motel room) a week or so ago. It made it over the whole Katy Trail and through Illinois before it went flat again. It had a regular, cheapo tube in it, so it wasn't unexpected. Now I have two pretty new tires with good tubes to get me home. NO MORE FLATS PLEASE, even though I've been blessed with being able to change them both in a motel room.
That got me out the door at about 9:30, but that's still 8:30 according to my body, since I just changed time zones yesterday. US 40 was a divided four lane road almost all the way from Terre Haute to Indianapolis. That does not mean that it was nice road, however. The very small shoulder, and usually the area where a passenger side tire would drive, was pretty chewed up. Good news is that there were two lanes each way, so I just took an entire lane to my self most of the way. Drivers are VERY careful in this area, and they all got as far away from me as possible. There were some trucks, but nothing terrible, even though car traffic was frequent sometimes. I hooked up with a bicyclist named Brent, about my age, who was riding a recumbent bike, checking out different parts of US 40, in hopes of riding from St. Louis to Cumberland, MD someday. We rode together and chatted for ten miles or so, including a five mile stretch of road called IL 340, but in reality it was the original National Road, into a town called Brazil. At that point Brent ended his ride, but not before telling me he was a "warmshowers" host, and he lived near Dayton. So it's a possibility that I may stay with him if it works, maybe tomorrow night. 
US 40 was pretty rolling, sometimes with those long, Kansas type rolls that really make me gear way down, and grovel my way up the hill. Right about the time those rollers were starting to get old, I crested a hill and saw the skyline of Indianapolis. That was about the 50 mile mark, and those buildings were 22 miles away! The rollers almost immediately backed way off, as a started to descend into the White River valley. As the metro area began to show itself, and into the western suburb of Plainfield , the roads switched back and forth from beat up and shoulderless, to nicer and smoother, with no rhyme or reason. The skyline got closer and closer, even though it was always visible, until I rounded a bend and saw Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play, and Victory Park, a minor league baseball park. A game was going on at the baseball park, the Indy Indians, a AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, were playing, Rochester, in front of a sparse crowd. But, it was a beautiful day for baseball, and for bike riding. It was a hot day, in the mid eighties, with a nice easy, breeze, a tailwind. I took a while to work my way through town, with red lights, traffic and all, but not as long as I expected. The road was really nice coming out of the east side of Indy, with great, wide, smooth shoulder, even though it was also a right turn lane, into an endless line of malls and strip malls. The east side is definitely newer, and maybe trendier,  than the west side of Indy. So when I arrived in Cumberland, an eastern suburb where I had googled a motel, I decided that I would like to keep on going. I saw a bike shop, Indy Cycle Specialists, and stopped in to get some advise. The girl working there, Doreen, ( in an Arizona cycling shirt because she lived in Phoenix for a while)  was very helpful, and looked up several motel options further out the road for me. I made it about 15 more miles before seeing a motel that was too much to pass up. I had planned to go farther, but I thought about the heat, I decided to be safe rather than sorry. Stopping may have been a mistake if the winds change tomorrow, but we will see. Supper was at a Hardee's, and my legs still felt pretty good, so I went to bed second guessing my decision to stop at 90 miles.

Heading into Indianapolis on US 40

Getting closer to Indy

Home of the Indianapolis Colts

I was on a fairly major road, but had little traffic!

Home of the Indianapolis Indians - AAA baseball team


Downtown Indianapolis

My bike shop stop in Indy



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5.....Bicycling from Vandalia, Illinois to Terre Haute, Indiana

103.16 miles in 7:27....average speed 13.8 mph....max speed 28.4 mph.....ascent 1585ft....descent 1598 ft ( 100 miles in 7:08:31 (14.0 mph)....total trip miles 1789.12.... Total trip ascent 35,628... Average mileage per ride....81.34 miles (22days riding)

The first thing I wanted to do before I left Vandalia, was to go into town, and see the Madonna of the Trail monument that is there, just like the ones in Wheeling and Bentleyville. At one point the National Road ran from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling, WV. At some point, the road was extended west, and the new western terminus was Vandalia. That's why I had heard of this town. I know stuff about places that I can't place, but I'm sure I learned this fact in sixth grade, in West Virginia history class. 

When I opened the motel room door, I was blasted by the morning heat and humidity. It warmed up pretty good, but the breeze kept me pretty cool, so it really didn't bother me. I probably drank more than I ever have on a ride, but that is the new me, so combined with my new nutrient regiment, there will be no cramping. Speaking of the breeze, as I usually do, today it was my friend. That may change tomorrow, but I had a pretty sweet tailwind today. How else could I average 14 mph for 100 miles, when I've been averaging between 9 and 12 mph for the most part of this trip. My time for the century, if not my best ever, is close. And it wasn't totally flat either. I climbed about 1600ft, the most in quite a while. US 40 wasn't always the perfect surface, but it wasn't bad. There usually was not a shoulder, but traffic wasn't terrible most of the time. There were a surprising amount of trucks, considering that I was paralleling I-70 for the whole trip.  I took  a couple of detours, one forced by road construction. I was detoured onto I-70 for ten miles. I'm not sure if that was the only way around the work, but I didn't hang around to ask questions about taking gravel roads like I did in Kansas. I jumped onto the highway, and the wind, plus the slipstream from a steady parade of trucks sucked me along at about 20 mph for those ten miles. My other detours were spontaneous turns off of US40 onto old sections of the original National Road. There are quite a few places were a more modern version of 40 bypasses some towns and villages where the National Road went. So, US 40 and the National Road aren't always the same. The roads were both well marked and signed all the way from Vandalia, where I picked it up. Many of the communities had museums and plaques, but I saw no advertisement for a National Pike Festival, like they do in our area. There were many towns along the way, the largest being Effingham, about 35 miles into the ride. I can tell that I'm not in the Great Plains, or the high desert any more, with those  desolate stretches. Now all I need is some nice shoulders, like those western states have. Missouri, and Illinois really don't do shoulders very well.
I did not see a marker telling me when I went from Illinois into Indiana, but the time of day changed on my Garmin, somewhere around the Wabash River, which is near Terre Haute. It was nice to go from riding into five o'clock traffic in that town, to hitting the tail end of it, in the blink of an eye, when the time changed. Once into town, I rode right past Indiana State University, the school of Larry Bird, the famous basketball player. Micycle Bicycle wanted to have his picture taken with his statue, so we did that, and I found a Travel Lodge right in town, and ate at a Wendy's.

Madonna of the Trail along US 40 in Vandalia



Scenery along US 40

Covered bridge on US 40

Effingham, Illinois

Terra Haute, Indiana - Indian State University

The home of Larry Bird


Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4...bicycling from North St. Louis to Vandalia, Illinois

90.16 miles in 7:22...ascent 1562 ft.....descent 1578 ft.....average speed 12.2 mph....max speed 26.8 mph....total trip miles 1686.26 miles....trip ascent 34,043 ft.... Average ride distance 76.65 miles per ride.
I got a later start, because morning traffic in a busy area usually slows down after 9:00am, when most people have gotten to work. It worked for me this morning, after a 9:30 start, I was on some 4-6 lane roads, and they weren't very busy at all. The hills really roll in North St. Louis, and I was a little concerned how my legs would be after back to back centuries. I wasn't very explosive, but the legs did well. There were mostly short grades, where I could stand up, and that makes life easier. I would rather get out of that saddle to climb a hill. I listened to the GPS directions, so I really don't know where I was at. I went through the campus of the University of Missouri at St. Louis.  I went through some troubled areas, getting pretty close to Ferguson, Missouri, where there has been lots of racial tension over the last year or so that has been in the national news. North St. Louis was pretty run down also.I was a little surprised when I went around a bend on Natural Bridge Road, on which I rode for quite a while, and there was the Arch, that is the famous landmark in St. Louis. And then I could see the entire city's skyline as I rode through an industrial area towards the Mississippi River. There are only so many ways a bicyclist can get across the Mississippi, and I went across the McKinley Bridge. It had a brand new bikeway going up onto the bridge from the industrial area, and I had a little trouble finding it, so I went a mile or two out of my way on the riverfront bike trail, but I asked a bicycle cop how I screwed up, and he got me back on track. He wasn't really one of the more fit bike cops, but he was a nice guy.
Once I got across the river, into Illinois, which took about the first twenty miles of the trip, I got on a bicycle trail that was as extensive as any I've seen anywhere. The Madison County Transit Trails travel over 125 miles all throughout Madison County. I got on the trail in Venice, and I was on the trail for 32 miles, 20 paved, as most of the 125 miles is, and the last 12 were hardback limestone, just like the Katy Trail. Scenery was pretty much corn fields, but there were some wooded sections. The southwest winds really helped me all day, even though I really didn't feel them in the city. When I got out onto the open road in the little village of Alhambra, the winds really blew me along, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was on IL140 from Alhambra to Greenville, about twenty miles. No shoulder, some trucks, but not terrible traffic. It started to roll right before Greenville, but the whole trip was pretty flat except for St. Louis. The wind got me to Greenville so fast, I decided to extend my planned route, and go another twenty miles to Vandalia. Even though I could have picked up US40 in Greenville and paralleled I-70 to Vandalia, I decided to listen to GPS girl and traveled  on IL140, and then some more back country roads with more corn fields, into my final destination. I found a motel right on US40, near I-70, and I will follow 40 all the way home, unless plans change. I bought some Salisbury steak frozen dinners at an Aldi grocery store for supper, and tried to figure out tomorrow's ride. I am supposed to have a tailwind, so another century is not out of the question.

Pike house at the U of Missouri @ St Louis.  I was a Pike at WVU

Sign near Ferguson, Missouri

All of the sudden I saw the ARCH! - used zoom since I didn't get nearly this close.

Bike trail along the Missouri

My bridge across the Mississippi River.  McKinley Bridge

Crossing the Mississippi, looking back at St Louis

Illinois state line (In the middle of the river)

Welcome to Illinois!

Blue Heron near the river


Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 3...Tebbetts, MO to Bridgeton (St Louis) MO

100.0 miles in 8:57....average speed....11.2 mph....max speed...20.1....elevation gain...479 ft....descent 515 ft... Total trip miles 1596.1....total elevation gain 32,481 ft. Average trip distance....21 riding days @ 76.0 miles.

I slept pretty good after staying up sorta late, but got out the door at about 9:15am. It seemed like a tailwind was blowing, but it switched around for the first four hours to my face, then to the side, then a tail, etc.  Sometimes I was out in the open getting the benefits or the drawback, but more than half the time, I was in a tunnel of trees, so the wind, even though I could hear it, wasn't getting to me. It finally settled into a nice tailwind for the second half of the trip.  The weather started out in the 60's, and got into the eighties, so I had some time with my shirt off, which I like. The trail, for the last two days is just so dusty, my skin was filled with grit, my bike was covered, and my clothes were a mess. That will be one benefit when I get back on the road.
The first half of the ride was really quiet. There was a stretch where it was supposedly the longest stretch between stops or towns on the whole trail. I actually saw more turtles on the path than I did people. I did have to pull my bear spray for two big geese, who were protecting their babies walking on the trail. They were going to take a stand, and I've seen a mother goose go crazy and attack before, so I decided that I wasn't going to get bit by a goose. They put on a good show, but hightailed it when I got close. The babies all scampered off the edge of the path, the parents then flew off, so I holstered the spray, and continued on my way. I saw three snakes, salamanders, and lots of cardinals, before I started to notice the lack of wildlife. That's when I knew people were near by. Things picked up near Marthasville, which was over 50 miles into the ride. For about ten miles before I hit Marthasville, there was a stretch of terrible surface on the trail, washboard bouncing, and barely repaied washed out areas that really slowed me down. Twice, I had to get off and walk, because I didn't want to break a spoke. There were lots of people from there, all the way into St Charles, where I got off the trail. The river came and went from sight, just like yesterday. There were lots of creeks and swampland when there wasn't cornfields. There were lots of freshly planted field, which probably made up over fifty percent of what I was looking at on my right. To my left, was always a variation of hills and the famous bluffs. There were great trail side cafes along the way, especially in Augusta, with lots of bikers pulled over and partaking. The biggest party I saw was in Defiance, where it looked like about a thousand motorcycles, bicyclers, ( not many cars), and a live band rocking out 'Cryptonite' so I stopped and listened for just a minute.
 I saw maybe ten guys who were headed in the opposite direction, some solo, some in groups of three, who looked like they were on a long distance tour. Everyone else was just out enjoying the weather, and their destinations seemed to be those trail side bar and restaurants. As I got near town, I googled a Motel 6, and it turned into an adventure in itself to find the place. I ended up crossing the Missouri River, following a multi use trail along a lake that was really busy, then riding on some pretty main roads that fortunately were empty on a Sunday evening. I then went through an industrial park that included the training facility for the St. Louis Rams, and finally came upon the motel. I have to admit, I rode around the parking lot once or twice to get the odometer to hit 100 miles so I could have back to back century rides. Never done that before, and my legs feel pretty good. The secret this trip over last, is better hydration, and vitamin and mineral supplements that I bought in Phoenix, and I now have to swear by. I ate an omelet at a Bob Evans for supper before settling in, and getting ready to really change gears for tomorrow. From three days of country roads, trails, and desolation, to St. Louis metro traffic. Here we go!

On this section, I saw more turtles that people!

Standing rock

About the standing rock

Some of the many streams coming out of the hills

Artwork on a silo, honoring the ownership group of the trail

Heading towards the river - things got rough in spots because of runoff

Fertile farmland in the river basin

More bluffs (notice the arch near the trail)

Defiance, Missouri afternoon concert near the trail

The trail went around a recreational lake as I searched for my motel in the St Louis suburb of Bridgeton.

Training home of the St Louis Rams