Today we crossed most of Missouri, a distance of 175 miles. For the most part the roads were fairly flat, with a little headwind, but there were three extremely hilly sections that will affect the dreams and knees of the riders tonight.
Randy and I started out with the strategy of riding easy to the first control then turning it up as the day went on. We knew there were some good hilly sections and wanted to be loose when we got there. The hilly sections were definitely a challenge, but the bigger issue of the day, for many riders, was the number of flats and busy traffic. The flats came in bunches for some people. Patrick had six before swapping his wheels out), the tandem had several. I had two. John Newton had four and had to boot his tire. Andrew only had one, but it came after the last rest stop and just before the rain storm.
Many of the flats came from the 17 mile section on the Katy Trail, a hard packed bicycle trail that follows the Missouri River (and the Lewis and Clark trail). This surface that was not kind to our road tires. Other flats were a result of junk on the shoulders of some of the busy roads we were on. Because we are following the RAAM (Race Across America) route, in some places the course takes the most direct route, rather than shift around on back roads. Today was one of those days and road construction added to the road trash and traffic.
Crossing the Missouri River was a tight squeeze, fortunately drivers were generally pretty patient.
The Katy Trail sections were traffic free, but not flat-free.
Riders did not start arriving at the hotel until 6p, an indication of how long the day was. I came in with Patrick, after we got a nice dose of rain 20 miles out, only the second bit of precipitation we have had.
I am feeling pretty tired after today, a sense shared by a number of riders. The last several days have been long in mileage, hills and now warmer weather that have taken a toll. Everyone is still working hard and are focussed on keeping the momentum going. With a few shorter days coming up, and generally flatter terrain, we hopefully can get a bit of a breather.
Maintenance is a regular part of long trips like these. Tandems seem to require more than their share of upkeep. Jim is replacing the wheel and fixing the rim after another hard day on the road.
Len Zawodniak met us at the finish line in St. Louis, ready to ride. He still has very sore ribs but would rather be doing this than sitting at home in New Jersey. I’m sure he will do well.
We picked up Boris,a German bike tourist, just before the lunch stop. Boris is riding basically the same route we are and he was hoping to meet up with us, for a day or two.
This map is updatd daily and displayed outside the support trailer. We are over 1/2 way across the US - 12 days done, 7 to go.
Tomorrow we are starting ½ hour earlier to avoid early morning St. Louis traffic. It is a shorter day, only 145 miles. The weather looks reasonable 60-80 above, with some chance of thunderstorms.