Friday, September 30, 2016

I cycled in three states today! 

I left Cairo, IL a bit after 9, was in Kentucky by 9:30 (all 60 miles of it) and Tennessee by 1:45.  I figure it will be a trip to the East Coast to find a way to cycle in 4 states in one day. I know you can do it at 4 corners but that seems like cheating.

The day boded well.  Temperature in the high 60's, sky partly overcast and wind out of the northwest. Also, I don't know what kind of omen this is, but I had never before seen a walking stick insect.  This one was on the wall of our hotel near our car.

Here is your geography lesson for today.  For the first time on this trip, the major river I crossed by bridge was not over the Mississippi--it was over the Ohio river.  I could have crossed a bridge over the Mississippi but that would have taken me back into Missouri.

The bridges are both shown on the picture below. It is not easy to see but the bridge on the left is the one to Missouri and the one on the right goes into Kentucky.

It was a nasty bridge crossing to get into Kentucky, but once there, I got my first view of the river since yesterday morning.

After that, I was inland for all the rest of Kentucky.  Mostly I saw farmland (with the ubiquitous soybean that has been in every state so far)

or rolling hills

and occasionally a forested road
I also rode many miles on the Trail of Tears.
As I neared Tennessee, I was heartened by the realization that these road are used by groups putting on organized rides.  I knew because I began seeing Dan Henry road markings.  Those who have participated in rides using these will recognize this

I saw them in various colors indicating either different rides or different length rides for the same event.  These persisted into Tennessee.
As long as I am on the topic of things on the road, can someone please tell me why bugs, especially caterpillars cross roads.  What would possess a creature that is less than 2" long to leave behind a forest of food and begin a journey 120 times the length of it's body across often hot asphalt?
I was glad to leave Kentucky.  Not because of anything bad - it is just that the only route available near the river required me to cycle about 18 miles traveling either west or northwest.  Since the prevailing wind continued to be mostly northwest, the helping wind I had most of the morning became a mostly hindrance for 18 of the last 20 miles before crossing the state line.
My first view of Tennessee
The most noticeable thing about Tennessee was that it appeared to be yard sale day.  As soon as I turned south on Hwy 22, I started seeing yard sales every few miles. 
I left the highway for a brief one mile out and back looking for a viewing station of the Upper Blue Basin of Reelfoot Lake.  I never found the viewing station but I did see some marvelous views of the slough that is part of the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.  Read more about this at

For the first time, Cathy and I arrived at the end of the ride at nearly the exact same time.  Because there was no lodging available in Samburg, we are staying nearly 20 miles away in Union City.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today ended up being about the destination instead of the journey.  A recurring difficulty on this trip has been finding lodging on or near the bike route. This gets even tougher on weekends.  This morning, it took us nearly 90 minutes to find a hotel for Friday night and it ended up being about 20 miles from where I will stop the ride that day.  Consequently, though I wanted to be on the road by 9:30 for the 90 mile ride, it was closer to 11.  As a result, when I had two opportunities to take side roads that would have taken me by the river, I chose to remain on the highway to make better time. Two bits of good news about that:

I had a really nice tailwind that helped me make great time.

Though I stayed on the highway, I was able to find a couple of interesting things I would not have seen if I had taken the side roads.

This was a little memorial someone created at a wide place next to the highway.

A couple more shots of the same area

And then there was this.  I title it "Darn!"

I finally left the highway for the "Trail of Tears" State Forest.  There were significant Civilian Conservation Corps activities here in the 1930's.  You can learn more about it at

This was also where Cathy and I met for a picnic lunch. 

Sometimes timing is everything.  While we were eating completely undercover, it started to rain. Because she was here with the car I was able to add clothing because it looked like it was going to last a while.  I put on a different vest with sleeves and my knickers since it was also fairly cool.  I then finished my lunch.  By this time, not only had the rain stopped, the sun came out for the first time all day.  I took off the extra clothing and headed back out on the road. 
This is the Trail of Tears road as I left our lunch spot.
I was again grateful for the tailwind.  While my primary focus was getting to our hotel as quickly as possible, I could not help appreciating that it was really a nice day for cycling in Southern Illinois. 

We say goodbye to Illinois tomorrow.  Two states coming up--through Kentucky and into Tennesee.
Today's Data:
For Wednesday, 9/29

Finally back on the road.  Squeak is gone from the bike, new gloves work super, even the wind is in my favor today.  The first dozen or more miles were not particularly interesting and I was glad for the tailwind.  It was all highway with varying amounts of shoulder and no view of the river.  I was over an hour into the ride before I was routed onto a more rural highway.  This will give you an idea of the kind of view I had for much of the day.

This is one of the nicest tiny roadside parks I have seen.  It also had great views.


After about 30 miles, I left the highway on Sugar Bottom Road.  My nickname for this road now is "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". 

The Good:  Quiet, nearly no traffic and view of some nice homes with giant yards
The Bad: No views of the river and some occasional steep hills.
The Ugly:  After a climb of about a mile and a half, my Garmin GPS showed me an elevation profile of a moderately steep descent of over two miles.  I was all geared up for some fun but when I crested the hill the pavement stopped and I had to deal with the descent on hard earth and gravel.  Instead of some fun I had to pick my way through a terrible road.  When the pavement finally returned, it was just in time for a short steep hill with grades of 15% to 20%.  Thank goodness it was paved there because I doubt I would have been able to make that climb on gravel.
Sugar Bottom eventually took me to the town of Ste. Genevieve, the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi. The Bolduc House, built in 1785 is regarded as one of the most authentically restored Creole houses in the nation.

From here I mostly had a tailwind cycling to our destination for the night.  We said goodbye to Missouri for the last time when I crossed the bridge into Chester, IL, "The home of Popeye".
Elzie Segar, Popey's creator was born and raised here.  The town has an annual Popeye festival and you can walk a "Popeye Trail" and see statues of many of the Popeye characters who Segar supposedly modeled after people he knew here.
The best surprise came at the end of the day when we found that our friends Miles and Leslie had not only decided to end their day in Chester but were in the same hotel in the room across the hall.  We shared dinner and a beer together before calling it a night.  This may be the last we see of them because they are adding the Nachez Trace to their itinerary which will add three or four days cycling before returning to the MRT.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Talk about a day not going as expected--my short ride turned into a miniscule one that barely moved my start point for tomorrow.

But first the good times:

We found a great bike shop not far from our hotel where Chuck relieved the annoying and persistent squeak I have had for the last week.  He also had a replacement for my lost phone mount and, best of all, Cathy found some new shoes that fit her perfectly and worked with her existing cleats and pedals.

After spending more time than planned with essential errands, I got on the road in the afternoon for what was supposed to be about 40 miles.  The beginning of the ride took me to the Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial, MO.  Their website is

In addition to an excellent selection of artifacts, they provide easily understood information about the importance of this site to the understanding of prehistoric people of the area.  What is also quite interesting is the story of the first discovery of the bones and how they were completely misunderstood while being exhibited as the skeleton of a new and unusual creature.  I took just a few pictures.  The giant sloth and mastodon skeleton are reproductions--the tooth is an actual fragment of a mastodon.

After Cathy and I spent an enjoyable 3/4 of an hour here, I got back on the road.  Scarcely six miles into the ride I had a flat tire.  I stopped to replace the tube and as I was remounting the wheel, the tire blew.  I thought I had thoroughly inspected the tire to find why the tube had blown but I obviously missed something.  Fortunately, Cathy had not gone that far off the road.  I called her and she came back and picked me up.  We took the bike back to Olde Towne Fenton Cyclery where they replaced my tire and made a couple of adjustments to some work they had done previously.
By this time, it was late enough in the day to make trying to get in any miles unrealistic.
Tomorrow I leave Missouri for good.  We will cross over to Illinois again and in two days, we will reach Kentucky.

Monday, September 26, 2016

No riding yesterday.  We spent the day at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  What a beautiful site.  I took about a hundred pictures.  When we finally retuned to the hotel, it was time to watch the debate. 

I'll post pictures from the Gardens later today. 

We spent this morning taking care of some mechanical issues on my bike.  I'm about to go for a short ride to tomorrow's start point.  I'll update on that as well this evening.

Here is one teaser picture from the gardens.

We started outside with the most amazing lily ponds I've ever seen.  I want Carmen, my coworker at the nursery to find some of these for our customers :)

The geodesic dome you see in the background above is the Climatron.  Here they exhibit plants from the world's rainforests with a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

 The Sycamore Fig
How big is your Peace Lily?
Those who know me will not be surprised that my favorite part was the Japanese Garden.  This is also the largest area and has something for everyone.
Conifers, art, water features, Japanese maples, Koi (that you can feed) and a tremendous sense of tranquility:

They are really aggressive about being fed.
There is an area designed to attract butterflies

And even a succulent area

From there, we went to the waterfront for the obligatory view of the Gateway Arch