Depart: St. Joseph, MO
Arrive: Des Moines, IA
Dates: June11th- June 15th
Distance Biked: 225 miles
Leaving St. Jo on Saturday morning, I had a new energy from the days of rest. The nice cool air also helped, but I knew the ride between here and Des Moines would be the most hilly that I had ridden so far. Another bonus for the morning, is the privilege to ride out with a group! I had made contact with the St. Jo Bicycle Club and they had a group ride that started at about the same time I was leaving, so we decided to meet up and ride out together! It was a welcomed experience because ever since I had started I’d been biking alone, and this gave me a chance to talk to other people while riding! These small luxuries in life are taken for granted until you decide to bike solo around the eastern U.S… After about 30 minutes we came up to our first hill, and THIS is where I lost em.
Having not been a big cyclist prior to this 4400 mile ride, I had no idea how much the weight of the front and rear panniers slowed me down. Riding with these guys made it very clear that the weight DEFINITELY slows me down(or maybe I’m just very slow). By the time I got to the top of the hill, the group was a good 1/4 mile ahead of me. Regardless of our short cycling time together, I appreciated the company for the few miles, and it gave me the support and encouragement I needed to get through the hills ahead.
It was a 64 mile ride from St. Jo to Albany, Missouri where I stayed at a local hotel thanks to the Albany Methodist Church. The bed and amazing rural location was great in North West Missouri, but the stay was short. I arrived at about 6pm and was out the next morning at 6am. I think I’m going to jinx myself by writing this, but I have been extremely lucky as far as weather goes. There have been numerous threats of thunderstorms producing hail, lightning, and tornados, but so far, I have barely had it sprinkle on me. This morning yet again brought word of scattered storms forecasted through out the day, so I headed out early, hoping to get to Afton, IA before the storms had a chance to hit me.
I applied layer after layer of sunscreen waiting for some cloud cover to show any sign of potential rain… Only once for about 30 minutes did I get some relief from the sun, and only about 15 seconds of that cloud cover produced a light drizzle. Luckily for me, the bright sun wasn’t bringing any of that Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas heat with it that I had grown accustom to over these last few weeks. About 8 hours and a quick 75 miles later, I had arrived to a gorgeous lake in Afton, IA called Three Mile Lake. Not only was the park beautiful with its bright green colors, and large flat lake, but the park employees were kind enough to upgrade me from camp site to CABIN! I got another comfy bed with luxurious A/C! I made friends with some Nebraska Cornhuskers in the cabin beside me, and after a couple hours of conversation, they headed to the lake for some catfish, and I headed to BED! Another amazing accomplishment of the night: DALLAS MAVERICKS BECOME NBA CHAMPIONS! I was slightly bitter for missing the game, but am proud of the ol’ Mavericks for beating the Heat!
NEXT DAY! I keep goin north to Des Moines on a long, looooooong 80 miles which took me about 13 hours… Hills, Heat, Humidity, and a BIG STORM slowed me down quite a bit on this last stretch to Iowa’s capital. AGAIN, I lucked out and was next to a beautiful “site seeing opportunity” when the storm blew in. It was called, “Godfathers Pizza” and was made up of mounds of pizza next to valleys of lettuce and salads. The aroma of pizza filled my nose as the taste of their buffet filled my tummy. It was a welcome treat because I hadn’t eaten today, and the storm was a BIG ONE bringing lightning and lots of rain and wind! After waiting out the storm for 1 1/2 hours I was back on the road. Rolling hill after rolling hill, I was closing into my destination with only about 10 miles remaining when I decided to disregard construction signs. I quickly realized my mistake when I ended up accidentally going through some mud. Little problem turned big when the mud began to cake between my rear wheel and fender. It froze up the wheel making it necessary to take it off and scrape all the mud off. Impatient from the long day, one mistake lead to another, which involved my wheel nearly coming off while I was riding! After a quick repair, I continued on and finally arrived at the friend of a friend’s place, where I would be staying for the next couple nights.
I actually was staying about 10 miles north of Des Moines in a town called Ankeny. I stayed there for 3 nights, mostly working on thank you letters, my route, places to stay, and the Biolume Glo run happening in Denton, TX on July 9th, 2011. Often times the days “off” are becoming more overwhelming than the days in which I am riding. As I become more in shape, the riding is starting to be a better day off than the days in the cities. Soon I will have everything down to a science, and my time off the bike will become more enjoyable and less “work-like”.
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