Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Week 7 Statistics

Springfield, Missouri to Golconda, Illinois

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412 miles
35 hours on the bike Ozark Mountains

Day 43 - Sunday July 27 - Springfield to Marshfield, MO

Started a couple of hours later this morning as we only had a short distance to cover, due to our long ride yesterday. The morning was cooler and it almost seemed greener after last night's rain. For almost the first 10 miles we worked ourselves out of Springfield then headed north. We had to bike a highway for another ten to reach our course and the country roads. Fortunately, they were widening the highway, so we road the new, yet closed highway, to Fair Grove.
Back into the country

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and towns of yesteryear.
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There was a beautiful park in Fair Grove with a old flour mill
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established in 1883 and actually operated as a flour mill until 1969.
We've decided there is nothing flat in Missouri
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except for maybe the Armadillos, and there are plenty of those on the road. But the up and down country roads lead us through some beautiful country that doesn't look like it's changed for 50 years,
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except for maybe the peacocks.
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We reached Marshfield by lunchtime and will rest for the hills tomorrow.

Day 44 - Monday July 28 - Marshfield to Houston, MO

The morning was cool (64) and sky was threatening (not to mention the 20 mph winds), Kansas style threatening.

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But after a little procrastinating and putting air in the tires, the sky lifted enough to get going.
Once again we were treated to just plain pruddy country. Miles of tough rolling hills (some at 12% grades),
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beautiful flowers,
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and fields of wild purple (properly known as chicory-sometimes used in coffee).
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One more shot as the periwinkle color is just so pretty.
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As we left from our breakfast stop in Hartville
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the winds picked up again and the clouds seemed to be building for a big storm.
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Luckily they were heading west, so we biked away from them.
Seven hours of bike seat time, 65 miles

Ode to the Armadillo
by Mr. Grizzly

Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
You don't even know how to cross the road.

Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
In your former life you were probably a toad.

Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
Armadillo, Armadillo you are no Manilla thriller,
Once you've been flattened you smell like the Mother Load.

Day 45 - Tuesday July 29 - Houston to Ellington, MO

As we walked out of the door this morning at 6:30, we were hit by the thickness of humidity. Though the haze on the fields was beautiful,

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it foretold of a very hot and humid day. The water was dripping down our faces within the first hour; we couldn't pour it in any faster than it was pouring out.
We continued our bike past incredibly green pastures
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and another moonlighter in our group.
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Coop you can't disguise it's yours, there's even a Statue of Liberty from your home state in the yard.
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Hello to the honeymooners, Nick & Kristen, we met
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on their way to California for grad school.
Our rollercoaster ride continued as we got into the toughest part of the Ozark Mountains.
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It was not so much the height of the mountains as it was the steepness of the grade. We would get to the top and looking down, not be able to see the road before us.
We had a fabulous break from the Panama Rain Forest humidity at Alley Spring.
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Though the spring is a continuous 58 degrees, it felt more like 38 to our overheated bodies.
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The water was beautiful and incredibly crystal clear.
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Factoid: The average daily flow from Alley Spring is 81 million gallons.
But we had to move on. We got to Eminence for a lunch stop. After getting refortified and cooled, we decided to continue to the next town....30 miles away. The full sun, heat index and not a drop of breeze made it almost unbearable. I cried UNCLE twice, but no one paid any attention.
After over ten hours out (7 of biking) we got to Ellington and both got the largest chocolate peanut butter banana shake we've ever seen (is it any wonder why I don't loose weight?)

Day 46 - Wednesday July 30 - Ellington to Farmington, MO

Got out as early as the outside light would allow (5:45) and instantly began a one mile climb. We were able to break up the nonstop up and down hills

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by breakfast at 21 Cafe in Centerville ($3.00 for a stack of three).
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By mile 20 our legs were screaming from the constant up and down abuse. Luckily, the cloud cover
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kept us in the shade for most of the day.
After about thirty miles the ups and downs were spread out enough to give us a rest in between. That and a refreshment stop at Debbie and Jim's place
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got us through the day.
Then serendipity; the restaurant connected to the hotel we were staying was named 'Spokes'
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.....and they serve alcohol (not always the case).
After 66 miles, we're ready!

Day 47 - Thursday July 31 - Farmington, MO to Chester, IL

Had a tornado 'warning' (watch is the really bad one) last night. Am I the only one who didn't know Missouri had tornados? We saw the notice across the T.V. screen, but it was especially eerie when the sirens went off. We watched the storm go by over dinner and though the warning didn't end until 1:00 am, we hit the sack early.

We woke to a very overcast sky and rain just moving out of the area; so we took the time for breakfast at the hotel. That's where we met Dave from Pennsylvania.

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Dave had just retired as a PA State Trooper and was heading east, so we rode together for the day and traded war stories.
The bike was in cool overcast skies that offered either a mist or very thick humidity for most of the morning, either were welcome. The landscape was again very lush,
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offering interesting housing,
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and very friendly horses.
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Though we were out of the Ozarks, the hills today still kicked our butts,
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but we were cheered on by the guys at the local saw mill.
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Most of area could easily be in Virginia
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and I would imagine as beautiful in the fall leaf changing.
But we don't have the Mississippi River,
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Crossing the Mississippi meant getting into Illinois, yeh!
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Did you notice that the town we were entering, Chester, is the home of Popeye?
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It wasn't lost on Mr. Grizzly. Up one more hill and to the hotel to rest from the weeks worth of hills.

Day 48 - Friday August 1 - Chester to Carbondale, IL

Once again when we left at 6:00 am, the sun promised us another hot and humid day.

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The first hour of our bike took us along the Mississippi River. Though we did have the opportunity pull off the road and snap a couple of pictures of the super highway at work,
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the narrow (with no shoulder) two lane road we were on was heavily traveled by very large coal trucks. We held on tight and pedaled as hard as we could up and down the hills to put this stretch of road behind us.
We turned on to Levee Road (literally the road on top of the levee that holds the water back) into a quite and a very deep fog/mist.
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There were times we could not see 20 feet ahead of us. It was like we had stepped into the middle of "The Hounds of Baskerville" bog. Although we were on a long straight road, the trees would suddenly appear in front of us.
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The sun tried to break through
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but not without first offering a shaded glimpse of snow white egrets
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feasting in the flood plains.
Turned out of the fog in time to catch the sun lighting up a wonderful row of daisies
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and a huge crawfish
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scurrying down the road. The entire bike seemed like a day of contrasts, but in good way.
Tucked between flood plains and pastures was this wonderful piece of America.
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And greeting us as we approached Murphysboro was this wonderful woman,
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an even better piece of America. Sorry we did not get her name, but she was very helpful to us.
We stopped in Carbondale after only 55 miles as we needed bike service (great job from Carbondale Bike) before our last stretch home and it was nice to take a break from the 102 heat index.

For those of you who are wondering why we see/hear so little of Dave & Lynn.....?
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Day 49 - Saturday August 2 - Carbondale to Golconda, IL

On our bikes before sunrise at 5:45, apparently to take a 30 minute tour of Southern Illinois University; home of the Salukis. It's a very large campus.
We were back on the country roads once we got on course.

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Though we'd left the Ozark Alps of Missouri, we were still in for some serious hills in Illinois. Though they're known as the 'Little Ozarks',
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we found nothing little about them. The back roads were welcome though, as the traffic was minimal (we enjoyed the quite) and the scenery wonderful.
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Several miles of our route took us through Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Not much wildlife that we saw, but lots of shade trees;
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very welcome in the heat.
Every home, from trailer to mansion, had a neat and well tended yard.
Halfway through the bike and dripping wet, we stop in Goreville for some eats at Delaney's on Broadway
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and were treated to free desert, apple pie a la mode...........perfect after a breakfast sandwich.
After an hour break and our tummies very full, we were refreshed and ready to go.
Not sure what to say about this little fella'
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other than.....oh, that's gotta give you a headache! We have about 3 dozen shots of this guys, so you'll have to suffer through two.
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Still humid today, but a slight breeze was blowing from the north; keeping us cool when we could catch it.
Our destination today, Golconda, is a sleepy little town just on the other side of the levee from the Ohio River.
We averaged a 10 mph pace for our 74 miles.