Updated: Feb 4
Day 65 07/25/22
Woohoo...we woke up this morning in Chanute KS and began our final trek to DC under an overcast sky. The temps today are not supposed to rise above 85 degrees and stay mostly in the mid 80's. We headed off to connect up with our first rail trail. In case you don't know, a rail trail is an old railroad bed that has been converted for multipurpose use that may include bicycling, jogging, and walking. These trails can be covered in many types of surfaces including concrete, blacktop, road base, gravel or in this case, crushed limestone. These trails usually require wider bicycle tires and are not recommended for road bikes. We have a road bike with medium wide tires so we have been concerned that our bike will not handle well in this environment. We arrived in the town of Iola where Sarah's first feat was roping and riding a wild pig.
This is where we picked up the Prairie Spirit Trail and we immediately knew this was going to be a great gig. The crushed limestone offered little resistance and was smoother than many of the roads we had already riden upon. It was sweet music to the both of us and gave us hope for the hundreds and hundreds of miles of similar trails ahead of us. The Prairie Spirit Trail is lined by dense trees and undergrowth creating long tunnels of trail covered by a canopy of foliage. It was beautiful and spooky all at the same time as an occasional spider web swept across our path. We saw some wildlife throughout our ride today. Our first sighting of a live turtle trying to cross the trail was thrilling. He was so cute I just had to pick him up.
We also came face to face with a fox walking on the trail and a doe with her two fawns. Riding on the trail was really nice because we are not having to be concerned with traffic.
We had great weather, not to hot and not to humid. All in all it was a great day on the trail. We are looking at a few more days before we hit the Katy Trail which is a 260 mile Rail Trail that ends at the Mississippi River. We are wrapping up the day in Garnett eating pizza at a great establishment!
Rode 53 miles today.
Day 66 07/26/22
Our motel in Garnett was very clean which is always a plus but I did not sleep well because our plans are ever changing and my mind in always contemplating. Under threatening skies we got rolling and it didn't take long before they let us have it. At least it wasn't hot as the rain cooled the atmosphere and soaked us. We had a short ride today or so we thought. Just out of town I saw a deer running straight toward us on the road but it turned out to be a little colt that had slipped through the fence. He or she was frantically trying to get back to its mommy. At Sarah's prompting we pulled over to see if we could help and fortunately the colt slipped back through the fence and immediately went right back to nursing on mommy. Good deed done for the day and we moved on.
16 miles into our ride everything was going smoothly but we took a left turn and found ourselves on a dirt road. There was no mention of a dirt road in our map notes so we thought it to be strange but we kept pedalling. Within a mile we were beginning to wonder what we should do. The rain turned the surface into a mush like frosting that caked onto our tires and made it difficult to ride. Finally after three miles of slogging it out we arrived at a paved road and we were jubilant. It was looking like we were going to have a really long day, more than we bargained for, but thankfully it quit raining and we were back on track. Within a few miles we came to a truck stop and ate some breakfast. Sarah got into a long conversation with a rancher about raising cows while I sat by and listened. Boy how things have changed! We stopped in the town of LaCynge and looked for a coffee shop. A local owner of an ice cream store told us about a such a place on the way out of town and off we went. The Muddy River Outpost was the spot and the owner sat and talked with us for a long time about current events. The coffee wasn't great but the conversation was. Leaving there we headed to a nearby cabin and spent the rest of the day cleaning all of our gear. Our bike was caked with mud and I had to take it apart to clean it. Our panniers fared much better but they did need a good cleaning as well. In spite of a few setbacks we did have a good day overall. Sat down to a scrumptious meal of Top Ramen, hard boiled egg crumbles and corn.
Rode 36 miles today.
Day 67 07/27/22
Another night of no sleep and a 60+mile day ahead of us. We cycled out of town around an enourmous lake.
The sky began to open up and we put on our rainjackets which in reality serve as sweat suits. With the rain and humidity I was tempted to go bare chested. I was just as wet either way and so was Sarah. We had another milestone today as we crossed the Missouri state line and took a few pics.
The rain cleared up but the air felt so thick with humidity that we could cut it with a knife. Halfway into the ride we found a great coffee shop in Adrian, MO. Pecan Delights served up some mean pastries and we wolfed down a lemon bar and took a pumpkin loaf for the road...yummy!
We came across three turtles crossing the road, if any of you have a good knock, knock joke let me know. At mile 50 we came to a road closure sign.
I flagged down a guy driving a government truck and he told us that the bridge was being renovated. He told us that he was happy to help us because as a public employee he works for us. That actually came out of his mouth! He gave us a way around the detour that added 10-15 miles to our route but he also encouraged us to ride to the bridge and maybe they would let us cross. That was not great news but we thanked him and moved on. Within five miles we were looking for water in case we had to detour. We pulled into this farmers yard and he allowed us to fill up our bottles. Sweat was not dripping but flowing off of us. My riding gloves were like wet sponges and you could wring out our shirts. Won't even talk about the absorptium rate of bicycle shorts other than we waddled like ducks. Appoaching the bridge we could see work trucks blocking both ends of it but no workers in sight. It was then that Sarah asked me if I felt nervous about crossing the bridge in light of the signs. My answer was, yes, but in times like these it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. And may I remind you again there was no one to ask.
We walked past the first truck as we headed over the bridge and passing the second truck we immediately came face to face with two workers sitting in a third truck. I motioned to them to roll down the window and explained our circumstances. They we more excited to hear about our trip than our transgression and we were relieved. Giving each other a high five we left and within 15 minutes we were at our hotel in Clinton, MO. We showered, went to dinner at Applebees and took in a movie, "Maverick". We had a date night! Imagine that, two months on a bike and we took time for a date.
Rode 61 miles today.
Day 68 07/28/22
Somehow we booked two nights at a hotel in Clinton and were wondering why but as it turned out it was a good thing. We spent the day trying to figure out some route planning.