Sunday, July 5, 2009
Day 29 - Topeka, KS to St. Joseph, MO
"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!" That was the most leisurely, uneventful Fourth of July I've experienced in quite awhile. No fireworks and in bed by 10 p.m. When you're getting up at 5:30 to hit the road by 6:45, there's no opportunity for late night frivolity. But, I really missed hanging out with my family, having a picnic dinner in the Downtown Bellevue Park, and enjoying the fireworks and live orchestra. I could have dwelt on the loneliness, but instead went to bed knowing a great ride was in store for the day ahead. We were leaving Kansas and entering Missouri!
All in all, Kansas was an enjoyable state to visit. Western Kansas wasn't nearly as appealing as Eastern Kansas and today featured more of that pretty side of the state. Our route out of Topeka took us right through downtown. But rain began to fall as soon as we left the hotel and it wasn't worth lingering in Topeka to check out the sights. We headed northeast along Hwy. 4 in a paceline of eight of us. The paceline was going to be a blessing today as we had a stiff headwind all morning. The rain stopped after an hour or so and we saw blue skies in our future. The morning stayed cool and comfortable.
At our first SAG stop, we realized we were the first ones to arrive, with the exception of Sean who left well before breakfast. His girlfriend, Kelly, was meeting him in St. Joseph, MO. You do the math. At the SAG, Dan was waiting for the men's room in the gas station. I saw that the women's room was open and available. I used it. While inside, I could hear talking outside the door and then pounding on the door. When I exited, Leigh was standing there, hands on hips, smiling but obviously taken aback. I smiled back, "Oh, was I in the women's room?! Well, I put the seat down." Hey, when ya gotta go, labels on doors don't mean much.
Leaving the SAG, we had a paceline of six. The sun was now out and a puffy clouded blue sky was overhead. We shared one-mile pulls on the paceline and made short work of the 55 miles to reach Atchison, KS on the Kansas and Missouri border. We stopped at a Subway to fuel up and rest a bit before saying goodbye to Kansas. Atchison is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. I didn't take time to find her house, but saw that it was in the area. It's funny how these small towns hang their hat on some person in history. A few days ago we rode through a town that had proudly displayed a sign at the city limits announcing it was the home of Steve Fritz, 1996 decathlon gold medalist. Sure, everyone remembers him.
After lunch, we cycled across the Missouri River and entered our sixth state. Right away, I could tell Missouri would be an enjoyable place to ride. The hills were green and lush with deciduous forests, crops in neat rows following the undulating terrain. The rollers had now transformed into climbs. We were putting forth more effort on these rises than we had in several weeks since we left the Rockies. It was kind of refreshing.
Our second SAG stop was in Dekalb, MO. You could tell it was the Fifth of July. Neighborhood streets were scattered with the blown-up remnants of the night before. Our stop was in a community park. I laid down in the grass. It felt good and I knew I would enjoy tomorrow's rest day off the bike. A young kid, Ryan, probably a 12 or 13 year old, was visiting with us and waiting for a floor pump to fix the flat on his BMX bike. Michelle, our staff ride leader, remembered when Ryan was just a little guy. She sees him here every year for the last nine years.
Our final miles into St. Joseph had us riding through a very scenic Parkway with short switchback climbs and swooping descents through an attractive park with tall trees bordering the road. It was a beautiful way to end the ride. We rode past old stately homes and small bungalows, neighborhoods that reminded me of growing up in Ohio. We're definitely leaving the Great Plains and entering the Mid-West. A John Denver tune comes to mind... Country roads take me home. Go ahead, sing it with me.
Tomorrow, I'll get the laundry done, take care of some business, watch the Tour de France, and mostly rest and recuperate. Sean and I had a third roommate, Tom, added a week ago so we're a triple now. The bad news is Tom got sick with the flu two days ago. He still finished the ride yesterday (his slowest ever) but I need extra prayers that I don't get what he has. I'm washing my hands every time I see him!
To view more photos from today's ride, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100337
To learn more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 2,201
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 3,163 ft.
Max Elev: 1,169 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 7%