Day 23 - Monday, July 1, 2002

Houston to Marshfield, MO (Plaza Motel)

Ride length: 66.1 miles (106.4 km)
Total to date: 1480.03 miles (2381 km)
Moving time: 5 hr 9 min.
Average Speed: 12.8 mph (20.6 km/hr)
Total ascent: 4522 ft. (1378.3 m)
Minimum elevation: 1043 ft. (317.9 m)
Maximum elevation: 1584 ft. (482.8 m)
Ending elevation: 1514 ft. (461.5 m)
Wind: calm all day
Weather: 68°F (20°C) in the morning; got up to 85°F (30°C) by the end of the ride at noon

The spreadsheet I'm using to keep track of ride data has been completely in "redneck" units of feet and miles. I wrote some formulas in the spreadsheet to automatically convert the ride data into metric units. From now on you'll see SI values beside the BES units in the ride data. I'll go back and append these values to previous days sometime soon.

Today was all about putting on miles as quickly as possible. There really wasn't too much to see except the high prairie of western Missouri. The ride went very well with a significant amount of climbing but not too many steep hills. Here are a few pictures that I took early in the morning. The cattle were very interested in watching me for some reason.

I enjoyed breakfast at LJD's Family Cafe in Hartville, the only town along the entire route. Some farmers were eating there. They were talking about giving up their farms. One said, "I retired once and swear I'll never do it again. When you're retired you never get a day off." People here are hard working and seem to mind their own business. Life isn't particularly easy in these parts. They haven't had much rain at all in the last few months and things are pretty parched. Maybe that contributes to the sour attitude around these parts.

Ever since Central Kentucky I have noticed that people have signs listing the 10 Commandments in front of their homes and waitresses often write "God Bless" on the meal check instead of "thank you." I'm definitely in the bible belt.

There was a 26 mile stretch with no services at the end of the day.

I met up with a number of cyclists today. Two people, a woman and a man, from Netherlands passed me heading east. We chatted for a moment but they seemed to be in a hurry to beat the heat. (They didn't start as early as I did.) A third person was a total bike geek. He was wearing all the corny, colorful cycling clothes, had a racing bike, aero bars, and all the other tricks. He had a support van from California that some woman was driving and he didn't have a lick of gear on the bike. What a cheater.

I met a man named Jim Reilly about five miles east of town. He was on vacation from Reading, PA with his family and was staying here in Marshfield with relatives. He was on a short ride around town to keep in shape - he's been off his bike for five days and was itching to get back into the saddle so he borrowed a bike from his sister-in-law. It turns out that he owns a Rans Stratus and is thinking of touring with it. He was shocked to find out that route 38 through Marshfield is on the TransAm route. We rode and talked for a while about my trip, recumbent bikes, and the terrrible Missouri drivers. Our conversation turned to clothing and it turns out that he bought a bunch of riding clothes from Sierra Trading Post this spring like I did - really inexpensive Coolmax Alta shirts and shorts. I have continued to find that people are in a terrible hurry and don't give bicycles any room on the road. It is a dangerous situation sometimes. Most of my riding has been on very rural roads with little traffic - that helps a lot.

I got a hotel room today at the interstate exit in Marshfield. It was a little more expensive than I wanted to pay but I got in early (noon) so it will give me some good comfort time before my long ride tomorrow. I'm going to push on to Golden City which is 81 miles from here. There is a bike hostel in town which should help my budget and give me a good night's rest. I'm not sure what to expect of the hostel... only time will tell.

It may not look it from the map but I'm one third the way through the trip now. The roads have done a lot of winding around for the last 1400 miles. The next few weeks will be along a much more linear route. Donna Lynn Ikenberry's guidebook that I'm following takes about 86 days to get to Seattle. I need to do it in 74 days so I need to strip 12 days out of the itinerary by doubling up days. I've already stripped 7 days of the12 and will have stripped 8 days by tomorrow.

I'm amazed at how far I have ridden so far. Looking at the map blows my mind - I'm almost half way across the continent! Perseverence really pays off. It's the classic story of the tortise and the hare. I'm definitely crossing the nation like a tortise - slow, consistent and steady does the trick.

There is a Wal-Mart in town where I bought some sunscreen and some food. Coppertone Sport SPF 30 is absolutely the best stuff in the world. It is not greasy, does not smell bad, and lasts all day. There were some clouds today and it seems like there will be some tomorrow as well since there's a chance for thunderstorms. I don't mind if it's hot as long as the sun stays behind clouds.

I had a good meatloaf dinner and an all-you-can-eat salad bar at a nearby restaurant. I've really been living large yesterday and today.

Food: 8 L water, Dolly Madison Angel Food Cake (330 Cal.), 2 L gatorade, 2 scrambled eggs, 4 pieces of buttered toast, hash browns, ham steak, Cheddar Cheese Cracker Combos (220 Cal.), nacho chips (550 Cal.), 1/2 lb. meatloaf, serving of mashed potatoes with butter, two salads with french dressing, cup of chicken gumbo soup, 2 slices Italian bread, 4 crackers (50 Cal.), slice of canteloupe.

Hotel: $42.10