Farmington, Mo to Sebree, KY
I feel like every mile on this adventure is becoming shorter and shorter because I am starting to feel at home with the shaded roads and curvy turns. This week, the heat dropped from the past couple weeks but, my issue now is a mass amount of rain sweeping across the Midwest and it has been very wet. Although riding in the rain is necessary, it was annoying especially when you cannot properly dry clothes and gear due to humidity.
The week began in a twin bed at” Al’s Place” in Farmington, MO. This hostel was fully equipped with a studio apartment feel with laundry, clean linens and towels, a bed, AC, full kitchen, internet, friendly cyclists and a cool workshop. Got a new tire and some new bar tape so, I spent yesterday afternoon tweaking my bike. I woke up to some westbounders Stephanie and Austin getting up very early to beat the thunderstorms. I laid around bed until 8:00am and left at 9:00am. I traveled 5 miles outside of town and of course the skies opened up unleashing about an inch and a half of rain throughout my ride today. I was drenched making me and my bike very heavy. I pushed about 50 miles to the bridge that travels over the Mississippi River and into Chester, IL. Found the “hotel” hostel located behind a bar. The hostel consisted of a tin shed with bunk beds, outlets for charging, and an air conditioner. I was alone all night probably due to the mass amounts of rain.
Woke up at 8:00am the next morning and immediately got packed up without looking out of the windowless building. When I thought I was going to leave, the clouds and rain came back and that made me sit back down and watch the storm. A couple of hours went by and the rain let up and the radar looked promising. The road was surprisingly dry and the riding was humid but, not extremely hot. I ended up making a short 50 mile day in really good time. Kentucky Fried Chicken in Carbondale, IL is where I found myself at for the afternoon. I was taking in the AC and doing some blogging when I heard a man ask if I was touring. After a short conversation he graciously offered his home for as long as I needed to get out of the rain. We went to his place and got settled in just in time for the rain again. Unexpected bed tonight felt good and Jackson was a fantastic host.
Woke up to a warning on my phone talking about flooding in the area. I checked the weather and the first break was late in the afternoon. Jackson took me into town to resupply and treat me to an amazing breakfast at a local place. He then dropped me off and headed to work as I sat on his couch for the rest of the day. Rain let up later on but, I felt the need to stay one more night. Drank beer and hung out with Jackson's friends for the night and got ready for the next day.
Woke up fairly early and did some bike maintenance and chores before leaving town. Jackson drove me down close to Carbondale and gave me a proper goodbye. I left not knowing how far I wanted to go but, I just wanted to make some miles while the rain was subsided. I went 20 miles and noticed a thundercloud following me the entire way. I felt the fat raindrops and spotted a public restroom and quickly pulled in narrowly missing the rain. Stood around until the storm passed then found a campsite about 10 miles away. The road was steaming and so was I because it was so humid. Hit the campsite and took a shower washing off all of the salt that has collected during the day. Rehydrated and got permission to set up under the pavilion to stay away from the rain.
I was sure glad I slept under a pavilion because it absolutely poured all night long. Plugged in my phone to check the weather and again, wait for the rain to clear. It luckily stopped for me at 9:00am allowing me to ride in the dry. Overcast kept the sun away and the traffic was low on the road I was traveling. Was told of a lunch spot on the Ohio River on a pontoon boat that served river fish so, I checked it out and filled up my belly before taking the shuttle ferry across the Ohio River and into Kentucky. Second to the last state but, my ride isn't over yet because Kentucky is supposed to be very difficult. Rode into a church hostel equipped with showers, laundry, couches, tv, and everything else. This hostel has been hosting cyclists since the original 1976 ride across America.
Slept like a baby while it poured outside and woke up feeling good. Stayed the night with a guy named Kevin and we had some good conversation on what is in store for each other down the trail. Left at 8:00am and went to McDonald's for that delicious breakfast. After getting my fill on coffee and hash browns, I started down the road for a short 43 mile day. I am having friends come to see me tomorrow and I needed to get to the church hostel in Sebree, KY that I have been hearing about for 2,000 miles. I arrived after a wet ride into the nicest hostel yet. Everything was clean and in order as well as the friendly people who were a part of the church. Spent the day doing laundry and some usual chores. Zero day tomorrow and getting picked up then, big miles with my friends next week.
This week was spent mostly alone due to the massive shift in riders to the Katy trail back in Missouri making the trail desolate. I am running into a few westbounders and trail angels but, eastbounders are slim.
I met Stephanie and Austin in Farmington, IL at Al’s Place hostel. They were a couple riding together on their first large tour and were loving it. Stephanie was the first African American female biker I have seen and after talking about it with her, she told me she was trying to start a Denver, CO group called Black Girls Bike. Her boyfriend got his masters in social work and he had a very easy going personality about him. Both very knowledgeable about bikes and fun to hang out with.
Jackson was a host I met who picked me up in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Carbondale, IL. He asked if I was touring and after a short conversation, he offered his house for a place to crash to escape the upcoming storms. I packed my bike in his car and went off trail 7 miles north to De Soto. He had a bed for me with laundry and a shower. He also had the sweetest cat and puppy who hung out with me all day. Jackson worked as a bike mechanic in town so, he had every tool I needed to tighten up everything for the last 900 miles or so. He gave me some tips on stopping points down trail and gave me a ride back to Carbondale after the storms past a day later.
Kevin was the last person I met this week and we hit it off immediately. He was headed to California via Transamerica Trail then freelancing across Nevada and Utah. Kevin was originally from California then moved at age 60 to Virginia. He has always wanted to tour and he finally was doing it. Nice to meet people who kept this ride as a life goal and then finally set off and do it! We exchanged information and parted ways from Marion, KY.
Southern hospitality is a REAL thing. I have always believed it and after doing multiple trips across the US, I get more attention and help in the south and I cannot wait to go further!
Positive attitudes started me out this week knowing I was on the eastern side of the Ozark Mountain Range and I will not see anything that steep again. Traveling east out of Farmington, I was in the farmland of eastern Missouri. These rolling hills were substantially large but, were not much of a challenge if I used momentum to get me up the next hill. Dropped into the Mississippi water table and nutrient-rich soil of the lowlands. Giant corn stalks and fields covered most of the valley and when I hit Chester, IL, the feel of the town reminded me of a harbor town with fishing boats and cargo carriers delivering goods. Heading down along the Mississippi River was extremely wet but also, flat as a fiddle. As I made my way to Carbondale and to the Ohio River, the hills were covered with a thick canopy and muddy water trickling through the deep valleys. This whole entire week, I have been planning around the rain or just riding through it. Excited to see the shaded roads in Kentucky and into the Blue Ridge Mountains to end my trip!
I have kept the “gear” part of my journals out of my last couple of entries because I found myself repeating that everything was holding up very well. Over the past few weeks, the humidity and rain along with heat and terrible road surface has started to wear out my Osprey backpack and after 6,000 plus miles of hard use, I don't blame it. Kitsbow clothing is being tested to the limit because of the constant dampness and washing. A dog tried to bite my rear pannier, making a rip so minor, water cannot get in but, it was worth mentioning. All in all the gear is holding up just fine and I am extremely excited to do a write up in the end reviewing this stuff. Happy trails!
- TRANSAMERICA Milestones -
- FROM: Watkinsville, Georgia
- DOB: 2016-01-01
- OCCUPATION: General Contractor
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
The feeling of adventure and seeing new places. On a bike, time seems to move much slower and I would love to feel that again.
Have you traveled by bike in the past?
I have completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
What is your goal for the route?
My goal is to diverge from the route off the beaten trail and go find adventure! I would like to be able to gather stories about my adventure in order to motivate others to get out there!
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
By the end of this journey, I hope to have collected stories, meet as many people as possible, and all around have fun. Along with doing this, I would love to have a very detailed journal and blog for others to follow and get inspired.
- TRANSAMERICA Milestones -