Tuesday, 30 May 2017


I know a few readers will probably want some statistics!

After having met a guy doing 100mile days every day I know I'm not pushing the limits of endurance by any means. This is what I have done, enjoying the cycling & taking it easy (still not enough time to make a dent on my summer reading list). There hasn't been a day when I've not wanted to get on the bike.

Totals for May
19 Days Touring
761 miles (average of 40 miles a day)
86.5 hours spent cycling with luggage. This does not include stops. When the bike stops the computer stops. (Average of 4.6 hours pedalling per day)
Average speed 8.8mph. On a flat day with no wind I can maintain an average of 10mph+ fairly easily.
I can't track my elevation but there have been many hills.

Longest day mileage wise = 59miles (6:44)
Longest day time wise = 7:00 (54miles)
Shortest day = 22 miles / 2:43

Bike issues
Punctures = 0
Slight issue with front derailleur getting twisted out of line, easily fixed.

Other cycle tourers met - 25

Of these 25 there were:-
23 males, 2 females
3 Brits, 1 Dutch, 1 Belgian, 1 New Zealander, 19 Americans
Ages - A wide range of ages from the 20's to 60's.
All were white (my judgement based on appearance)
Roughly half were solo and half travelling with friends / partners. A lot of solo riders had joined forces with others for some of the trail at least.

Most of these were cycling the Trans America route. Some were doing sections of the route as part of their tour. When I say met I mean I crossed paths for enough time to say hello to and gather the basic stats above. Most I stayed with or talked to for a lot longer than that - there is a great community among the tourers and you never pass another without at least a quick chat.

As I'm skipping the rest of the mid-west I am more likely to meet cyclists going the other way across the country when I first pick up the trail again. This is good as I can pick their brains for good camping spots and/or where the bears are lurking!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Columbia Part II - Return of the Cyclist

I spent the last few days leisurely making my way back over the hills to Columbia.

In Farmington I got to Al's hostel before a bad storm hit. There were 80mph gusts of winds, branches flying everywhere and rain so bad no cars were on the road, let alone bikes. Electricity was down in the town for the whole night. I had the hostel to myself so it was a bit spooky! When I cycled out in the morning many trees had come down. Other cyclists had stories of pick up trucks stopping to give them lifts which is nice to hear (lots of Americans have pick up trucks!). Unfortunately the weather forecasts are not very accurate, storms are very localised so if in doubt I will seek shelter!

In Chester I met up again with Justin who I met in Afton,VA. Unlike me he had not used a car for any sections of the ride. Soon after Lincoln and Jordan (plus their ukulele) rolled in. I camped with these guys outside the fire station in Mineral, VA. The four of us went out for Mexican and took an interesting attempt at a selfie which I think will make me laugh each time I see it.

I've met or re-met a lot of great cyclists in Illinois & Missouri and hope to see some of them again out west.

On the way back to Columbia I was getting bored of the main road and took a detour to some back roads around Waterloo. I soon got lost but met a local cyclist named Marilyn who was out for a ride. We rode together for a bit and had an interesting chat. Waterloo is a beautiful town, I remarked how neat and well maintained all the houses and gardens were. Marilyn explained that if your lawn is not cut to a certain length the town council will cut it for you and then send you a huge bill!

I followed Marilyn though some nice back streets and she went out of her way to drop me back on the main road where it was a short downhill back to Corrie and Dana's house in Columbia.

Here are some pictures from the last few days of Missouri and Illinois. Some of the farmland looked very 'english' - other bits not so much.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Ellington, MO

I have turned and am heading East back through the mountains again with a couple of shorter days to rest my legs a bit.

I stayed last night in Ellington, where the town has a cyclists hostel they let you use for a couple of dollars donation for water / electric. Most of the small towns round here are very welcoming to cyclists and hikers passing through.

I was glad I had good shelter as a heavy storm passed through as I was getting up. It only lasted 30mins though, leaving me another dry day for cycling. In the U.K. a good old storm blows the cobwebs away making everything fresh and cool. Here in Missouri a thunderstorm is followed by high humidity making the day muggy and damp feeling.

I met a Dutch cyclist travelling west to east. He cycled two days in Kansas then got so bored of the flat straight lines and unchanging landscape that he rented a car and also decided to skip Kansas. You would think the Dutch would be used to the flat. Missouri has not been flat but also definitely not boring. By cycling here in May I've also missed the summer heat - 40 degrees and high humidity would not be my ideal weather! The rockies and western states should be dryer and cooler in the summer months, I'm expecting downright cold at times.

Camping again tonight. I'll have 3 or 4 days of cycling now to return to Columbia.

Photos added, including one of a failure to prop the bike up on a road sign!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Eminence, MO

Over 4,000 feet of climbing today according to Marks fancy computer. And as much descending, which was more fun than the climbs. A long and tough day with 5 significant ascents. Significant in my book anyway, this would probably be a 'flat stage' on the Tour de France. Also I've yet to see Chris Froome & co get off to push their bikes up to a summit!

The day was 53m in around 7 hours of cycling. Mark, Patti and George were on the road with me today too.

Lots of wildlife round here, I heard raccoons at the campsite last night. There are also armadillos which is exciting, although the only ones I've seen have been roadkill unfortunately. There are also lots of pretty birds. Bright Red Cardinals, some sort of blue birds and black & white woodpeckers with funny red crests on. The woodpeckers woke me up this morning, there are worse alarm clock sounds :)

Made it to Eminence. This area has seen a lot of flooding recently. This time 2 weeks ago the roads may not have been passable, and some still are not to cars. The floods have devastated a lot of businesses and houses, including the campgrounds which are all by the rivers. Therefore I had to find a motel for the night. I was genuinely looking forward to my planned camp meal of rice, kidney beans and tinned salmon, but a Mexican restaurant with George and Mark was better grub I'll admit.

Eminence is usually a tourist hot spot with lots of canoeing on the rivers but the flooding means many things are closed. There is a push to get things open for Memorial Day weekend coming up, which is the start of summer for the Americans. I will expect campsites etc to be busier for the
summer from here on in.

I'm happy with my cycling in the Ozarks and am going to turn and head back East tomorrow, probably taking it a bit slower. After a few more days of cycling I will return to Corrie and Danashouse to pick up a car and plan the next part of the adventure.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Lesterville, MO

Another 45 miles today with lots of hills, some v. steep. Finished by 2:00 but I was knackered! My average speed for the trip has now dropped to 8.9 mph.

Lots of woodland and creeks around. I am in the Iron Mountains so called due to lots of iron found in them. They are foothills of the Ozarks which I shall meet tomorrow!

I stopped at the site of the battle of Pilot Knob. With a name like that I just had to! During the civil war, Missouri's alligence was claimed by both the union and confederate armies. This meant lots of battles and the 3rd highest bloodshed for a State (after Virginia and Tennessee). The confederate army attacked the union held fort at Pilot Knob in 1864 but were held off. Like so many civil war forts only the foundations now remain, but there was a little musesum so at least I learnt something.

All the battleground visitors centres and small museums are free. In fact most museums seem to be free, a nice change from the UK and convenient when you just want to pop in while passing through.

A beautiful campsite by a river is my reward for the hills, a perfect place to chillax for the rest of the day.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Farmington, MO

Hills, hills, hills. 50 miles today from Chester to Farmington. You can see the elevation profile below. I'm afraid I don't have a fancy tracker to tell you my total climbing - but it felt like lots. The road surfaces were smooth so that was good!

Below you can see a photo from Chester looking over the Mississippi. It took about an hour on the flat to reach the hills in the distance and then it was like a rollercoaster of up and down.

I met some cyclists for the road today. Biff and George stayed at the Eagles 'motel' last night and (after pancakes, bacon and maple syrup) we set off. Below is George crossing into Missouri. Both are solo cyclists, both from Virginia.

We then met Mark and Patti just as we hit the hills. They are from Florida. Patti is the 1st female tourer I have met so far!! The tandom fans will enjoy the picture below. They say hauling the trailer up hills is like dragging an anchor up behind you. Though they still were faster than me.

I'm spending the night in jail !! Well a converted jail anyway, now a cyclists hostel. It's very luxurious. Farmington is a very attractive town, despite being laid out in a grid like most American towns. There is a picture of the city hall below. After all the hills it was a treat to stroll into town to find a nice bakery for muffins and coffee.

Other strange places I have slept in / camped this trip include:-
A church
Outside a bike shop
With the fraternal order of the eagles
Outside a volunteer fire department

More hills tomorrow methinks.

That's All Folks

My cycling adventures in America have come to an end! I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I won't try a...