This morning, starting around 12:45 CDT, Dan Orr and I traveled east toward Ellington, Missouri, which was 80 miles away. If Kansas is an unmade bed, a crumpled mess of half hills, then Missouri is a rollercoaster, a wild ride that exhausts the rider. Kansas was long and uneventful, taking a long time to cross, while Missouri, seemingly as many miles, is flying beneath our wheels, but at a cost: I think that all the riders are taxed from the riding. Yes, it is great to travel downhill at 35 miles per hour, but then the accompanying trek uphill fatigued the rider. In addition, it is just exhausting to ride up and to ride down and to ride up and to ride down.
Dan did yeoman work riding up and down the hills (and small mountains of Missouri) for the first 1:15, and then he pulled over and gave me my shot. I loved the downhill rides on this morning journey, passing armadillos on the ground and traveling underneath bats, and other animals at great speeds in the dark. But, then that joyride would be joined to a torturous uphill climb, leaving me sucking wind like crazy. Because of the fair-warning, I knew that Utah and Colorado would be challenging, but I knew nothing about Missouri. As noted in an earlier post, Missouri is considered the most challenging state to cross because of the rolling hills and mountains. It just drains the rider. Dan took his second shift, and then I took my final expecting to finish by 5:45 in Ellington. Since we had only seventeen miles to go to reach the town, and since I had 1:15 to do it, I was incredibly confident. Then I hit the first huge uphill climb. I pushed through it, barely, hopeful that that one would be the last one. A few minutes later, I was climbing a second one in the Ozark Mountains, and I was fading fast. A third one just about killed me, forcing me to stop to catch my breath and to refill my water bottle. I thought that I wasn’t going to make it, but I finally did complete each and every one of the hills and mountains of my morning ride. Of course, the gorgeous sunrise, my second consecutive day greeting the sun on my bicycle, inspired me, creeping through the trees on the elevated horizon.
After a quick shower, I passed out on the community bed, listening to “My Favorite Things” by Julie Andrews, because I had convinced myself that hearing her singing that song would help me complete my Ride. I was right. Just listening to the whole Sound of Music soundtrack soothed me and restored me, preparing me for my 9 PM shift. When I awoke from my morning nap, I discovered I was in Bismarck, Missouri, which featured a tiny—six foot tall—Statue of Liberty outside the convenience store that provided my lunch.
This afternoon I have been holed up at All Saints Episcopal Church in Farmington, Missouri enjoying the hospitality of this beautiful new church; the church was built last summer and its priest has been exceedingly generous, plying us with food and drink and space outside the RV. What a beautiful thing.
We are preparing to leave Tornado Alley and resume our march toward New York City, in spite of my having already seen a Statue of Liberty. We are more than half way there, and we are living on a prayer on our way toward Bon Jovi’s New Jersey.