Av – 9.4 mph
Dis – 49.1 miles
Tm – 05:12 hrs
Asc – 707 ft.
Well kick me in the nuts and call me Sally! Today was the worst day since Pomeroy in ’04.
I slept in and started late like I had planned; 0830 and 1100 respectively, and devil be damned, the wind was right in my face.
I barely eeked out twenty-five miles before I stopped at a Shell station to recharge. I’m not sure what happened this morning. As soon as I hit the road, my legs were lead. They didn’t seem to drive the bicycle at all, just rise and fall at a paltry 6-9 mph. I couldn’t keep a decent cadence going for more than a few revolutions at a time.
Headwind aside, the sky began working against me as well. I left Council Bluffs in short sleeves and clear skies. Within fifteen miles some freakish system moved in, against the wind and right over my head, and began pissing on me with icy drops of rain. I stopped along a bridge, dug out my long sleeve jersey and heavy duty rain jacket (both of which I had packed at the bottom) and tried to push on. Like a little solar powered robot, my juice was gone.
I stopped often before getting to the Shell station in Loveland, sometimes for a minute or two on the shoulder of the road and sometimes underneath bridge overpasses, hoping the sun would poke through again. I eventually came to my senses, realizing the more I stopped, the less I would travel. No kidding, right? I slowly pulled into the Shell station, hobbled into the convenience store on wooden legs, and started searching for sugar.
I came out with two 16 oz. energy drinks and a couple of donuts, hoping they’d be enough to get me through the hard times I was in. I cracked the first can and called Dale, my logistics guy. It was the first call I’d made since Boonville and the only time I actually reached him. I weaved my tales of woe and hardship touching briefly on my last four nights in hotels, and we discussed gear and body and the conditions of both. We talked about him meeting me on the tour for the last 2-3 days and the supplies we could divvy up.
Dale seemed positive about his portion of the tour and I knew he was enjoying hearing of me in distress. He’s demented like that.
In forty-five minutes, I was done with my snacks and on my way northward with renewed energy and purpose. Maybe it was the drinks or the donuts, but I think it was the bitching to someone, anyone, who could relate. The day to that point was something I needed to get off my chest.
Despite the quickening of my pace, the day’s damage had already been done. I pulled into Lille Sioux as the sun dipped below the cloud cover and hovered over the trees next to the Missouri. I followed a frontage road around an enormous RV park and down to a pavilion, next to the river. Although it lacked tables or places to sit, it had a broad cement slab covered by a new roof. It was the perfect place to stay without pulling out my tent.
I started breaking out gear when a vehicle pulled right up to the gazebo. Out of the driver’s side heaved an ancient man wearing a plaid, short sleeved shirt and bib overalls. Right behind him, a little slower from the passenger side, came a shaky old woman in glasses and a flowery dress. They had seen me pass from the front porch swing and came down to see what I was up to. I explained my tour, my military experience, and threw out a bit of small talk to pass the time.
Chester and Helen Hilton had lived in their house along the Missouri since 1948. Chester used to farm corn and beans, but after retirement, shifted his focus to carpentry and hobby work to occupy his time. His front yard was full of his creations. He repeatedly invited me to sleep at their place instead of the cold cement, and I repeatedly declined, citing journal writing as the reason for my lack of social interaction. Instead, we settled on breakfast at 0630 before I stepped off.
I hope they’re awake on time and I hope breakfast is good.
Riverfront real estate