The last few days, whether it be due to weather or injury or both, have been rough, but for now things are starting to look better. I've had a bit of a problem with my Achilles tendon and have encountered some inclement weather, but I seem to be healing up and the sun's started to shine once again. We've covered some good ground across Illinois and the Mississippi River into Missouri and should be coming up on Kansas in the next couple of days. Here's what's been going on the last few days:
Day 16 - today was a struggle. The last few high mileage days are starting to take a toll on my legs. My hamstring and Achilles are both fairly sore, so tomorrow will be an easy ride so I can try and recover. It was pretty windy today, but fortunately we had some warmer temperatures so it wasn't so bad pedaling. We crossed a very flooded Mississippi River today into Missouri and finished up in Farmington, Mo. Dre is still amazing me - he rode all 84 miles today on a 20 oz coffee, 5 scoops of peanut butter, a handful of dried fruit, and 5 fig newtons (he actually rode the first 50 miles on just the 20 oz coffee). I was also able to get in a much needed tune up on my bike today as we ran into our first bike shop along the route. We're staying at "Al's Place / Transamerican Trail Cyclers Inn." It's a hostel in the old Farmington, MO jailhouse. It's a pretty sweet setup - bunk beds, laundry rooms, showers and a full kitchen just for cyclists rolling through town. Oh and I can't forget to mention the Tyler Hamilton autographed cycling jersey hanging on the wall. Tomorrows forecast - light rain. Sounds like a great day for a short recovery ride.
Day 17 - today was the third rough day in a row - this time the weather was the culprit. It was about 50 degrees and rainy throughout the entire ride. On a positive note - we did have a 'shorter' day today - a mere 60 miles. I talked Dre into calling it quits early because of the weather and my ailing Achilles. Our original plan was to stay with some guy from our map, but when the locals suggested that we find somewhere else to stay we decided to post up in a hotel - somewhere with a bed and a warm shower after a cold day of riding. Today was our first day in the Ozark mountains and they actually aren't that bad at all - mostly just small rolling hills - not a while lot of climbing involved, but more like a roller coaster ride - you make one climb and your momentum
keeps you rolling over the next couple of hills. We came a bit south today into Ellington, Mo, but we'll be heading back westward tomorrow towards Houston, Mo. The weather is going to be cold and wet yet again, but hopefully back up in the 70s and 80s on Sunday and Monday - I can't wait.
Day 18 - another tough one. I woke up around 4 am and could hear a monsoon outside. Fortunately, by the time we got started the rain had slowed to a very light drizzle. Unfortunately, though, my Achilles pain was pretty limiting. I made the decision early that I was going to cut today short and only went about 25-30miles. About 10 miles in I told Dre I just needed a day off for my Achilles. He wasn't sure he wanted to stop so short, so we then made the difficult decision to go our separate ways. He was worried about me getting into town safely so when I arrived I gave him a call to let him know that I had made it. Much to my surprise, about half an hour later he returned my call and informed me that he couldn't justify going any further with the weather being as inclement as it was on top of the mountain and he also felt bad for leaving me. So he turned around and came back - our partnership remains. I shut it down at about 1030 this morning in Eminence, Mo and have been stretching, icing, and massaging ever since. My leg is feeling better for now so I'm hoping it holds up. I'll continue to monitor it and make the stretching/icing a routine. It's been pouring rain all day since I stopped, but tomorrow should be a beautiful day to ride - back in the 70s with clear skies so hopefully my leg will be feeling better and up for a ride. I'm still ahead of schedule, but I'd much rather be out on the road.
Day 19 - today went much better than the last few days. The weather finally cooperated (somewhat - we didn't have clear skies all day, but there was no rain so I can't complain) and my Achilles felt much better, not perfect, but better. The sun finallly popped out around 2 this afternoon for the first time in 3 days and the terrain was excellent. We had a couple of decent climbs earlier in the day but for the most part everything was rolling terrain today. We are also staring to run into other cyclists as well - one headed east from Colorado Springs and another fellow, who were camping with tonight, Peter (from Germany) headed west to San Francisco. We made it about 80 miles today in to Hartville, Mo and are camping in the lawn of the Wright County courthouse. I may be speaking too soon, but tomorrow should be a great day for riding - 80 and clear skies - I'm ready for anything other than cold and rain. Tonight is my first night camping since my very first night of the trip and I can only imagine that it will go better than the first night, but we'll see. In the meantime I've gotta catch up on my stretching. Until next time..