Day 22: 90 miles
Today was probably the most relaxing day I’ve had. I decided the morning before that I would take today to rest a little. I’ve been outrunning storms and riding into headwinds for four days, and I was pretty beat up mentally. I knew I had to slow down for a day to let myself reset. So I took my time in the morning. I slept in with no alarm set, and I slept an awesome 8.5 hours. I took my time and went out for breakfast. I reorganized all of my gear and packed it up to send some of my cold gear home. Check out was by 11am, and I handed over my keys at 10:53am. I started riding around 11:15 with my goal for the day to get to the next town 61 miles. I finally didn’t have to fight the wind as much as it was on the left side of my back for the most part. There were a bunch of cows In one of the fields as I rode past, and almost all of them kicked one of their front legs. I’m pretty sure they were trying to shake off flies, but I waved to them just in case they were trying to say hello. I made it to my next town 10 minutes before more storms. I sat in a subway for 2 hours letting the storms pass and enjoying my slow paced day. I decided to tackle 29 more miles to the next town where I found a church that lets cyclists camp inside of their building. On my way there, I passed a bunch of deer. The one made me laugh as it hopped over the fence since it reminded me of my dog when she jumps over footrests to chase her ball. I met another rider named Aaron who is on his way to Denver.
Sleeping location: church
Day 23: 150 miles
Today was a big push day that I needed. I had no flats, no rain, no climbing, no headwinds, and no long distances between services. My ride wasn’t anything out of the ordinary as far as my effort goes. I rode for over 8 hours, but it was mostly a very slight downhill with the wind hitting the right side of my back. I averaged 18.5 mph which is way more than my usual 12-13 mph for the trip. There’s not much to look at out here in Kansas, but I love the open space. Earlier in the day, I stopped at the memorial for John Egbers. Last year, two racers were hit on this part of the route, and John passed away as a result of his injuries. They put up a beautiful memorial in the area where he was hit, and I made sure to take a few minutes to stop and remember him. At most points today, I could look around 360 degrees with nothing blocking my view. This part was awesome during the sunset. There weren’t many clouds in the sky for the sun to light up, but there was an awesome pink glow that wrapped around me on all sides. It felt like I was in the worlds largest stadium with the faint glow all around me. I decided to stop for the night at a rest stop that I was told allowed camping. I found a spot in the ditch behind the building where I don’t think anyone can see me! The hardest part was closing my eyes with hundreds of stars above me. It felt like the longer I looked, the more appeared. It was a pretty cool way to fall asleep and say goodnight to everything.
Sleeping location: ditch behind rest stop
Day 24: 103 miles
I slept decent, but there were dark clouds almost above me when I woke up. I checked my phone and saw that there were storms coming right towards me. I brought all my stuff inside the rest stop without organizing any of it so I wouldn’t get wet. Unfortunately, I found that most of my gear had been slept on by some bugs, too. I flicked probably 50 bugs off of my bags. I ended up sitting on the floor of the rest stop for three hours watching the storms pass. There was some heavy rain that was broken up by hail and filled with thunder and lightning. It was definitely not a storm to ride in. I didn’t have a ton of food on me, so I ended up eating some granola bars in the rest stop which gave me a super slow start. Right after the rain, the air was so incredibly humid with the sun beating down on the wet roads. I limped 13 miles down to road where I found my first convenience store and sat down for some food and coffee. My next stretch was the toughest. 31 miles to the next town with 20 miles of riding south while the winds were going north. By the time I got there, it was 91 degrees but felt like 95. I was beat. I sat in a subway for 2 hours eating and drinking fluids to regain myself. I set out again for the next town 59 miles away knowing that I would be riding in the dark. I had to ride later to escape the heat. The sunset wasn’t as good as the others the last few days, but I still enjoyed turning around every minute or two to see the sky change. Once it got dark, there was hardly any traffic and the stars were beautiful. A couple times I would stop the bike and turn off my lights to look up. It was pretty cool, but I was also glad to make it to my final destination and call it a day.
Sleeping location: park pavilion
Day 25: 125 miles
The heat started to get to me today. I started a little earlier trying to avoid the heat, but it wasn’t a very good attempt. It’s hot early and it’s hot late. But today, some encouragement from strangers helped me keep moving. In the morning, a guys stopped his truck and told me I was doing a great job by name. He drove off after I pass, but he must have been watching me on trackleaders and drove out to see me. An hour or two later, I saw someone outside running. I thought he was crazy because it was so hot and humid out. Once I got to the intersection he turned at, there was the words “go Adam” written in chalk on the pavement. My guess is he wrote it once he saw me coming, then took off running. Once I got to lunch, a woman named Denise found me in the restaraunt. She had drove 20 miles with her grandkids to come and meet one of the last Trans Am Racers. All 3 of these interactions were brief but really kept me going during the day. I stopped in at the bike shop to clean the chain and to sign their wall. I decided to continue riding into the night again and found a 24 hour convenience store online in my final town. However, I found out that they’re not a 24 hour convenience store once I got there. They had closed 45 minutes prior, so my dinner after a long day was 2 granola bars and half a Gatorade. Tough way to end the day, but I found a baseball field on the edge of town that offered some privacy for the night.
Sleeping location: baseball dugout
Day 26: 62 miles
Today was rough. I didn’t feel very well when I woke up. I think it was a mixture between not eating enough at night and not letting my body cool down by sleeping in the hot night. When I started riding, it was even hotter. I felt super slow, and just couldn’t get into a rhythm. I stopped at a post office to send some stuff home, and then I went to a cafe for some lunch. After only 22 miles, I felt exhausted and wiped. I decided to go 40 miles to the next town and get an early hotel to cool off. I left in the hottest part of the day and really struggled riding through it because of the intense heat from the sun and humidity. Some people told me that the heat index was around 100. Once I got there, I got a cheap hotel that had a nearby laundromat. It’s been 16 days since my clothes have been in a washing machine, although I do typically rinse/wash them in sinks. I got some food and loaded up on snacks for the next day, and I got to bed around 8:30pm since I had such a short day.
Sleeping location: local motel
Day 27: 129 miles
The motel paid off as I had a great day today. I left the motel and was pedaling at 4:31am. I wanted to get a break from the heat since it’s been overwhelming the past few days. A mile into the ride, I saw a bike light flashing 2 miles in front of me. I ended up catching up to the guy before the sun came up. Once I got there, I met Will. He recently retired and is doing the Trans Am route by himself. We had a great morning riding together, and it sure did make the morning seem less miserable having someone to talk to. We rode for about 40 miles together before he took a longer break at a convenience store to take a break from the early morning heat. I ended making it to 92 miles before 1:30pm. I started to feel some of the effects from the heat, humidity, and sun, so I took a 2.5 hour break. I took my time with lunch at a cafe then sat in a shaded park for about an hour and a half. I took off at 5pm when it was still hot but the sun was less intense. I rode my last 35 miles before the sunset. In town, I ate an awesome Mexican restaraunt and got set up in a park. There’s a pool in the park, so there was a public bathroom with a shower. I didn’t have any soap or towels, but the cool water felt nice even after I air dried while I set up my spot. Today started to feel more like home since it was humid, the hills were steep, it smelled like cow poop, and there are plenty of farms!
Sleeping location: park pavilion
Day 28: 75 miles
Some days I feel great, and some days I don’t. Today was another not so great day. I woke up early after a decent sleep, and I set off a little after 5:30am. Once again, I couldn’t get my legs back under me. I struggled with the steep hills here in Missouri in the early morning. I stopped at miles 8 and 15 to break at convenience stores. My stomach gets really upset in the mornings, and it’s tough to get down much food. I drank a Gatorade at each and a coffee drink at the second. I realized pretty early it wasn’t going to be a long day. The humidity seemed to be a little less intense today. Either that, or I am getting used to it again. However, the Ozarks are tough. I pretty much constantly finding myself going uphill or downhill between 6-10% inclines/declines. It gets pretty tiring after a while! I settled in to my final town for the night and got dinner at a small family cafe. I was able to take my time and set up in a park to get to bed early. From here, I have a good chance of being able to stay at churches the next two nights as long as my body can hold up with the heat and hills.
Sleeping location: park pavilion
Day 29: 107 miles
I slept pretty well, but I wasn’t the only one in the park. The town was celebrating the 4th of July the night after I was there, and they were busy setting up everything for part of my stay. There was a truck that had a cooler in it for drinks that automatically turned itself on every 10 minutes all night. At 2:30am, I could hear a group of guys walking around talking about changes they made in the park from last year. I got up early and had all of my stuff packed just before sunrise. I grabbed some food at the convenience store and took off. It was actually kind of chilly in the morning. I rode with my light windbreaker on for the first time since Colorado! The cool air felt nice even though it was still humid and foggy. Unfortunately, one of my early stops had a convenience store closed since it was a Sunday which left a larger gap in between services. The morning and afternoon hills were tough, but I thought they were pretty manageable. I got into my next town at about 2:30 when it was blazing hot and the hills started to get longer and way steeper. I stopped for about an hour before I decided to keep going so I could get there before the restaurants closed. This 27 mile stretch was one of the most challenging stretches of the trip. In 19 miles, I had climbed 2,000 feet, and I had also gone down about 2,000 feet. The climbs were usually 5-10 minute climbs, but the steepness was unreal. These were the kinds of hills that make your car tired. Like when we wonder if the engine is going to explode or if your brakes will catch on fire! I stopped for a couple short breaks to catch my breath. I finally got into town and went to a pizza shop and loaded up on spaghetti and meatballs. I settled into a hostel that the town had built for cyclists to stay. Fortunately, I had the whole place to myself!
Sleeping location: hostel
Day 30: 107 miles
I’m glad no one else came into the hostel last night, allowing me to sleep pretty well again. Once I got all my stuff together, I rode over to the convenience store to grab some food before heading uphill. The morning ride was very slow, but the conditions were decent. Although humid, it wasn’t very hot yet, and I was headed north. This allowed the sunrise to be blocked by the trees on the right side of me. Later in the morning, it was mostly cloudy allowing me to hide from the sun for a while. I rode for about 46 miles until I stopped for lunch. A couple miles after lunch, some dot watchers were waiting for me at the top of the hill! I enjoyed talking to Wayne and Holly before heading back into the heat. I made it to my next town and grabbed a light snack. I was looking at my sheet of the towns and services, and I misread some of the numbers. I thought my next convenience store was 13 miles down the road. Once I got to mile 14, I stopped and realized it was a 35 mile gap. I had enough food on me, but I would have liked to have more water since it got into the 90s in the afternoon. Regardless, I made it and enjoyed some Gatorade and water to replenish. I set out for my last stretch of the day. I said goodbye to Missouri as I crossed over the Mississippi and hello to Illinois! Just a few miles after the bridge, I got dinner and settled into a hotel as I was in need of a shower with soap and a towel, a warm bed, and space to lay out all of my stuff.
Sleeping location: hotel