TRIP 2012

Update #15 - July 29th
Arnold, Missouri
795.68 miles (1,273.09 KM)

The third week of the trip have been pretty good. I started the week heading out of Union City, Tennessee and I ended the week in Arnold, Missouri. I had ridden 317.45 miles (507.92 KM). The key factors have been the heat which has been in the high 90s Fahrenheit with the heat indexes in the low 100s Fahrenheit. I also had to deal with strong winds up to 25mph (40 Kmph), brief rain showers, and lots of hills. Some pf the climbs were over 1 mile (1.6 KM) long.

I've been getting on the road before 7 AM and trying to get off the road around 2 PM but this hasn't always been the case. Last night, I was still on the road till around 10 PM. I made stops for the night in Fulton, Kentucky; Charleston, Cape Girardeau, Perryville, and Arnold, Missouri.

Monday (July 23rd) - Dyersburg, Tennessee and Union City, Tennessee - The ride was pretty flat. I had one obstacle and that was between Trimble and Obion. There were some old bridges that had been closed to traffic but I was able to walk them. The heat was still high so I was happy to come across a motel outside of Union City. This motel was the Super 8 that I was looking for but it had changed owners earlier in the year.

Tuesday (July 24th) - Union City, Tennessee to Fulton, Kentucky - I was hoping to catch the ferry across the Mississippi River to the Boothill of Southeast Missouri in nearby Hickman,Kentucky but it was closed because the water level of the River was too low. I didn't find this out until I got to the Kentucky State Line. The only thing that I could do was turn around and backtrack to Union City and then head Northeast to South Fulton, Mississippi and cross the state line into Fulton, Kentucky. After taking the traditional pictures of Alice at the state line, I rode through town and stopped at a motel north of town because the temperature was already getting into the upper 90s Fahrenheit.

Wednesday (July 25th) - Fulton, Kentucky to Charleston, Missouri - I got back on the US 51 early and started the ride to Wickliffe. Kentucky. The ride went really well and there was a tailwind to push me along. I quicky rode through Clinton, Arlington, and Bardwell, Kentucky. There was one hill to climb over just south of Wickliffe. I got into Wickliffe around 11:20 PM. There was one hotel in town but there was a sign on the door that said that it was closed till around 4 PM. There was no way that I was going to wait four hours in the heat. After a lunch break, I headed over to the Ohio River bridge. The bridge is a narrow two-lane bridge with no shoulder. I carefully walked over to the high point of the bridge and then I rode across the rest of the way into Illinois. Truck traffic was heavy but they were courteous.

I was really surprised at how low the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers were. It looked like the rivers were at least 15 feet below level. There were a lot of barges parked along the edge of the river.

 Ohio River Bridge

 Ohio River Bridge

I was now on the Southern tip of Illinois. I was near where the Ohio River joined the Mississippi River. I could have stopped for the day in Cairo, Illinois about one mile away but I really don't like Cairo since it is really economically depressed. There is supposed to be a motel there but I didn't want to head into town to find out if it was still open. According to my map, the first town in Missouri was Charleston and it was 16 miles away. Charleston was on I-57 and there were a couple of motels in the area. I only had about a mile in Illinois before I got on the Ohio River Bridge on US 60. The bridge across the Mississippi River was a narrow bridge also. Truck traffic was lighter so I was able to ride most of the way. Halfway across the bridge and in the middle of the Ohio River I crossed into Missouri.

 Mississippi River Bridge

 Mississippi River Bridge

 Mississippi River Bridge

Thursday (July 26th) - Charleston, Missouri to Cape Giradeua, Missouri - I was going to ride west to Sikeston and then turn north to Cape Girardeau. When I got into downtown Charleston, I came across a sign for the MRT (Mississippi River Trail). It was so tempting that I turned northwards. The ride went pretty well until I got to Scott City. US 61 joined I-55 and there was no way that I could get on the interstate. I needed a break so I stopped for a late lunch at a Burger King. It was good that I did because I met up with a group of older gentlemen and two of them offered to take me up I-55 and drop me off where US 61 became a highway again. The sky was getting dark and I learned that the area was in a thunderstorm warning. I had seen a sign for a Super 8. I checked in about an hour before the skies opened up and the downpour started.

Friday (July 27th) - Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Perryville, Missouri - I headed north towards Perryville. It was a long day because there was a lot of hills to get over. Because of the hills, I was only able to make 23 miles (36.8 km) by noontime. I rode through Jackson, Fruitland, Old Appleton, Uniontown, Longtown, and Friedenburg. It was around 4 PM when I got to Perryville. I stopped for a short break. The sky was getting dark again. A lady stopped me and she told me that she was a cyclist also. She asked me if I needed a place to stay. I wasn't sure where I was going to stay because I wasn't sure if there were going to be any motel rooms since the local tractor club was holding an antique tractor ride tomorrow. She called around and got hold of her priest who was involved with the local ministerial association. The association offered to get me a room at the Days Inn near the interstate Sw of town. On the way to the motel, I got soaked from a brief rain shower.

Saturday (July 28th) - Perryville, Missouri to Arnold, Missouri - I was hoping to have a little better ride than yesterday. After a good free breakfast, I headed out to Crystal City - Festus area where I had seen a couple motels on my route using Microsoft Streets and Trips. Because of the storms the past couple of days, the temperature and humidity was a lot cooler. I made over 32 miles (51.2 km) by noon. I rode through Brewer, St. Mary, St. Genevieve, and Bloomdale. It was a long and hilly day. I was so happy when I got into Crystal City area around 5 PM. When I got on US 61/US 62/Bus I-55, I started to look for the motel but it wasn't there. What I learned later on in the day was that the motel had been torn down several months ago. I was hoping that there was another one but I didn't find anything. I rode through Herculeneum, Pevely, and Barnhart. I looked for a place to even camp out but I couldn't find a place.

It was around 8 PM when I got into Imperial. I decided to give up going north on US 61 and head over to the interstate to see if there might be any motels around the interchange. There weren't any motels. I stopped at a gas station west of the interstate to take a break, get my bearings, and get my NiteRider lighting system. Before putting it on, I checked out the light but it didn't turn on. The battery pack didn't have enough charge in it. I had charged the battery just three nights ago. I had a small Cateye headlight but it didn't turn on either. I changed the batteries but it didn't turn on either. Upon investigation, I found out that the wires connecting the light to the battery unit had broken off. There was no way that I could get back on the road again without a working headlight. I had working tail-lights and retroreflective safety tape.

In the dimming light, I saw a cross on top of a church not too far away. I walked over there and found out that it was St. Joseph Catholic Church. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot but no activity at the church. There was some kind of play going on in the school gymansium. I was really hurting when I got into the school and the two ladies in the concession stand had pity on me. One of the ladies gave me a bottle of cold water, a grape juice box, and a bag of popcorn. The other lady got on the phone to see if there was somebody who could help me since the priests would be unavailable for a couple of hours. If I would have been able to ride five more miles up to Arnold, I could have found a couple of motels. The Jefferson County Sheriff department in nearby Hillsboro was contacted. Two officers came out and one of them had a truck. Thanks to them I got to the Comfort Inn in Arnold. It was around 10 PM, when I got checked in and got Alice into my room.

Sunday (July 29th) - Arnold, Missouri - When I woke up around 5 AM, I knew that I wasn't going anywhere. My legs were screaming and I couldn't hardly walk. I haven't really had a complete day off since Vicksburg, Mississippi on Friday, July 13th. I had ridden 611 miles (978 km) without a break. Today wouldn't have been a good day to ride anyway. Around 10 AM, it started to pour. I spent most of the day in bed.

What's in store next week. One of the things would be to get through the St. Louis area. I'm not going to be riding through it but ride around it on the west. The hardest thing would be a bicycle friendly bridge across the Missouri River. There is supposed to be one bridge and that is on MO 364 between Maryland Heights and St Charles. I'll probably stop early in Chesterfield tomorrow. For the next couple of days the temperature is going to be in the triple digits. US 61 doesn't become a bike friendly highway till around Wentzville. I'm thinking about following on the MRT which is on MO 79. I might be riding that till at least Hannibal, Missouri.

I'll try and add a new update every week or two weeks along the way so the next one will be posted around August 05th or August 12th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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