I have been asked many times why I wanted to ride a bicycle across the county. Having completed the trip, the question became easy to answer. Before I left, I’m not sure I even could answer it. I am a bicentennial baby, born in 1976. This is the same year the Bikecentennial route was created as a celebration of our 200 years as a country. Thousands of cyclists rode across the country on that route during the inaugural year.
I searched without success for a lightweight, waterproof bag to protect my Martin Backpacker Guitar. Typical dry bags used for water sports are overbuilt for bicycle touring and backpacking use, where weight is a very large factor. They use clear vinyl or heavier vinyl coated cloth and weigh many pounds.
We woke up at 5:30 and were ready to set out riding by 6:15. Scott was the only one of the group up yet and he was standing there to hand me a card. We got a chuckle that each of us had cards. He just completed an England to Singapore tour in 2001-2002, is currently on a Trans-Am for 2002, and plans a long tour through South America in 2002-2003.
Dad and I left the motel at 7:30. We hoped to get some miles in before the heat started baking. I took a photo of the breakfast spot from yesterday on the way out. Restaurant next to motel When I started to stop in Fair Grove, I noticed a Discount Sporting goods place across from the gas station I was initially going to pull into.
I had trouble sleeping through the snoring of two parents, and woke up tired. I had hoped to get some time in Springfield last night, but I arrived too late. If we pushed for Ash Grove, we could drive back into Springfield, but I wouldn’t get into there until late again.
I woke up at 8 AM, after less than 5 hours of sleep. Dad had left at 5:50, to get an early start on the day. He slept at least an hour more that I did, even leaving early. Probably closer to 2 more. I stopped early at a gas station and taco bell to get some sports drink just before 10.
Today was my first day alone in quite a while. While dad had ridden ahead some days, we eventually linked up. The thunderstorm that was threatening us during dinner last night never passed and all evening was dry. I started slow and was left by the van as I sat down to apply my sunscreen.
When I finally got up, I was told that dad had ridden ahead. I started getting ready. I forgot to empty the camera’s memory cards and had to do that, along with several other things that I hadn’t thought of needing to do the night before. I didn’t get going until after I wanted.
The Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is 8,470 acres around the East Fork of the Black River. The Shut-Ins are formed by blue-gray steel hard volcanic rock. These rocks were formed when violent volcanic eruptions exploded, causing material to avalanche down layer upon layer, forming the rocks exposed today.
I found a few roads that took us back to the Trans-Am route at Doe Run. The GPS helps again. We headed into Pilot Knob (named for a local mountain peak.) Pilot Knob and Iron Mountain were both mined heavily for their Iron Ore in the early 1800’s.