Day 26: Missouri Mileage
Friday, June 30, 2023
Mountain Grove -> Springfield, MO
70 mi, 4000 ft elevation
The crew (but once again not me because I was driving) forged on through Missouri. Personally, I have not loved Missouri biking since we had to share the road with a lot of trucks coming out of council bluff: it's hot (a couple 100 degree days), there's headwinds, the hills are rolling but also less predictable and more winding, and we hit some really bad gravel for multiple miles on Thursday. Below is pictured the gravel and one of the steep hills we had to walk for safety.
Nevertheless, Missouri has had a lot of variety that people are enjoying since there are cows, crop fields, cities and cute towns, streams, and some forests. The team did have to deal with more strong headwinds today while pushing to avoid the high temps of the day.
While the team was sweating and struggling, Kat and I had a leisurely day. We got gas, groceries, and I took some phone calls for AFROTC (while safely in a parking lot of course). After arriving in Springfield, we also swung by a bike shop to pickup tire sealant (Vin's flats consumed our stash) and bike degreaser for cleaning our now well-loved rides. Kat and I even had time to grab Panera for lunch which was a real treat! I just had a fancier version of what I eat every day (a cheese sandwich), but it was still delightful when followed with a big cookie.
I really like bike shop people. I'm not sure if I'm just lucky, but they seem to always be so excited to share knowledge about their niche and to be helpful and smiling. Just as I love talking about my own special subjects and going into the depths no one usually considers, I think bike people are also excited when an outsider/bike-newbie enters the surprisingly vast world of cycling. There are so many different kinds of bikes and tools and tech for a huge range of uses. I'm still learning lots about my bike and cycling in general even this far into the trip!
Armed with the new degreaser, I cleaned my chain, cassette and derailleurs which was a simple yet surprisingly fulfilling task. (I really should have taken photos, sorry for being a bad blogger this time. Videos are coming in the future to make up for it!) Our chains get really dirty since the oil builds a layer of grease that gets on everything and is nearly impossible to wash off. I have accepted that there will be chain grease stains on every item I own by the end of this trip. Degreaser fits this chain grease, and allows you to fully remove all the gunk and contaminants covering your bike. It's pretty easy to: just spray, let sit, the hose off. After I dried everything thoroughly with a clean microfiber towel (and the power of the 100 degree sun) and re-oiled my chain. While I want to learn, I'm really not much of a bike mechanic at this point, so it was nice to do a little bit of this kind of basic maintenance. I have even been rewarded with a noticeably quieter ride Saturday!
The rest of the day was spent by the team sheltering from the heat, watching Netflix or YouTube, and doing other routine tasks and maintenance. We finished with a big lasagna dinner (thank you Cindy!) and early bed because Saturday is our first 100 mile ride! Saturday brings a new month, a new state, and a new team accomplishment so stay tuned!