• Robert Henning

Day 28: St. Louis Blues

June 28, 2022. 92 miles. 3,120 ft of elevation gain. Perryville, MO to Chesterfield, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. We awoke in Perryville and made breakfast for our host, Fraser Head. I scarfed down my breakfast to buy time for the other tasks I needed to do before our departure. I have been on water filling duty for the week. Each week, we hold meetings and discuss roles, independent of food prep, which is more on the fly. There is a process to fill over 20 water bottles quickly, efficiently, and quietly if breakfast is also going on. I’m reminded of my class, 6.004, where we built a microprocessor from scratch. Like a microprocessor executing instructions from basic codes, filling water bottles is like a pipeline. The pipeline model is generalized to this use case because it abstractly represents a series of tasks that occur in sequence, with various properties that affect the dynamics of their execution. The systems thinking mindset from college has practical applications for Spokes! After the water bottles were filled, we packed our bags, took a photo with Fraser, and then hit the road.

Like our last 90ish-mile day, we had three separate sections instead of our usual two.

As we maneuvered out of Perryville, I settled in for my usual fare of playlists, long-form listenable material, and tired legs.

During our first leg, we ran into some of the most challenging terrains of our entire trip. A gravel road that Google Maps took us on was being paved, so it lacked gravel and was loose and unsubstantial. The feeling of gliding through the loose earth and drifting from tire track to tire track reminded me of the fluidity of surfing. When that country road reached its challenging downhill portion, we discovered a new mode of transit for the ride: walking down a hill because it was too uneven and treacherous. As we reached the end of the decline, we saw the tractor working on the road, with the wide-eyed operator who must have thought we were crazy.

Around 7 miles from our first significant resting point of the day, I noticed what looked like the bottom of a glass soda bottle, but with the entire bottle absent save for a spike that stood up from the base. While I saw it in time and dodged it, I heard a loud pop and hiss from Maxwell’s bike behind mine a few moments later. We stopped and attempted to plug the hole but ended up having Simone bring her bike to swap out the tire. After that, we enjoyed a hard-earned downhill and finished our first 30 miles.

We stopped and had our first significant break of the day at a spot fittingly named Roadside Park. To boost our carbs and blood sugar, we had Hawaiian buns with fruit and vegetables.

A giant Black Rat Snake surprised us when it climbed a tree only a few feet away from our picnic table. It hid away in a tree hole, and then we left it alone. Snakes can climb trees!

We started the next leg of our trip, another 30 miles, this portion with more heat.

We stopped at Mastodon State Park for lunch and had a delicious rotisserie chicken. It was our third meal of the day, and at 4pm, it felt like dinner.

We met a Ham radio operator who was in the park near us. It was fun to hear him establish contact with other Ham radio operators, with a message sent to someone in Connecticut!

Our last 30 miles had 2 options on Google Maps: 3 hours or 2 hours. Since it was late and we wanted to ride in the daylight, we took the option to get us there in two hours, but it was on the noisy shoulder of a major highway.

We arrived in Chesterfield and met our host, Noah. He made some delicious ramen when we originally planned to forgo dinner for some light snacks. We enjoyed meeting the family dog, Moca, and got ready for bed. The city of St. Louis is on the Mississippi River, which has strong ties to the history of jazz. The song St. Louis Blues goes back to the early days of jazz, and is penned by a local Henderson native, W. C. Handy. The city of St. Louis has a hockey team called the St. Louis Blues! Check out this version of St. Louis Blues, by Louis Armstrong: here

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