Average Speed: 15.4 mph; Max Speed: 26.7 mph
Elevation Gain: 333 ft
Average Temp: 93.7 F; Temp Range: 64.4-113.0 F
Hot. Dry and hot and sunny and hot. That was my day. I woke up early, again before my alarm, and set about breaking camp. I debated cooking breakfast vs eating a cold meal, but ultimately made the oatmeal and coffee and ate it while I packed up everything else. One more visit to the super shady pit toilets (one of them had a spider the size of my thumbnail lurking in the depths, and I judged it best not to disturb her) and I hit the road.
Like yesterday, the day started out with a lovely tailwind, and the miles practically flew by. Empty, open, sunny miles with little to look at but powerlines and mostly empty fields.
My first stop of the day was 20 miles in, in Eads, where they have a sign marking the halfway point on the TransAmerica Trail. Of course, a sign such as this one deserves a photograph to mark the occasion.
The day was already heating up by this point—and it was only 9 o’clock—and there was very little shade around except for in the towns. The maps warned of a stretch of 58 miles with very few services available, so I filled up the Camelbak bladder with extra water just in case.
In reality, the ‘very limited services’ mentioned on the map only extended for around 25 miles before I reached a town with a convenience store. There I bought a cold drink (raspberry lemonade) and a small loaf of apple cake (bread?). I sat in the back to enjoy the cool air as I ate, then sat a little longer outside in the shade by my bike before I could convince myself to ride some more.
As I rode, the day got hotter and hotter, and my lukewarm water became less and less satisfying even as I knew I had to drink more. I began counting the miles to the next town, since that was the only place I could reasonably expect to find some shade. One thing about open, flat, treeless expanses is that you can see a long way. This is bothy a blessing and a curse. I knew there was shade up ahead but my brain is not used to being able to see for so many miles, and finds it hard to properly judge the distance. Still, I knew it was my destination in sight, and that gave me some relief.
I passed a man and a woman, both had started out on their own but had joined up on the road. The man’s neighbors were driving through and they were all talking and laughing and taking pictures on the side of the road. The assured me that I was, in fact, looking at my destination, and even recommended a restaurant in town.
I got into town and had to use google maps to find the town park, which is back a ways from the highway. As the ACA maps said I should, I called the sheriff to check in, then call the family since I hadn’t done so yesterday for lack of cell service. The town park is nice, situated across from the pool, tennis courts, and baseball field. The pool closes at 5, but the building associated with it stays open all night for cyclists to have access to bathrooms, a (cold) shower, and shelter should the weather turn nasty.
It was around 3:45, over 90 degrees, and the heat had totally drained me, so I stretched out in the shade under the gazebo and fell asleep for a bit. I woke up to the sound of a bike freewheel clicking, and looked over to see that another rider had arrived. Dolly is the 3rd solo woman rider I’ve met, and is headed west. After we had both rested a bit and gotten cleaned up, we went out to eat. The place we went was a local bar that served frozen pizzas, but unfortunately didn’t have any that were vegetarian. While Dolly waited for her pizza to be heated up, I booked it back to the local grocery store to arrive about 5 minutes before they closed. I returned to the bar with my spoils and sat enjoying a cold Coke and the cool room.
Tomorrow is predicted to be very hot, as in a high of over 100, so I’m thinking of setting off as early as possible. In fact, given that it’s not very buggy, I probably won’t even set up my tent tonight, but will sleep under the gazebo. That and a cold breakfast should allow me to set off before the day heats up too much.
Roadkill count: 8 birds, 4 unknown mammals, 2 snakes