Biologist on a Bike

Day 45: Fair Grove, MO to Hartville, MO


Distance: 41.89 mi
Average Speed: 11.5 mph; Max Speed: 32.6 mph
Elevation gain: 1,670 ft
Average Temp: 89.2 F; Temp Range: 71.6-102.2 F

I planned to start today the way I have the last few days, by waking up exceedingly early and getting in some good mileage before the day began to heat up. Somewhere around 10 PM, I decided that plan needed to change, since all the people with fireworks were not letting me sleep. Most of the fireworks weren’t that bad, but there were periodical loud cracks like nearby lightning that would jolt me awake from near sleep. I turned off my alarms and decided that I’d cut today short.

I woke up a bit before 6, still tired, and went about starting my day. Oatmeal, banana, coffee (lots of coffee), and packing up as usual. I got on the road a bit before 8 AM.

Where I woke up, Day 45

Marshfield was only 17 miles away, but by the time I arrived, I already felt awful. A poor  night of sleep can mess with you in so many ways. I stopped at a Casey’s General Store (this place is rapidly becoming one of my favorite spots) and got an iced coffee and two blueberry muffins. Then, since this Casey’s didn’t have a seating area the way most of them do, I sat outside in the shade to rest and let my body absorb some of the calories. Food helped, but I was still feeling blah.

While entering Marshfield I passed a man and a woman on loaded touring bikes headed west. The road was a busy 2 lanes in each directly, though, so we just shouted our greetings and well-wishes.

Between Marshfield and Hartville were 27 miles of road with no towns, a fair number of houses, and altogether too many steep hills. It was while I was plodding my way up one of these that I passed another touring cyclist, this one with both panniers and a trailer. Curious, I peeked in the trailer. It housed a dog! It’s kinda cool to think of being able to bring pets along for the ride. I think my cockatiel would have died from some of the temperature extremes, and my cat would have either not cared or have torn a hole in the side of the trailer and escaped. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream a bit.

The road is never flat. Ever.

Yesterday, I had to turn off my audiobook because the wind (sometimes normal headwind, sometimes the wind of a descent) made it impossible to hear everything and I was missing bits. Today, given the short ride, I didn’t even bother pulling out the headphones and iPod. Instead I watched the hills, mentally cursed at the hills, and daydreamed a bit, but not more than is safe on a narrow country road.

Hartville is on a hill. Whether you approach it from the east or from the west, you’ve got to climb to get there. I haven’t ridden the eastern hill yet, but the western one is wickedly steep. It’s about 200 ft of climbing over the course of a mile, but two thirds of the climb is concentrated in the first half of that mile. Right about the point where the grade became a bit shallower, I found a patch of shade and stopped to catch my breath and have a drink.

I brought a metal water bottle for use as a foam roller, but it is currently one of my favorite possessions. Even in the hot weather I’ve been riding in of late, this bottle keeps my water chilled, a trait that is more than welcome. The polar “insulated” bottle, on the other hand, might as well be a plain old $2 bottle from Walmart, like the one I got rid of because I couldn’t get it out of the bottle cage. The water in there warms up only slightly less quickly than in my other non-insulated bottle.

The joys of ice water in 90 degree weather aside, I got to Hartville a few minutes later and pulled up to a gas station to sit in the shade and look at my maps. It was only a bit after 1PM and I had time to strike out for Houston. But I had felt so off this morning, and while I do occasionally ignore my body’s signals, I usually end up regretting doing so. So, I bought some snacks at the station’s convenience store and went over to the courthouse lawn to scope things out, since camping was allowed there.

The courthouse lawn has several large trees and a number of benches arranged underneath them. I rested in the shade for an hour or so, eating my snacks and reading from my kindle. A local man stopped to chat with me, telling me about the town, places to get food and water, the roads, and his own bike, a Schwinn model that was produced in limited quantities.

A little while later, I decided to ride the extra half mile to the other side of town to scope out the town park as a place to set up camp. The courthouse was beautiful, but it didn’t have ready water access and I wasn’t banking on access to the restrooms either. The park is lovely, overlooking a lake, with two large pavilions, both equipped with multiple electrical outlets. There are also bathrooms, but no shower and no water.

The pond is covered with enough green stuff that I didn’t even consider taking a swim.

Around 4, I rode back into town to check out the local eatery. I got a grilled cheese sandwich and spicy curly fries. The sandwich was good. The fries were tasty but not what I would call spicy. Seasoned might be a better term. Still good, though. I finished the meal off with a large bowl of ice cream. Mmmmm.

I’m back at the park now and planning to make up for last night’s lost sleep. Tomorrow there should be a bit of a break in the heat, but that is bringing with it the possibility of morning and early afternoon thunderstorms. I’d like to get some miles in before the bad weather hits, if possible.

Roadkill count: 5 birds, 3 armadillos, 1 possum, 3 raccoons, 3 skunks, 1 squirrel, 9 unknown mammals, 1 snake, 2 turtles

Map Day 45

6 thoughts on “Day 45: Fair Grove, MO to Hartville, MO

  1. Connie Joki

    Happy you stopped today early, listening to your body. Sounds like the rolling hills of Missouri are taking there tolls on you. Hang in there you are doing great!

  2. Suzan Lauder

    Hills are a lot of work! I’m a hill walker for the most part. Glad you’re tackling them even if it’s a pain to do so. Your views look prettier than some in the past, that’s for certain. I’m wishing for cooler days down there for your benefit!

  3. Andrew Roth

    Hills are funny in the east. Maybe less dramatic than those big mountain passes, but steeper I think. And that up and down thing – cogs aplenty. I did more walking in the east than in the west.

  4. Terrance E. Johnson, Sr.

    Just to let you know some of us from KKC are following your brave adventure good luck and God’s speed.
    Your student,

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