Grafton, IL to Hannibal, MO 97 miles Rain!!
A breakfast under the stars before the sun even thought of rising today!! With the knowledge that the ride was almost a century in length and the days having been warm and humid the general consensus was to start at first crack of light. 5:45 am and everyone was ready to rubble -- unfortunately so were the heavens. First as a drizzle, then a more progressive stream of water, the skies opened not to a beautiful sunrise, but rather a dark, cloudy rain. Switching into rain gear the group rode the short stretch to the Brussels Ferry with was to carry us over the Illinois River. This ferry was actually a barge being pushed and pulled by a tug boat!!
Rolling through the hills with the misty haze hanging over the fields was surprisingly very pleasant. The rain was soft, the air warm and the road with very little traffic. Twenty miles further down a second ferry was in order. This time to get us back into Missouri.
This section of the Mississippi River Trail follows the rivers meandering, but from a distance. Every once in awhile one can see the river through the trees or down in the valley. The terrain is hilly in relationship to the first day. The towns are few and far between. Most of these inhabited areas are small farm towns created as a meeting place for the residence of the large farms that cover the countryside. Corn is the major crop of this area and the fields go on as far as the eye can see. Names like Foley, Elsberry, and Annada sit on the map, but are hardly noticed as we pedal on through.
Clarksville did have a "Corner Cafe" which begged a stop for lunch at 10:30am. When one is faced with almost 100 miles to ride in a day, breakfast can be eaten at anytime and as often as there is a place to buy food!!!
Next town - Louisiana!! and the Bistro Cafe. Only ten miles down the road from Clarksville, but the need is there for refueling!!
And the refueling came just in time. The last twenty five miles were mountains!! They climbed forever up at 6-8 degrees. For those unfamiliar with what a 6-8 degree hill is -- just think steep, no think very steep!!!! One after another giving the body no rest. The rain by this time was slowing to a stop, but the roads were still wet and the trucks still sprayed as they passed. A few downs were sprinkled in to make one think the worst was over, only to be met with another up as the town of Hannibal appeared in the distance. True to form also the motel was at the top of a hill on the other side of town.!!
Of the twenty seven riders only eight made the entire 97 miles. Approximately half stopped at the 50 mile marker wet and tired of fighting off the rain. Several more ventured another ten and then pulled the plug. Me -- another BIG BANG from my tire at around the 60 mile mark. This time, however, it was not repairable. A good size nail had entered at the running surface of the tire, bent itself 90 degrees and came out in the sidewall just above the rim. The tire was a complete lose. Two tires in two days -- not good batting average for a touring bicyclist!! Tomorrow will bring better times!!
Nail in Tire -- Note top
Close Up! Of Nail