Day 24: Strafford, MO to Rolla, MO
Distance: 106 miles
Climbing: 4,000 feet
I’m going to try to make this short, because I have got to start getting to bed earlier.
Pavement was dry when I looked out the window this morning, but the NWS radar showed a big orange and red blotch headed our way. Sure enough, it was raining by the time we loaded our bags at 7:30, and for the next few hours, I was riding in an out-and-out thunderstorm.
You know that Jackson Browne song that goes “You love the thunder… you love the rain”?
That’s a stupid song.
Lon, Susan and some other folks left just a bit ahead of me, and when I got to the first rest stop in Conway at mile 26, they were just leaving. I set a personal record on this trip for being in and out of a rest stop – just grabbed some bars and went. It was still raining, but I imagined that it might be letting up just a little bit.
By the time I got to the rest stop in Lebanon, it had stopped raining, although the road was still quite wet. I tried riding with Lon and Franz from this point, but I couldn’t really stick with them on the endless corrugated Missouri rollers and, even if I could, the spray from their rear wheels made it seem like it was still raining. I think they slowed down for me, though, because I did follow them more or less all the way to the third rest stop, where Susan re-joined the group, having gone off in the van between stops two and three to mail off Lon’s defunct Macintosh to a repair center.
Vicki and Tim Arnold were riding with us off and on from this point, as well, and it was this group that had lunch at a nice German deli in Waynesville. By now, the sun was shining brightly, and I had stripped off my rain jacket, rain pants, wool gloves, booties, wool long-sleeved t-shirt, and knee warmers.
Lon, Susan and I all agreed that nice days are that much nicer when they follow a few hours of really horrific weather such as we had this morning. This part of Missouri is really beautiful, too.
After lunch, we got to ride some vintage concrete pavement to and through the “Devil’s Elbow” bridge (the term refers to a bend in the river that loggers hated, apparently) and through the “Big Notch.” I remembered this section from the 2001 Central Pac Tour because I had left my camera in the van on that day for fear of getting it wet. (Ever wonder why Missouri is so green?) This time I got some pictures.
Our next stop was at around 100 miles, in a little town called Newberg. Sodas and ice creams. Then a final big climb before getting to Rolla (with a brief stop at the Wolfman’s Trading Post, which is some kind of weird cross between folk art, a giant yard sale, and an adult video store).
Tomorrow: rain, maybe; climbing, definitely.