Day 25: Rolla, MO to Saint Louis, MO
Distance: 108 miles
Climbing: 5,200 feet
Well, that was a doozie.
We got an early start this morning, with bags loaded at 7:30 and everyone on the road not much later. It wasn’t raining when we left, but it was pretty obvious that rain was in the cards. This was Day 3 of the “three-day rain event,” and it did not disappoint.
My legs actually felt pretty good once they got warmed up on the hill leaving our motel. The first twenty miles of short up and down hills went pretty quickly. I rode by myself today more than any other of this trip – I just wanted to concentrate on getting to the other end of the route card as quickly as possible.
The first rain shower came less than an hour into the ride. I stopped and put on all my rain stuff – and the rain quit. So, I took of my rain jacket but left the pants on.
Most of the day, we were riding frontage roads to I-44, with some really lovely scenery.
At around 45 miles, I stopped at another rest stop and decided to take off my rain pants but left my booties on. As I left, the rain started up again, but it wasn’t heavy enough to get me to put the rain pants back on. By mile 73, I was riding in just shorts, knee warmers, and a long-sleeved jersey. I stopped for a quick lunch at Hardee’s in Pacific, where I had two $1.19 cheeseburgers. “You mean the little bitty ones?” asked the counter lady.
As I left Hardee’s the rain started up again, but it still wasn’t enough to make me put on my rain stuff. I knew, though, that as the cold front moved in the temps could drop.
Since I was riding by myself, I paid very close attention to the directions on the route card. The two things I really didn’t need today were to get lost or to get a flat tire.
At around 90 miles, Lon’s route took us through what the card described as “steep rural roads next 6 miles.” This was where all hell broke loose.
When Lon says something’s steep, you’d better believe it. These were the steepest hills I’d seen since La Cienega Blvd. on the first day. And all of a sudden, I was riding in a real storm. Trees were bending in the wind and water was gushing down the street in sheets. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in heavier rain. Lon later told me that he, Susan, and some others waited out that part of the storm in a Steak and Shake.
I quickly put all my raingear back on: jacket, pants, booties. It seemed like the strongest wind was actually pushing me up some of the hills. I kept thinking what a pretty ride it would have been under different circumstances. It was dramatic, though.
Once through this section, I got on Route 30 for most of the rest of the way – lots of traffic, which normally wouldn’t bother me too much, but visibility wasn’t great and I was trying very, very hard not to miss any turns.
Somehow, I made it in just a little after 4:00, with an average speed (including stops) of exactly 12 mph.
For dinner, we went to Phil’s Barbecue with a bunch of Susan’s relatives and then to Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard for dessert.
The weather tomorrow still looks bad, but at least it’s only a little over 70 miles.