Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Rest day and Day 10 - Fight back

In contrast to my previous days blogs, I am going to start this days blog from the night before...
As usual I was catching up with messages from friends and family when I received an email. A friend of mine has just been told of a cancer diagnosis. Obviously this upset me a huge amount, especially as this person is one of the truly, genuinely good people of this world, but I am sharing this to put all this adventure into some kind of context.
Whatever difficulty or challenge I face on this journey will never come close to the challenges faced by people battling illness.  And it highlights the importance of the work done by Love Hope Strength foundation and Delete Blood Cancer both in the UK, Usa and spreading round the world, thanks to the work of people like Mike and Jules Peters, James Chippendale and everyone connected with these charities in the fight.
So before I continue the blog for day 10 - my friend - today I cycle with you in mind... and in the words of MP, Fight back fight back fight back with all that you are!

Day 10 began with an unfortunate glance at the weather update... storms passing over head, flooding in Texas, winds gusting up to 40mph...remind me never to do that again. Its much easier to face the weather as it hits you than dread it coming, but having seen that I was eager to get a good start, just in case things turned really bad.
Of course then everything took longer to do, and I didn't get my foot on the pedal until half 7am and faced westwards out of the city. After the, by now infamous, highway 100 out of st louis I faced the expressway with some trepidation, but neednt have worried. All the cars and trucks were curteous, giving way and giving room and soon I was out on the old route 66 road, content... well sort of.
Whether it was the rest day or something else, I didn't have the zip I did... ok I had a fairly horrendous head/sidewind to deal with, but it wasn't raining. (Grateful for small mercies me). It was however bloody cold with just shorts and although I had tried, my shoes were not fully dry, meaning neither were my feet, and therfore they were blocks of ice! I was very grateful for my wind/waterproof which did a good job in keeping my core temp above freezing... but the legs were stiff and my foot hurt!
Woe is me right... well actually despite all this and the snail pace I was doing, I was enjoying myself. Once onto the 66 road, I was pretty much by myself, in the middle of just about nowhere, which is my favourite place in the world and the scenery reminded me of the ridgeway... yes hills again but even these were ok, I just trundled up and down  setting a steady tempo.
This equilibrium was disturbed slightly about 40 miles in, when I realised the problem of drinking too much on a rest day.. you don't use up the water and now I desperately needed to find a bush...but trying to find a bush on this road was next to impossible and although it had been pretty deserted, every time I thought id found a suitable point to stop a car appeared on the horizon... this went on for at least 10 miles and although the situation was becoming more desparate, I could see the funny side. On one hand, I was too isolated cos no gas station appeared, on the other hand, I wasn't isolated enough cos the cars kept appearing..
Anyway eventually I chanced it, hopped behind some kind of barn and emerged in a short while feeling much better, got on my bike, pedaled 5 mins down the road..... and a gas station appeared!
The road continued ever westwards... one highlight was getting stopped by some roadworkers and the surprise on their faces when I told them I had come from chicago 11 days ago and was going to LA, priceless. I have also started to graffiti my panniers, currently LA or bust and some hash marks to count off the days along with the words that keep me going, Love, Hope and Strength! I also got to see a large bird of prey up pretty close and this time it wasnt dead!
The wind remained strong throughout the day but I couldnt shake off the feeling that I was trying to outrun the storm, heading for bluer skies all the time and eventually the sun did break through a little, enough to warm my bones and feet up!
One feature of the landscape that had been ever present since the city, and should have given me a clue as to what kind of day to expect, were the windfarms, in the hundreds. I did think this was good to see as we hear a lot of negativity about the gas guzzling america, but here was proof, that in some areas at least, alternative sources of energy are being embraced and they do look kinda majestic in the fields that I don't think they detract from the scenery at all.
Once again, I found myself going up hill and down dale alongside the flat interstate. The road itself wasn't in too bad a condition but it was a relief occasionally to hit a wide smooth duel carriageway.
In regards to injuries, my foot has been playing up today, not just when I stand but also whilst cycling. It might have something to do with the cold today, or maybe just because ive cycled over 900 miles on it. My hands still remain weak and wierd feeling but I can live with that. My arse is hurting less today, so I guess the day off did some good.
So wearily I crawled up yet another hill to arrive at my destination for today, a small town called Clinton. I was originally going to stop 15 miles further down the road, but there was no where to stay there, according to google maps, so it was a choice between clinton or canute, another 20 miles down the road and frankly id had enough fresh air today.
The motel im in is possibly the wrong side of town (lots of sirens) and is less salubrious than some ive stayed in, but its cheap, they gave me a discount, it has a heater and a bed and most importantly, wifi!
I have noticed that all motels here below a certain price range, have the same floral patterned bedspread and curtains!
So its felt like a long day, but I have had plenty of peace and solitude along the road and have rather enjoyed it today... fingers crossed again for me that the weather holds, it seemed to do the trick today.
So now for a nice hot shower and then settle down to a book and another hershey bar!
Onwards and westwards to texas.....