Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jason, small town America, and life goes on...

Before I resume where I left off, I want to acknowledge my friend, Jason Hammond.  Jason was a unique individual, who was well liked, I think, wherever he was.  A very kind, no bullshit type of human being, he was welcoming to all but did not suffer fools.  His home/studio was open to all, his talents were evident and he shared what he had with those he came in contact with.  He had a big heart.  I will miss him and Silver City will not be the same without Jason there.  He was the best dancer in Silver City, bar none.  Music was in his soul.  Hopefully, we'll all get to where he is eventually and he'll be at his new studio with beer, etc., waiting for us all. 

Some commentary about the bike trip ...  Rural America has been co-opted by corporate america.  With few exceptions, the majority of small towns that I've been to no longer have the Mom/Pop stores, cafes, bars that were there back in the 1980's when I rode from Alaska to Maine.  Sad commentary on America.  The uniqueness of each town has become a common sameness that diminishes all of us.  All the corporate food chains are there.  Starbucks coffee in the bottle/can is EVERYWHERE.  Seriously.  The smallest of towns has Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonalds, etc.  Today, at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL...the cafe in the museum is a ... yep, a Subway.  Fekkin' terrible.  Only the somewhat larger towns/cities have local options for food.  Campgrounds are also hard to find and all the property is fenced off.  What campgrounds that I've located have been miles out of town.  No parks in the towns to camp in, either.  Strange transformation.  Not for the better.  Tonight, I'll start to reroute my trip across country to incorporate larger places, so I have some better options that include local businesses.  The one good thing that I've encountered as I've gone through rural America is the people.  Still very friendly and, as I've experienced, very helpful.

Right now, I'm in Springfield, IL, and am doing a layover here for a few days.  This is the halfway point.  1600+ miles to date, about 1500 to go.  I'll head out on Sunday a.m. towards Bloomington, IN.  As a main character in the Civil War, Lincoln is my focus here.  I've been to his home and the museum.  His home and a good portion of his neighborhood have been restored and are as they were when he lived here.  Jason worked on the restoration of Lincoln's home.  How coincidental, eh?  I've enjoyed seeing the Lincoln memorabilia and will go to the old Capital building tomorrow.  Got to a bike shop today and picked up some Cliff bars.

Day 19:  Clinton, MO - Rocheport, MO.  91 miles today.  It was hot/humid today.  Excessively so.  Sweat was dripping off my elbows, neck, fingertips, and I was drenched...like I took a shower, threw on my cycling clothes and got on my bike.  Just amazing.  This was the first stretch of the Katy Trail.  It is a hard packed trail going along where the Missouri/Kansas/Texas (MKT) railroad went through the local towns of Missouri.  Saw a number of people bicycling, walking, running, etc., particularly near the towns along the trail.  I met a guy from Kansa City who was cycling the route from Clinton to St. Charles and back to Clinton.  Also met a randoneer...a cyclist who does long rides.  He's training to do a 625 mile ride in 55hrs on the Natchez Trace trail.  Just a note: I have met several other cross country cyclists.  Three of them were young college students from England.  A couple of other geezers like me, too.  Interestingly, the other cross country cyclists stop and we talk.  Other cyclists that I've encountered don't.  Some don't even return my hello.  Seems like there's more distrust among people out there.  Managed to get into Rocheport just before the restaurant near the B&B I stayed at closed.  I was hungry.  Heading to Hermann tomorrow.

Day 20:  Rocheport, MO - Hermann, MO.  83 miles.  Hermann is a wine country area, but, like New Mexico, it does have wines, but few are worthwhile.  Had one of the better meals at Wings-a-Blazin'...pasta dish.  Tin Mill Brewery is a local place and Wings-A-Blazin' carried their beer.  It was good.  In the a.m., I had breakfast at the Sharp Corner Tavern.  Excellent breakfast.  Talked to several of the locals who thought I was nuts, but were encouraging and wished me safe travels.  Heading to St. Charles today, which will be the end of the Katy Trail.  Interestingly, I missed the highways and the interaction with the traffic.  Probably why I'm not a mountain biker.

Day 21:  Hermann, MO - St. Charles, MO.  64 miles.  Got into town, stayed at a B&B, went to the St. Charles Brewery.  First time that I've been in a bar/restaurant where the bar allowed smoking.  Incredible.  Food was decent; B&B was good.  St. Charles is a place that I'd visit again.  Tomorrow, I head into Illinois and cross the Mississippi to Alton, IL.

Day 22:  St. Charles, MO - Carlinville, MO.  Tried to make it to Springfield today, but the headwind made that a pipe dream.  Carlinville was a town that was a bit tarnished, a bit down financially, I'm sure, but it had an interesting downtown area that had several local restaurants, but they were closed from 2pm to 5pm.  The restaurants that were open...yep...Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonalds.  Jesus.  Since, at that point, I thought I was going to try to make it to Springfied, I ate at Subway.  Generic.  What I've noticed about these corporate places is that people in them act the same whether it is a small town or a big city.  They go in, order, eat, leave or order, take the food and leave....no talking to others.  When I headed out, the headwind was even stronger and there were no shoulders on the highway and a fair amount of traffic.  So, opted to stay there.  I was up at 4a.m. the next morning and out the door by 5:30a.m. headed for Springfield, IL.

Day 23:  Carlinville, MO - Springfield, MO.  45 miles.  Finally here.  Halfway point.  Over 1600 miles done.  I am glad to be here to go visit the Lincoln stuff here.  As a main player in the Civil War, this is the most important of Civil War places since this is where Lincoln lived when he was elected President in 1860.  The museum was very interesting and Lincoln's home was great to see.  Walking the streets of his neighborhood, seeing his law office, imagining what he must have been thinking at the time, I've enjoyed this stop.  Had some Irish whiskey and guinness last night.  Imbibed a bit and got a bit tipsy.  It was fun.  A bit of celebration on getting to the halfway point.

Sunday, I head out of Springfield.  I'll be working on my new route tonight and tomorrow.  When it's done, I'll post it on the blog.  Off to dinner and a beer.