Today I thought I would suck in my stomach and give Subway some free marketing. As most of you know Deirdre has spent pretty much most of her entire working life with Subway. First working for a well known Development Agent (DA) then with Corporate as Head of Operations, International and finally to become a Development Agent and Store Owner with her partners in the UK. So I found my Subway cycling shirt from the now disbanded New Zealand Subway Cycling team and set out as a moving billboard across Missouri. I am not sure how much the Missouri DA’s pay for billboards but any contributions for this free promotion would be gladly received and can be donated to WM research on this blog thanks.
Anyway todays route was 75 miles starting on US 36 which to be honest is pretty much an interstate. This turned out to be ok after all despite the shoulder not being the best and the early morning cloud cover dropping the odd raindrop to warn of rain, that never actually arrived. Finally we turned off this road and headed for a gas station to fill up with drinking fluids and not gas. Here I got chatting to a guy who turned up in a quite spectacular old car which I loved the look of. I had no idea what he was actually telling me when he got on to valves and things. Yet I could see and hear his love for this vehicle which was infectious. Finally he asked where we were heading, yes you all know what comes next so Ill leave it there.
After the first stop, a sort of unofficial SAG at a gas station we pretty much road along US 11N which was generally quiet but has (apparently) 148 rolling hills. Now I am not sure who actually counted these hills and what criteria they have to decide what actually qualifies as a hill but that’s what I was told so that’s what I am sticking with. The idea here we were told is to power down the hills as fast as you can and then try to carry the speed up the next as far as you can go. This sometimes works and you crest the hill with gears to spare. Other times the hill slows you down way to quickly, leaving you crunching through your gears with sounds that would make the SRAM boys cringe I’m sure. I got better as the day went on at judging which to gun for or which you just rode up to and smoothly cycled up in granny gear.
After the SAG at 50 miles we had more of the rollers and the increased heat and high humidity all the way to the hotel at around 75 miles. I rode (as I usually do now) the last third alone as I have usually been passed by the stronger riders by then and am often ahead of the others by this time each day. Some of the hills read 10%-16% incline on my Garmin which is steep enough anytime but especially today towards the end of a hot, humid day of around supposedly 148 hills.
On the day that ‘The Triple Crown’ was raced for and won by Justify I made a friend out in Missouri. It was just one of those moments that sort of got me if you know what I mean. I had stopped to take a photograph by a field where I noticed about 10 horses all under a tree. For some reason I have been whistling, talking to or beckoning horses, cows and most other animals since this ride began. I have no idea why I do this and to be honest most just stare at the Lycra lump with a vacant disbelief. The goats I saw earlier today looked stupid and acted accordingly so no change there then. So I clicked my tongue at the horses expecting nothing but one bright fella (I think) looked at me and headed over. As he put his head over the fence and I rubbed his nose we sort of hit it off. There is a look sometimes in a horses eye that is quite magical and I have seen it before, today I saw it again. For a few minutes we passed the time together saying nothing but somehow saying everything until he decided maybe it was better in the shade under the tree with his friends and I decided I had better keep moving forward.
I didn’t see the race as I have not seen or switched on a TV since we left LA intentionally. However it reminded me of two things to do with the Triple Crown. First I always think about this picture;-
It just makes me laugh to think you were actually there at that moment and all you wanted to do was take a photograph??? You missed the moment just to get a pretty poor photograph of a load of hands. The other one was Jack Whitaker the sports commentator. I have been lucky enough to meet and get to know Jack a little over the past few years at Merion Golf club. He has that unmistakable voice that I remember from Shells Wonderful World of Golf. Well once I asked Jack what was the best day he had commentating. I know that’s a bit like asking which child is your favorite however after saying he had many many great times he said at a push he might chose Super Bowl Number One (yes 1) or Secretariat winning the Triple Crown. Now how good are those two days to be the announcer, never mind all of the masters tournaments and 60+ years of presenting all manner of great sporting days.
Jacks Golf Bag (how cool is that).
So after this equine interlude all that was left to do was to keep pushing up and down on the pedals and ride Irma up and down the rolling hills of Missouri all the way to the hotel. Irma is not a triple crown contender but she is definitely the best ride for me today and for this whole ride. Tomorrow we will mount up again and head to Quincy, IL and cross the Mississippi River. We have been riding for four weeks now and in some ways it feels way longer and in other ways it feels like yesterday all this began.
Again I want to thank all who have sent me messages which I am getting along the way, I will try to keep up with them all, especially when I reach our next rest stop in Champaign. I am also looking forward to saying hi to some fellow WM’ers along the way who have/are arranging to meet up with me too.