St Joseph, MO to Chillicothe, MO

87 miles

Another day and all is good with the world again. It’s always been the same with me since I was a kid, go to bed and get a good nights sleep and see what its like in the morning. My mother instilled this mentality into me and it stuck. I know when our rabbit died or I got told off at school when I was less than ten years old, waking up the next day often put the world back together again. As I got older I think it was more of a don’t react instantly as time often makes things clearer. The last two days were hard but as I see it today, do I really want an easy ride? Some people deal with harder days than this every day of their lives, so pull up your big boy pants and keep moving forward, today may be the best day of your life.

So with a smile back on my face and everyone in the group happier that I am back joking and laughing it was time to get my first taste of rollers in Missouri. The first 31 miles were simply a great way to wake up. It was if the landscape and I were both waking up together in the early morning sun. Once out of St Joseph the road became quiet and the first sound was a rooster in some farm I passed. Then the birds and crickets took the early morning song onwards as the day slowly warmed up. What a great way to start the day, no breaking news or ranting opinionated guests. No today I woke up with Missouri out in the fields. I rode with a few of the others until I left some behind me with my fast decents and lost a few ahead of me with their good climbing. It didn’t matter today it was a great day to be alive and as my two hero’s from SRAM said in a comment on social media – just breathe.

Before you knew it I was at the SAG and a third of the ride had been completed without me even looking at how far I had come today. Off I set again with new liquids on board and now started to face the rollers we had heard about from many others. For all you none cyclists or flatlanders like myself, rollers are hills that roll one after another. Some you can ride down fast enough to keep going up the hill the other side ahead of you, others you can’t. So after I while I got the hang of looking ahead and seeing if this was one I could try and speed up or not. It was sort of fun and a bit like being a kid again as I thought can I speed down enough to get up the next hill or would I need to get near to the top and then finish it off with a blast out of the saddle. I have to also say that I can not imagine how fit and how good professional cyclists must be. I know from years of hanging out with professional golfers, almost all have no idea how good these guys actually are. When I look at the hills and land we deal with on this trip and think about what the professionals deal with and the speeds they can go, it blows my mind honestly.

Anyway having way to much fun for a 56 year old on his own on a bike, I carried on like this for about 40 miles. As it turned out I was just out of my third and last bottle of fluid as I neared the second SAG. My Garmin said less than a mile to go when I spotted what can only be described as a wooden garden shed. I noticed a small sign that said convenience store!!! I stopped and entered the shed. Inside I find a really nice lady with a young girl and even younger boy all smiling at me. Maybe it was the vision of a helmeted Lycra wearing male entering their shed that threw them or it could also have been the British accent, who knows but I wasn’t what they were expecting mid morning in their Missouri shed. After a smile and the purchase of a couple of cold drinks we started to chat and of course the idea of this same intruder now being on a mission to cycle across the country just made their day even more surreal. I think finally it all got too much and the lady decided she needed a picture of me and by now Ken who had joined me here. Maybe as if she needed proof of this story of shed invasion by Lycra aliens she marched us outside for a picture. I encourage the young lad to join us in the photo and also told him to ride his bike whenever he got the chance. He didn’t know what to make of me but that was ok because I am sure in this remote part of Missouri a bike is a boys best friend.

Our SAG stop was at a monument for Jerry Litton (house of representatives) which also has the inscription by Leon J. Suenes,

’Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.’

If someone could say what this ride is all about for me any better than this then please let me know.

With this phrase roaming around my head I didn’t really notice the couple of 12% and 16% hills after the SAG as I pedaled happily through the countryside to Chillicothe the home of sliced bread. Yes it is said that this is the spot that pre-sliced bread was first commercially available for purchase. If you want to find out more then look up ‘The Rohwedder Bread Slicer’.

Another great day, which I have to add was made even better by a few very kind posts and emails I received. I can’t share them all but I thought I should share one as it really touched me. A friend of Deirdre’s sent me this –

Just a quick note to let you know that my daughter Lily and I have talked about Chris’ ride a few times while out walking the dogs.  Not only is it inspiring—turning lemons into lemonade—but it shows how amazingly resilient people are.  Setting aside the diagnosis, the physical toll of this undertaking alone has got to be significant yet he continues.  She is a runner. Sometimes when she and I complain about running a few miles, it is good to be reminded of others doing these crazy, amazing things—and then getting up the next day to do it again!  It puts it in perspective for sure.

I’m sure you are proud of him and I just wanted to let you know the effect he has had on people he’s never met.

All I can say is Run Lily and if you should ever fall, just get right back up, dust yourself off and run some more. Keep on running Lily until you reach your own finish line wherever and whenever that might be.

If I have helped even one young runner or a boy in a wooden hut see life a little differently, then this is a worthwhile thing for me to have done.