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|Memphis, TN to St. Louis, MO (The Great Central River Ride)
posted 2008-05-12 | 10:09:42 | article number: 1
|Day 10 - May 22 � Memphis to Ripley, TN � 79 miles, 2699 ft of climbing
|Weather: Mostly overcast, upper 60s at the start, 80s at finish, winds light in the morning, headwinds the last 15 miles.
It appears everyone had a wonderful day off in Memphis. Though, I don�t know how much �rest� they really got. Several were so busy checking tours off their lists; they needed to get back to biking to take a rest!
We rode along a beautiful park with views of the river for a few miles and then we were back out in the country, riding through quiet, wooded roads, where we saw wild turkeys, deer, a fox and various colorful birds. We are also starting to climb more, most of the �flats� are behind us.
Our first SAG, which stands for Support and Gear (a.k.a. rest stop), was at the Shelby Forest General Store. This store, like the many others we have stopped at is quaint, unique and has a wonderful history. It was a dry goods store founded in the 1930s and later a general purpose store. In the 2003 it was almost torn down, but was fortunately saved. Today, it serves as a convenience store, restaurant, community center, coffee shop, disk golf shop and to quote �a gathering place for old timers to swap lies, discuss weather, politics and what have you�. If you are interested, it is for sale (1.6 million) and comes complete with a huge Russian Mulberry tree, the old timers and a pet rooster!
Our second stop was at an abandoned store, with yet another old gas pump, which said the price was $1.59 per gallon, I wonder when gas last cost that�1965?
Featured Rider of the Day:
Abe Chasnoff, age 69, from Belmar, NJ
Occupation: Retired Prosecutor
Marital Status: Married, 2 daughters, 1 granddaughter named Noa
Favorite Food: This I found most unusual, Abe really likes PBJ on toasted English muffins.
Hobbies: Reading, traveling into NYC for shows, and being retired, so he can do what he wants, when he wants�unless his wife has other plans for him of course!
Abe has done several multi-day bike trips, including the AbB Across America North, where he met up with the infamous �final four� � see page 1, day 3 for more details on that. We can usually find Abe and Stu together and it is like having our own vaudeville act traveling with us!
posted 2008-05-23 | 05:46:42 | article number: 2
|Day 11 - May 23 � Ripley to Union City, TN � 69 miles, 2,243 ft of climbing
|Weather: It warmed up quickly, 70s in the morning and upper 80s by the afternoon. It was pretty humid; we went through a lot of water and Gatorade keeping hydrated. Winds were very light.
The terrain was winding and rolling on quiet roads. We saw a little bit of everything - farms, magnolia trees, woods, beautiful homes (and some not) At one spot we came upon several turtles crossing the road. Also, the honeysuckle bush is in bloom and their sweet smell fills the air.
After receiving the route sheets last night, we were wondering with great anticipation what Hurricane Hill would be like. As it turns out, it was just a bump over the interstate; and no winds either! What�s up with that?
We rolled through a couple of pretty towns with nice historic downtown areas, complete with town squares.
Our SAG stop was at a country church, where we met up with an old friend, Red, a golden retriever we met last year. Paul was able to get this great picture of him catching a Frito after it was placed on his nose.
Featured Rider of the Day:
John Stuart (Stu), age 67, from Three Bridges, NJ
Married, 2 daughters, 2 grandsons and one more grandchild on the way.
Occupation: retired, purchasing manager for an aerospace valve company
Hobbies: Motorcycling, kayaking, hiking and various outdoorsy activities
Favorite Food: Cheeseburgers
Little Known Fact: was a naval officer 1964-1968
Stu rode with AbB on the Across America North, where he met up with the infamous �final four� � see page 1, day 3 for more details on that.
Stu has a wonderful sense of humor and when around his pal Abe, there is no shortage of entertainment. He is doing this ride to complete crossing the US vertically, since he has already done it horizontally and because he said his wife probably is glad to get rid of him for a few weeks. :)
Tomorrow we are going through four states in one day!
posted 2008-05-25 | 05:29:42 | article number: 3
|Day 12 - May 24 � Union City TN to Cape Girardeau, MO � 86 miles. 2,517 ft of climbing
|Weather: mid 60s at start, low 80s at destination. Light headwinds in the morning, then picking up to a pretty brisk headwind the last 6 miles.
A few days ago, we found out due to a budget crisis, the ferry at Hickman is not running. Since, the next closest crossing of the river is 45 miles away, it was necessary to re-calculate our route. We ended up staying on the east side of the River most of the day and then crossing the Ohio River at Cairo and then the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau. Because of the new route, we got to travel in four states today � Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and then Missouri.
The first part of the day was again on quite, county roads. The smell of clover and fresh cut hay filled the air.
Our SAG stop was in Columbus, KY, near Columbus-Belmont State Park. At the encouragement of one of the locals, most of the riders made trip down into the park (an extra 1.6 miles). It was well worth it. There is a fantastic view of the river (picture) and the park is filled with history of the civil war. An interesting fact we learned is Columbus was once in the running to become our nation�s capital. A fire in Washington, DC prompted Jefferson to nominate Columbus as a more central location.
The water is very high this year, it comes right up to edge of the road in spots. As we neared Cape Girardeau, there were many farm fields under water, as well as roads.
We crossed the Mississippi River on a new beautiful bridge and entered Cape Girardeau, a nice town with a population of 37,000.
posted 2008-05-25 | 05:33:49 | article number: 4
|Day 13 - May 25 � Cape Girardeau to Ste. Genevieve, MO � 71 miles. 3,523 ft of climbing
|Weather: Warm. Sunny. Tailwinds!
Wow, it just doesn�t get any better this! It was a glorious day from start to finish. We rolled out of Cape Girardeau under beautiful sunny skies and favorable winds.
There was a cornucopia of scenery and animals today. A few miles out of our motel, a family of raccoons greeted riders. A little while later we were on a ridge with some very rolling country roads and little traffic. The views were fantastic. We passed by a farms and at one there were bison, llamas, mules, cows, horses, and emus all in the same field.
At mile 33, we had our SAG stop in the small, historic town of Brazeau. There is a winery, blacksmith shop, post office, bank and school all in old, restored buildings. It was a shame it was Sunday morning and nothing was open, however, it was still nice to look around and take some photos.
At mile 44 we dropped down into pancake flat farm land for about 10 miles and reached our official � way point at mile 51. Shortly after we had some more climbing to do into Ste. Genevieve. This is the most climbing we have done so far on this trip, so there are some tired legs tonight.
Once in Ste. Genevieve, some of the riders went into old town and did some exploring. The buildings are restored and now house a museum, ice cream shops, antiques and fine restaurants.
We held our scavenger hunt today, so the riders were busy all day trying to find strange objects, such as church keys and fan belts, as well as getting info from the local folks. The grand prize went to Paul and Dale. However, the �A� team won the award for the most unusual object, which they said was part of an armadillo, but no one was willing to take a very close look to verify.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Mark and Darrell (2nd picture), who have been with us since Memphis. It has been fun getting to know them, wish them well and hope to see them again soon.
Featured Rider of the day:
Mark Otti, age 48, from Saint Peters, MO
Married, has one daughter
Occupation: Procurement Agent for Boeing
Bike: 2005 Specialized Sequoia
Favorite Food: Pizza
Little known fact: was in the Marines four years. His daughter is a police officer.
Riding from Memphis to St. Louis. He said he would like to come back next year and do another leg of the ride, maybe from St. Louis to Minneapolis. We have truly enjoyed having Mark with us and will miss his great attitude and sense of humor!
posted 2008-05-25 | 21:45:49 | article number: 5
|Day 14 - May 26, Memorial Day � Ste. Genevieve to St. Louis � 84 miles. 5,045 ft of climbing
|We are in St. Louis!
Weather: We woke up to thunderstorms and a deluge of rain. We waited it out for a couple of hours and then Jeff gave the riders a choice to ride in the rain or shuttle to St. Louis. A few elected to ride, one of the conditions was they had to stay together in case the need to take shelter arose.
The first part of the route was fairly hilly with one healthy climb of 1.2 miles long , 7%-11% grade, at about the � way mark. By mile 61 we were entering the southern suburbs of St. Louis on a nice bike route with a designated bike lane. As we approached the city, there were glimpses of the Arch and the city skyline and soon we were riding next to the river. This took us right past the Anheuser-Busch brewery, which is HUGE. It covers 142 acres and generates over 489 million gallons of beer a year.
Dinner was at the Spaghetti Factory, great for carb loading � they will need it in order to have energy for all the touring planned for tomorrow. Our hotel is in an excellent location, right next to the Arch and near the new baseball stadium. Some of the riders are planning to see a game, the Cardinals play the Astros Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, we have our highest mileage day � 106 miles!
Featured Rider of the day:
Darrell Thomas, age 49, from Knoxville, TN
Married, twin daughters, one son
Favorite Food: Steak
Little known fact: He is from the most famous town in Tennessee � Lynchburg, the home of Jack Daniels.
Hobbies: Downhill skiing, hiking and reading
This is Darrell�s first multi-day bicycle trip, he is riding from Memphis to St. Louis. He would like to come back and do another leg of this ride in the next year or so. Another goal Darrell mentioned is he would like to retire by age 55 and bike across America. It has been fun to get to know Darrell, he is friendly and everyone loves his �southern accent�!
posted 2008-05-27 | 20:28:34 | article number: 6