Another Bike to Ride at Night

Yup. I got another bike. But in my defense this one is a used Craigslist find that only cost me $150.00 AND it came with a sweet set of panniers and a sturdy rear rack. Here it is.

And here’s the panniers. They’re a perfect replacement for the REI ones I used on my front rack last year. Now we just need to do some bike camping!

It’s been years since I’ve done any mountain biking. Somewhere along the last fifteen years I lost my passion for screaming down rocky, muddy tracks and hoping my handlebars cleared the trees. I got sick and tired of having to carry my bike up steep washed out trails covered with leaves that hide wet, knotty root systems and then bouncing my way down the other side in what looked more like a dried up (or not) stream bed where someone came along and stuck up some trail makers. Ah. But this was all before I’d encountered mountain biking that NOT on the east coast. I’m sure my mother is somewhere cringing as she reads this…

So I now have this Schwinn Mesa GS and while it’s not anything fancy, and plenty of mountain bikers would laugh at me. No disc brakes, cheap front suspension, no rear suspension, etc.  brakes, schmakes…it fits well and I’ve had a lot of fun on it in the month that I’ve owned it.

A new Meetup group here caters to folks who like to mountain bike at night. I know, this sounds pretty dangerous and for someone who has been avoiding that side of things (I’m a magnet for accidents that involve me doing stuff outside with no health insurance…) it’s doesn’t sound like the best group for me to ride with. Oh well, ya only live once! Last week we took a spin down the rail trail which I am now going to call the Lamy trail because that it where it goes. The section of this trail within the city of Santa Fe is paved and you’ve seen me post images of it plenty of times. If you ride this trail out of Santa Fe it turns into a graded sandy path. It’s quite wide and lots of folks run, walk or bike here. A mile and a half away from the pavement it turns into rough double track and finally single track.

Last week we took our first night ride under the full moon and it was a blast! This trail doesn’t have any real technical terrain, although it can become technical in the dark or if you have a few drinks first, so I’ve been told. It has a couple of rough spots like this drop off.

One of the unique things about riding in the desert is that IF it rains it tends to wash the trail out in dramatic ways that make it look very different than the last time you rode there. Keeps you on your toes. Here’s the three fellows I did the night ride with. We rode out and watched the sun set and then rode back under the full moon.

This is what it looked like on the ride back.

At least I didn’t get eaten by a mountain lion or pack of ravenous coyotes.

The difference in elevation change between Santa Fe and Eldorado (About 7.8 miles) is a whopping total of thirteen feet! Now, this trail isn’t flat by any means. It has a great assortment of steep, but short, climbs and shallow, winding dives full of ess turns. The parts to watch out for are the arroyos. These a shallow but narrow gulches that are full of sand. They channel rain water when it does rain because the dry ground struggles to absorb much and most of the time the result is flooding. When it’s not raining they look like empty creek beds full of sand. You can easily hit one and wipe out on a bike. It sort of feels like riding into marshmallow but results in a bad brush burn if you actually fall off. Here’s one from last summer that I washed out in.

On a side note, you can avoid these sorts of things by not riding slick tired touring bikes in the desert.

Other pitfalls include loose gritty, pebbles and cholla cacti. You don’t want to land on a cactus. Now, despite how miserable all of this might sound there are two things it is not. One of them is “wet” and one of them is “cold”. I’ll take sand pits and cacti any day over being cold and wet. This is my cold and wet face.

If your visiting Santa Fe or live here and want to go for a ride the Lamy trail is a good option. It gets you out in the desert, is easy to find the trail and follow it AND it is almost impossible to get lost since it goes out and back. You’ll see some folk out there riding but it isn’t crowded and you won’t have to worry about serious terrain that gets you in over your head. Plenty of local shops rent mountain bikes and some will even offer guided rides if you want to pay for it.

There are other places to mountain bike within close proximity to the city like La Tierra or the Dale Ball Trails and Atalaya Mountain but the Lamy trail offers a good balance of fun, features and desert beauty.


Santa Fe Century Meets the New Bike and Brew Festival

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in regards to two wheeled forms of transportation here in Santa Fe. The weather is finally getting warm and even though we’ve had unexpected rain (YEAH!) and the mountains are still getting snow, it’s back to the bike.

I rode these two all winter long. It’s just warmer and easier and faster than the bicycle.

Last week the Santa Fe Century ride took place here in Santa Fe. This year was the first to join this event with a new festival called “Bike and Brew” that was sponsored by Outside Magazine, headquartered in Santa Fe. The event took place in the Railyard and had a variety of rides, eating and drinking going on all weekend long. Family rides, rides to places to eat, Mountain biking and of course the half century, century or twenty mile ride. Hannah and rode some classic bikes down to the event to see what there was to see. At one point we got caught up in a group ride. These folks were decked out in their best spandex and carbon fiber farkles. As we pedaled uphill and Hannah overtook a group of them on her single speed J.C. Higgins Jetliner, one of them asked if her “rocket” worked. “Who needs carbon fiber when you can have a solid steel skirt guard!” Then two of them got caught up in each other while trying to get their shoes to unclip from their fancy pedals. Ahhh, cyclists. It takes all kinds.

We had some folks from drive in from Fort Collins, CO and stay with us for the event. They were lovely guests and we got to return some hospitality after partaking of so many hosts during our tour last year.

Katie (my sister) rode the half century with a friend while Tom and Rita both completed the full century! The weather cooperated nicely and everyone had a good ride. I spent some time lounging at the finish line and longing for a lighter bike and a better ankle. Next year we’re doing the 100 miler!

So we hope you’ll come to Santa Fe and join in on a ride next year. Details on rides can be found here Santa Fe Century. There is a twenty mile ride for those who don’t feel up to anything longer and the Bike and Brew Festival has a lot of other options including tasting craft beers, eating delicious food, oh yeah! AND riding bikes in there someplace too.

Riding in the Dark, Staying Warm and Coming Home to a Jumping Dog

Wow…it’s been a while since we’ve posted anything. We’re still in Santa Fe, NM and still riding our bikes as often as we can. At this point we’re mostly commuting to and from work and learning to deal with the relentless winds of Santa Fe as well as cold weather. While the sun shines endlessly here (which was one of the reasons we settled here) it is easy to look out the window in the morning and make the assumption that it is also warm. Nuh uh…not warm. Sitting on the patio in my backyard having tea in the sunshine with temps in the upper 30’s feels awesome. Once I leave the fenced in yard and house that was blocking the wind (usually between 15 and 25 mph) and head out the door and start riding it’s a whole ‘nother story!

So, we’re trying to figure out what assortment of clothing works best and I think we’re going to have to make a few purchases before the end of the winter if we want to keep riding. Our bicycle tour this spring had us riding in temps as low as 25 degs. F but there were only a few days of that and those temps only happened in the morning for a few hours.

I’ve been wearing my El Fito cycling tights by Ibex.

Ibex leggings

They were fantastic on the bike tour and I have been pretty darn comfortable in them down to the upper 30’s here. I actually feel that I could ride at lower temps in them if the wind chill factor was removed…but it isn’t. I’ll be looking for a layer to put over them. I’ve tried my Marmot Scree pants, a light soft shell with a tapered leg, but they proved to be a bit too much material in the crotch area, thus resulting in an unhappy sweat. They do perform well on other parts of the legs though especially since they are not meant for cycling but for hiking.

For me hands and feet suffer the most, often due to my Reynaud’s Syndrome. I am currently trying out the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier lobster style mitts. So far, so good. Hands are cold for the first mile or so but heat up and stay warm after that. They offer amazing dexterity for having some of the fingers bundled together and the Pittard’s leather palms are smooth and supple on the handle bars. Review to come once I’ve had more time to try them out.

Feet are still cold and I am working on a solution that most likely involves toe covers. One of the nice things about riding here in winter is that precipitation rarely enters into the picture when one is getting dressed for the daily commute.

My ride is short (somewhere between 5 and 7 miles one way, depending on which route I take which is based on the time of day and traffic flow) and most of it looks like this.

My route conveniently goes by my bank. They think I’m nuts since I either show up on the bicycle or the scooter although they now know who I am (dork in some sort of helmet) and have stopped asking me for my ID.

The ride home is dark at this point. This equals colder and windier. The largest road (by which I mean scariest) I ride on is Cerrillos (three lanes) which has a lot of fast moving traffic on it but also has a shoulder/bike lane AND a wide sidewalk that no one ever walks on. I may resort to riding on the sidewalk once it starts snowing…if it is clear. The rest of the roads I ride have slower speed limits and do have marked bike lanes and speed tables to help keep traffic speeds down. Bumpy on the bike but VERY fun on the scooter!

I am considering adding some more lights to the bike since one of them has been acting up. I’m currently using the Serfas True 250 on the front and the Princeton Tec Swerve and NiteIze BugLit on the rear. All have worked well so far but I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder to see if the rear lights are still working. I guess I’m paranoid they will run out of juice on me at some point and I’ll get hit. Thus I’ve started wearing a Nathan reflective vest as well! I might be turning into the type of rider that Bike Snob enjoys writing about…

Anyway, my ride home last night saw me safe and sound to my door and here’s some shots of me and the dog, Ally, who is supposed to be learning not to jump….unsuccessfully.

Santa Fe by Single Speed

The simplicity of a single speed bike. I have a love hate relationship with this simplicity. Upon contemplation of why I both aim to ride a single speed bike and yet stress over the ride, I’ve determined that I am trying to make riding a bike harder than it needs to be.

I’m trying to remember what it was like to ride a bike as a child. I didn’t worry about getting a flat or wiping out on a steep downhill littered with loose gravel. My ignorance of those possibilities did equal bliss. Now, I find it hard to look beyond potential accidents waiting to happen. This has resulted in me using a more complex bicycle and gear in hopes that I can alleviate some of these troubles. I carry a lot of stuff with me in case I get a flat or I run into someone else with a flat. I need to have a bike lock, front and rear lights, something to drink and maybe something to eat and if nothing else my wallet so I can buy something to eat or drink in an emergency! It all adds up and I end up needing at least one pannier for a two mile ride. Blah. The ride is rarely spontaneous for me anymore. So, lets just chalk all of that up to me getting older and finding things to stress about seems to be a hobby.

To break this mold I’ve made for myself I took a ride to downtown Santa Fe yesterday on a 3-speed bike I’ve just finished renovating. Hannah joined me on a single speed to see if it was possible to throw all cares out the window and just pedal along and enjoy the wind in your face. Indeed it was!

For this joyride I took my Rudge Sports made by Raleigh. It has 3-speeds, a front hand brake and rear coaster brake. I managed to load it down with some saddle bags (old habits are hard to break…) It isn’t a perfect fit for me but it is in great shape and handled the hilly terrain well and it has a cool chainwheel.

Rudge Sports Made by Raleigh

Rudge Sports Chainring

Hannah rode her J.C. Higgins Flightliner; the first bike we ever renovated! It’s still in our fleet and performed admirably with it’s single speed set up and solo, rear coaster brake.

JC Higgins Flightliner Santa Fe NM

We used a combination of bicycle paths and side streets which included a dark underpass for St. Francis but it had a neat wall with relief design.

Gail Ryba Trail underpass in Santa Fe NM

Rudge Sports in Santa Fe NM

Once we reached the downtown Plaza we relaxed for a bit and watched some local musicians busking. Many Native Americans sell their wares just outside the Palace of the Governors along side the Plaza and we strolled along there as well.

Santa Fe NM downtown plaza

From the Plaza we wandered over to Mellow Velo, a local bicycle shop, and ogled some Vicious Cycles they had in stock.

Moving on we rode along Paseo De Peralta to Canyon Road which is the main drag for art galleries in Santa Fe. At least one hundred and fifty of them! We’ve only toured four of them so far and stopped for a couple of shots.

Hannah at Canyon Rd Santa Fe NM

Bicycling in Santa Fe NM

JC HIggins Flightliner in Santa Fe NM

Outside the Gerald Peters Gallery Santa Fe

Finally, the wonderful New Mexican sunshine drove us back home for shade, refreshment and siesta. Along the way we passed some beautiful sunflowers which seem to grow naturally in northern New Mexico.

Santa Fe NM Sunflowers

Consensus for the days ride is that yes, you can ride a single speed around Santa Fe and yes it is good, grinning fun. The kind of fun you had as a kid.

Desert to Pavement

Lots of riding going on this week. My new job schedule (part time hours) currently leaves me four days off in a row which allows for lots of riding time and exploring. So, lets start at the beginning.

Last week we had some visitors from Warmshowers. Rob and  Devon spent two days with us and we were thrilled to have two traveling cyclists! they were wonderful guests and it feels great to be able to give back some of the excellent hospitality we experienced on our tour. You can check out their travels at

Bros on Bikes in Santa Fe

Earlier this week I took a ride that began on the paved bike path near our house. A mile out of town the path turns into sandy hard pack and offered enough steep ups and downs that I was soon lamenting my smooth, treadless tires on the climbs.


After another two miles it turned into a winding double track. I met a women in her 70’s who was visiting from Cooperstown, NY. She was on a sweet twenty-niner and looked to be holding her own even though we’d just come down a steep ravine that had been washed out from the storms last week. Need I say I was impressed? Eventually the trail turned into a hilly single track. It was fun doing some technical riding but also hot and I’d already finished off one bottle of water and wasn’t sure how far this path went. After about five miles it dwindled into a sandy rut that was not rideable…at least not for me on the touring bike. That’s when I stopped riding and started looking for a way back to a smoother riding surface. Crossing the railroad tracks I ended up on a paved road and took a left into Eldorado. From there it was smooth sailing home on New Mexico bicycle route 9.







Today Four of us took a ride on route 14 going south out of Santa Fe. Lovely shoulders to ride on with long, rolling hills. Would make for a some good touring but that will have to come a bit later when the weather cools off a bit. Here’s some pics of the ride.







Deuter Energy Bag Review

As an outdoor enthusiast and gear junkie I often find it impossible to buy just one backpack, tent or set of bike panniers or trekking poles that will work for every trip or day adventure I want to take. When planning for my recent bicycle tour I agonized over each piece of gear since I would not be able to climb into my gear closet each morning and select the best item for the day. The bags that attached to the bike and held all my most important possessions were the hardest choices. Will I want waterproof panniers or ones with lots of pockets? Will I be able to fit enough gear and food into them? These bags also needed to fit to the bike securely and most important not impede my pedal stroke or be too cumbersome for riding along narrow sections of highway shoulder.


In the end, even though all of my bags worked well enough for me to keep them throughout the entire 1700 mile trip, most of them had small faults or failings that I would have liked to change with my magic gear wand. The only bag that worked just right for my Goldilocks like critical eye, was the Deuter Energy Bag.


With a streamlined design, low profile pockets and easy attachment points to the bike, this top tube style bag is a great addition for commuters, tourers and recreational riders alike. Compared to a lot of top tube bags that are designed for touring and commuting, where carrying capacity and durability are often more important than weight and size, the Deuter Energy Bag is not the largest option out there but bigger is not always better. The narrow 2.0” wide profile offers a clean design that never bumps my knees during pedal stokes and it nests so quietly behind my headset that even on super windy days it isn’t large enough to catch the wind and impede aerodynamics.


Made from micro, ripstop nylon with dimensions of 2.75” x 2.0” x 6.5” at the longest points, the Deuter Energy Bag attaches to a bike right behind the headset. It rests on your top tube and is secured to the bike frame via four hook and loop tabs. Two tabs wrap around the headset and two tabs wrap around the top tube.



With so many different styles of bike frames with varying tube diameters on the market, don’t expect this bag to fit every bike, although it did fit well on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It might be nice to see Deuter extend the hook and loop closure over all the strap material to allow the bag to fit a wider variety of top tubes.

The Energy Bag has a larger, main pocket with a zippered entry from the top which is easy to operate while riding. The right side of the bag also has a small, flat zippered pocket which was perfect for holding easy to reach money for ice cream and cold drinks.



The material the Deuter Energy Bag is made from is stiff enough that you can ride with the main pocket open if you want to be able to grab at your camera or pepper spray without having to fumble with the zipper while riding and while the material is not waterproof, I logged plenty of miles in all day rain to find the items in this bag mostly dry at the end of a soggy day.

Here’s a list of the items I kept in the Energy Bag during my tour.

Small grease rag
Bike multi-tool
Rain cover for my Brooks saddle
Chewing gum
Brooks saddle adjustment tool
A small bottle of pepper spray
Extra cash

During my daily commute or rides to the local farmers market, this bag easily contains my chapstick, phone and keys and when heading out for longer recreational rides I can fit two tire levers, a patch kit, bike multi-tool, 2 gel packs and my phone inside and still have space left over in the side pocket fora pen and written directions.




While my initial impression of the Deuter Energy Bag was that it might be too small, I soon discovered that it was just the right size. Other top tube bags that I’ve tried have been too large and bulky and once loaded would fall to either side of the bike frame and bump into my knees as I pedaled. I’d also like to note that after two months of riding eight hour days and another month of local riding in the New Mexico sunshine, the fabric this bag is made from has yet to show fading or wear.

I’d love to see Deuter bring some more of their cycling designed products to the US market and hope that eventually their larger touring bags become easily available to cyclists in the US. Deuter, if you’re out there listening (or reading) I’d love to try out a pair of the Rack Pack Uni Panniers…hint hint.

NOTE: If you are wondering what camera I have, you can find it here. It is much larger than my phone and does fit into the Deuter Energy Bag. It’s closer in size to a smart phone.

Riding a Bicycle in Santa Fe

My initial impressions of Santa Fe’s transportation infrastructure was from the seat of a 24 foot long moving truck. My focus for maneuvering this hulking beast through the smaller neighborhood we’ve moved into didn’t leave me much time to consider how friendly the roads were for bicycles. Now free of the moving truck and fairly settled into our new home I’ve had a chance make a determination about how bike friendly this city is. the verdict…it’s pretty bike friendly.


surly lht in santa fe

We live a block away from one of the main bike paths through the city. This path networks with other bike paths in the city but it also the main drag for folks looking to make a beeline downtown, which is what we are usually doing. The path follows the rail system through Santa Fe(which was built to move people from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and will allow you to carry a bike on board) and is more of a direct route than taking a car to travel in a north/south direction. There are a number of signs along the path to help you get where you are going. Some of them are painted on the path at road intersections and look like this.

Santa Fe rail trail sidewalk map

Others look like this.


There are also a number of bike lanes on most major streets and secondary streets. They are wide and clean and pass alongside forward moving traffic at intersections (along the left side of right turning lanes) which eliminates some of the issue of cyclist getting hit as folks behind or beside them make a right turn. The city has also released a free, comprehensive map of bike paths and bike friendly streets. Each street is color coded on the map to let cyclist know what type of traffic to expect on each road. Busy or relaxed, fast or slow, etc.

While I really like the current set up here I’m sure there are ways they can be improved upon it. While looking around online for more info on Santa Fe’s bike friendly culture I discovered a “Master Plan” that won’t be completed until the year 2020 or so, but it appears to be quite an undertaking. The plan will “serve to coordinate investments in trails and roads, establish common guidelines for design, construction and maintenance, and develop shared strategies on education, enforcement and encouragement of bicycling as a transportation choice in the Santa Fe area.” If you’d like to read it for yourself you can find the document here.

So far, one of our favorite ways to spend a Tuesday or Saturday morning is to ride our bikes to the Railyard, which hosts a large and lively farmers market (complete with live music, food and drink, fresh everything and plenty of parked bicycles for us to ogle. There is also a nice selection of cafes, local shops and one of the larger outdoor stores in the area.


santa fe railyard

We’re also in the process of working out the best carrying bags/baskets for around town ventures. I’ve bestowed my Detours Toto panniers upon Hannah since they do not fit on my Surly Nice Racks (The diameter of the Surly racks is a bit too thick to fit the Toto’s with the pannier clip shims and too small to use them without the shims. I truly love these bags and their versatility and will be looking for something similar that fits my new rack set up. Any suggestions from folks who’ve already solved this issue would be appreciated. Of course my Ortliebs fit but they are a bit overkill for a trip to the grocery store and I’ve like to have quicker access to the items in the bags. I’m currently using just one of them.

surly lht with ortlieb pannier

pake c'mute with detours toto panniers

Lastly, I’d just like to add that no matter where you ride a bike around here you always have the Sangre De Cristo Mountains or the Sandia Peak Mountains in the background. Not a thing I dislike about that!

santa fe rail trail riding

Post Bicycle Tour Travels

We had hoped to get as far as Fayetteville, AR on our bicycles. Since that didn’t work out we decided to drive the rest of the way there and continue our tour of the mid-west by car.

We spent a week with Hannah’s aunt and uncle in Fayetteville and truly enjoyed relaxing in their beautiful garden and riding the local bike paths.





hannah and aunt on fayetteville bike path

fayetteville bike path

From Fayetteville we drove to Kansas City, MO and spent a night with Hannah’s brother and his wife. They gave us a tour of the Plaza area which had some interesting buildings and tile work.


kansas city plaza tiling

I found these two scooters there as well!

buddy and lambretta scooters

They were expecting a new baby at the time and Hannah missed the arrival of her niece by about 8 days!


After Kansas City we drive on to Omaha, NE (Hannah’s home town) and visited with her parents. We took a short ride to Lincoln, NE for a few days to see Hannah’s sister and two sets of aunts and uncles as well. On the ride to Lincoln we passed these trucks carrying wind mill blades.

wind mill blade

We got a lovely tour of downtown Lincoln including a trip to the state capital. The mosaic tile art work inside was pretty spectacular and much more interesting than the PA capital building, in my opinion.





Lincoln has some pretty impressive bike infrastructure to boot and I couldn’t help but take some shots of a few beauties in a bike rack where we had lunch.

MASI commuter

surly LHT

later that week we drove to Rochester Minnesota to stay with Hannah’s sister (who was at the Mayo Clinic) and her parents. Here’s a shot of downtown Rochester from the 17th floor.


Days later when they traveled back to Nebraska, we headed east for the long drive back to Lancaster, PA where we stayed with old friends and checked on our remaining goods in the storage unit.


Eventually we drove to my home area near Wellsboro, PA and spent a few weeks with my family and friends before our big move out to Santa Fe, NM. While there we participated in a fundraiser I created called the Rail Trail Relay Rally where folks donate money to bike in the PA Grand Canyon or hike and cross Pine Creek.




After saying our goodbyes we drove back to Lancaster and packed the moving truck we rented, (a very long, hot, humid day…) shared dinner with friends at our favorite local pub one more time and then headed west…for DAYS! We actually drove a good bit of the same route we used on our bike tour, especially across Tennessee. So….I’ve now traveled the  long way across Tennessee twice in the last two months. The first time I was pushed around by big pick-up trucks and the second time I was driving a truck that made those big pick-ups seem like ants. Revenge can be sweet when no one gets hurt.

I drove the 24 foot long moving truck loaded with our belongings, which included 12 bicycles and the two scooters, while Hannah drove her car full of our collection of plants (many cacti who will LOVE our new home)  and other fragile things.


These folks were also moving…but I think the rain coming was going to get the better of them.


The trip was long but not too long. It gave us ample time to reflect on our travels over the past 3 months and allowed us to slowly get used to the higher altitude are now living at.  The landscape from western Oklahoma to eastern New Mexico was surprisingly beautiful and I have a ton of ideas for new paintings once I get my studio space set up!





As we neared New Mexico and Santa Fe we were ready to be done traveling.





I was ready to be done driving a huge truck and we we jumpy to see our new home and my sister who moved out here a month earlier. I immediately loved the scenery, the smell of the desert, the house my sister had rented for the three of us to share…everything was great except we both felt sort of woozy and tired. We spent the rest of that day drinking a lot of water and taking it easy. Over the next few days we unloaded the truck, unpacked our stuff and started to settle into our new space.








Tomorrow we get on our bicycles and head into the center of Santa Fe for the farmers market and to explore the downtown area a bit more. Job searching has commenced and hopefully we both find something we like soon. If not, I hope I find something, even if I don’t like it. Having not worked since December 2012, cash is finally running low and we need a way to fund our next bicycle adventure!

Day 59 Perryville, MO to Farmington, MO

I like the way the “last” of something can be happy or sad or good or bad.

Running a race and finishing in LAST place might be sad, and heading to the grocery store to buy supplies prior to a bad storm then finding out that you’re the LAST person to get there and they are out of milk, bread, flashlights, etc also sucks. But going to the hospital for your LAST chemo treatment because you’re surviving and then some…feels pretty damn good! Being the LAST person to be alive in a game of Risk is also cool. Woot!

This was the LAST day we would be riding our bikes on this tour. It wasn’t how or when we expected the end to arrive, but arrive it did. We felt excitement and frustration and acceptance all at the same time, and waking up to heavy rain as the storm from the night before carried on made the LAST day even more bittersweet.

We checked the weather channel that morning from our damp motel room. Heavy rain, wind, hail and tornadoes had hit parts of Saint Louis. We felt lucky to have escaped the storm and to have only heavy rain and flooding to deal with. We ate a quick breakfast at the Park-Et, packed the bikes and rode off into the tail end of the storm.

hannah in the missouri rain

Despite having ridden in rain and also on windy days, we hadn’t yet ridden many miles with both. The wind was tricky, blowing at a steady 15 mph but thrusting itself at us in sudden bursts and gusts that reached closer to 40 mph. It was coming at us from the west as we rode north, and with the wet road surfaces it was difficult to keep the bicycles upright. I found myself leaning the weight of the bike hard into the wind but keeping my body to the leeward side to try and balance against the wind and water. I was forced to pedal with my head down and use the broad visor to keep the lashing water out of my face. It took us a long time to ride 10 miles. We had to stop so I could take off my glasses and put them in the pocket of my rain jacket. The lenses were streaming with water and I couldn’t see anything with them on. Luckily my vision wasn’t so bad and I could make due without them. Hannah was not so lucky.

Though the road we traveled did not have much traffic, it was hilly and there was a lot of tree debris in both lanes. We struggled another 5 miles and took a break next to a cemetery by a rural church. At this point I pulled out the camera and shot a video about this being our last day of riding and how the weather is making me so happy that it is the last day. However, the wind was too strong and the camera was unable to record the sound of my voice. Later on, I was disappointed that the video didn’t turn out well because it was such a good preservation of how I felt at that exact moment. Tired, winded and wet combined with such heavy frustration at this day being our last. All of this juxtaposed with the elation of being finished and not having to deal with being tired, winded and wet.

surly LHT in missouri

Hannah yeeling at a following dog

We were traveling on a road that wound through state forest (Amidon Memorial Conservation Area) and did not pass through any towns–just a lakeside resort, and a survivalist compound of some sort. As the storm moved passed eastern Missouri and the rain let up the riding became enjoyable again. The state forest was dripping and thick with lush underbrush and fog, smelling the way only an east coast, deciduous forest can smell. We didn’t see another person or a car for hours.

As we finally approached Farmington on a long stretch of highway the sky began to clear up and the clouds abated.

riding in Missouri

coming into farmington MO

It was still early in the day and we were excited to reach the hotel and see my family. Once showered and fed, we took to throwing out a few things that were irreplaceable on this trip but had seen the best of their days. The main thing being our riding gloves. The sheer smell and sweat soaked leather palms (that never, ever dried out) made these unsalvageable, even with washing. We laid them out on the sink, said our farewells and finally tossed them into the trash can unceremoniously.

riding gloves

We met up with my family who was nice enough to drive Hannah’s car down from PA. We packed it full of our bikes and gear and made plans to drive onto Fayetteville, Arkansas. In the end the trip was worth it. It has jump started our desire to travel by bicycle and we will definitely be doing more of it in the future. As we have time to look back and think over our two month ride, we will follow up with more introspective posts as well as some product reviews.

packed car

Last thought for this day….helmet hair rocks and this is not the LAST time I will be sporting it!

hannah and liz last day

Day 58 – Cape Girardeau MO to Perryville MO

Our penultimate day.

It had rained the previous night, and more storms were forecast for the day. This made me very nervous. Our ride was not supposed to be as long as the previous day’s, but it was supposed to be hillier as we headed away from the Mississippi and further into Missouri.

Our googled directions had us heading through Jackson MO and then mostly north on minor roads that meandered through farmland and across streams, but overall ran roughly parallel to I-55.





As it turned out, some of these roads were paved, and some were definitely not, and they were softer and messier after the rain. This made our day longer and tougher than we anticipated. We just crawled along for miles and miles, and really only hit one stretch where we were able to maintain a good pace.


bicycles on overpass in Missouri

Eventually, a light precipitation started. The sky was looking pretty ominous, and we were getting pretty hungry. We stopped at a town called Oak Ridge, which was really just an intersection with a post office and a few buildings. The weather radio wasn’t indicating that there were any storm warnings, so we left our overhang and kept riding. There were no other towns on our route, but there was a butcher shop near the intersection of I-55 and state highway KK, so we decided to pull over there when the next band of ominous clouds approached. We fussed over where to put our bikes for a little while, and decided there wasn’t really an ideal place.

It did start to rain, so we bought some snacks. But the rain didn’t really stop while we were there. Since the precipitation was lighter, we decided to keep riding, and we also asked for an alternate route to avoid any more unpaved roads. One of the locals we asked happened to be a talker, and a talker who was involved in some multilevel marketing scheme to sell juices/energy drinks/diet shakes or something that he thought would help us lose weight and improve our performance. Elizabeth was quite upset by his presumption, but I’ve heard these pitches before for a variety of products. We did have a little trouble getting him to move on, even though he was in his car and we were obviously standing there in the rain. The worst conversations we’ve had on this trip were with people who opened the conversation by feigning interest in talking with us, and then used the opening as a foray to proselytize to us. Most of the time it was about religion and believing in Jesus (this had happened as recently as the previous day in Cairo), but a few times it was about unique opportunities to buy nutritional supplements. Leave me alone while I drink my Dr. Pepper!

Anyhow, the first section of our reroute was slightly uncomfortable, as it was steep and windy with no shoulders and a bit of traffic, but it was worth it to get on highway 61, which may have been slightly longer but was paved and had a shoulder.

We made good time through Old Appleton and Uniontown and arrived in Perryville in midafternoon. We hadn’t really figured out exactly where we’d stay. We rode past one cheap motel (which I didn’t even see) and found a second one, which looked even sketchier. Instead of continuing our search, we went back to the first, which was cheap, so we took a room.

We asked for advice on a place to eat, and the motel manager recommended the Park-Et Fine Foods, which was conveniently located next to the motel. So, we had a late lunch there. I wouldn’t say it was “fine” by any account, but it was decent and very affordably priced, and since there weren’t really vegetarian options, they made me an omelet from their breakfast menu.

We were safely inside for the afternoon showers. That evening, we spent a lot of time watching the weather channel. It was the afternoon that another tornado was bearing down on Moore Oklahoma and bearing down on Oklahoma City commuters caught in rush hour traffic on the interstates. The same line of storms also hit a St. Louis suburb to our north. We ate a light dinner and went back to the Park Et for dessert.

The worst of the weather didn’t hit Perryville until after midnight, but the deluge and thunder woke us up. The motel was not in the best shape. Our room had a significant gap–two inches or more–at the bottom of the door. The wind was blowing rain underneath the door and soaking the carpet in our room.

When we woke up in the morning, it was still pouring.