Day 15, Goreville, IL – Coffman, MO 104 miles (1236 total)
Time on bike: 11:07:49
Avg: 10.5 mph
Daily Ascent: 6912 ft (66 ft/mile)
Max: 39 mph
Another night, another state. Hello Missouri. To be honest, I never thought I’d make it out of Virginia, but here I am now in the my 4th state.
I awoke early today to get an early start. The state park where I camped was a ways off the trail and I had to climb several steep hills to get back to the trail, so my earliness was nullified. The weather today was hot and muggy. Highs in the lower 90’s and it felt like it. I don’t notice the heat until I have to climb and Missouri proved to be just as hilly, if not more so than southern Illinois.
I stopped in Murphysboro, IL for a bite to eat at the recommendation of a cyclist I met the night before. He said, “17th Street Grill has the best BBQ Ribs in the world.” “You’re pullin’ my leg. Everybody says that,” I tell him. “No. They’ve won several awards and have even served their ribs to a few presidents of the US.” So I had to give it a shot after that.
It really was somewhat of a hole in the wall. It wasn’t much of a place, just looked like about any other bar and grill, heavy on the bar side. I ordered the lunch ribs which came with 3 sides for a whopping $8.99. I got 3 ribs for that price and they were good. No complaints here.
From there I progressed to Chester Illinois where I was to cross the Mississippi River… at flood stage. Chester brags about being the “Home of Popeye” as the cartoonist was born in Chester, IL. There’s a huge metal statue of him at the bridge into Missouri.
The river was massive and powerful. Looking at the supports of the bridge I could see how quickly the water was moving. There was a service road that ran parallel to the river that was submerged in sections. Chester is a city on a hill, so it wasn’t affected.
I wanted to reach Farmington today and am disappointed that I didn’t. I blame the hills, mostly. I’m meeting my friend Ashby Tyler there tomorrow and taking the day off from biking. It’ll be my first day off since starting the trip. I don’t want to take a day off in terms of recovery or progress, but I do want to chill out and spend a day with a friend that I rarely see.
I’ve been thinking about how the human body is an amazing thing. To ride a bicycle for 10+ hours every day for several weeks at a time… For my legs and knees to be pushing and bending over and over and over and over with the amount of stress and pressure I exert on them minute after minute… The human body is capable of so much more than we think it’s capable of and it does it without us really thinking about it. I imagine putting that amount of stress or pressure on a door hinge over and over and over for days at a time. I think it’d wear out before too long, but our bodies are designed for the weird and straining things that we throw at it. It’s really amazing when you think about it.