Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 33: Kirksville to Quincy IL -- Across the Mighty Miss

Pictures are here.
Miles: 99
Total Miles: 2480
Time: 6:17
Average: 15.7
Max 36.5
Flats Today: 0; Total flats:8
Climbing: perhaps 3000' of climbing -- picked up where yesterday left off -- this ride had its ups and downs too.
Weather: Misted in the morning, cloud cover which kept it very comfortable for most of the day Little to no wind. Perfect conditions.
Body: Stepped on it again today. Legs felt good again, but it was a long day. I will pay for it tomorrow.

Three tough days in a row has the all of us dragging a bit. I was among the early arrivers today and it was 3:00 already. That meant that some did not arrive until 4:30 or later, which in turn means they get even less time to recuperate and recover for tomorrow's 106 mile ride. The profile for tomorrow's ride looks a lot like a 24 point hand saw blade again.

Today's ride again took us through the pastures, farms and woods of Missouri. Wild flowers continue to abound along the roads. Muddy streams with one lane bridges marked the transition from the 30+ mph down hill rush to the 8 mph grind and grunt climbs back up the next ridge. And after cresting, now winded with legs burning we repeat this routine again and again.
Feeling stronger after yesterday's rather logy day, Chuck and I pushed right along, catching the front group, Tom, Sean and Jack, perhaps 40 miles in. We rode with them for a few miles before a loud ping interrupted the rhythm of the downs and ups. At first I thought Jack had kicked up a stone and it pinged off his frame. But soon I noticed the wobble in his rear wheel. A spoke had snapped. We stopped, we pondered, we looked, we inspected. The verdict. Call the silver van which would eventually lead to Gerard.
Chuck and I pedaled on, knowing we could do nothing useful there, while Sean waited with Jack. Soon the Silver van passed us with Jack's bike on the rear rack. Another few miles down the road, the van was parked, the bike was out and Gerard had pliers and spokes in hand. I stopped to watch in awe as he fabricated one spoke from two spares.

For those uninitiated in the fine art of bicycle repair, it is important to note that there are many many different wheels available and each one has slightly different spokes. Different lengths, different spoke nipples to attach to the rim, different shape, different material, different tensile strength for different number of spokes per wheel, etc. So what Gerard did was equivalent to taking two generic key blanks and fabricating the key you need to start your car. While Gerard was doing this, Jack and Sean were back on the road again with Jack riding Gerard's bike.

By the time we had ordered lunch at Canton on the River's Primo local restaurant, Gerard, Sean and Jack rolled in for lunch as well, each riding their own bike again. Gerard's spoke fix and subsequent wheel truing had worked! Check the pics for visual evidence.

Also at Primo's was a news reporter/photographer from the Canton Press News Journal. He interviewed several of us and will be doing an article on the AbB ride across America which is scheduled to appear online next Wednesday at

Just by way of further evidence of Gerard's mechanical wizardry, one of our other riders, Norbert, lost use of his front derailleur about a week ago. It was stuck in the big (highest) gear. That works OK in the flats, but is a recipe for sore knees and walk-it-up hill climbs in this terrain. The derailleur had to be special ordered to fit Norbert's bike and the first attempt at that failed to get it to the hotel where we were. So, Gerard comes up with a fix involving rubber bands. Since the return mechanism on the derailleur has failed, why not spring it externally with wide rubber bands?, Gerard reasons. And sure enough, that works like a champ. Norbert has ridden that way now for some time without a missed shift. We now all believe that Gerard could fabricate an entire bicycle from road debris, recycled aluminum cans, duct tape and chewing gum.

Today's ride is illustrated with the pictures. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And so I continue to ride in awe of this God of creation who has created me to be the beholder of what He's created. Psalm 36 captures this in the words of King David.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


  1. Great commentary of the spoke-sprunging and Gerard's abilities to fix that and every other bike problem in the world.Can you hire him to ride with you guys on Wed. nights? :)

    Had a good visit with Jocey---it wouldn't bother her one bit to have Baby Max arrive NOW...we shall see...

    Thank you for my gorgeous roses and the red glass vase---have them on the table in all their glory--replay of the first long-stem roses you sent me all those years ago....

    Think the gag shots have run their course---hard to believe that truck, shut off and being transported by the ferry, was moving toward crushing you,,,,more likely for a mudpuppy to lurch out of the Miss. River and attach itself to your hand. Naw, keep the funny pics coming...

    See you soon! Got your list! XOX YOO

  2. Sounds like Gerard is the MacGuyver of bicycles. =)