Here's Minh's family the morning when we left St. Louis.
Leaving St. Louis required going up and down 10 miles of roller coaster hills. Normally I have no problem with this, but you guessed it - my damn front derailleur would not go into the anti-granny gear. So basically, going downhill, I had to just coast (instead of powering down them) and slightly go uphill until the bike stopped rolling; then, I could start pedaling. It sucked. I was so depressed. Ideally, I would have powered down the hill with my anti-granny gear then 1/2 the work is already done for me because I would have muscled my way 1/2 up the hill. Instead, I pretty much had to start at the bottom of each hill and work myself up with no help. So pissed with my front derailleur. I don't get it. How many times do I have to adjust it already?
When we finally left St. Louis proper, we got on a little bike path for a mile or so and found this great sign. We've always seen the truck downhill sign; now it's the bike downhill sign. So cute. What's so cute also is the sign is baby sized as opposed to regular street sign-sized.
We rode on Route 47 for a bit in search of this infamous KATY Trail. I've never encountered such hostile motorists in my life. We were as close to the edge of the road as possible (no shoulder - bastards!). Despite our efforts to give the cars maximum driving space, we were rudely honked at by a bunch of the drivers. At one point, this car gave us a long obnoxious honk. I put one hand/arm in the air as to say, "What do you want? Do you want a piece of me?" I mean, WTF can I do? One more inch and I would be in the grass. Put in a f'in shoulder if you don't want to share the f'in road. Anyhow, as the car passed me, he gave me the fist in the air pump. In return, I gave him the fist in the air pump. Oh my, I've never experienced such hostility. And, if that wasn't enough, 2 cars immediately behind that 1st obnoxious car gave us a long obnoxious honk. Again, I put one hand/arm in the air.
Phew, we finally found an entrance to the KATY Trail. Once on this bike path, we found a bike shop - Scenic Cycles - to adjust my front derailleur. Talking with the shop owner, he said that he's heard from many cyclists that Missouri has a repuation for being aggressive to cyclists. These drivers need to get out of their "state of misery".
Tucked safely from the Missourian drivers, we road on the KATY Trail for the rest of the day. The KATY Trail is a 225 mile bike path stretching across most of the state of Missouri. It's packed, crushed limestone (aka "pug") overlaid on top of old railroad tracks. For some of the trail, it goes along the Missouri River, the same Missouri River Lewis and Clark traveled on. Here we are with our first sighting of the Missouri River.
Leaving the KATY Trail to get into town (Herman, Missouri) for the night, we had to walk our bike up a steep grassy field to get back on a real road. Once there, we had to cross a very narrow bridge (which everyone earlier warned us about the narrowness of the bridge). Thankfully I either didn't have cars on my ass or the cars actually was okay with sharing the road (wow - what a concept) and didn't honk at me. Dave wasn't as fortunate. I could hear people honking at him. As it turns out (once he finally crossed the bridge), he got a flat while either on the real road or on the bridge and that probably explains why he was very slow and the cars honked.
While Dave fixed his flat, I walked around town for a little. It was a cute little town with antique shops and what not (the town has lots of wineries and bed and breakfastes - that type of town). Walking around, I felt like I was getting not so normal looks. So, I immediately turned around towards Dave and started walking. I actually felt uncomfortable enough that I put on my sunglasses, which had my rear view mirror, so I could see if any punks were ganging up on me. Luckily my paranoia did not amount to anything.
When Dave finished with his flat, we biked to the city park where we set up camp for the night. And, by "we set up camp for the night", I mean I went straight for the shower and Dave set up camp for the night. Hehe ;-)
When I came out of the shower, I saw Dave talking with a man. They had maps laid out all over the picnic table. The man, Mike, is from Emporia, Kansas, and was giving us hints on what roads to take in Kansas once we left the KATY trail. He said we'd be passing by his hometown so I immediately took this opportunity to ask if we could crash on his living room floor when we did. He happily said yes. Once we mapped out the remaining Missouri roads (once we left the KATY Trail) and Kansas roads, we exchanged phone numbers and gave him our blog websites. How nice to have a future resource for our Kansas needs.
Late into the evening, we finally had our dinner that Minh's mom and I made the night before. Here I am having the shrimp with the rice, sporting my very bright camping headlight.