Sunday, June 19, 2011

Twaining Wheels

When last you heard from BikerBuck he was all hosed up - and having abandoned the hunt for the trail in Independence and finding no solace at Lake Mark Twain - he was quite literally up the paddle without a creek. He was, however, the first guest to show up for the hotel's free breakfast at 0600 this morning, having been awake and fretting since the milkman arrived. More than once during the night I got out of bed to study the Google map for the Katy Trail parking lot in St. Charles, about 110 miles away.

After breakfast, at approximately 0611, I jumped in the Town and Country in my civvies to scout the one possible route: a road leading south from town that follows the river.  Through the raindrops and windshield wipers I could see that the road would be a death trap for a cyclist.  Let's just be truthful and admit that the road repair and shoulder maintenance money went to put up another billboard to do with Mark Twain - who by the way was actually born in Detroit and spent most of his life in Atlantic City and/or Hal Holbrook's dressing room. But I digress. The road option was out.

So in a final gasp for any old straw I willed the T&C into its all-terrain mode and scouted a bumpy and crumbling "driveway" thing along the tracks just a block from the Beast Western.  I probed three equally grotesque branches of the macadam and the only thing that looked remotely rideable was an asphalt drive that meandered up a very steep hill replete with rarely trimmed ornamental trees.  It was a city park.  (The road and bush maintenance dough was re-directed to yet another display of Mark Twain's actual skull. They honestly have about a dozen of his real skulls, from various ages of course, floating in a big vat with port holes cleverly placed at varying heights so the keiki can see them, and feed him.)

Anyway I dashed back to the B. Dub and jumped into my biking uniform with a fresh resolve to find the river-side road that I just knew was there and somehow stretch it into a 50km ride. No drive to St. Charles, no Katy trail, no Google maps, just do it.  And it WAS there.

I rode to the park and after ascending to oxygen mask level discovered a paved path down to a little spur that followed the river for, oh, the length of a hop scotch court. BUT where the "pavement" ended an actual road was there.  Called River Road.  Go figya. And that my friends turned out to be my vision and my redemption.  So off I went....

Railroad bridge to Illinois, from the crumbled driveway.

This was supposed to be a granite statue of a Missouri riverboat captain at the wheel, but the money was accidentally deposited in the start up capital funding for the Mark Twain Paint-by-Numbers Portrait Kit, so what we're left with is a giant paper mache fisherman. If you squint real hard he does look like Huck Finn.

 What looks like a Louisiana bayou is really just flood waters that cut off the nature trail.  The yellow sign is for the hiker registration, so that water would be about waist deep.

River Residence.
I passed a couple of docks with a handful of boats and an RV Park on the river bank.

My dream came true.  A beautiful blacktop road with H2O on one side and pretty trees and cannabis on the other. This road took me about 10 miles out of Hannibal.

We're about a mile from the river here. The soil is extremely rich, judging by the spectacular crops.

This is all that's left of Marion City, last seen in 1835. Word has it that the town took a little cruise.

I took a short side trip to Palmyra MO, about 12 miles from Hannibal. This classic John Deere is a lawn ornament on the Witt property.  Looks like the deer lost it's wits!
(Humor me. Please.)

The ride was wonderful and all the rain went away.  I followed road signs back to Hannibal and wound up on about 14 miles of US 61, the four lane that I had come in on from Independence. There were about a dozen hills to climb which of course I hadn't noticed in the mini van. Wound up clocking about 38 miles/ 60km, so I "donated" 3 km to Kansas because the trail closure there robbed KS of it's full 50k. You'll find the corrected data in the Captain's Log.

The Big Muddy.
I can tell you that it's both. Having been at its headwaters just over a week ago, the Mississippi River is forever etched in my mind as one of nature's great achievements.

Tonight I'm in the other St. Charles...Illinois.  I'm close by the bike shop where I rented the bike. Which reminds me, all is forgiven as between me and the bicycle formerly known as the Green Latrine.  Once we got used to one another we made up and have had a great relationship.  I still won't let her sleep with me, but I did tickle her valve stem the other day and she liked that.

The Fox River Trail runs right beside the bike shop, so I'll park and ride in the morning, then turn in the Mean Green Ridin' Machine and be off to return Dee's Town and Country and decompress at her place until it's time to ambush Donivee at ORD on Tuesday afternoon and fly with her to Knoxville, the next frontier.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like your luck is holding. You found a MO trail and got your 38 miles. Congrats.

    Jane and I really liked the HST Library & Museum too. He was quite a guy.

    Keep up the good work.

    Your Partner,