Posted by: rustymccain | July 8, 2011

What the Hill is going on?

I have decided that it is difficult to ride 100 miles on a bicycle. It is made more difficult when you ride point to point into a headwind. It is made even more difficult if you can’t add and a 108 mile ride ends up being 117 miles. And finally, it is made more difficult if you can remember watching the first moon landing.

We started pedaling in warm, muggy weather in Pittsburg, KS this morning. The first few miles were uneventful and very shortly we reached the Kansas/Missouri border. This was a big day for Ray. He is not a big fan of flat land riding and was looking forward to getting back into land with a little more variation.

Ray getting his MO jo

The rolling hills were beautiful and very reminiscent of middle Tennessee. As we rode, we ran into Tom from St. Augustine, FL. He was headed west and was so excited that with the tailwind, he was averaging over 18 mph fully loaded. We were happy for him, but that is not a good thing to hear when you are going the opposite direction. Despite the headwind, we were making pretty good time and rolled into the first town, Golden City, at mile 35 with a great start to the day. Little did we know that just a little beyond that point, the landscape would change dramatically.

In the course of just a few miles, the hills changed from rolling to relentless. It was just one steep hill after another. Apparently, they have some kind a law against valleys in Missouri. At the bottom of every hill was about 3 inches of flat ground, then the next hill started. They have removed every valley and sent all their flat land to Kansas! Our pace slowed dramatically, but the scenery was beautiful. The riding was hard, but still fun.

Western Missouri

We didn’t have another stop until the town of Ash Grove. It was there that I discovered my math mistake. We had ridden 72 miles and still had about 46 to go. That was not a Eureka moment. Luckily, we had a few more stop opportunities and decided to divide the rest of the ride into approximately 15 mile segments. After the first 15 miles, we stopped at Bolton’s store. There was no town there, but it was surely an Oasis. We had a nice conversation with Kaylee, Rosene and Doc and made 3 new friends. They were really nice to us and also had a cyclists’ log that Ray signed. The generous spirit of all the folks we met in Kansas seems to reside in Missouri as well. Thanks to the folks at Bolton’s for making a tough ride a little easier!

For some reason, Ray decided to make miles 87-103 a race. Our relationship suffered during that segment. I didn’t mean most of the things I said about him in my mind, but did scold him at the next stop for not pinning his race number on. Interestingly, at one intersection, there was a road sign that pointed out two cities, one to the left and the other to the right. On top of the sign – “Buffalo”. On the bottom – “Springfield”. If you don’t get that one….your parents will.

We cruised in the last 15 miles or so and landed in Marshfield, MO with 117 miles. It was a long, hard, challenging, but very fulfilling day. I didn’t get many pictures today. This was another day when it was difficult to take time for pics with the mileage we had to do. However, I have some random pics from previous days that I think are pretty cool. I will include them with tomorrow’s rest day post. Thanks for your interest…have a great weekend!


  1. Ray must have smelled fried chicken at mile 103… I always enjoy drafting behind big Ray and studying his gear choice, he breaks wind really well;-) Yall be safe!

  2. I am so happy to hear that you made it through Kansas. Rusty, the next time Ray gets all race crazy, just load up his bags with rocks and let some of the air out of his tires. That should “learn” him a lesson.

  3. Keep the posts coming, I look forward to reading about your adventures everyday! Be safe guys!!

  4. So enjoy following your big adventure. You bring goodness and cheer to all those you meet. Your being good “samaritans” to the guy with the flat tire on the high road to Cedar Breaks was just one instance. You guys are a great pair and enjoyed sharing some miles in the west with you. Keep going east, young men.

  5. For What It’s Worth, The Buffalo Springfield.

    Keep those wheels rolling. Have a good rest day and then 20 straight days of more fun. I used to live in Missouri and it is anything but flat.

  6. This is truly a magnificent odyssey! I’ve enjoyed your posts and wish you mainly downhills and tailwinds.

  7. Glad you enjoyed your stop over and lunch at the church. It was nice to meet you both. Apparently you didn’t take my advice and stop at Cookie’s in Golden City, or I’m sure you would have mentioned the PIE! 🙂
    Best of luck with the rest of you journey!

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