I miss central Montana where nothing happened for days and days. Biking in Missouri is surreal by comparison.
Corey and Mark left the Ash Grove bike house early in the hopes of beating bad weather to our west. Maybe if the storm tracked to the north we’d be okay.
Such fools we are.
I left about a half hour later with a tummy full of peanut butter tortillas and whole wheat bread and butter. Nutrition is my middle name.
The terrain seemed gentler for a few miles before the road crossed a series of creaks. Down to the creek then right back up.
At one point I went by a farm with some cattle. With very little urging I had them running beside me on their die of a wire fence. Stampede!
The weather seemed to be off in the distance until it wasn’t. Thunder. Lightning. Rain, growing heavier by the minute. I was grinding up a long hill when I stopped to put on my rain jacket. Minutes after the clouds opened. A car pulled up along side me. The passenger window rolled down and the woman told me “There’s a church at the next cross roads. You’re welcome to come in…if you make it.”
I said “Thanks. I will.”
Then I thought “if I make it?”
I made it. Mark and Corey were hanging out under the covered entry to the little white church. Soon the congregation arrived and we all went in for services.
Religion and I don’t get along so I watched the service with bemused and confused detachment.
The service starts with three pledges of allegiance: to the US flag, to the Christian flag (I never knew there was such a thing), and to the Bible. I resisted the urge to start humming “Imagine”.
While the service was going on the storm was raging. The windows of the church were frosted so all you could see were flashes of lightning. I went outside for a moment and it was raining about as hard as physics would allow.
After over an hour and a let up to the rain, the three guests on six wheels headed west.
Lest I sound ungrateful, thanks to the good folks at the Pennsboro church for taking us in.
The terrain leveled and we made good time to Golden City. Actually Mark and Corey did; I lagged behind. We learned during church that three people died in Golden City last week when a tornado touched down. I didn’t see any evidence of it as I went into town to eat lunch with the two amigos.
The restaurant was crowded so it took a long time for lunch. Corey was certain that they gave bike tourists a free piece of pie but they turned out to no longer be the case. The pie was good anyway.
We headed due west with los dos dudes way in front of me. I noticed a pile of corrugated steel in a farmer’s field to my right. Then I saw Mark and Corey stopped up ahead and looking to the left side.
There was a house with a couple of outbuildings utterly devastated. Nearby trees were torn up. You could see exactly where the tornado touched down. It was stupefying. With all these wide open spaces, how unlucky these people were.
The other two headed west again well above The Mule’s top speed. We knew the road were taking was closed up ahead because of flooding.
A driver stopped me and advised me about detours. As I researched possibilities on my phone, Corey texted me. They took off their shoes and walked through the flooded section of road without a problem. So I did too.
After a brief chat with a couple in a VW bug who decided not to test the waters, I continued west. The wind was now in my face and the road began to roll again.
It took a frustratingly long time to get to the Kansas state line.
After that I pushed on another five miles to Pittsburg. With all the flooding I saw today, I didn’t even bother to ask about camping in the city park. The first hotel I checked had flood damage on the below grade first floor. I went up the street to a Comfort Inn. A nice bed, laundry, and pizza. Soon I’ll be saving logs. My apologies to the other guests.
Miles total: 703.5