by John de Figueiredo
Golden City, MO to Ash Grove, MO
Scientists have often wondered how many days boys can ride 80 miles in 106 degree heat. The answer is six.
After sleeping on a dusty concrete floor the Crew woke up a bit later and a bit more lethargic than usual. Getting off to a start 45 minutes later than the plan, the morning ride in high heat was plagued with both bad luck and some minor lapses in judgement. We experienced a flat tire the previous night that was difficult to repair, as well as repeated problems with one of the bicycle's seat. In addition, one Crew member fell over because he forgot to clip out when stopping, one lost his sunglasses, and two others began to experience morning dehydration. By 10:30am, a time when we might have normally covered 50 miles, we had covered only 37 miles. The leaders felt the karma for the day wasn't good and made an executive decision to stop the day's ride at Ash Grove, MO to get out of the heat and avoid the risk of something more serious happening.
The town's City Hall was so kind to provide us keys to a historic house in the middle of the town's park to spend the night. While half of the Crew went to the town pool (which was free for the cyclists), the other half took a three hour nap. The idea was for the Crew to get recharged, rest, and relaxation.
One curious thing we have noticed as we move from West to East is that the frequency with which dogs are aggressive, chasing us in the street, had risen noticeably. Other cyclists we have encountered going East to West tell us it will get worse as we continue our eastward progress. Crew members have adopted various techniques to deal with this problem. David M. hollers at the dog in his own angry, Appalachian accent. Alex prefers spraying the approaching dog in the face with his water bottle. Max recently acquired a toy cap gun and shoots the dog with loud caps, scaring the dog. Many more methods will be tested in the days to come, we are sure!
Now to our crew profile...
MAX. Max's nickname is "The Night Train" because of his continuous, constant, powerful riding. He is very quiet while he rides, mainly because he is in charge of the music. Crew members frequently are jockeying for a position near Max in the pace line so they can jam to the the 1970's and 1980's classic rock music.
Max is also a wizard bicycle mechanic who, as one leader said, "can fix anything that goes wrong on the road." He is also happy to share his talents with other Crew members whose bikes are in need of doctoring. He also has read more books on the trip than any other Crew members.
Max's bike does look like a flea shop. He is carrying two pounds of Lucky Charms, an old Colorado license plate (sometimes in his biking jersey), stickers from all over the country, a cactus named "Fred" acquired in Canyon City, and a plastic scorpion found on the ground in Oregon. When I asked him about the weight, he said he's reached the point where he does not notice weight.
Next time...a special profile.