To strive, to seek, to persevere and to never yield

After completing today's ride I've come to the conclusion that I was overly harsh on myself yesterday for quitting at around 2pm. I spent the rest of the day pooh-poohing myself for being a wimp and was even rash enough to deny myself a decent dinner because of it (getting byinstead with a handful of gummy bears and Cheezits). It was stupid of me. There would have been no way I could have reasonably biked that distance in one day. It's "only" 67 miles and I've done that and more several times before on this trip but the effort expended is far more than I would have in other days. Every mile is not the same of course. There's just too damn many hills on these Missouri backroads - why beat a dead horse? The tally of days' achievements makes it look like my performance is taking a nosedive on paper. Instead, I am more sore after these last to days of riding than I have at any other time so far. That includes even those difficult days in Alabama.

But it's time to rejoice for I have finally conquered the Ozarks! That's it - no more hills til the Rockies! I pity the fools who have coasted down from out west on their way east. Prepare ye for an arse kicking!! Yes, I know there's going to be other challenges ahead, particularly the wind, but at least, thank God, it's going to be flat. And I've been dealing with fierce crosswinds all day today so that's nothing new. Several times the winds were blowing so hard I wondered (not kidding) whether it could sweep the bike out from under me. Then I remembered Ernest Shackleton's quote (headline above) as he plowed from one end of Antarctica to the other 100 years ago. It is arguably one of humankind's greatest stories of endurance. THAT was a struggle, I thought, THIS is just a walk in the park. And with that humbling comparison I rode on.

Exhausted, I made it to the little gem of a town called Golden City. It is apparently on the TransAmerica route for bikers as the locals seem to be "habituated" to seeing cyclists although not so early in the year. Everyone here smiles, waves and is quick to offer help and encouragement. It's borderline spooky. It's making me want to stick around for a while and I would if I had the money I don't. Coming to stay at the bike hostel and eating at Cooky's is sort of a pilgrimmage for any cyclist coming through. In fact, I was flattered to put my own name and entry on the log books at each place thinking "wow, have I really earned the right? I'm just a newbie on a crazy trip!"

The bike hostel costs $15 a night but includes a full kitchen, shower, laundry (free, no quarters needed) and the comfiest beds on the planet. There are other amenities I'm not listing but suffice it to say that it feels like home and all that's missing are other tourers with whom to share stories. I'm the first guest so far this year because it's apparently too early in the season.

Day 33