Sunday, June 10, 1984
Lazy Louie’s Bicycle Camp to Golden City, Mo.
I’m reprinting the day-to-day journal entries of a cross-country bike tour my friend and I took in 1984. More about the TransAmerica Tour 1984
Was this a mirage after too many hours in the saddle? We slipped into a couple of valleys after Pennsboro and were climbing out of the second one when I saw something standing up ahead of me in the road.
At first I thought it was Bruce, but he was behind me. Then it looked like a tree had sprouted from the pavement. As I got closer, it was a woman sitting astride a horse watching our slow approach.
She called us over just as we were about to pass. There was a birthday party at a farmhouse. Someone offered us a beer, and we could see no reason to refuse. The beer was cold and numbed my sore butt and thigh muscles. We talked to the birthday dude, a self-admitted psychopath, and chatted with a guy who was learning to whittle. He gave Bruce something — we had to be told it was a horse’s head — that he said was a charm for our trip. Bruce put it in his handlebar bag and we continued up the hill.
That must have been a charm, because when we topped the hill we had nothing but flat road ahead of us. We had reached the end of the Ozarks and the beginning of the Great Plains. We buzzed along for 13 miles to Golden City by 6 p.m., about 11 hours after we started this morning.
We got up early at Lazy Louie’s and saw that the commotion we heard about midnight was four bicycle tourists arriving at the camp. From the looks of their bikes — all Peugeots — we figured it was the bunch from Connecticut (this was our last contact with them). We were anxious to get moving, though, and after talking with Louie while we broke camp, we took off about 7 a.m.
We zipped through Marshfield (we didn’t stop there at Louie’s advice) and rode all the way to lunch at Ash Grove. A couple cycling the other direction told us the hills were about to end; we told them the hellish Ozarks were about to begin.
When we reached our destination in Golden City, just over 100 miles from Lazy Louie’s, we did some laundry and met a biker heading east. We traded stories and camped with him in the local park.
A welcoming committee in the form of an 8-year-old boy told us all about the town, the park and its facilities. He hung around and ate spaghetti with us. I wonder what’s going to come of him, spending his youth talking to people rolling into town on bicycles all summer long.
The lone cyclist we camped with talked and talked — he was starved for conversation. I’m glad he’s heading the opposite direction from us in the morning.
Headline: June 10, 1984 —
Martina Navratilova overwhelms Chris Evert Lloyd
for the 11th straight time today, winning the French Open final
in 63 minutes, 6-3, 6-1.
Our first century. We came 100-plus miles from Lazy Louie’s to Golden City, Mo. We are in the flat now, finally, and we can modestly say we have conquered the Ozarks. Yesterday was as tough a ride as we’ve had, evidenced by the fact that we slept like rocks–both of us–all night without tossing and turning a bit. We are at the local cafe this morning, about 30 miles from Pittsburg. That’s Kansas. And it looks like a beautiful, windless day.
The comic relief of the day came 62 miles out, in Ash Grove. We were shopping in a fairly good-sized market for dinner that evening when Bis went down one aisle and the overhead sign said, “Animal Needs.” Not pet supplies or cat and dog food, but “Animal Needs.” We both felt at home.
The low point of the day was in Golden City, running into a single cyclist going East. He cornered us at the laundromat and talked our ears off the rest of the night. I hate to be judgmental, but this guy was a twit., the kind of guy you don’t have any patience for after 100 miles in the saddle.
He also was camped at the city park where we stayed last night. Most of the small towns in Kansas–we are told–have these parks where you can camp free. Not all have showers, but this one did. It was quiet and pleasant.
The land has really flattened out. No more mountains, just fields opon fields. We will try to pass through the 500 miles of Kansas in 5 days. Hopefully, the wind will be still, or with us.
Have ordered the usual at the Wayside Cafe this morning: four hotcakes, juice, coffee. They didn’t have cold cereal. Across the street, Cooky’s Cafe has the reputation for 20 kinds of homemade pies, but they aren’t open this morning. Maybe just as well.
Coming through the Ozarks, more than most places, we have seen so many dead animals on the road, primarily turtles, but snakes, racoon, opossum, squirrel. They are unpleasant to pass–fly infested, and with a stench that is clearly of something that was once living and breathing.
Luckily, though, the Missouri dogs have little interest in bikers, which is a great blessing.
I think the automobile horn must be a recent introduction to the state of Missouri because people will take any opportunity to use theirs. Everybody is all the time honking at us, which is very irritating and a little scary, too. Half the time I think they are being friendly, but I can’t tell. We will see if the driving habits change in Kansas.
Another event yesterday: We were approaching the crest of what would be our last major hill when a woman on horseback invited Bis into her yard. They were having a picnic and beer blast and had us in. About 10 or 12 of them. They had been drinking since Friday night. We broke down and had a beer, which I thought would be my undoing, but it made us feel great. It took the edge off. And when we got to the top of that hill, that was the end of the hills. It was all beautifully flat after that.
Day 30 — “Kansas is a big state to lose partner in”