Leaving Missouri, heading into Illinois

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 22, 2013

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

Sunday, July 21

My feet are up, I have eaten everything not nailed down, and I am watching baseball on a stormy night. It was another good day, with more than one unusual twist.

It was cloudy with threatening skies when I left Farmington, Mo., early this morning. My elevation map didn’t tell enough about the last challenges from the Ozarks. It was a very hard morning, but by late morning and arrival in St. Mary, it was finally starting to level out. Several tough climbs, and suddenly it was flat and I was surrounded by beautiful corn fields.

I had been looking forward to crossing the Mississippi River since finalizing plans for the trip. Within a mile, I crossed the river, entered Illinois, got a photo of Popeye’s statue, and met an interesting cyclist from Maryland.

It was a long tough climb into Chester, Ill., and then several more climbs before leaving. I noticed that most of the little towns along the river are set much higher than the surrounding land. I imagine that flooding was on everyone’s mind when the towns were planned. Next came some peddling along the levee beside the river.

Another goal for the day was to make it to end of my map 9 by making it to Murphysboro, Ill. That is exactly where I am spending the night after completing 85 miles. Most of the land along the Mississippi is flat, and it let me rack up some good miles until a few more challenging hills made me work hard to enter town.

This was a nice weather day with some drizzle this morning and with a high only in the upper 80s. I would love another one like it tomorrow.

This was a good day for meeting people, like cyclist Chuck Walker from Maryland and antique store owner Todd Willburn from Rockwood, Ill. And who knew that Popeye got his start in Chester, Ill., on the Mississippi River?

Tomorrow I will head farther into Illinois, with an eye toward western Kentucky.

David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

View David Freeze’s ride in a larger map