David Freeze Day 11: Pedaling uphill in search of the Mississippi River

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2022

Editor’s note: David Freeze is cycling along the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa, to New Orleans. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

Today dawned with several possibilities in Missouri. Ride Interstate 55 and hopefully make big time toward Cape Girardeau, or follow US 61 to see if it can find the river. Right now, both of them are designated the Great River Road but 61 would get close while I-55 would not. Here’s what happened.

I left the town of Arnold after a wonderful night at the Quality Inn and headed for the real thing, US 61 without hesitation. After Arnold, I had almost no shoulder and not a lot of traffic usually. However endless hills, rollers one after another never stopped. So I was forced into traffic constantly and drivers waited behind me while I climbed. Then, US 61 added rumble strips, forcing me into the driver’s lane from there on out. Terrible riding!

I passed through Bernhardt, Pevely and Festus. Only Festus had much to offer and it had everything. Then another tiny town in Bloomsdale. Up ahead, my map showed that we would get near the water at St. Genevieve and St. Mary’s.

Stopping in St. Genevieve, I asked about the river. The welcome center lady told me that I would have to ride north on another road and I still wouldn’t see much. I didn’t. She also told me to forget St. Mary’s too because although the river used to run right past the town, it no longer did and had moved farther east. She told me to ride out on Kaskaskia Bridge and look at the dry river bed which I did. Those photos are my best of a poor day of river searching.

At that point, I still had another 14 or so miles to get to Perryville and a room at Super Eight. Endless uphill riding in the traffic caused me to give in. I got the the opportunity to jump once again on I-55 and pedal the last six miles to Perryville. No problems and nobody seemed to care that I was finally out of the traffic lane and making good time at the end of 68 hard miles. Never a flat stretch all day.

U.S. 61 or I-55 both remain as options for tomorrow. It’s about 36 miles to Cape Girardeau, one of the focal points of my ride from the beginning. It has a magnificent bridge across the Mississippi, which I might take if time allows, fulfilling my need to at least touch Illinois.

Home of Rush Limbaugh and a Roswell type alien crash, the city is loaded with other history. It is said to have a magnificent waterfront, which I will look forward to. I will take whatever time I need to explore it. Past that, I’m not sure. US 61 and I-55 both continue directly south and leave the river. Nothing on the Illinois side is close either.

I will have some kind of plan by morning or will make it as I go. I busted two things today, a lock down straps on one of the bike bags that carries my gear and pedal cage. I can’t repair the bag here but can tie it shut. The pedal cage snapped, the one where my right foot goes. If the bike shop in Cape Girardeau has a set, I will get them. Otherwise I will make do.

I’m enjoying the Field of Dreams game as I write this. I am looking for plenty more lasting memories as we approach the second half of the adventure. Better pictures are one goal for tomorrow and some more reasonable riding. Perryville is awesome and for the second night in a row, the things I need are close by.

More good weather is forecast, not a hint of rain since Wednesday of last week. See you back here tomorrow as the adventure continues! Thanks, as always, for a being a part of the journey.