Transcon Log 2 Back to Bike Stories // Back to the Weeville Home Page
The Herald May 12, 1989
Heading on into Kansas
Rusty Forrest left April 14 on a cross country trip from Rock Hill to Salt Lake City, Utah. Here is his second report from the road.
Day 7, Thursday April 20 -- 108 miles from Franklin, Tenn., to Paris, Tenn.
Some long rolling hills were offset by a cool day and a tailwind. Crossing the Tennessee River near Johnsonville, I was amazed by the river's size. I paused on the bridge and watched tugboats moving barges down below. At one rest stop, I watched a Union Pacific freight train with seven engines and 16 million cars. They just kept a-comin'.
Assessment: A successful century (100 mile bike ride) where persistence was the key.
Friday, April 21--100 miles from Paris, Tenn., to Charleston, Mo.
This was a long day, perhaps the most eventful day so far. The hills of western Tennessee made me wonder if forward progress was the theme. In Union City, I was flagged down by a local biker who had a million questions and offered lots of local tips in return.
John Williams pointed me toward Hickman, Ky., after his mom made a long-distance phone call to the Hickman Ferry Co. She confirmed that the ferry was running, so I could cross the mighty Mississippi River on a boat. The river was thrilling in its enormity and the $6 boat ride was a fun way to reach Missouri. I rolled through Missouri's farmland to Charleston for a scheduled day off of the bike.
Assessment: What a day. This is what bike touring is all about.
Saturday, April 22 -- Rest day, Charleston, Mo.
Sunday, April 23 -- 97 miles from Charleston to Fredericktown, Mo.
The original plan for a ride through Poplar Bluff was thwarted by a 25 mph headwind. After making 13 miles in two hours, I decided to turn north, as I needed some more "north" anyway. With a quartering tailwind, I zoomed to Fredericktown in the Ozark Mountains.
Assessment: I found great humor in turning north to cheat the wind. Only on a trip this long is such a move possible.
Monday, April 24 -- 87 miles from Fredericktown to Salem, Mo.
The Ozarks raised their head to produce a tough day of climbing in 90 degree heat. This ride was a wilderness tour, with the soft drink machines occasionally 25 miles apart. The Ozarks aren't big enough to produce great scenery, but tall enough to impede forward progress. The lingering headwind provided air conditioning, but I was very glad to see Salem coming.
Assessment: Tomorrow promises to be even hotter, and the hills aren't finished.
Tuesday, April 25 -- 84 miles from Salem to Lebanon, Mo.
The hills, wind, curves and record heat of the Ozarks kept me supplied with a feeling of deja vu all day long. Haven't I climbed this hill once already?
Turkey season has opened and hunters (mostly from Arkansas) have flocked to this area. On the road and at all the rest stops, I saw enough camouflage to staff a Rambo movie. Last night the motel in Salem filled up with hunters, and they all sat around in the parking lot trying out their gobbler calls, it sounded like a zoo. At 7 a.m. this morning, I was the last person left at the motel. The hunters were long gone.
Assessment: Today I wished for a picture of some flat ground, just to look at.
Wednesday, April 26 -- 72 miles from Lebanon to Stockton, Mo.
More record heat, and more Ozark hills. The accumulative effect of the last three days has left me physically drained. I think it's ironic that I'm lugging all my cold weather gear through 94-degree heat. Missouri has proven to be a surprisingly formidable opponent.
Assessment: I'm tired.
Thursday, April 27 -- 63 miles from Stockton, Mo., to Fort Scott, Kan.
I hung around Stockton this morning to discuss a story I read in the local paper; a few days ago, a black angus cow got loose and had her own way at the public square for an hour. Her exploits included a visit to the cookware section of the hardware store, entering through the store's opened double doors. It's one of the funniest true stories I've ever heard, and I'll dedicate a full column to it later.
A 35 mph, sustained crosswind made this a miserable day for riding. The last thing in Missouri was a five-mile construction project. I got pummeled, sandblasted, and disgusted in all the mayhem.
Assessment: After today's crosswind hurricane I feel qualified to ride a bull in a rodeo.
Friday, April 28 -- Rest day, Fort Scott Kan.
Saturday, April 29 -- 93 miles from Fort Scott to Eureka, Kan.
A relentless headwind made this a long, slow day on the bike. This part of Kansas is flat, but it's tilted with a high side to the west. A view to the north or south offers a beautiful panoramic scene with fields and pastures. A look west indicates an obvious but gradual climb toward the Rockies.
Assessment: Only today did I realize what an enormous project I have undertaken. Eureka, Kan., is just past the halfway point of this trip.
Sunday, April 30 -- 109 miles from Eureka to McPherson, Kan.
The wind was my friend during the first half of this day, and I used it to get the jump on some good mileage. I still managed to stop and gawk and take pictures and generally behave like a boy from South Carolina who was seeing Kansas for the first time.
Some of the scenery is staggering in its enormity. I don't see how the cowboys and the Indians ever bumped into one another out here.
Assessment: Two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water. That's a hard thing to imagine while standing in the middle of Kansas.
Monday, May 1 -- 75 miles from McPherson to Hoisington, Kan.
A frustrating headwind is becoming a way of life for me. All the air we breathe in Carolina races across Kansas with few trees to slow it down.
I'm trying to work my way north per a new plan that was born back in Fort Scott. I'll attack the Rockies north of Denver rather than south. Kansas is still big and beautiful, but I enjoy it less with the wind beating me in the face.
This Midwestern wind is already a far, far greater factor than I had originally planned for.
Assessment: Why am I doing this trip backward? I could ride home from here without pedaling.
Rock Hill to Hoisington, Kan. 1,403 miles.
Back to Bike Stories // Back to the Weeville Home Page