55 miles (89 km) – Total so far: 1,420 miles (2,285 km)
Today marked an end of an era as just a short 20 mile ride we’d make it to Springfield where Bill would hop in a rental car and drive back home. Having Bill along for the last week, especially in the challenging Ozarks, really buoyed my spirits. With his imminent departure, the skies above reflected my mood. An oppressive expanse of gray overcast spit down little pellets of rain into our eyeballs as we made our way out of Marshfield.As I’ve said before, all good downhills come to an end. But the hopeful converse of that is that all uphills come to an end. At the top of the last gasp of the Ozarks, Bill and I sat huffing and puffing. That literal uphill coincided with a metaphorical one. The simple pleasure of riding with a buddy brought my mood back up and I spent some time thinking about being grateful for the time I had Bill with me instead of brooding about the miles ahead. This solidified a decision to stay in Everton tonight in the bunkhouse cyclists use at Running Spring Farm. The distance for the day was light, especially given the flattening land, but I figured I’d have more of a chance of meeting fellow cyclists. Of course, the fact that such a dwelling could be called a xenodochium reinforced the decision since today’s post is the X post. I’d been thinking about titles for my X post way back in K and L, so I’m pretty proud I was able to use a word that would win Scrabble hands down.

With 3.2 miles to the car rental shop, Bill got a flat. It was a slow leak, so two inflations got us the final miles. No point in replacing the tube now that the tire has been shown to be on its last legs (how you like my metaphors now!) We went through the normal rigamarole at the rental agency, which clearly exists not to rent you a car, but to sell you gas and insurance you don’t need. Then we hugged it out. Twice. … and I peeled myself away. I looked around searchingly I wondered, “Now which way is the Pacific?” The cosmos didn’t oblige me with a verbal reply, so I put the morning sun to my back and started pedaling, trusting Google maps to take care of the details.

So long old buddy old pal!

So long old buddy old pal!

Speaking of navigation, Route 66 may be wonderful if you’re in a car, got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigs, it’s dark and you’re wearing sunglasses; but on a bike it is an invitation to get run over in a hurry. Google maps, or G-mapdiddle, as I’ll refer to her after her great performance today, routed me off of US 66 and glory of glories, onto a bike path. A bike path! Flat. Straight. Thank God. Literally, I thanked God. Combined with the fact that zero dogs chased me today (woohoo!) this 8 miles of trail have put the number of flat miles traversed in excess of the number of canine pursuits. See the highly advanced statistical analysis below.

Prior to the Frisco Highline Trail:
Dogs: 118 pooches.
Flat terrain: 111 miles.
Pooch-Flat Ratio: 1.063

After the Frisco Highline Trail:
Dogs: 118 pooches
Flat Terrain: 119 miles.
Pooch-Flat Ratio: 0.992 Note that the PFR has dropped below 1.000 with six sigma certainty. It may not be a Higgs Boson, but it is pretty exciting nonetheless

The Frisco Highline Trail running Northwest from Springfield towards the ACA TransAm

The Frisco Highline Trail running Northwest from Springfield towards the ACA TransAm

In addition to lovely terrain, I met another two recumbent riders out for day trips. Richard had a flat, which I was able to pump up for him. George and Rada had a tandem recumbent trike. An incredibly rare beast. Maybe if I buy one of these, I’ll get Christine to join me for my next trip. George, Reda and I rode the length of the trail chatting about various things. The unexpected joy of a pleasant bike trail, unexpected meetings, and good conversation reinforced the idea that riding along the TransAm needn’t be unpleasant or lonely. I needed that reminder this afternoon, and I’m grateful for it.

Richard from Springfield

Richard from Springfield 

George and Rada from Springfield on a sweet tandem recumbent trike.

George and Rada from Springfield on a sweet tandem recumbent trike.

Finally arriving at the xenodochium, I took 20 minutes to enjoy some meditative silence. I think I’m going to try this discipline every day rather than rushing from pedaling into the whole camp chore thing. Feeling cooled down and relaxed, I then raided the pantry. Previous tenants left raisin bran and chocolate soy milk, which when combined make an excellent post ride snack. This summertime cyclist haven is a hunting lodge other times of the year. So, most of the decoration celebrates blasting birds out of the sky with shotguns. So, that’s fun.
Seams reasonable.

Seams reasonable.