Day 13-14, Tour 10 Chester, IL to Malden, MO via Cape Girardeau

Just one of many climbs on Hwy C

Strong winds for the north when riding south ;-} from Cape Girardeau

I rode from Chester to Cape Girardeau - a very hilly ride - on Saturday and from Cape Girardeau to Malden - a very windy ride - on Sunday. Saturdays ride, although only about 60 miles, was one of the hardest of this tour. Sundays ride, at about 75 miles was, except for 20 miles when I was going west, the easiest ride of this tour. In between I stayed with a Warm Showers host in Cape Girardeau. A very nice lady who rode Bike '76 and has been hosting bicycle tourists ever since. I shouldn't say just bicycle tourists - she hosted a cross country unicyclist last week ;-}!

Popeye's statue near the bridge across the Mississippi

The bridge across the Mississippi
This is the fourth, and best, bridge I've ridden across the Mississippi

A quick shot of the river from near the middle of the bridge

Entering Missouri, riding Hwy 51

Crossing the Mississippi was easy. The bridge, although long and without shoulders or wide lanes, is relative flat and traffic was light. Hwy 51, on the other side, has good shoulders and is extremely flat ;-}. I only rode it for a few miles before turning south on Hwy C. Hwy C is just as flat ad Hwy 51 - billiard table flat - for about ten miles. Then it climbs into the hills at 10% or so, and just keeps repeating that climb for then next 25 miles. Oh, my aching legs

The start of Hwy C.

The end of the flat section on Hwy C

At the bottom of the first climb on Hwy C there is a dike,
a river channel on the others side of the dike
and a train track

Part of the first climb

Hwy 61 at the other end of Hwy C
despite it being quite hilly, I was really glad to reach this road
If I had to ride from Chester to the Cape again, I'd do it on 61.

Although Hwy C is quite a nice road, and has many nice views and interesting culture, climbing the same 100 to 200 feet, over and over again on very steep grades, got old pretty quickly. I really needed my 16" low gear on almost every climb

The little school
I'd already decided that this area was settled by Germans

The first services I found were at a pub in east Perry where I had a, much needed, lunch and rest break with a bunch of farmers. This was roughly in the middle of Hwy C. Fortunately, the hills got gentler after that, else I might have need to be rescued ;-{. Even with the gentler hills, the ride became an endurance event for me rather than a fun ride. Also, although it was quite warm and very muggy, skies were gray all day. I don't know if I could have done it in full sun.

Some gentler hills south of East Perry

I ground up the last of an uncountable number of hills before descending at 35+ mph into Cape Girardeau. It was a bigger and busier city than I expected, but, it was easy to find my Warm Showers host's home. We enjoyed visiting, good food, and good beer. Then she drove me over the route I needed to ride to get out of the Cape going south. It wasn't easy and required three miles of intersate riding. It was very useful to have been driven over it. It was also nice that, today, we had strong winds from the north. It would have been a much harder ride without those wind.

Cranking down Hwy 61 at 20+ mph

Nearing Dexter - grinding along at 10 mph or less with a strong side wind
Hard Riding!

Back in wind assisted mode heading south from Dexter

My ride today was much less interesting than my ride yesterday. After getitng through the interstate section - it helped that it was Sunday morning, I had 20 miles of fast, easy riding on Hwy 69 before lunch, followed by 20 miles of hard riding heading east on Hwy 60. I would have kept going south on 69 if I could have, but there was no way to route through that part of Arkansas. The first chance I had to route south was from Dexter and, after a miserable couple of hours getting to Dexter, I took the chance - supported by Google Maps - that I could find lodging south on Hwy 25. It took me less than an hour to reach the Airport Inn at Malden which is a very pleasant place to rest and to work on this report.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for more wind form the north so that I can continue pretty much due south. With good winds, It could be an easy three days to Little Rock, my next destination. With bad winds, it might take four days.

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