Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It's been more than a month on the road (only 3 or so weeks left!) and I feel like it's time to stitch things up a little bit. Thus, I will try to organize the blog into different sections. "On the Road" will give you a daily account of our travels, observations, and people we meet. The Trivia Contest will provide the answer to yesterday's question, pose a new one, and give leader board updates. I will also implement a new section: "Fact of the Day". The fact will pertain to Face AIDS, HIV, Partners in Health, or another aspect of our organization. Finally, (and this falls on you, my dear readers) I want to get a "Reader Feedback" page going. We've had scattered messages, comments, and suggestions from family and friends, but we would really like to hear from you some more. So if you have anything to ask, tell, or comment on, please leave us a comment (I think you need to create a user name to do so) or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks a ton, and now onto the blog!
On the Road
It's now Tuesday morning and before we get going on the bikes this morning I've found some time to get back into the blogging world and write about the past couple of days.
Saturday was our longest day of the trip: 130+ miles! My legs were sore from getting back onto the bike the day before, but I was still so excited to finally be riding again that I was up to the challenge. It was, however, quite the challenge. Missouri has proved to be a tougher state than we anticipated. Our topography maps showed steep inclines, but the flux in elevation only ranged from 800-1400 feet. After having slaved in the mountains for the first three weeks of of this trip we didn't think too much of these hills.
Turns out we were wrong. We attributed the sharp spikes in the topography charts to a poor scale. As it was, the hills were far steeper than anything we had encountered. Each one took quite an effort, and there were plenty of them. Dave likened Missouri to one of our crew workouts: Canadian Bacon. Each hill involved a short burst of maximum effort while the other parts were more or less cruising. I agreed and also offered the image of a roller coaster.
The day brought us to Farmington, MO. We stayed with a CouchSurfer, Kelsey. She took us out to dinner- where we had massive burgers- before going back to her place to crash for the night. I had planned on writing this blog that evening, but once dinner was over I was in bed. I slept from 8:30 PM to 7 the next morning.
Sunday we rode from Farmington, MO to Carbondale, IL. 50 miles into our 90 mile day we crossed out of Missouri and into Illinois. We've crossed a lot of state borders in the past few weeks, but this one was particularly cool because the natural border between the states is the Mississippi River! I'd been looking forward to this part of the ride for a long time and it did not disappoint. The Mississippi is massive. Barges move up and down the river and kids played on the shores. We rode along the river for a ways before breaking east and continuing on or journey.
By the early afternoon we had reached Carbondale, a college town in Illinois. We met up with John, Matt, Kyle, and some of their friends. These guys were to be our hosts for the next two nights (we had planned a rest day in Carbondale). They were all swimmers/divers for SIU Carbondale and their teammates knew one of our friends on the Stanford swim team. They were awesome hosts and showed us a really good time! I hope they all come out to California sometime so we can reciprocate the hospitality.
Today we have a 90-mile day from Carbondale to Cave in Rock, IL (I kid you not, that is the name!). Cave in Rock is a small town on the Ohio River on the southeastern corner of Illinois. Tomorrow we'll cross into Kentucky which marks the end of the Midwest and our first excursion into the South. My goal over to next few days is to find some legitimate Kentucky Fried Chicken. Wish me luck!
In other news, I am off the bike again. Yesterday evening I went to the local hospital to have the stitches removed. They came out cleanly and the cuts looks good, but the doctor told me there was a decent chance the cuts could come open again with biking. This, he said, wouldn't be detrimental to my health, but would increase the recovery period and leave a larger scar. Now I'm all for big, bad scars, but with my obligations back on campus to the team, I don't think it would be fair for me to risk spending another month rehabbing my leg when a couple days off know could do the job. Of course I am terribly disappointed, but I know this is the right call and will try to be more productive with my time in the car.
Fact of the Day
AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa represent 72% of AIDS deaths worldwide. One of the questions we get asked a lot on the road is "Well why focus on Africa when people are dying of AIDS here in America?" This fact helps a lot with that answer. The prevalence of the disease and the inability of people to receive the medical care they need makes Africa a place desperate for support and we hope to provide that in as big a way as we can.
Answer to Friday's Trivia: Wild Bill killed a man over a watch. Oh, the wild wild west! 10 more points to Nate Rooks who is rapidly running away with the competition.
Today's Trivia Question: Chester, IL, the first town we arrived in after crossing the Mississippi, is home to what famous cartoon character? (10 points)
BONUS Question: Missouri is the home state of American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He is better known by what name? (5 points)
Nate Rooks is now our leaders with 30 points. Not far behind at KTO and Matty Pru with 20 points a piece.
Posted by Austin Carroll Keeley at 6:11 AM