You may be wondering what exactly one might bring on a long-distance, solo bicycle trip. Enough people have expressed interest that I figured I should take some photos of what I'm carrying and describe what goes where and why.
Presented by Ben Stallings at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, October 31, 2004
This church service is offered online in the hopes that you may find it useful. If you perform or reprint it, please let me know. Hymn and reading numbers are from Singing the Living Tradition. Rather than reprint these documents here, I have linked to other sites that quote and discuss them.
This morning we attended a free breakfast at the West Side Community Center, intended to lure voters in for a rousing speech and then a parade to the courthouse for early voting. It looked to me like the event was attended mostly by volunteers with only a few disenfranchised voters, but we had a good time, and it was standing room only, so we could scarcely have handled more people.
In the afternoon, Mom and I went to Eastland to launder my sleeping bag and buy me some new walking shoes, a belated birthday present.
I made a full four-cup pot of coffee this morning and flew down the trail into Jefferson City, arriving early for church. The first person to talk to me there was Don Love, who had noticed me on the road and thought I might be headed to his church! He introduced me to a bike dealer and a highway employee among the congregation, who were able to answer my questions about shoulders on US highways I've been eyeing.
Slow going again today, in spite of excellent weather. I got a late start due to partiers keeping me up late. Couldn't seem to get fired up until I stopped for coffee at noon. Even so, I didn't make it into Jefferson City as I had hoped, but only into Tebbetts.
I had a route all planned out to get me into town today, but I missed my turn. When I stopped to look at local maps at a gas station, I found that there's a new bridge across the Missouri River that wasn't on my maps, and that I could get there via the Katy Trail.
Encouraged by the campground owner's description of an off-road bike trail paralleling the River Road, I headed back east this morning rather than following US 61, even though 61 had a nice wide, paved shoulder. Alas, the part of the road with the off-road trail was the part I skipped by going to the campground last night!
I had hoped to get all the way to Cuivre River State Park today, but I drastically underestimated the hilliness of the Great River Road between Hannibal and Louisiana, MO. It was a beautiful ride, but very slow going. By the time I was ready to leave Louisiana, I knew there was no way I'd make the state park by sunset.
I had had to pack my tent very wet this morning, so I wanted to let it dry before trying to sleep in it again... so I went to the nearest campground, which was west of Louisiana, in Bowling Green. Out of my way, but at least doable.
distance: 37.8 mi
This morning as I was loading the Mac bag, I found a stash of acorns that someone -- squirrel? chipmunk? totoro? -- had carefully placed in the toilet-paper bag. Whoever it was hadn't touched my food, probably hoping it would be there later, along with the toilet paper for a cozy nest. I felt bad for spoiling such earnest preparations for the winter, but I couldn't very well return the acorns, so I left them under a tree.
Although I had a great visit at Sandhill, it felt really good to hit the road again today.
The only unusual thing that happened today was that a dog befriended me and followed me for about 7 miles. I finally enlisted the help of another dog owner to keep him in one place while I rode away. I enjoyed having the company for those miles, but I was afraid he wouldn't be able to find his way home, and he was getting very hot and thirsty.
I picked up the Great River Road at Canton and followed it through LaGrange to Wakonda State Park.
total distance: 51.84 mi