May 24th, 2019 / (148km/92mi, 1027hm)
When I get out of the motel this morning in Pittsburg, KS, it is already 20°C warm. What a difference to the days so far – normally I would rather freeze than sweat. It is as if someone has just turned the AC from cooling to heating. And heating is also the theme for the rest of the day. It gets beyond 30°C/90°F for the rest of the day and the sun is burning down on me without any clouds intervening. It’s pretty exhausting – I prefer rather cool temperatures. So I catch a lot of sun from above and feel a lot of heat from the tarmac below.
After a 1.5 hrs drive to Springfield, MO, I drop the rental car at Hertz and get onto my bike. At around 11am I finally make it out of the busy area of Springfield and fight my way back along historic Route 66 to MO-38, which is followed by the official bike trail. One understands why: traffic is so much lioghter than on Route 66 and the scenery is also nicer. For the next 7 hours and 140km I fight my way up the steep hills and roll down on the other side. The scenery has nicely changed from the rather “minimalist” Kansas approach: it’s hilly, there’s fields and trees and overall a landscape that reminds me of “Kraichgau” in Germany. Very nice change in scenery.
I have a theory: Kansas was once exactly like Colorado. Except that they sold everything scenic to their western neighbor. The same is true for Missouri, except that Missouri kept the hills and the trees and got – in exchange for mountains – churches! It’s unbelievable how many churches I pass. If there’s two houses along the road, you can be sure there’s a church next to them. Sometimes they even seem to have forgotten the two houses. There still is a church in the last corner of every jungle. Free will Baptist Church (what does that mean?? The other’s aren’t free will?). The United Methodist Church. The Jesus Christ Church. The First Presbiterian Church. I can’t even remember all the flavors. You name it: You can be sure there’s a church nearby. You may even spit cherry stones from one church to the other. So many are there in so close proximity. Anyway.
I make it to my motel in Houston, MO at around 5pm. The heat has taken its toll. And I got my first sunburn of this trip. I need to be more careful tomorrow and put more sunscreen on. I did this morning, but obviously not enough.