Joined: Jul 2007
8/6 Belleville, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri
After not getting to bed until sometime after 11 the night before, I had set the alarm for the comfortable hour of 7 am. The sun, however, had a different idea and woke us up nearer to 6 am. I looked up to see condensation hanging from the inside of the tent roof and remembered how amazingly humid it had been the previous evening. We rolled out onto the damp grass and saw that our tent looked like it had been rained upon. The sunrise over the lake and morning breeze made for a pleasant walk to the loo before we began our morning routine again. We once again had to put the tent and footprint in the sun so they could dry while we ate and began packing up.
A long row of picnic tables under a pavilion made a good place to lay out our stuff while we rolled and repacked our bags. Cold pizza and coffee finished, I set to the bikes. The chains were again dragging in the chaincases and had over two inches of play. Sigh. It was at this point that I knew they would need to be replaced once we reached Columbia, Missouri. At least all of our fasteners were tight and air pressures were still good. I also adjusted both clutches as they had become increasingly grabby, particularly when downshifting. When I record the adjustments made to the bikes, I also tote up the amount of fuel purchased the previous day and other costs. Yesterday's fuel purchases amounted to 10.2 gallons, which seemed awfully high – but maybe we started empty and filled up late in the day? And we did cover 375 miles, our most miles in a day so far. Huh.
Bikes sorted and repacked, we turned back onto US 36 for another few hundred miles. The morning was still damp and soon the temperature began to climb. Today's weather forecast called for highs in the mid-90s and a heat index of 105. Good practice for India and SE Asia, we both thought as we unzipped all our vents and loosened our wrist velcro for that extra bit of airflow. With lots of miles to cover, mostly flat roads, and a good place to be that night, we continued our faster pace through the day. Stopping for fuel on the outskirts of St Joseph, Missouri we noted the change between the less populated and more relaxed west and the more crowded and busy midwest. More towns, more cars, more stuff, less space between that stuff – not bad, just different. Sometime after 1 pm we stopped for fuel at a station that had an attached Wendy's and decided to sit for a while and cool off with a drink that wasn't warm water from our MSR Dromedary bags. We, of course, walk in wearing our gear and again fail to blend in. We ended up chatting with several sets of people about our trip and the bikes, of course. Re has heard me give the spiel about SYM and the Symbas so often that I'm sure she could recite it verbatim. Talking about the trip can get a little tedious sometimes, but it can also be the kick in the pants that we need. It can occasionally be easy to forget what we are really doing when all we can see is another 150 miles before we can take off our gear and sit somewhere comfortable, but talking about it and seeing the reactions of others never fails to remind us. Feeling re-energized, we rode US 36 to Macon, where we stopped for gas again (haven't we been stopping for gas a lot today?) before heading south on US 63 for the final 60 miles into Columbia, Missouri, our destination for the night.
As we reached the outskirts of Columbia, I found myself once again watching our fuel lights rapidly go dark. When we finally stopped for dinner, I pulled out the figures for the last two days and discovered the price of our faster pace – our fuel mileage had dropped from an average of 91 mpg at 45 mph to something nearer to 75 mpg at 50mph. Ouch. The real concern with this much higher rate of usage is our range. With only a maximum of two gallons each, our range just fell from 180+ miles to 150 miles. We are going to have to watch this carefully in the future, especially in countries where fuel isn't so readily available. We stopped for dinner at Lee's Fried Chicken, and our chicken and ribs soon arrived to distract me from this new issue. It's amazing how good food can make other problems seem much less important. Totally stuffed, we waddled back to our bikes and hefted them off of their sidestands for the last 8 miles to the home of Glen and Martha Heggie, our hosts for the night. Re and I are both graduates of Mizzou and Dr. Glen Heggie was one of Re's professors. He and his wife were both avid motorcyclists before their children were born and graciously insisted that we stay with them and make use of their fully equipped garage(!) while we were in Columbia. Martha whisked us into the shower and fed us more and we spent the remainder of the evening chatting and laughing. A nice ending to a hot but good day.
372 miles in under 10.5 hours. The bikes are loving the lower altitude and are running great. The chains, however, are toast – snatching all the way through Columbia and I swear I heard Re's chain skip a tooth.