Day 19 - Kirksville to Quincy Illinois

Well folks, we've made it out of Missouri, crossed the Mississippi, and are now in Illinois. Today was just one of those days that I couldn't help but ask myself, why the heck am I doing this to myself?      

After three days of brutal climbing in the Land of a 1,000 Hills (I found out today we climbed over 250 on Wednesday), we finally found some flat terrain on the tail end of our ride as we crossed state lines. There was some light drizzling in the morning that opened up into a downright shower around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and although there was no lightning, it was still pretty rough having to ride in the rain for the better part of the day.      

The ride itself was shorter than our average route, only 95 miles. With that in mind I started off strong with the expectation of finishing in good time. I was eager to actually finish relatively early and get some time to stretch properly and take care of my aching body instead of just updating the blog and passing out. But after 5 hours of hill climbing and only 55 miles completed, I was starting to get really frustrated with the ride and with myself.     

Between our last day spent in Kansas and the three days climbing in Missouri, I was beginning to get really worn down from the rough terrain and I could tell that it was starting to affect my attitude. Thank goodness I have such a great group to keep me going on these days, even though sometimes I might be a little gruff with them when I'm in one of those moods.     

We've even taken to nicknaming ourselves "The Wolfpack," because we're always chasing after the faster cyclists. Although we have plenty of honorary members of The Wolfpack, its core members consist of myself, my dad, and one of the coolest guys on the tour named Joe. Joe is a veteran of three Iron Men races, and a very strong cyclist. I've gotten to know him the most out of all of the guys on this trip, and it's been an amazing experience to learn from him about cycling and his experiences in life.       

It sometimes amazes me how these guys can remain so upbeat and cheerful, even in the most difficult conditions. With the rain coming down and our bikes and gear covered in thick Mississippi mud from our river crossing, both Joe and my dad continued to make me smile with their jokes and bantering. Pretty soon I forgot all about my hunger and my aches and pains, and began to embrace the ride once again.     

Still, I won't be sad to say goodbye to Missouri, and welcome the flatter farmlands of Illinois.     

P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures, I will be updating them with the next blog post. Until then, I hope you all enjoyed my little synopsis of the ride, and continue to read on as we get closer to our final destination. 

Danielle Rivenbark