September 9, Day 69 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Worn brakes can be a problem on a bicycle when riding up and down hill after hill in Missouri, or anywhere for that matter. And we have shared in the past that neither of us are bicycle mechanics. We are in search of a bicycle shop for any issue that goes beyond a flat tire. It is humbling to admit that. As much as we both love bicycling, we have never invested much time in the actual mechanics of bike maintenance.
So on our day off yesterday, I called a bike shop in Boonville, Missouri, identified on our maps as the closest shop even though it was 75 miles away. Three times I called, as we were getting nervous about Tim’s brakes. With rain in the forecast, the spent brake shoes would not last. The shop never called me back.
Nevertheless, we ventured forth from Higginsville this morning, still anticipating a stop at the next bike shop 75 miles down the road in Boonville. I told Tim simply not to brake. That would save his brakes. I have never had to replace my brake pads on the road because I seldom engage them. It makes for exciting riding!
I called the shop owner’s personal line today since both numbers were listed on our Adventure Cycling map. Sadly, I learned of his death from a family member, and I felt horrible for placing four phone calls in less than 24 hours. He had run his shop well into his 80s before succumbing to illness in January.
We enjoyed this morning’s ride. After a day off on Monday and a good breakfast this morning, we were energized. We rode to Marshall in record time. Marshall is a college town with a population of over 12,000, so there was a slim possibility of a bike shop there even though none was listed on the map. It is amazing how many bike shops have shut their doors, a sad reflection of our under-exercised society. Tim pulled into the police station to see if there was a bike shop, as I snuck into a C-store to get a Krispy Crème donut. Yum!
Much to our surprise, a bicycle shop had just opened in April and it was right on our route in the center of town! Back from the Past Bicycles was paired with the town’s visitor center. Next to the shop was an unusual garden honoring an amazing canine. Jim the Wonder Dog has a whole garden dedicated to him. Check out this link, all you dog lovers: http://www.jimthewonderdog.org.
One thing not in the forecast for the day was a bridge knocked out on our route. But upon arriving at the heaven-sent bicycle shop, Tom, the owner, informed us of the bridge reconstruction. This would present a huge problem as there was seemingly no way around the river without traveling many extra miles. Since we were unfamiliar with the roads, but for what our narrow-routed bicycle maps told us, we had no idea how to proceed. Thankfully, the bike shop stop would become more than just a time to fix the brakes. Tom, bike shop owner and mechanic, and now turned bike shop angel, called his friend to get directions on how best to reroute us into Boonville, where we would find shelter from the impending storm and start on the Katy Trail the following day.
After much discussion, and a few calls to consult with one of Adventure Cycling Association’s map gurus (who was unaware of the bridge outage and Tom’s bike shop), we set out for Blackwater, Missouri. We rolled into town just as the only store there, Bucksnort Trading Company, was closing. Thankfully, they had some cold drinks next door at the alcohol-free saloon and some great company. Gerald and Connie Cunningham proved that Missourians are friendly and generous with their time. They stayed past hours to chat with us. Both Blackwater and Arrow Rock, a town we also passed through today, have much history to be proud of.
As we wound down our 78-mile day, daylight was fading and a beautiful sunset was a wonderful reflection on a day well spent. Meeting kind people, enjoying God’s creation, and being grateful for safety and strength on the road will give us a peaceful sleep, despite the predicted thunderstorms that are coming tonight.