Saturday, July 12, 2008

St Charles, Missouri to Hannibal, Missouri

This weekend's ride was to Hannibal Missouri, boyhood home of Mark Twain. The forecast was calling for thunderstorms through the day so I grabbed my rain suit and decided to leave the camera at home. As with last week's ride in to Illinois I had to start out on I-70, this time headed west. I had about a 10 mile section from home to State Route 61. SR 61 is a four lane road that runs pretty straight through some painfully flat farmland. There's not a lot of variety in scenery but since I had a specific destination in mind I didn't mind too much. The trip up was an uninspiring 93 miles. The road was decently paved and traffic was light at 10:00 on a Saturday morning. The section of SR 61 north of I-70 was no where near as interesting as the section south I rode last week.

Once to Hannibal I stopped for a quick lunch at Taco Bell along the prerequisite fast food, strip mall road off of the interstate. After lunch I felt ready to cruise around downtown to check out the sites. I have to confess that I've never read Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn or any of Mark Twain's other works. As a result I didn't spend much time site seeing. I decided to come back some other time with my wife to take a ride on a stern wheeler. The effects of the past couple of months of flooding were still evident with buildings sandbagged and debris and brown grass in the low areas. This would actually be a theme for the rest of the trip back. After consulting my map, I saw that State Route 79 actually runs closer along the Mississippi River so that's the road I decided to take. Shortly out of Hannibal 79 starts up into the hills. The road from Hannibal to Clarksville is as fun a motorcycle road as I've ever been on. There are constant twists, gentle, high speed arcs and several changes in altitude. One long gentle high speed corner was especially fun and I let out an involuntary whoop after going around it at close to 80 mph. There was little traffic and ample passing opportunities for the times when I got stuck behind the odd slow moving truck. I also saw a lot of evidence of the flooding and unfortunately I saw several homes with the dirty brown mark on the side some as high as half the height of the door. It really put a damper on my spirits and made me appreciate how lucky I am.

Most of the rest of the ride was straight and uneventful. I slowly started easing back into St Peters and before I knew it there was I-70 again. The total for the trip was 205 miles. I've been doing long rides to make up for the lack of mileage this summer and last.

Please give to the Salvation Army. I know the Red Cross is helping also but from what I saw the Salvation Army was everywhere and looked to be doing the most in the areas without the media attention.

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