Here’s an idea: lets go motorcycle touring during a heat wave. We’ll ride all day in temperatures over 100 F. It’ll be great!
Actually, we’re dealing with the heat much better than I expected. I worried a bit that this unusual heat wave would seriously hamper our plans. We can prepare for rain, prepare for cold, but on a motorcycle, there’s not a lot you can do about the heat. If you aren’t careful, it can be dangerous. (The news says 30 people have already died as a result of this heat wave.)
Fortunately, we’re learning to cope pretty quickly: First, we’re making extra effort to stay hydrated. While we normally avoid fast food restaurants, they’ve been an oasis on this trip: there is free ice and water to fill our water bottles, and air conditioning to help us cool off during a break. Second, we simply stop more often. During the heat of the day, its sometimes as often as every 30 miles (seriously, its really hot. I’ve never experienced anything like this). We’re still covering plenty of miles in a day, so stopping more often doesn’t seem to be altering our overall pace. Third, we’ve adapted a new favorite technique:
It turns out a lot of public places have water spigots: gas stations, parks, churches (shh, don’t tell anyone). We’ve pretty much fully embraced the biker scum ethos. Soaking our shirts and riding jackets in the wonderfully cold ground temperature water provides absolutely blissful relief from the heat. Those first few miles with wet jackets are glorious. You feel as if you could ride all day its so comfortable. However, the reality is that 30 miles later, we’re completely dry, and starting to overheat again.
Somehow, despite the less than ideal conditions, and against all rationality, we are still absolutely having a blast.
We woke up with the sun this morning to an already warm day. Unfortunately, the bees work up early as well. I think this is the first time I’ve tried to eat breakfast while walking around the campground to try and avoid bees. This was the cheapest campground we’ve been to in awhile, and now I’m pretty sure I know why. We made our escape by getting on the road by 7:30, and enjoyed relatively cool mid-80 degree temps for the first hour or so on the road.
We rode briefly through Illinois, and crossed over the Mississippi and into Missouri before lunch.
Missouri surprised me a little bit. I know Kansas is going to be hot and flat and generally the opposite of good motorcycle riding, but we hope its worth it to ride out west. The Appalachian mountains are full of great motorcycling roads, but the western part of Kentucky was more boring than I’d hoped. I knew the land would flatten out, but there was definitely a lot more corn, tobacco and the occasional field of soybeans than I was expecting. I was hoping to have fairly nice riding until almost Kansas, and got worried that there would be two more states of monotony between eastern Kentucky and the Rockies. Not so. While we haven’t ridden any particularly technical roads, since escaping the urban crossing at the Mississippi, we’ve mostly had nice smooth and scenic rolling two lane country roads, with fast sweeping turns. Rt 8 in particular is the kind of road you can make almost as good time on as the interstate, only its a lot more fun.
We camped at Lake of the Ozarks State Park in MO, and it was pretty idyllic. We had our evening swim the lake, which was a bit cooler than previous places, were visited by a family of geese, and ate dinner at our waterfront campsite with the sun setting over the lake. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than that.
7/6/2012 – 354 miles.