Day 38 – Bolivar MO to Pittsburg KS

I was chomping at the bit to get back on the bike today. I miss my routine of riding everyday and getting back on, I could see how people get addicted to this. It’s such a free feeling to not know where you’re going to end up tonight, and I crave those meditative hours of pedaling where I can let my thoughts wander and just enjoy the slow pace of the countryside as I move through it.

I got started early enough and was on the rails to trails before I knew it. Mixed results there. The first 5 miles was great, then the pavement became gravel, then mud. And the woods grew closer and soon I was tearing spiderwebs off my face and arms and then spiders too. Yuck. I even got a stick to wield like a machete and knock them out but I couldn’t keep up. When I finally got bit on the shoulder by one, I started looking for alternate routes.

Just the beginning of trouble on my route. Hmm what happened to my pavement?

I met some other TransAm cyclists early in the day and we traded notes about what to expect for the coming miles. They told me that Pittsburg was a reasonable goal for the day because I was about out of the remaining hills in Missouri. That proved to be the case and all day the hills became lower and lower until it became almost dead flat by the end of the day. That’s what I am told to expect for the next week or so.

Greg (left), Julia and Jeff gave me some good notes on what to expect on the Western Express, after Pueblo.
You might guess that this was the only decorative manure spreader that I saw this morning but you would be way off. Today’s total = 3. You just don’t get decorative manure spreaders much in Orinda.
I’m going to miss swearing at these hills.

I have mixed feelings about leaving the hills behind. I’ll miss scenery that the hills provide but it will be good to give my knees a break. Kansas will be a challenge though – the pedaling meditation may get more “pure” here as I expect the scenery to be less varied. But maybe that will be the challenge. Hmmm, what’s different about THAT cornfield compared to the other cornfield. You can look forward to that and other mysteries in days ahead.

Fire engine formerly owned by the local Optimists club.
The Impala is about the zenith of American car design. Oh maybe the Shelby Cobra is nice but look how many Impalas they sold.
Back routes are packed with old cars that I can’t pass up.  Is that an Edsel?

As I was pedal-meditating today I was going back over my visit with my mom. It’s getting pretty hard to have a conversation with her nowadays. She has very limited short-term memory and it’s a challenge not to go over the same territory again and again. But what struck me is that, lately at least, she seems very focused on her childhood, where she grew up and the band concerts that they always had in the summer. You can’t blame her – it’s a lovely image of all the local families coming to the square to share picnics and music on a warm summer evening. Everyone would dress in their best, and the kids would get treats that were so rare for them at the time. Since she was a girl in the early 30’s, people got by with very little and those treats were even more special.

I had that vision in my mind as I pedaled through several little towns that haven’t held up to well. They seem like ghost towns in a way; Everton, Pennsboro, Golden City. These were all thriving communities at one time, with parks, and pools and city halls. Now you only see a shell – which is maybe what attracts me to take pictures of all these deserted buildings. They’re just a reminder now, a memory of a thriving, living community, that older folks will remember as the place that was pretty good to grow up in.

What struck me about this old place in Everton was that it had a sidewalk out front. This community was thriving enough that every house had a sidewalk to stroll on.
The Mienert Store, last run by the Haubein family. The sign lists its former owners. It was started in 1886, the year that the railroad was established through here.

And who should I meet on the trail but two of the Haubein Sons themselves! Just after I took this picture I was getting back on my bike and an older gent caught my eye. He’d noticed me taking the picture and I asked him if he was a “Meinert” and he just said “come ‘ere.”

So that’s how I got to meet Clovis and David Haubein, the 4th and 5th generations of Haubeins to live here in Meinert. Clovis is 91 and lives in the house that he was born in, 32 steps (no kidding) from that store, which he ran, as his father had done. The store branched into a farm implement business and they built a new building across the street the same year that the 1976 bike-centennial ride came through here. Clovis and his son have hosted cyclists from all over since then and have a book of over 4500 visitors that have stopped by.

Clovis (left) and David Haubein, the 4th and 5th generations of Haubeins here in Meinert, MO.


Speaking of farm implements, guess how much one of these babies goes for? These, relatively small trackers are $67k a pop!
Hmmm, this may be a challenge. That’s purdy darn flat.
Looking the opposite direction at the same exact spot.
I stopped for lunch in Golden City. This yard is very interesting decorating style that frankly, caused me to consider all kinds of snide humor. But I’ll pass and just let you enjoy it. Notably, it’s the only house I photographed in Golden City.
Helloooo Kansas.
I met Gavin at the gas station where I was stealing some shade. He couldn’t believe i was riding so far today or all together. See Gavin! It’s all here! Come and join me!

6 thoughts on “Day 38 – Bolivar MO to Pittsburg KS”

  1. Is Kansas really that flat. I thought there were some hills around Lawrence? Great old cars; fixer uppers. Recyclable steel.

  2. Scary how straight the lines are on the Strava map of today’s ride. Yes, lots of opportunity for some pedaling meditation!

  3. Now I know what to get you for your birthday: a decorative manure spreader!

  4. How very nice to read you again. Great photos. What luck meeting the Haubeins! If you think you need Scooby Doo and an unmasked villain to have an adventure, I think you are mistaken. Like you said before, you have never met anyone new in your car. You are meeting the people who live across our great nation. The definition of adventure as a verb is: “engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.” Given the spiderwebs and your makeshift machete, I’d say you’ve got all aspects of the definition covered. Go Jim!

  5. The mirrored sunglasses are a stroke of photography genius! Best of luck through Kansas – maybe there will be some interesting insects? I imagine they are a lot more plentiful then people are.

  6. Yes, Kansas is really that flat. Actually, flatter.

    Jim, you mention giving your knees a rest in Kansas. When my wife and I rode through there on a tandem some years ago Kansas is what blew up my knee. I was so looking forward to the Rockies and by the time we got to Pueblo I couldn’t pedal. Had to take two weeks off the bike to let the ITB calm down.

    Really enjoying your posts and pictures. Wonderful trip. I’m living vicariously through you this summer.

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