Day 104 • June 13, 2012 • Holden to Sedalia, MO • 52 miles
This morning at a diner in Holden we met some local clergy who had a lot of advice on routes to Sedalia. They were trying to remember a road that would connect us to a county route through Knob Knoster State Park but I had something else in mind: “what is Highway 50 like?” I was growing weary of crazy driving on narrow back roads; a nice straight highway with a wide shoulder sounded good about now. They told me Highway 50 was busy but did have a good shoulder. Zoe and I were sold.
So far on the trip I’d done an excellent job avoiding conflict with the occasional rude or aggressive motorist, something I struggle with and which was a condition with Lisa for bringing Zoe along. I don’t know if it was some of the drive-by comments we’d received the last few days, the accident we witnessed, the crazy driving in general, or a combination of it all, but today I snapped. On one of the narrow county roads on the way to Highway 50, a farmer in a monstrous farm vehicle had been patiently following us for a while. Before I could find a safe place to pull over he passed us, yelling something out his window as he went by. This truck was very tall and very loud, I couldn’t really hear what the farmer was saying. But it sounded bad and triggered an angry response from me before sanity had a chance to prevail. He apparently heard me because he fired back, louder this time. This went back and forth a couple of times before Zoe said, “uh, Dad, I think he’s saying the road gets better up ahead.” Oh. She’s right. By this time we were heading uphill so it wasn’t long before he was out of sight and earshot and I was wondering just how much this farmer is going to despise cyclists, all cyclists, for the rest of his life. On the flip side, this incident does suggest that drive-by shouting is a pretty poor form of communication no matter how good the intentions.
In an unlikely turn of events, we saw the farmer again a few minutes later, pulled off the road to load, or unload, his payload. I put on my most chagrined look and gingerly approached him to apologize. He grudgingly accepted my apology though he wouldn’t shake my hand. Apparently his payload was pesticide and he was covered in it. However he did offer up advice on Highway 50, bolstering my confidence in this decision.
In the end, the farmer may have evened the score. US Highway 50 was great as advertised for the first three or so miles into Warrensburg. Then it became an absolute nightmare with no shoulder and lots of traffic moving too fast and unwilling to change lanes or otherwise accommodate a cyclist. We got off in Knob Knoster and took county roads the rest of the way to Sedalia, where tomorrow we pick up the Katy Trail. No cars or trucks for nearly 200 miles. We couldn’t wait.
In Sedalia we camped at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. This place is a huge maze and we were having trouble finding the camping area until some fellow touring cyclists, Ryan and Kent, pointed us in the right direction. They also pointed us to some excellent barbeque at Kehde’s. We got there just as they were closing and Zoe had to use The Look to get us in. Their food didn’t disappoint. We had to negotiate an entirely different maze on the way back to camp because they had closed several of the entrances to the fairgrounds since arriving at Kehde’s. We were rewarded not with cheese but access to all our worldly possessions and a good night’s sleep.