Today was definately a day of two halfs. As per usual, I woke early, quickly wolfed down some cereal from the free continental breakfast and hit the road. I made great time, passing through Murphysboro, and out into the open countryside, passing through the same kind of flat farmland that I enjoyed yesterday. At Murphysboro I made another map change and am now on number 9 of 12. A nice temperature and lack of hills ment that I had hit Chester, today’s halfway point, having done 45 miles by 10.30. I would have made even better time if i hadn’t had to wait for a freight train cossing the road – these trains are massive, with carriages streching miles back down the track. Chester is the home of cartoon star Popeye and the town is a shrine to him an the other characters from his catoon. Interestingly enough I found out that Olive Oyl, Popeye’s girlfriend, was around before Popeye as a stand alone character with a different boyfriend.
Chester also marked the end of my breif stint In Illinois. As soon as I had left town, I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi and into Missouri. My first 10 miles of Missouri followed this mornings trend – flat and fast. However I was concious that I was peddaling towards hills – which rose imaculately from the farmland ahead of me. These hills proved to be really challenging. A lot of the gradients were steep, making for slow, hard work. I don’t think I was psychologically prepared for them either – It felt frustrating to suddenly slow down so much after such a quick morning.
After 30 miles of climbing I reached Farmington, today’s stop, feeling that I had been properly aquainted to the Ozark mountians! Due to a fast start, I made it to Farmington by 15.00 which was lucky – just as I arrived, the thunderstorms that have been predicted for the last couple of days rolled in. I don’t think I’ve seen the back of that weather system though, the next few days and the weekend in particular are forcast to be wet. So I might need to press my rain gear into service for the first time tomorrow.