There had been another storm overnight, and although it had abated slightly by this morning, it was still raining. There were severe weather warnings out over the area, and Missouri had been put on tornado alert! Just to the south of Missouri in Arkansas and Mississippi there have been major tornados today that have destroyed buildings, and killed people, with the death toll currenly standing at 9. Despite the weather I made much better progress over the first 35 miles than I did yesterday. I think knowing exactly where to go (without having to check the map) and knowing the terrain helps.
After passing the point I reached yesterday I entered the Mark Twain national forest (named after the author Mark Twain who was a Missouri native), and followed a ridgeline. This made for quick progress – the colours seemed particuarly vibrant in the rain, and at times it felt like I was cycling in the jungle. Almost as soon as I entered the forest I had a dog run out of the trees, and chased after me. I sprinted off, but couldn’t out run it, so I stopped and put my bike between me and the dog. It turned out to be really friendly, and just seed to want some attention. I got back on my bike and started riding again – only for the dog to follow me. The dog followed me, keeping pace with my bike for just over 15 miles, until I reached the small town of ‘Boss’. I was amazed that it could keep up for so long, but it was nice, in an odd way, to have some company for a while.
I had read in my guide book about cyclists rescuing turtles that try and cross the road, but I hadn’t seen any until today, when I found one about half way across the road. I stopped and kicked it off the road and onto the verge – it’s amazing how quickly they pull themselves back into their shells when they feel threatened.
About half way through the national forest I dropped down from the ridge I had been following, and had to contend with some pretty long and steep climbs. It’s really irritating not being able to hold any altitude, but having to climb up and drop down over and over again. I had just reached a sign telling me I had 22 miles to Salem, my destination, when another thunder storm developed around me. It had been raining all day, but now the rain became really torrential – accommpanied by flashes of lightning, and deafening claps of thunder. We don’t get rain like this in the UK – it was like someone was spraying a hosepipe full in my face as I was going along! I raced as quickly as I could to Salem, covering the 20 miles in about hour.
It’s still raining now, and there are severe weather warnings out for this area. I’m having a rest day tomorrow – despite a set-back yesterday I’m still making good time, and I have to rest my legs if I want to make it all the way to the pacific! Hopefully by Monday, when I get started again, the worst weather will have stopped.