Day 12: Fort Calhoun, NE – Maryville MO, miles – 120.3, climbing – 3362 feet
Having a sleepless night was slowly taking a toll on me. Few cat naps were enough to get me going for the moment but I was already thinking where to stop next and sleep all night. Barry was now 130 miles ahead and Mike was still in first place , some 200 miles up the road.
The local Phillips 66 gas station in Fort Calhoun was my spot for coffee and cold prepackaged food. Another morning without warm breakfast. . . I was just happy to see the sunrise and felt more energized to continue on.
Very soon, I entered Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge next to the Missouri river. It was very damp, foggy & the road had washed out sections. It was so foggy that you can barely see 50 feet ahead. Before entering, I notice a sign “road is closed to all vehicular traffic”. This was likely because of recent storm damage and hopefully it was passable by bicycle. Having the road to myself was pretty cool to be honest as I didn’t had to worry about cars. Luckily, there was no road block ahead and I was able to pass by.
N.P. Dodge Park was marked on my cue sheet as the perfect rest stop with showers and bathrooms. Unfortunately, I was not able to find it and had to move forward.
Soon thereafter, I was on the outskirts of Omaha, NE and the town looked amazing from distance. I wish the downtown area was near the race route, I was dying for some real espresso.
The other problem was my dry chain but no bike stores were open this early so I had to solve this issue later. I stopped to take brief photo and was directed by my GPS next to massive Casino and over the Missouri river. Despite the pandemic, it looked super busy.
I was now in Council Bluffs and entered Iowa. My adventure through this state was short lived. My time here was solely on the Wabash trail for nearly 70 miles until Blanchard, IA, a town sitting on the border with Missouri.
The trail itself was really nice, what a joy to see a lot of fellow cyclists. It felt strange actually after being isolated for a while from society. According to the elevation map, there was some climbing ahead but I couldn’t really tell. The pavement was not bad at all and in certain sections, I was flying.
I looked to my right and noticed something that resembled a bench. It looked like it was made for giants. This made me stop, I sat down on it and enjoyed some leftover Caseys Pizza, my new superfuel.
I was looking at my cue sheet in search of food and stopped at the Silver City takeout place called “The Hood” . And then surprise, surprise, Happy Trails Cycle was across the street. It sounded like I can kill two birds with one stone. The bike shop was closed for another 10 minutes so I went ahead and ordered some food. It felt like I struck gold.
My chain was making terrible noise and was beyond ready for some lube. I decided to go outside while waiting for the food to reorganize my luggage and clean my bicycle, efficiency at its finest. As I was messing around with my bike, the shop owner showed up. The lady was super friendly and welcoming. Lubing my chain was a big deal and now I can stop worrying about snapping the dahm thing in half. In my head, as added bonus, I was now going to be faster as well. As we sat down to talk about the trail and my adventure, the server from the takeout place came outside to hand me my food. A burger and side of fries was disposed super fast into my system, I packed the leftovers and took off.
My water supply was quickly depleting. It was getting hot by the minute and I was drinking like a fish. Out of nowhere, near Imogene, IA, I bumped into repurposed grain silo into cyclists shelter. This place really saved me, can we please build more of those on every trail? There was two showers inside, table with few chairs and even a power outlet. The water was hot but I had no alternative to fill up my bottles before moving onwards. At some point, I was also running out of food and fortunately, there were some mulberry trees around. You should have seen me stopping all the time and stuffing my face with them until my tongue was red 🙂
The trail ended twenty miles later and I crossed into Missouri. The wind picked up a bit, I was tired, sleepy and cranky. I knew from the race FB group about this family meeting every racer near the town of Maryville , MO and was really looking forward to it.
I enjoy history so here is some about Maryville, MO:
The town name originates from the first postmaster, Amos Graham. He was one of the original settlers and the town was named after his wife Mary.
In 1901, the horse Elwood was foaled at Faustiana Farms, owned by Mrs. J.B. Prather, on the west side of Maryville. It won the Kentucky Derby in 1904 and was the first Derby winner to be bred by a woman. Faustiana was located where the Maryville Country Club is today. Mrs. Prather also has connections with the second horse to be owned and bred by a woman to win the Derby – Black Gold in 1924
Harry S. Truman (along with Bess and Margaret Truman) made the last of several visits to Maryville on August 3, 1962 when he dedicated the current post office. Truman had extensive ties to Maryville. During World War I Truman was a member of the 129th Field Artillery Regiment in the Missouri National Guard, which is headquartered in Maryville. Truman commanded Battery D in the war of the 129th. The 129th official motto is “Truman’s Own” because of the affiliation.
Before entering town, I hit some gravel again with few steep descents. It wasn’t really bad except getting dust blown into my face from passing cars!
My only goal was to arrive in town before darkness and rest my bones. Right when the sun went down, on the outskirts of town, I see a sign with my name on it and a cooler full of goodies. Kenneth Hamilton was there with his daughter and they truly made my day. I was not feeling well but smiled, exchanged few words and thank them for helping all racers. Its people like them that make unsupported ultracycling so special. I was enjoying fresh fruit and cold drinks while pedaling into town.
I slept that night at Americas Best Value Inn and highly recommend it to anyone attempting this race. It was conveniently located on the race route and Casey’s was across the street. The front desk receptionist was super nice and my room very spacious. Having laundry on site was definitely a bonus as I needed to get the dust washed off my nasty cycling kit.
The reward for tonight was having a beer. My evening ritual followed- shower, applying topical creams, lotions, and anti inflammatory ointments. Next was attaching the TENs unit to my knees and finally , some ice treatment. I checked for any messages from family and friends, did live video daily recap, plugged all devices to charge and finally checked the weather in order to come up with decent plan of action for the following day.
Reminder: This race was fundraiser for breast cancer. Please consider donating at
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Great memories. I also fueled up at that Philippe in Fort Calhoun and took a quick shower in Imogene silo. In my case it was pouring rain east of Blanchard and those gravel roads were more muck than anything else. About 6-7 of us stayed that night at the America’s Best Value in Maryville. I did not stock up at Casey’s across the street that morning and I sure regretted that in the next leg. Thanks for helping me relive 2019. Richard
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Wow. Luckily, not much rain for me that day. It would have been devastating for sure. It is really hard to gauge where to stock up and how much, especially with business hours being so limited and the uncertainty of what lays ahead. Happy you are enjoying it. Writing takes so much time but I love telling stories. My goal is to cover 2 to 3 days a week.
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