Day 17: Crossing the Mississippi to Missouri – Carbondale to St Mary, Missouri

Our eyes set on the Mississippi River as it roars across the plains reaching historic heights from severe flooding. Tractors wait at the water’s edge like boats getting ready for the summer. By the end of the day, we cross a bridge out of Illinois and into Missouri.

A sign sits on pavement submerged by the recent floods

A sign sits on pavement submerged by the recent floods

The Daily Summary

Day 17, June 10th, is a fifty-five mile ride from Carbondale to St Mary, Missouri. Illinois is officially finished as the bikes cross over the Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River.

How big is the West bound TransAm group?

There is a group of about twenty-three riders that move like a slinky stretching further and condensing back down during rest stops. There are thirteen riders touring with Adventure Cycling Association (ACA); Doug and Donna of TourdeStrange.com; three military with the Warriors Project (down from four after Robert was struck by a truck); Scavenger; Steve; and then T, Annalisa, and I – “the Three” as Donna calls us.

Throughout the day, I bump into the tail end of the ACA group and use this an excuse to learn more about them. They all ride at different paces that is generally at a relaxed, cruising tempo.

A grain storage container with a conveyer belt to carry grains onto the barges

A grain storage container with a conveyer belt to carry grains onto the barges

Industries along the Mississippi

“You want to go look at the river that is a real pain in the butt,” Chris comments to me. He is a local farmer that has stagnant water in his fields as they wait for the valley to drain out.

The first major set of buildings are storage containers with a conveyer belt going out to the river. This is most likely to move corn, wheat, and other crops directly onto transportation boats.

High-sulfur coal is mined in Illinois and most likely shipped to China due to air regulations in the U.S., according to a local.

High-sulfur coal is mined in Illinois and most likely shipped to China due to air regulations in the U.S., according to a local.

About half a mile from this commodity hub are mounds of coal being moved by a bulldozer. Trucks barrel underneath the conveyer belt that moves this energy source onto the longest barges I have ever seen. The Hudson River has some long boats but nothing comparing to the skyscraper barges of the Mississippi.

The elevated levee road is blackened by coal that must fall from the trucks. You hear “buy local” but this high-sulfur coal is most likely bound for China or other countries with lower air quality standards. This makes you consider the importance of global standards because burning this type of coal ends up in trade winds and often comes back to places across the world. Shows you we are all connected.

Home of Popeye

Chester, Illinois is the last town before crossing the bridge in Missouri. Cans of spinach and cartoon portraits welcome you into the hometown of Popeye. Our group is a bit too young to remember the catch phrase or plot of this T.V. show that we all recognize.

Waiting to cross the bridge into Missouri

Waiting to cross the bridge into Missouri

The People

“Come closer so people can feel the love,” says the husband to his wife. The two are on a diet together and ride about two miles each day to get some exercise.

Lynn comes down to the Mississippi to check on the condition of the flooding. She tells me how even Route 3 became closed

The Blood Sugar

The fire alarm ringing woke me from a groggy slumber at midnight: “Pump error.” Thanks Omnipod.

An Omnipod pump malfunction wakes me up while fast asleep, and most likely causes the high overnight.

An Omnipod pump malfunction wakes me up while fast asleep, and most likely causes the high overnight.

Annalisa has experienced four pods fail on the trip so far. This is my first. I wake up to a blood sugar over 300 mg/dl because insulin was not delivered. We even ate early and stopped snacking to prevent this exact situation.

Changing your pod in a dark church room is not a fun experience. While lying flat on the mat, the pod auto injects the needle into my back and then catch some more sleep before our 4:45 a.m. wakeup.

Strategies I am testing for Blood Glucose Control

1) Taking .5 units every time I stop riding or sit down. This is to get ahead of the spike that is about to come.

2) Paying close attention to basal rates. Increasing the insulin delivery by cutting back from 80% to 75% allows me to use carbohydrates while riding to keep a steadier line. The flip side is that if you miss eating than you may end up low.