Day 18: The Mounds of Missouri – St. Mary to Pilot Knob

Other cyclists warned us about the dogs of Eastern Kentucky and the hills of Missouri. The packs of animals chasing you turned out to be true, yet these mere Missouri mounds do not seem too bad…

 Mark looks too happy to be suffering through giant rolling hills in Missouri

Mark looks too happy to be suffering through giant rolling hills in Missouri

The Daily Summary

Day 18, June 11th is a sixty-five mile ride from the church of Immaculate Conception in St. Mary to another church in Pilot Knob.

The day began early at 4:52 speaking into the iPhone with raccoon eyes from on top of a church’s dining room table.

Many nights we stay at a church and this can mean several things:

  1. You sleep in the pavilion adjacent to the church. Pro: usually do not have to set up tent, access to a water spigot, can roll out in the morning quickly. Con: no bathrooms, hot, buggy, rain can still get you.
  2. The pastor invites you to sleep inside the church. Pro: Usually air conditioned, no bugs, access to kitchen, bathroom, and water. Cons: may be stuffy. There really are not too many cons.
  3. An entire congregation spoils you with lunch, a shower, multiple meals, soap and shampoo, a nice plush couch, wifi, and everything a cyclist can dream of wanting. Think Sebree and more are popping up.

We spend the night in the church’s main dining area and therefore, theoretically, have everything packed and ready to go in the morning.

How do you deal with the heat on the trail?

Missouri is hot and humid. You turn into a lobster around 2:30PM so the goal is to be done before then.

  • Biking sixty-five miles takes about six hours to pedal.
  • Incorporate a break for second breakfast, lunch, water breaks, pee breaks, snacks, and add another hour or two. That is 8 hours to complete the day.
  • Takes about an hour to roll out of bed. 9 hours.
  • Answering all the questions strangers ask you each day. 10 hours of total riding.

Therefore, wake up as early as humanly possible and ride before the sun is strongest.


Today you are going to meet Mark Roland. He has been riding along side of us since day 1 (for me) in Wytheville, VA.

We bump into each other as late risers with trip intentions to “talk our way across America.” The group he is technically with is the Wounded Warriors Project with Gill, Amanada, and Robert (who had to drop out after being hit by a truck.)

 Feed Mark and he is guarenteed to smile

Feed Mark and he is guarenteed to smile

Mark is generally happiest around food. Look at the smile he gets at McDonalds, or simply being in front of a camera.

What he adds to our group is being curious about our projects and life at a broader scale. Sometimes his cycling is powerful and explosive, other times he is laid back and relaxed.

You can count on him to be prepared for that emergency scenario or “what if” situation. He is a man that is willing to carry extra water, that additional chain link, and the like.

I hope Mark sticks around with us since “The Three’s” overwhelming optimistic view on life and this trip seems to rub off on others. Which brings me to the mounds of Missouri…

The Route

Most people tell you that Missouri, or misery, is hilly and exhausting. This advice may be coming from east bound cyclists that have been slacking off while coasting across flat Kansas. If that is the case, the advice makes sense.

On the other hand, west bound cyclists are leaving the Appalachians and mountains of Kentucky. This makes Missouri mild in comparison.

There is a larger conversation to be had.

What is your perspective on life?

Every day you have an option to find all that is bad and miserable or what is good and surprising. In the morning, I curse the world for existing. By the afternoon, I am optimistic for every opportunity.

People tend to be like wind chimes; once the wind blows than everything begins to make noise. You may find yourself alongside people who often complain and be shocked to hear what comes out of your mouth.

These are the people that share advice that Missouri is misery with hills that never end. What about the good stuff people??

Veterans and diabetics share a commonality by understanding that life is tough, often outside of our control.

On the flip side, the human energy that can be felt in the air at a concert or race can fill you with enough optimism to say “yes” to any challenge.

These are the people that tell you about the stories they learned in the area, the views from on top of the mountains, about the hidden fire tower that can let you see for hundreds of miles (check out Doug and Donna's climb up it). They hunt out the good in front of our noses and eyes every day that can easily be masked by negativity.

And that is why I am happy to have Mark, who is on this trip as a veteran. His true intentions are only known to himself. Sharing ice cream together gives you glimpses into the why of the trip. What I do know is that people can be swept up by positive energy like a cyclist riding in the slipstream.

Why your team and perspective is important to the diabetic endurance athlete

Many of us, like myself, feed of the energy of the group and can be swayed from one side to another.

You may relate to me if diabetes feels like the waves crashing against the cliff. Most days you stand up strong and can look out far on the horizon.

The waves keep crashing and slowly chipping away underneath. That is when every once and awhile, often unexpected, a rock may break away from your cliff and everything seems to be going wrong. These are moments when pods malfunction (like last night), any time you call an insurance company, the days where your blood sugar is high even though you ate salad all day.

Every morning I begin by cursing the new day, loathing hopping back on the saddle, and generally walk around like a sloth. Annalisa and T know this.

That is when the team picks me up like a leaf in a river. All of a sudden we are out the door and on the road. Your muscles begin to loosen, you relax, and remember you are bicycling from coast-to-coast managing this difficult disease to prove that we can achieve anything.

Veterans and diabetics share a commonality by understanding that life is tough, often outside of our control. The strongest web that can hold us together is one spun out of a positive and forward thinking way into the present and future. Various cyclists have thanked "The Three" for our warm energy. All we are doing is being us.

“A single individual is enough for hope to exist”
— Pope Francis

The Blood Sugar

The pump malfunction sent me sky high, waking up around 4 a.m. wanting to bash the Omnipod against the wall.

You can see that on the bike it is much easier to control blood sugar levels and keep it stable.

Lunch clearly happens at 11:45 a.m.

T makes incredible vegetarian bean burgers. We are establishing a reptuation for eating gourmet on the trail. She made this with a PocketRocket camp stove and smashing black beans with the bottom of her mug...

 Taylor prepares vegeterian bean burgers in the parking lot of the church

Taylor prepares vegeterian bean burgers in the parking lot of the church

The issue is that the saltines used as the binder of the burgers sent Annalisa and I's blood sugars through the roof. I took something close to 15 units and Annalisa ended up over 400 mg/dl.

You try and do a little good in the world by avoiding meat and this is what happens...