|"If you ever plan to motor west,|
Travel my way, that's the highway that's the best,
Get your kicks on Route 66."
The designated convenience store, which serves as the start, was locked up tight despite the posted hours indicating it should be open. I rode to a second location just a few blocks away to obtain my documentation. I was the lone rider signed up for the out and back permanent known as Route 66 and Cooky's Pie. A portion of the route is on the Historic Route 66. Despite the less than perfect weather I was excited about the ride. With my store receipt safely tucked in the pack I started out through the city streets, which were wet from an early rain shower. My Jamis fixed gear rolled smoothly through the quiet of the morning. At that moment no precipitation was falling and the temperature was a comfortable 42 degrees. A cloudy daybreak occurred just fifteen minutes into the ride. The route passed by the Springfield-Branson Airport on the outskirts of the city which appeared quite still at the early hour. Soon thereafter the surroundings became more rural and considerably more hilly. The roads began to dry with the increasing wind. Mostly blowing across my right side as I traveled west. At mile 17 I reached the Historic Highway. Now designated as the MO 266 since the decommissioning of US 66. There were occasional historical markers indicating one was traveling on the famous road. Just to the south was the I-44, which accommodated all the serious traffic. The 266 was strictly for locals, and, for those folks seeking a less rushed, more nostalgic travel experience. The historical theme prompted some businesses to sport a vintage look. I passed an old store (mercantile) in Halltown that played to the Route 66 theme. Also, a couple of filling stations authentically depicting a time long past. The advertised 15 cents per gallon gas price at the Sinclair made me smile.
|"It winds from Chicago to L.A.,|
More than 2,000 miles all the way,
Get your kicks on Route 66."
The next section to Golden City featured more northerly travel, which was dead into an intensifying wind. The route flattened out and became more open. The rural roads in this area were marked with letter desingnations, ie; UU, N, A, NN. Rain began falling lightly as I worked my way through this quiet region. I could hear the raindrops hitting my jacket, and the wind in my ears. There were no other sounds. I thought of the Simon and Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence". I even sang a couple of verses aloud, purely for my benefit. There was no one else to hear it. The lettered roads brought me to the MO 37, just four miles south of Golden City. The push into the wind felt good. I looked forward to arriving at the control. The sign at the city limit indicated 865 people resided there. A sleepy little downtown area included the control known as Cooky's Cafe. From the outside the place was an old looking diner. Upon entering I noticed about 15 fresh baked pies lined up on the counter. There was a quaint, authentic look about the establishment. I estimated that half the town's population was seated at the booths and tables. I seated myself at an empty table and was quickly approached by a waitress. I assumed the permanent owner put the words "Cooky's Pie" in the route name as a suggestion. I took the hint. In short order a generous slice of blueberry pie was placed in front of me. After which the waitress brought me a quest book to sign. This was exclusively for cyclists. I read a few of the entries and added one of my own. I lingered a few minutes with a coffee enjoying the atmosphere, then reluctantly departed for the return trip to Springfield.
|"Now you go through St. Looey, Joplin, Missouri"|
|"And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.|
You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino."
Back underway I began to fret about the time I'd lost. The second cup of coffee at Cooky's, plus the flat repair, were jeopardizing my goal of finishing by dark (5:50pm). I would be driving over 100 miles back to Arkansas after the ride. Finishing as soon as possible was desirable. The remaining lettered roads were ridden smoothly and efficiently thanks to some occasional wind assist. I arrived at the control in Miller just past 2:30pm. I took a total of about ten minutes to get back underway. With 38 miles to go I liked my chances of meeting the goal. But, everything else had to go right.
|"Won't you get hip to this timely tip:|
When you make that California trip,"
Living in an area with multiple brevet regions within a 100 mile proximity is something I've taken for granted. In more sparsely populated areas of the country it can be a bit more challenging to get to an RUSA sanctioned permanent, or brevet. The city of Springfiield, MO, located in the Southwest corner of the state, is not a region with an RBA. Fortunately, for myself and other like minded folks the area does have Ralph Rognstad, Jr., the owner of eight RUSA permanent routes all starting in, or near, Springfield. They are a collection of creative, interesting rides ranging from 100 to 200 kilometers. Flat, hilly, and hillier variations are all on offer thanks to Ralph's tireless efforts. He routinely e-mail blasts his regular riders with his choice of ride for the weekend. Inviting any or all to join in. While Springfield is over 100 miles from where I am staying in Arkansas it has been well worth the trip. I've completed three of Ralph's permanents. One of which was in the company of Ralph, along with Dan, one of his regular riders. These guys travel over three hours to Kansas or Illinois to complete their brevet series each year. It takes serious dedication to be a randonneur in this region. I'm certain the local riders have appreciation for what Ralph has put in place. I know I am grateful for the opportunity to keep my R-12 streak alive. Thanks Ralph!
To learn more about Ralph click here: http://www.rognstads.com
|"Get your kicks on Route 66."|