When Brent of Everything Will Be Noble and I started brainstorming on short tours around the United States, we originally planned a route out of New Orleans that would take a few days, and as we approached our coinciding availability window, we watched the weather for the southern states go from clear to a weeks worth of rain and decided to refocus our energy where we could. Brent had heard of what was the longest ‘Rails-to-Trails’ system in the U.S., which happened to be pretty close to his home base of Chicago, nearby in Missouri. With 240 miles of practically straight gravel trail that connects the state width wise, we took a look at our schedules and decided to try and cross the state in just three days.
“Yeah, we can do that in three days!!”
Three days, at a little over a hundred miles a day, we should be able to get from Kansas City, the furthest west point of Missouri, to St. Louis, the furthest east.
I took my first Amtrak ride(ever) out of New York on Friday afternoon, only to arrive in Chicago about 20 hours later. With a forced unplug, spotty cell service, and more than enough time to clear my head, I forced myself to deal with a massive amount of heartache I was leaving New York with, and possibly leaving New York because of.
I arrived in Chicago to a friendly face. An old team mate from New York, Heather Muller, who had moved to Chicago a little over a year ago. We rode around and went to the infamous Chicago Diner and finally caught up as I waited for Brent to finish up a photo shoot he was working on that day. I eventually rode to Brent’s, set up my one person tent for the first time, and thinned out my amenities for the next few days as I’d have to carry everything with my by bike. Holy hell I brought too much stuff.
The next morning we rode to Amtrak, took off our pedals and moved our handlebars around to the side and slid our bikes into the oversized Amtrak ‘bike boxes’. Seven more hours on a train until we hit Kansas City. I’ve never seen the Midwest by train. I’ve never seen any of the country by train. I watched the sun set on the Mississippi River and drifted in and out of sleep. And in and out of podcasts. If you’re reading this, and you’re interested in what I enjoy listening to, Brene Brown’s episode of ‘On Being’ is here and well worth a solid listen. Life changing.
We get into Kansas City after dark. Throw our bikes back together in an empty train station, find a cheap hotel about 10 miles away and point our wheels towards some pillows.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day, and the start of our three days.