St. Louis, MO to Belle, MO
The ride out of St. Louis was very different than the ride in. Riding in we were in some of the poorer parts of town with lots of abandoned buildings and boarded up houses. On our way out we biked through the very wealthy suburbs of St. Louis. The houses were gigantic, even bigger than the ones on the Main Line. The roads were paved pretty nicely, and they were working on paving more of them while we were biking through. Unfortunately the workers didn't bother to warn us that they were paving it right at that moment so I led my group down the freshly paved road until we looked ahead and saw the truck dumping fresh tar only a few yards ahead of us. We immediately got off and went in front of the truck, only to realize the black lines we were now biking on were liquid tar being poured down by a truck in front of us! At the light we looked down at our tires and bikes and everything was covered with tar. It was horrible. We pulled over on the side of the road and spent the next 20 minutes scraping off tar the best we could and hoping riding on the road would help get some of it off too. After lunch, Casey and I tried to power through the rest of the day so we could get to the host site by 5. Unfortuantely, the day was pretty hilly and extremely hot and humid. It was the first time all trip that I've felt too hot while biking. We had to stop along the side of the road and get some shade a couple times.
I also ran out of water in my camelback for the first time so we stopped at a gas station to fill up with cold water and ice. While in the gas station, I spotted giant freez-e-pops that we had to get. Best decision we made all day.
Pulling into second lunch we were met with a water gun from our leader Andrew that felt so nice! It was a good time to refuel and get out of the sun for a bit. Riding into Belle was a long, very gradual incline, but once we got to the town we were met by basically everyone who lived there. Belle has a population of approximately 1500 people and today was the start of their summer carnival. To kick things off, they have a redneck parade through the town ending at the fairgrounds. Our route to the high school where we stayed tonight took us right along the route of the parade. It stated at 6:00 and we biked through around 5:50 so everyone was out and waving to us. Being one of the first groups to arrive, we got to sit and watch the whole parade while a few of my teammates got stuck biking through it. I have never seen so much candy get thrown at a parade in my life! It was candy heaven for all the kids there (and us). They also threw out random things like water bottles and night caps and flashlights. We had a blast watching the parade. We definitely got to know the town better because of it.
After the parade we all hurried off to the shower after such a sweaty day. To our displeasure, the only temperature we could make the shower was scalding hot. It was probably the worst thing ever after such a hot day. I ended up rinsing my hair in the sink to just cool my head down. That night a group of us headed over to the fair to check out the scene. We had heard there would be a tractor pull that night but I had no idea what that meant. The fair was hoping with a few rides and lots of fair food. We didn't go on any rides, but we did get a funnel cake and check out the rest of the fair--a pig showing and the tractor pull! It was amazing to be there. Like so many other things on this trip, this was something I would never have come to see on my own accord had I not come here with Bike and Build.