These dudes like to ride long days. We rode what my guidebook was calling about 2.5 days of riding. We rode through the Illinois section and into Missouri. I've been telling these guys that they're covering too much distance too fast. I've also been telling them that I'm going to hang back and do shorter days. Last night at Joe's house I had a change of plans. Fuck it. I'm along for the ride. At least another day, anyway. The decision was made.
I'm split. Part of me loves the long distance fast-paced days. I like the exertion and the feeling of success when you accomplish the goal. I like beating 90+ degree days to go 90+ miles over steep hills. I like in the 80th mile when I can still stand and push fast off the front over steep climbs. I like feeling strong and building endurance. I also like having people to talk to and eat with. It makes the miles easier. It makes me happier.
... but the pace is too fast for my mission. My mission was to see the country spending a long time and going slow. A fast pace could also mean wearing myself out, but after these few days, I don't expect that would become a problem. Still, I want to slow down and meet people. Traveling few miles means having time to meet people, and riding alone helps with that as well. I've been having a ball, but I think my days with this group are numbered. They all want to get somewhere too fast - I just want to keep being somewhere, and anywhere is fine with me.
We stayed in Farmington, Missouri. We stayed at a cyclist hostel called "Al's Place" and it was amazing. I'll be perfectly honest. The suggested donation was $20, and I didn't pay. It's a donation, so that's technically ok. The place was incredibly spiffy. There were new couches and appliances, and it looked more like a nice hotel than a place for dirty travelers to crash. I don't know where the money came from. Maybe I didn't donate because it looked like it was being run by someone rich, and the money would just be a tiny drip in a vast invisible pool. I'd rather pay $20 to feed some people. But I don't usually do that either. I probably should have slept outside, but instead I used the whole array of services without paying anything back into the system. Just a thought. I don't think anyone is too broken up about it in either case.
I mentioned that I'd be parting ways. I at least made a casual mention that I was on the fence about continuing with the group. I was told to shut the fuck up, because it was obvious that I'd be riding with them the next day. It was pretty funny. I let that moment make the decision to continue. These guys are too fun to hang out with.