I haven't looked it up, but I think "Missouri" is French for "misery". The last few days were easily among the hardest of the trip.
First, the temperatures have been near record. Triple digits for the last three days. And I've entered humidity, so the heat index has been as high as 115. Even riding at 6:00 AM, while better, is the beginning of A LOT of fluid loss. Somehow, I put in 90 miles on a day where my on bike thermometer read 108.7.
Second, the terrain is tough! The hills are steep and abundant. I was told that Missouri was tough, but I didn't realize how hard it was. For the first time during the trip, I pushed my bike. In the Rockies, I stopped and rested, but never pushed. This grade I estimate to be 13-15 percent and I had not legs and too much weight.
Third, I haven't encountered any canines until Missouri (not including the grey wolf crossing the highway in West Yellowstone and the red fox I spotted near Tribune, KS). In one day, I was chased by four dogs. I don't think any were serious about biting, but still not fun. Two pit bulls cornered me because I happened to stop for a break across from their house.
Not to say everything about Missouri is bad:
Missouri is home to the Katy Trail, which I believe is America's longest rails to trail. It runs from over 220 miles from St. Charles (near St. Louis) to Clinton on the west side of the state. I took it from Sedalia to Boonville, about 45 miles. It's scenic, there's no traffic, relatively flat and takes you through small towns that cater to the trail. I'm still waiting for our trail to get built between Hendersonville and Brevard.
I got to visit with Laura Alexander Page, a great friend from high school. She and her husband, Tyler, work for the University of Missouri and came to Boonville and picked me up so I could spend a day with them in Columbia. We had great pizza at Shakespeare's, took naps and went to a cookout.
In Gerald, Missouri, I camped outside the fire station. They called the police chief for permission for me to camp in the city park. The chief said he would come over to talk to me and never showed. So they told me to camp outside the station (which was right next to the park). It was fine, except even with the fly doors open, I could not sleep because it was so hot and muggy.
Farmington is where I got back on the Transamerica Trail. There's a bike hostel there in their old jail. They renovated the upstairs and created one of the nicest hostels I've ever stayed in. It's dedicated to Al Dziewa, a local businessman and cycling enthusiast who lost a battle with cancer. It had clean sheets, laundry, air conditioning, internet, clean baths and secure bike storage. No attendant, you just call the police department for an access code and put a donation in the cash box upstairs. And there were other bikers to share stories and enjoy one another's company. Lots of cities could take a nice lesson from Farmington.
Here's a link to an AJC article about Al's Place.