Thunderstorms, the Queen and Crocodile Dundee

I watched a thunderstorm being born the other day, as I biked ever-westward along the Katy Trail. It’s an impressive process, as clouds organise themselves into columns before merging and blackening. And eventually dropping vast amounts of water everywhere. In the end, as you might be aware, they look something like this:

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Which is lovely, as long as you assume that your local weather tipster is correct, and that storms always go along the river, and not across it. I met an Irish tourer called Phillip a couple of minutes after taking this picture. Unfortunately, after a couple more minutes chatting (he’s doing a loop around all the 48 US mainland states), it became alarmingly apparent that the storm was not playing by my weatherman’s rules, and was, in fact, about to attack.

The couple of minutes chatting turned into an hour-long incarceration in a very tiny (but dry) post office, which at least gave us plenty of time to discuss frames, disc brakes and spokes, etc, etc. There really is no end to the excitement in touring cyclists’ conversations, and we were both slightly surprised to see that the postmaster hadn’t committed suicide from sheer boredom by the time we left.

I just had time to hoof it to Missouri’s rather beautiful state capital, Jefferson City before dark.

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I finished with Katy yesterday, in the pretty town of Clinton. It was a messy break-up, as I’d not been so lucky with the storms. An absolute monsoon hit at around 1205 (I’m never going to assume that ‘rain in the afternoon’ means about 3 or 4 o’clock again), which converted me into a half-drowned wretch, and the trail surface into sticky gloop which got everywhere.

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On a slightly different note, I’d been waiting for a fortnight to be mistaken for an Australian. This has happened reliably within a couple of days of arrival on every trip to the US. This time, it’s taken four states, but Missouri has enthusiastically taken up the slack with five misidentifications in three days.

I don’t blame the Americans; it took me long enough to be able to tell a US and Canadian accent apart. No, it’s entirely the fault of the Queen and Crocodile Dundee. If you don’t speak like Her Britannic Majesty, you’re assumed to be antipodean. Especially if you can’t quite kick the (entirely English, I’m sure, just stolen by the Australians) habit of calling people ‘mate’. That’s all most people took away from the, erm, classic film series; Aussies call people ‘mate’, not Brits.

Ah, well. No point getting worked up about things you can’t change. Especially things that don’t really matter. A rest day today by the Truman Reservoir, and then on with the show. Kansas is calling; maybe tomorrow if I go long, maybe the next day. It’s back to the flatlands for a while before the Rockies rear up. And the humidity has eased with the rain, so life on the bike and in the tent are a little more pleasant. Long may it stay that way…

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