Yesterday I had a presentation in Piedmont. Piedmont is about 50 miles north of where I was in Poplar Bluff. While the overall mileage may not seem impressive the road there certainly got my attention.
The road I got on was Missouri Rote 34 but I still believe it should be called roller coaster 34. This road has twists, turns, and has the feel that it should be in a video game and not the open road. On top of all this the speed limit is 55 and at one point in time I had a school bus behind me and I was doing 55 and it was tailgating me and I fully expected a bump draft to come.
After many miles of holding my breath I made it to Piedmont and I entrusted my GPS to guide me to where I needed to go. If you have read this a long time, or have talked to me at any point in time, then you will know that any time I mention the GPS it isn't to praise it. Yes, once again the GPS had no idea where this church was so I decided to turn around and eat at the Subway a mile back.
After dinner I got back in my car and had an idea. I looked at the "Upcoming Presentations" page from this blog that I had printed out and read that this church was between Piedmont and the other town. I got in my car and just started driving in that direction hoping that I'd find it. After several miles there it was.
From being lost and taking the time to eat I was only 10 minutes early. At this point in time, as I got out of my car, a tremendous headache hit me. It was so severe that standing up was difficult and any movement of my eyes created more pain. I was worried that my presentation would suffer so I sat in the hall away from the room where I was going to present, as there were people in there, and hoped that quiet would help. It did not.
I have never presented in any pain except for the lack of having a full voice after last year's USAC Silver Crown Race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last May. Would I still have the same energy? The same humor? Would I be able to last 90 minutes? I was very worried.
As soon as I was introduced the pain disappeared. Where did it go? I don't know, and don't care to know as the only thing that mattered was that I was on my game. This actually used to happen to me when I raced karts as I could be sick, but as soon as I was in the kart and the race was starting the pain just vanished.
After the presentation I now had to drive 109 miles to West Plains. As exciting, and scary, as Route 34 was in the daytime it was 10x that at night time. To be perfectly honest I was more scared than I had been in a long time. What was I scared of? It had nothing to do with my ability as I would love to take a WRC prepared car on that road at full speed. However, if that were to happen the road would be closed for a rally stage and it would be safer. What I was concerned about was the oncoming traffic at those high rate of speeds that I feel is common on that road (the limit is 55, but if one does 55 they will be going much slower than most cars). Also, driving on a road like this at night brought back many memories of hitting the horse that I did three years back.
After a couple miles of this roller coaster I pulled off onto the scenic overlook. I did this for two reasons; for one the view was amazing, but secondly, and more importantly, I stopped to catch my breath. I kept having visions of horses, cows, and deer all having a party in the road as I would round a corner. I didn't have this in the daytime, but in the light animals are easy to see, but at night even my high beams did little to break the sheer darkness of the night time.
I watched the miles click down on the GPS. 18, 17, 16 15 and eventually I got to 9.9. Between times of fear of deer, and seeing them (I saw three) I was enjoying this road. Traffic, thank goodness, was very light and I only saw one other car the entire way on 34. Eventually I made it out of the roller coaster road and made it to US Highway 60.
Even on 60 the traffic was sparse except for a patrol car or the occasional truck. The sky was amazing though as the stars were so clear in the night sky. I took a minute to pull over and just marvel at the amount of stars that could be seen.
Today I will have another presentation and tomorrow I will head to Joplin. Thankfully today I will have no roads to drive on like that roller coaster of a ride known as Missouri Route 34.