I would once again like to apologize for the lack of blog updates. This time I don’t get to blame lack of power supply or internet; I have simply been way too tired to do any writing. We have been putting in several 75+ mile days here in the beautiful Ozark mountains of Missouri. As I’ve mentioned several times, the Ozarks are a mysterious, secret mountain range placed in the ‘flat’ middle part of the country specifically to discourage transamerican cyclists.
“Oh,” you may be thinking, “what a nice picture.” No, this is a horrible picture. Did you notice how the road ends in a HILL? And around that corner there was more than likely more hill. See how tiny Dan there is in comparison to the hill? I don’t remember this exact hill, and let me tell you why. This landscape is repeated in the Ozarks over and over and over. See hill, go as fast as you can approaching hill, slow to 4mph going up the hill, finally get to the top of the hill, immediately crank into high gear and start pedaling as hard and fast as possible to prep for the next hill. It’s physically and mentally relentless. You have no break, no time to talk, no coasting. Just constantly preparing for or climbing annoying hills that aren’t even supposed to be in Missouri. We are doing over 4,000 feet of climbing a day here in the Ozarks, almost as much as we were doing in Appalachia.
After a hard day, we were rewarded with a campsite close to a cool, clear, flowing river. The rivers in Missouri are a lot different than the streams back in Blacksburg. They are exceptionally clear because they are spring fed and flow through granite. Or so a guy at a gas station told me. Anyways it looks like Caribbean water and it’s so refreshing to swim in. We swam earlier in the day too; I think everyone is finally used to the idea of swimming in bike clothes. For some reason we set our tents up on the shore of the river, which was a great idea. First, we had to sleep on rocks. Secondly, tent stakes don’t work great when you just jam them between some stones, so my tent completely collapsed not once but TWICE while I was sleeping. It’s incredibly frightening to wake up feeling like you’re being attacked by a parachute and then have to figure out where the zippers are to free yourself. Once freed, I of course ran out onto the pointy rocks in my bare feet and fell down. And made a lot of noise. And this happened twice. So yeah, good times in Eminence.
We all get really excited when the new Bike the US for MS videos ‘are released’. Our fearless leader Don puts them together and debuts them at the end of a hard day. Here’s some of us crowded around to watch episode 4. We usually watch it a few times each.
Jump to the next day. More Ozarks, more climbing. This picture looks like it could have been taken in Blacksburg.
We stopped again after 50 miles or so to go swimming. You could climb up that rope ladder or take a trail to the top of that cliff and then jump off of it. I jumped off even though I’m terrified of heights and Pepper has a video to prove it. I can’t wait to see it. I figure that now I’ve proven myself and I don’t have to jump off of any more cliffs. I like looking at the pictures of us swimming because it looks like we’re wearing old-timey bathing suits. We’re so modest.
Here’s Seth, Pepper, and Liza getting in their ‘tuck’ positions to go down a hill. Seth’s back is really straight and Pepper has a lot of weight on his bike so he flies. I reached my top speed of all time today, 48 mph. I actually could have gone faster too but I lifted my head up for a few seconds because there was a dog in the middle of the road that I didn’t want to slam into.
Seth makes drafting behind him easier by opening his shirt for me while he rides.
And in case you’d be interested, a shot showing what my tent looks like when its in ‘mosquito net’ mode. This is great because I get to feel the breeze. However, I miss my cave sometimes. It’s weird to know people can watch you sleep. Well, it was, then all of us completely stopped caring. In Blacksburg I spend so much of my time alone, it had been strange to spend 24 hours a day with people. The ten minutes a day I spend in my camp chair or tent working on this blog is literally the only time I’m by myself, and even then I can always hear people talking and moving around. But for probably half of the day on the bike I’m alone with my thoughts.
P.S. Amber and Mike I’m so stoked to see you in San Francisco. Ben, you need to find a way out there, too!