Posted by: rustymccain | July 20, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

Today was an interesting day! We woke up in Hazard and decided to get off to an early start due to the heat advisory that was going into effect today and the long hilly route we had, which we guessed to be about 93 miles. The first few miles started out like yesterday finished. There was a lot of traffic, cars and coal trucks. But in about 5 miles, we turned off onto a country road that was perfect for riding.

The morning was foggy early on and the route was gently rolling, so we were having a great time and enjoying the countryside. The route was a few miles longer than a direct route, but the scenery and lack of traffic made it worth it.

Riding in Eastern Kentucky

We had 6 or 7 pretty big climbs on the route, so we kept a pretty good clip going on the flats. The climbs here are definitely mountain climbs. Some are several miles long. The heat and humidity add to the burden, so the going got pretty tough when the sun finally did come out.

At about 45, we were still on schedule to get to our destination in pretty good time. About that time, we turned into one of our climbs. It was there that I got a souvenir of Eastern Kentucky. We had talked earlier about dogs and I made the comment that I had never been bitten. The bad gods of cycling were listening! As we started the climb, two dogs came out into the road. We have seen probably hundreds of dogs. They bark, run, chase, say “hello”, but rarely create a big problem. These were vicious dogs. They got on both sides of my bike. One bit my pannier and wouldn’t let go, almost pulling me off the bike. The other apparently liked white meat and went for my leg. That can put a damper on a good ride.

We stopped and tried to contact someone but didn’t get an answer. So, we decided to call the authorities so we could determine if rabies shots would be needed. While waiting, we pedaled down to a store we had just passed and got some alcohol. I tried to clean the wound as much as possible but the more I sat, the more it bled. So, I was glad the EMTs came and wrapped me up pretty well. We did find the dogs and we let the law officer take care of getting the dogs tested, then took off again.

The rest of the ride became a bit of a challenge. The last 3 climbs had grades very similar to the Ozarks . Because of the delay, we were riding in the heat of the day. And, we kept thinking we would see a store in the last 25 miles or so, but never did, so we ran out of fluid. Then, the last 2 miles to our destination was straight up again.

Did I mention we are having fun!! We are now just a week away from our goal and are starting to feel good about the last week. Better weather is supposed to be coming in. We may adjust our schedule a bit. If the bleeding stops and I feel OK, we will ride. But, we have one “extra” day we could use for rest if we need it.

We’ll figure something out. I would post more pictures, but the web is really slow where we are, so I am going to close for now. We are now at 3,170 miles, so we only have a little over 600 until we see the Atlantic. Keep sending us good thoughts. We appreciate them all!

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Posted by: rustymccain | July 20, 2011

The Dudes of Hazard!

Tonight we are the Dudes of Hazard! We are in another tough stretch.We have long days, due to the lack of accommodations. And the hills make them difficult days. We are going somewhere between 90 and 100 miles for the next two days in territory that other cyclists have warned us is challenging. We started today in more hot, humid weather. We stayed last night just shy of Berea. So the first few miles of our ride was a cruise into downtown. And what a treat! Berea is a beautiful little town and home to Berea College. It looks like the quintessential small college town. I have it marked in my mind for a return visit. Seems like a stay in the Boone Tavern Inn would make for a great weekend.

Big Hill near Berea, KY

Not long after we left the town, reality hit us. We are approaching mountains again. We hit one of our biggest climbs in a while on the way to the village of Big Hill. I guess that name should tell you something! That first climb let us know that we are back in the big leagues again.

While the hills are getting steeper and there are a lot of them, we both noted that this is a beautiful part of the country. We witnessed some of the poverty of this region as we rode, but we marveled at its natural beauty. And, mid-morning, we passed the 3,000 mile mark of our adventure!

3000 Miles!

We took it pretty easy this morning because what we knew of the route. Miles were going by slowly but surely. We arrived in the town of Booneville just before lunch. By the time we got to Booneville, dark clouds were gathering to our north and we knew we couldn’t outrun these. We didn’t.

It started raining while we ate. We pulled out into the rain and began the second half of our day’s journey. It started raining pretty hard. I was thinking at the time that someone needed to text Moses and let him know that he needs to start gathering the animals. This is the second straight day of rain, so we only have 38 days left!

The rain today was actually turned our to be a blessing. It became a gentle rain, not a thunderstorm with lightning. While it made the going a bit dicey going downhill, it was really quite refreshing.

Church in Buckhorn

Down the road, we cruised into the town of Buckhorn. There wasn’t much there except a majestic old church built over 100 years ago and an old general store, complete with several locals who were as nice as they could be. We had a great visit in the store as we had a few snacks. We got a little local history, a preview of the three climbs we had left and made some new friends.

We left Buckhorn and started our last leg on wet roads, but no longer in the rain. We rode into Hazard, or at least the outskirts and quickly realized why it is called Hazard. We ran into the worst traffic we have had on our trip. It is a Hazard to ride here. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed like everyone who owned a car here was out and about. We finally located our motel and are now safe and secure, with 96 miles in the book.

Tomorrow, we make it one step closer to our last state. We are starting to smell the salt air!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 18, 2011

Back to Reality

Having family and friends leave yesterday was a tough thing for us. It was fun to have everyone along to ride and support us. In two short days, Ray and I had become accustomed to being treated like pro cyclists with all the support we had. It was overwhelming to think how much effort was made on our behalf and we are really grateful. To get up and put our bags back on the bike was difficult. We pulled off the road 3 times in the first 20 miles looking for our support vehicles, but one never showed up! We are back to just 2 guys out riding their bikes. While we miss friends and family, we got back to moving closer to the ocean today and the riding was good.

Morning near Bardstown, KY

We headed out of Bardstown into a very warm, sunny morning. Very shortly the sun was covered by low clouds. We knew that rain was in the area early on but saw no evidence at our start. We soon saw the rain in the distance and knew that if we didn’t get wet, we would be really lucky. We weren’t that lucky. We stopped for our first rest at about mile 20, then headed back onto the road. Very shortly after that, the rain started. It was a pretty hard, steady rain, but lacked the lightning that would make us stop pedaling. As a matter of fact, though it made visibility low, it took the temperature down several degrees, so it really wasn’t all that bad. We both figured it naturally washed a lot of sweat out of our jerseys and shorts, which was not a bad thing.

Near Danville, KY

We rode out of the rain and into the town of Perryville, KY. While we were riding through town, we heard voices yelling at us and saw that Becky and Carlie were in town. They were stopped at a convenience store. Another rider, headed west, was also at the market. We pulled in and said hello to the girls but also made a new friend! Don, a really nice guy from North Carolina, is headed west across the Trans-America trail. We exchanged info with him, including hearing about his encounter with a black bear in the road, then wished him well as Ray and I hit the road again.

More riding friends!

By this time, the rain had caught up with us, so we had to ride out of it again. By the time we got to our last little town, Paint Lick, we were dry and cruising. During this last stretch, traffic was light and we could ride side-by-side. We talked at length about Ray’s nieces and nephews, of whom he is very proud, and also about my sons, of whom I am equally proud. When you have family members who are good people, it is very rewarding. It reminded me again that no matter how many wonderful things we see on this trip, it is still the people in one’s life, with whom we can share all the good things, that make any endeavor worth the effort.

Near Berea, KY

Soon, we were riding into Berea, KY, a distance of 75 miles for the day. The next two days are going to be very difficult, then we should be in a pretty good position to get this done. Due to a lack of motels, if I don’t post for a couple of days, don’t worry, we are still out here somewhere! Thanks for checking in!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 17, 2011

Pass the Bourbon, Please!

I have said on several occasions that every day is a gift. Today was a fun one! We all had a great time last night recounting the days activities. Walter, who served as one of our support vehicles but also “photographer extraordinaire”, came by our room and showed his photographs of the ride to everyone. They were spectacular and everyone enjoyed them.

I have to say that I am still mad at Ray. He showed his pictures to everyone Friday night and conveniently “forgot” that he had taken one photo of me, slumped in a chair with my feet on an ottoman shortly after our 118 mile ride. The only thing I had the energy to do before the picture was to take my clothes off…. all of them. Thankfully for everyone, my hands were placed in such a way to keep it a bad situation and not a disaster! I think everyone enjoyed my embarrassment at that photograph.

Morning Ride in Rural Kentucky

After Walter’s photo show, we all hit the rack so we could get ready for today’s ride. IronSon Jonathan, JJ, Eric, and David stayed to ride the 63 miles from Cave City to Bardstown, KY. Gail, Kiki, Mary Ann and Pete also stayed to support us. It sure makes a lot of difference when you know you can stop a vehicle any time to get a drink or something to eat! We might just end up gaining pounds in the double digits on our weight loss program now! Tomorrow we will have to adjust again to carrying our own bags and making sure we have enough nutrition to get us to the next stop. That makes us cry when nobody is looking.

This morning, after a nice continental breakfast, we all got ready to ride. I had told all the friends gathered that our normal routine is that we wake up at 6:00. Ray is normally dressed and ready to go and has straddled his bike, staring at me at 6:05. I usually roll out of bed about that time and eventually get ready to roll out at our default 7:30 time, usually after 3 cups of coffee, packing and re-packing a few times, then checking the room 5 more times to make sure we have everything. Remember, this from the guy who lost all his shorts in the first two weeks of this trip. Today, there was a lot of activity that changed the routine so I thought I would turn the tables. I was the first one ready to ride, so I went over to a shady spot and straddled my bike and just stared at Ray’s room. He got a big kick out of that when he came out and everyone else had a good laugh.

We took off through the town of Cave City then almost immediately were in the country. The rolling countryside here is similar to Tennessee. Sometimes, it is easy to take it for granted when you see it all the time. However, when you take time to really look at it, which a bicycle allows you to do, you tend to “re-appreciate” the beauty that can be right out your back door.

The testosterone was not completely drained yesterday, so there had to be a little let out today. However, the weather was really nice, the hills were not that bad and we actually had a little tailwind today so I was able to hold on and stay with the boys. One of the fun parts of the ride was when “Captain One-Speed”, Eric went out on a really good effort. He got a gap on the group. Pete, who was driving behind us, pulled up ahead of us and Jonathan and David took the hint and motor-paced  up to Eric. I didn’t see his face, but I wish I did when all of a sudden he saw those two guys right beside him!

At Abe Lincoln's Boyhood Home

We were also able to make a stop at the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln. On a serious note, it is amazing to stand on the same ground that one of our great Presidents ran around on as a boy so long ago. This visit stirred a lot of thoughts and conversation. We marveled at how his life took its course from a country farmstead in what must have been wilderness all the way to the White House. And to think that we live in a place where someone could come from such humble beginnings and grow to be one of the most important leaders in world history is quite a tribute to our country.

Heading into Bourbon Country

For most of the ride, the guys held back and stayed in touch with Ray and I, making it an enjoyable, social ride. We still made good time and arrived in Bardstown before noon. Pete cut up some watermelon he had put on ice and Gail brought out snacks, so we had another party when we arrived at the finish line!

It was an absolutely great day. However, everyone had to go home. We will miss them all. But if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, in less than two weeks, Mary Ann and Gail will be with us again as we dip our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean. We are still healthy and spirits are high. We are almost at 3,000 miles. Wish us luck as we head into the tough hills of eastern Kentucky tomorrow!

 

Posted by: rustymccain | July 16, 2011

Cave City Cruisin’

After a night of celebrating with friends and family and eating WAY too much good food for dinner at Tommy and Karen’s house, we woke this morning to make amends. So we ate way too much good food for breakfast! We actually also broke another trip tradition by staying up past 7:00 so we could watch the Tour de France. Unbelievable to us, we have had only one motel that offers the Versus channel, so watching the tour with everyone was a treat.

At the starting line

It was an exciting morning with everyone gathering for the ride. Mary Ann, David, Martin, Jeff, John, Jonathan, Eric, Ray and I all were going to ride the 62 miles to Cave City, KY. Gail, Pete and Kiki followed in support vehicles so we felt like we were riding in the tour. Carlie and Becky offered to take vehicles on to Cave City for us today.

After getting everyone gathered, off the peloton went and we headed through downtown Beaver Dam into a cloudy morning. The temperature was good, the cloud cover made sure it wasn’t going to get too hot and the winds, while still in our face, (naturally) were negligible.

We all rode together for most of the first 16 miles or so, a little before our first stop. At this point, I could literally feel the testosterone starting to pop out all over the road, so I knew it wouldn’t last long. At the rest break, I decided to start out a little early and just ride a reasonable pace. Sure enough, the boys came by soon and I knew the hammerfest was on. The group split up as most of the guys stayed together. However, I was happy to ride with whoever dropped by and enjoy some beautiful countryside. There were some points when we rode on a ridge and it looked as if you could see for 20 miles. While the view may not have been that distant, it was unusual for this part of the country to be able to see so far.

The Peloton in Kentucky

At the next rest stop, we did the same thing. We stopped, got some snacks from our support vehicles and Mary Ann and I took off again, soon joined by guys as they rode by. When Ray came by, he mentioned something about my evil plan to ride easy today while he rode hard, so I could be rested for tomorrow’s ride with the group. He was only half right. I am going to ride easy tomorrow also and encourage all the guys to go as hard as they can. That way, when everyone leaves and Ray and I head out on our own for eastern Kentucky on Monday, I can stay with Ray. He seems to be getting in better and better shape every day. So I will definitely be encouraging everyone to race to Bardstown tomorrow!

The last section of the today’s ride took us right by Mammoth Cave National Park. The only real excitement of the day came when David went to the front and started hammering….in the wrong direction. Pete had to chase him down and get him back on course. Kids….what can you do? The road was awesome and the shade was nice. It made for a perfect ending to a perfect riding day. When we got to the hotel, Gail had made us a spread of great food and the party was on again.

Fans going wild!

A special treat for me was that Clint and Amanda drove up to see us. It was so good to see them and spend some time with Brayden. I have to admit, I probably fed him a little too much candy. Not fair, since Clint and Amanda have to now deal with a sugar high for a few hours.

Tonight, we are going to eat Mexican food. A great ending to a great day in the saddle. We are now officially under 1,000 miles to go before we hit the Atlantic. Every day has been an adventure. Every day has been fun. Every day has been a challenge. Every day has been a gift. I think tomorrow is going to be a good day!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 15, 2011

Our Favorite View!!

We saw our favorite sight of the trip today! That was the sight of friends and family at the end of the day. We had a relatively easy ride today. While the distance was 72 miles, the road was filled with rolling hills. Not the kind of killer hills from the Ozarks. Just gently rolling hills that made for a beautiful ride. And again, the temperatures were normal for summer, but not the unbearable temps that we have recently endured. And the wind, while still a headwind, was not that bad.

Our favorite view so far

We rode from Morganfield, KY and headed to our rendezvous with friends in Beaver Dam. Because of the benign conditions, we made pretty good time for the first few hours. The road surface was good and traffic was light, so before we knew it we were at mile 48 and took a stop for rest.

Not long after our stop, our friend Pete showed up. He had all kinds of drinks and food in his vehicle for us. He also volunteered to take our bags for us so we could finish the ride into Beaver Dam with a little less weight.

Friday morning with Ray in Kentucky

We continued moving forward and got within 10 miles or so of our finish when David, Jonathan and Eric showed up. We were really excited to see them. Jonathan and Eric rode the rest of the ride with us. We rode together for a while and then Eric got to the front and moved the pace up to that of one of our group rides. It was too much for my tired legs, but thankfully that pace only lasted for 4 miles until the ride was done.

We motored on to Tommy and Karen’s house and then the party started. Mary Ann, Gail, JJ, Walter, Kiki, Martin and Jeffrey showed up and we all had a big time. Carlie and Becky also rode in, so they got to meet everyone. It has really been a great night and something Ray and I have looked forward to for a long time. We are really appreciative that Karen and Tommy have opened their home up to us. It has really been a special time and they went to a ton of trouble for us. It made for a very special memory. Thanks to you two!!

I also want to send our a special hello to Phil, Pete and Dave. Phil has just posted an insightful comment on the blog. Those guys have become like family to Ray and I. We have shared many of the same joys and challenges of this trip and we think and talk about these first-rate guys every day.  If you guys see this post…keep plugging away! You are awesome. Hopefully, we will hook up with you soon!

Tomorrow we are all going to ride to Cave City, KY. It is a ride of about 60 miles. If our calculations are correct, we will move to the “less than 1,000 miles to go” point at some time during our ride.  Getting closer!!!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 14, 2011

Illinois’d

Today we were rebels. We have been following the route that is distributed by Adventure Cycling. Their maps are invaluable for cyclists crossing the country. They have several different routes one can choose. The routes are chosen for their bike-friendliness….traffic rate, road surface, camping availability and scenic views are all considered, I am sure, among other things. You don’t always get them all, but the maps are fantastic and have been one of our best investments.

Today, however, we varied from the established route so we can meet up with all our buds and family tomorrow for a big Shindig in Beaver Dam, KY. We are taking a little more direct route to that. We rolled out of Murphysboro, IL this morning and headed for Morganfield, KY, some 83 miles away.

A direct route meant that we cycled on a road that had a little more traffic. This was not a good thing. The other “not so good thing” was that the winds were again ENE. We were heading, you guessed it, ENE. The bad thing about point to point ride is that is you have a headwind, you have it all the way, not just ½ of your ride.

First View of Kentucky

The good news part is that the route today was flat. For the Jello-leg twins, this was a very good thing. And the unbelievably hot temperatures of the early week were replaced by more summer-like weather. So, all in all, it was a good day. We did have a broken spoke on Ray’s rear wheel. Once again, I became the perfect bike stand while he trued out his wheel. If I had tried what he did, the wheel would have been completely destroyed after about 30 minutes of work. For Ray, in about 5 minutes, he had the wheel running as true as if it had just come out of the shop.

Other than that, the ride was pretty uneventful. We did determine that there are about 50 ways to sit on a bicycle. We know that because we have tried every one in an effort to get comfortable. I don’t think that is possible with the mileage we are riding.

The biggest thing we noticed today was that people were a lot more curious about our ride. I think that since they are not on the regular AC route, we were a little bit more of an oddity to them. However, everyone we talked to was so very encouraging, it is really a boost for us to talk to folks about our adventure.

Second View of Kentucky

We didn’t get to take many pictures, though both Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky are covered with lush, green farmland. We did cross the Ohio River, but when we did, the bike lane was about 3 inches wide. With our weight-loss program, our girth has increased a bit and we were a bit wider than that, so that was a pretty scary cross with no time for pics. And apparently, Kentucky was not all that happy to see us. There was no “Welcome to Kentucky” sign, there was no place for a photo-op, nor was there anyone standing there yelling, “Go Ray and Rusty!”

However, we are so excited about seeing friends and family tomorrow, we kept cruising along and made it to Morganfield. We have now completed 2711 miles of our trip that we think will measure about 2811 miles. Therefore, we are 1100 miles from our goal. Actually, that is not really the case. I have a T-Shirt that I brought on this trip that has imprinted on the back… “The journey is the destination”. I think that better fits for what we are doing. Life is good. Can’t wait til tomorrow!!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 13, 2011

Whine and Cheese

Every day seems to be a new discovery for me as we traverse the U.S. Today was no exception to that. We were both awakened several times last night by thunderstorms in Farmington. We woke this morning to find that there were still thunderstorms in the area, but lucky for us, it looked like we were going to have another window of opportunity to ride.

Decisions, Decisions

We both are still shot. Ray said that his legs are no longer the type of jello that wiggles. They have a consistency more like pudding. And my legs are the same. As a matter of fact, an incident from yesterday made my quads hurt even more. We were tooling down the road, I was minding my own business and all of a sudden a German Shepherd jumped out from behind a bush and started coming at me with a seriousness of purpose that I respected greatly. He looked like an angry Jacob Black! (That reference is for Mary Ann and Kristine. If you don’t get it….Wikipedia). Anyway, that is the moment I discovered that you can strain a muscle and pee your shorts at the same time.

Though tired, we are still turning the pedals over. We started out under cloudy skies and wet roads. The humidity was so high that we were soaking wet within 5 minutes of our start. Our first stop turned out to be at 40 miles in today. I walked into a store and a guy looked at me and asked where we started. I told him where. He looked at me, touched the sleeve of my jersey and said, “So you guys ran into a lot of rain.” I had to explain that we had no rain…. he was looking at a sweaty mess. But the temperatures were surprisingly mild compared to what we have endured the last few days, so it wasn’t all that bad for us today.

Southeastern Missouri Countryside

Farmington is small, so we were pretty much in the country as soon as we left the city limits. And it was amazing. I never knew much about this area of the country but southeastern Missouri is absolutely beautiful. We took some pictures and I will post one, but pictures simply do not do it justice.

And, again unknown to us, we entered Missouri wine country. There are numerous wineries where we were riding that we had no idea existed. I think Ray misread some of the signs. You see, I had told him that most of the ride to the Mississippi River from Farmington tended to be downhill. But the ride turned out to be a lot more hilly than either one of us expected. And apparently, when Ray saw that Wine Country signs, he saw and “h” in “wine”, so he started whining about me misrepresenting our ride. He did that all the way to the little village of St. Mary, near the Mississippi.

Crossing the Mississippi

We got ready to cross the Mississippi, and looked up ahead and saw Carlie and Becky, the girls who have become good friends since we met them on the route back in Utah. They are doing a great job and are very determined. They have decided to ride down to Beaver Dam and meet our friends and family on the weekend.

We stopped at the other side of the Mississippi for a photo-op and grabbed us a quick bite to eat in Chester, IL. Chester is a small town, but is proud of being the hometown of the guy who created Popeye. From there, Ray and I took off for Murphysboro, IL, some 30 miles away. This is where Ray took his revenge for my “mostly downhill” comments. He hammered it home like he was fresh as a daisy and pulled us all the way to Murphysboro, while I sat in and did my turn at whining. We finished the day with 80 miles, never got rained on and felt lucky that the temperature never got to where it has been the past few days.

The Boys in Illinois

We are now at a little over 2600 miles. We have made it through 8 of our 11 states. Tomorrow we will be in Kentucky, so will only have two states left and about 1200 miles. We are still excited about seeing friends and family on the weekend. And we can’t say this enough….thanks to all of you who are checking in and making comments. It really is a boost to us. If you don’t want to make a public comment, but want to contact us, Ray’s address is gailandray@earthlink.net and I am rustymccain@comcast.net. Thanks again to you all for all the good thoughts.

We are gonna make it!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 12, 2011

Over the Ozarks!

We think we may have conquered the Ozarks. We don’t know yet. But we seem to have survived and won the battle. We are still fighting the heat, but today, the terrain started to level out some for us. We were lucky that most of the riding today was in a very rural area that is home to at least one state park. Therefore, a lot of our riding was done in the shade. What a huge difference that made!

Ray in Downtown Centerville, MO

I have to mention two things from yesterday that I forgot to mention last night. For those of you who know Ray, the first one is classic. We were both struggling with the heat, humidity and hills yesterday. It was a pretty miserable day. At some point a huge grader was trying to pass us, which was difficult on the hills. We finally waved him on and he passed. I saw Ray and I instantly knew exactly what he was thinking. Even in his worn-out state, I just knew when that grader passed, he was going to try to catch a draft. Sure enough, as soon as it passed, Ray began to ratchet up his pace. It was fun to watch as he gave it his best for about 3 seconds until his sanity returned. You can’t say that Ray Ashworth is not a competitor!

Missouri Wildlife

The other thing I wanted to mention was our lust for ice cream. It is not healthy, it doesn’t help us out, but we want it. I went to a store last night to get some ice for my legs, knees and foot. (Listening to you, Mary Ann and Coach Robert!) Ray has been going to the store at night and asks me if I want some ice cream. I always say “No”. He always brings some back. I always eat whatever he brings. So, I thought I would get him some ice cream, even though he said he didn’t want anything. Alas, the guy at the store said he had just cleaned his ice cream machine and didn’t have any. Disappointed, I left. But as I was walking back to the motel, the guy came out of the store, yelling at me to wait for him. He forgot that when he cleaned out the machine, he had a drained a 44 ounce cupful of ice cream. He gave it to me and said, “Maybe this will do for you friend.” What a nice gesture! I took it back to the hotel. Ray and I agreed that we didn’t want it nor did we need it. We ate it in about a minute and a half. That ‘s why we have gained so much weight on our weight-loss program.

New Friends from Norway

Now, back to today’s ride. We were riding in weather that was dangerous yesterday but early on today, was only unhealthy, so we felt pretty good about things. And also early this morning, we passed the 2,500 mile mark! The ride started with some climbing similar to what we did yesterday, so we were a little worried about our tired legs and dehydration. But the more we rode, the more level the terrain became. Still not level, but more level.

Along the way, we ran into Frida and Gunnvor (forgive my poor memory on the spelling), two young Norwegians who were headed west. They were understandably having trouble adjusting to the crazy hot temperatures and high humidity. But they were in good spirits and looked strong. We had a good conversation with them and made two new friends. The camaraderie we have found with fellow riders like Frida and Gunnvor, even though the conversations may last just a few minutes, is one of the highlights that we will never forget. Everyone is pulling for each other and wishing each other well. It is a great thing!

Leaving the Ozarks

We made good time for the rest of our ride and were able to cruise into Farmington, MO with a 58 mile ride in the books, before the heat got unbearable. As a bonus, we got a good motel, complete with Air Conditioning and Versus! We get to watch the tour tonight until we fall asleep at 6:33. Also, right in front of our motel is a Ryan’s buffet. We thought we would go in, eat all we could, then just sit in the chairs for a couple of hours then start again. As good as that sounded, we decided to go back to the room and get ready to head to Illinois tomorrow. We hope the heat breaks, as we have over 80 miles to do on our Jello legs. Wish us luck!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 11, 2011

Ozarks 1, Ray and Rusty 0

I looked in the online dictionary just a few minutes ago to see what the definition of “fun” was. I am not sure we were having it today. After brushing up on the definition, I am still not sure. I do know that today was very rewarding. Today was another step toward reaching our goal. But, the jury is still out on “fun”. I have to do some more internet research before I file it in the “fun” category.

We rode till the cows came home

We knew the day would be hot. There is a heat advisory here as there is all over the south. As I write this, the temperature here is 98 degrees and the “feels like” index is 113 degrees. The weather channel says that you should limit your exposure to the heat. I think the conventional wisdom is to pack guys our age in ice and put them on the back porch until a cold front moves through, then let them out. I don’t think “limited exposure” means “get on a bike and ride 6 hours in some really tough hills.
Again, I am having trouble with definitions of certain terms today.

New friends Lorraine and Brittany

The day started out quite benign. Our course has turned a bit northeastward and the wind has moved back to its normal direction, south/southeast. There was a bit of cloud cover and the terrain was rolling. We made it to our first stop at mile 23 in the town of Summersville. We were feeling pretty good at that point. We had a great visit there with Lorraine and Brittany, two young ladies from Maine who were headed west. They are hard-core, doing the whole camping thing and going all the way to Portland and then down the coast. After riding as the mileage we have, and knowing how much they are riding, they have our instant respect for what they are doing.

As we left Summersville, we headed into the part of the Ozarks that everyone had warned us about. The climbs became longer and steeper, and the clouds parted by the time we got to Eminence, our second stop at mile 43. We had consumed five large bottles of fluid and drank even more when we stopped, but we just couldn’t get enough fluid absorbed.

One of our favorite signs

As we got ready to leave Eminence, we knew the last 27 miles was supposed to be among the toughest in this part of our trip. A short conversation Ray had with a Park Ranger who we happened to see at the store did not bolster our confidence. The conversation went like this:

“Good morning, How are you guys doing today?”

“Doing well and you?”

“Good, you guys sure picked a hot day to ride.”

“Yes, it is pretty warm.”

“Where are you guys headed?”

“Ellington”

“Oh shit!”

He was right.

We had five of the steepest climbs we have had over the next section. The heat only added to the difficulty. There were times when I felt like someone had taken off my helmet and put my head in a microwave.

Near Ellington, MO

But, the mantra has been to keep turning the pedals over and soon we were turning over our 70th mile into the town of Ellington. We have now changed our criteria for a good motel. Air conditioning. That is our only criteria. We have a good motel room tonight.

We are still looking forward to Friday and seeing our buds. Our ride Saturday will start from IronSon’s mom’s house in Beaver Dam. I am not sure of the logistics, but I think we will ride through downtown between 7:30 and 8:00 on the way to Cave City. If you haven’t hooked up with IronSon Jonathon, email Ray or me and we’ll try to get you more directions.

Thanks for checking in!

 

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