West Plains, MO to Mountain Grove, MO
Total Miles: 2968
Today starts off, per usual, with a little bit about last night. I’ve been considering writing my daily blog post a little later in the evening, like after dinner or something, so that I don’t always have to include what happened the night before. But, I’m not. As much fun as it is for me to flex my meager writing skills everyday, it’s still a bit of a chore to sit down and write for an hour when I could be doing other things: eating, swimming, looking at the sky, working on Forrest, eating, planning my route better, discovering the answer to life, the universe and everything (10 points to whoever knows the answer :p ) But I digress. Yesterday evening while I was preparing my usual dinner of pasta and fried Spam I got a visit from Stephanie, the wonderful and stunningly attractive niece of the owner of last night’s campground. She wanted to hear more about my trip and had brought me the biggest and most bad ass looking salad ever! Seriously. Take it from me friends, the world is not the awful mess the evening news leads you to believe it is. Stephanie is from Austria and also a fellow cyclist, but with a bigger dash of badassery, she does Iron Man competitions. For those that don’t know what that entails, let me tell you: First is a nice 2.4 mile swim, then a leisurely 112 mile bicycle ride, followed by the last bit, nothing too crazy, just a 26 mile run. No big deal, right?! Right. Thank you, Stephanie!
I woke up today at 7, packed up my camp and rode out into wonderfully brisk morning. Seriously, it was chilly. I’m used to all this warm, tropical southern weather and suddenly I’m waking up and it’s 55 degrees. I thought it was summer?! The first 8 miles were on this back country road and, being in the Ozarks, it was incredibly hilly. Short, steep uphills followed by brief and equally steep downhills, it was really tough first thing in the morning before my legs had a chance to warm up. Thankfully the road was pretty empty as there wasn’t much of a shoulder to speak of and I turned onto the main road about 40 minutes later. My first order of business was finding some food as I’d burned off the peach I had for breakfast after the first ten minutes. McDonald’s to the rescue! I ate my usual 2 McMuffins and chased them with some gas station mountain dew up the road. The clouds were looking a bit iffy so I had a feeling I was gonna get rained on. Nothing to it but to do it though, eh?
Being on this main highway I think I’ve thankfully avoided the worst of what the Ozarks have to offer. The scenic country roads that I usually prefer are a nightmare in this area, the asphalt just follows the lay of the land and there’s no thought to evening it out whatsoever. The highway does it a little better, there’s more traffic for sure but the hills trend upwards in long and evenly graded inclination. It makes it much easier to lock into a comfortable gear and just pedal it out rather than the constant up and down rollercoaster ride that the side roads provide. I pedaled out a cool 20 miles of this before stopping in the town of Willow Springs where I popped into a vape shop to get a new battery. The owner was a fellow veteran and all around great guy, we were chatting for a goof 30 minutes and he let me trade in my old, worn out battery for a brand new one for free! He also gave me a bit of bad news. “Your’re heading to Mountain Grove? Shit. It’s all uphill from here, man!” I took it with a grain of salt, though, as the elevation map didn’t look quite as bad as he made it out to be. Time will tell.
I left Willow Springs and sure enough it was some pretty hefty uphills, but nothing, and I mean nothing compared to yesterday. Just the same kind of long, slowly elevating hills I’d had all morning. You car driving folks severely underestimate the power of natures 2 stroke 🙂 My next stop was the town of Mountain Grove, about 8 miles from my campsite, where I stopped into the local Walmart for some groceries. You know how they say you should never shop for groceries while you’re hungry? Yeah well that should apply doubly to cyclists, I was famished. I stocked up on my normal fare of pasta, fruit and canned meat but I also couldn’t resist buying a package these Walmart brand Girl Scout Samoa knockoffs. I also bought a jar of cookie butter instead of my usual peanut butter. And some kind of almond stuffed Oreo concoction. Oh, and I unashamedly ate the entire thing of cookies while I was packing everything into my saddle bags. Oops. It’s fucking difficult to eat enough calories a day, everyday, to sustain this kind of physical activity. Seriously. You need to eat and eat and eat and eat. I love every second of it 🙂
So that was my day. I’m currently sitting inside my tent, wrapped in my sleeping bag because it’s so damned cold and rainy (60 degrees. Don’t hate. It feels freezing to me). Tomorrow I’ll be in Springfield and the next I’ll be on the Trans America trail where I’ll hopefully meet some fellow cyclists to ride with. James and Forrest are getting lonely out here! Stay tuned for the next edition of Jame and his Bike!
And dedicated to my friend Deidra, who totally has her life together, I’d like to present a new section entitled:
Too Drunk; Didn’t Read (TD;DR)
-Got a free salad. It was good
-Hills suck. No more hills please.
-Free battery from some guy near a firetruck
-Ate a whole box of cheap Girl Scout cookies. No regrets
-It’s cold. Please turn the cold off.