Oregon Idaho Montana Wyoming Colorado Kansas Missouri Illinois Kentucky Virginia

Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

June 21, 2007      Miles 60      Total miles 2979      Ended at: 15 miles east of Centerville, Missouri


I couldn't get away as early as I wanted because the local cafe didn't open until 7:00 but they had a great buffet so I didn't have to wait on my breakfast and I was on the road by around 7:45. I had been told that the next 30 miles would be my hardest riding day through the Ozarks. That proved to be true. You can see the roads are narrow with no shoulders and there were many dozens of semi-trucks loaded with rocks. They could barely make it up the hills and I was constantly pulling my bike to the side of the road so they wouldn't have to stop.

These are called the Ozark Mountains. The interesting thing is ... where I am riding, the elevation is not much more than 1,200' and the climb up each mountain isn't all that long. They are just incredibly steep. If you look at my inclinometer ... the far right of the bubble shows the percentage of grade. In this case the grade was more than 15%. One hill was 19%. By comparison, with only a couple of exceptions, all the mountains out west were 7% or less. The Ozarks are consistently 10% or more. Of course, I didn't make it to the top of many of them without stopping to give my legs a break. The temperature early in the morning wasn't bad but the humidity was terrible and it ended up 95 degrees in the afternoon.
There is an upside to the Ozarks over the Rockies and that is ... since they aren't very tall ... once you make it to the top you at least get an incredible downhill run. In some cases if I would pedal hard enough, I had the momentum to make it up the other side. If you remember, in the Rockies, there were times when I would climb a mountain for hours upon hours without any break. I'm not saying I prefer the Ozarks over the Rockies or one is harder than the other. They both present very unique challenges. I have had several riders ask me which I would rather do over and I told them that is like asking me if I would rather step on a rusty nail or break my teeth out with pliers. All in all, I have been fortunate with my ride because up until this week, I have not had to endure terrible heat or humidity.
When I met Natalie, we were in a valley and she had a big smile on her face. I guess she just wasn't going to let the Ozarks get her down. She is from New Jersey and is being fully supported by her husband. Natalie has a web journal at 3 Million Revolutions. She has figured that is how many revolutions her wheels will rotate going across America. She is keeping track on her web site. And you thought I lost my mind?
Here are a couple more rivers. It is hard to tell but the water is very clear.

There aren't too many towns through here and once again, I had to start rationing water to myself. In the heat and humidity I consume copious amounts of water. I came upon this large country church down a gravel road (there was a sign) and there was a water faucet outside which saved my day.

I finally made it through the Ozark Mountains and was going up a long hill. I was very tired, wet, and hungry when I heard someone behind me say, "Hey, you think your in Oklahoma?" I turned around and it was Ron, the man I met back in Wyoming who is being supported by his wife in their motor home. He travels much faster than I do but he had to take some time off to tend to his 92 year old parents in Colorado. We grumbled about a few things and met later that night at a camp ground.
This camp site left a lot to be desired but it was the only thing around. The two pictures on top are of the outdoor shower. There was no hot water but since it was so hot outside the water in the lines was warm enough for a shower. This is all behind a bar and it is the bar owner who owns all this. He wanted to rent me one of his "cabins" which have no bathroom, water, air conditioning, or electricity, for $20. I paid him $8 to pitch my tent but I was so tired after the day was over that I just put my sleeping bag on the picnic table and fell asleep. There were about ten patrons in the bar and they have a rifle range behind the bar so the men and women were all challenging each other to a sharpshooter contest. They just fired the rifles out the back window of the bar.