7/7 day 51 – the Ozarks: or, Top 5 worst day

7/7 day 51 – the Ozarks: or, Top 5 worst day

7/7 day 51

Houston MO to Ellington MO

69 miles

I should have realized. As soon as I felt the sun I knew it was gonna be hot. Combined with the steep, sharp climbs of the ozarks I should have known this was going to be a bad day.

They say hindsight is 20/20.

I had hoped to get moving quickly but that got back burnered in favor of packing up a dry tent. Since crossing back into Missouri the morning condensation had made a return. Along with humidity – which means nothing ever dries overnight anymore. In Kansas you could wash your Jersey out in the sink and hang it up overnight and by morning it’d be bone dry. Not so much anymore. But that meant I didn’t get out of town until 830/9.

The first half of the day wasn’t bad, besides heating up quickly. By the time I got to my lunch stop though it was already 1230. Not optimal. For the first time since Wyoming I had a climb that required me to put bike into its lowest gear. It was absurd – these were hills (not even mountains!) that weren’t even 2000 ft high! And I was in lowest gear and struggling!! It blew my mind a little.

I dallied in the shade and dreaded going back out. I could try and wait out the heat, but there were no clouds, which meant that there wouldn’t be any evening cool off until the sun was a lot lower. No library in town, no public areas with A/C – and it was a Friday in a tourist town, so no sympathy from restaurant owners and with no fast food place in town I was boned. So I filled up with extra water and headed out.

Promptly I hated this decision. The Ozarks are kinda terrible. No shoulder. Blind rises and curves. Just no fun. The heat was relentless. It was easily 95 in the air, but on the baking pavement it felt well over 100. I was wilting. I could have been a fried egg. I. Felt. Miserable.

And then the kid shows up. It’s always a little disheartening when you get passed from behind. The kid (Scotty) pulled passed and tried to chat. I was working hard and carrying gear, he nothing. And he was cruising up the hills and i struggling. I had moments of murder in my brain. Luckily we crested the hill and the support van was there. As the rest of the group straggled in (there are between 2-6 other riders at any one time with this group) the mom offered me ice water.

I almost cried.

I recovered a bit in the shade. The hill I had just tackled was the hardest of the day and i had done it in the high heat. A huge mistake. There was one more set of climbs before town. I put an ice cube under my helmet and started off. The ice lasted maybe 60 seconds.

Luckily the last section wasn’t too bad. If it had been anything like the previous one i wouldn’t have made it. The downhill into town was brainless and as the supported team peeled off for their hotel I tried to find the town hostel. I couldn’t find the street they were on so I went to the grocery store and had a cold coke. I called the town police and got actual directions and found the place. Two rooms with a window AC unit has never looked so good. I sat down on the cot and realized I was tired.

So tired I couldn’t get up. I was incredibly hungry, the gnawing in my belly the only thing stopping me from sleeping right then and there. But I was exhausted. My limbs felt like lead and my mind crawling. This was the first time in the trip I had been both physically and mentally exhausted at the same time. So tired I literally could not move.

I sat on the cot for an hour before I mustered up the energy to go back to the store to get dinner. I came back and stood in a cold shower, letting the water sluice over me, drawing out the heat. I cooked and ate, eating a whole package of Oreos as well for desert. I was asleep by 8pm.

So far this trip I’ve had a few bad days, ones where I was cold and wet during a ride or the terrain took forever or I just got up in my head. Today beat all of them. Of my top 5 worst days this so far has taken the #1 spot.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Hopefully not the Ozarks again.

2 Replies to “7/7 day 51 – the Ozarks: or, Top 5 worst day”

  1. Hi Mike! Still following every blog with great interest. Keep pressing on! Jim and I still talk about our chance meeting in Richmond with you at the brewpub just down the road from Hardywood. We’re looking forward to your return to VA where we can treat you to a beer and food. You need to keep thinking about dipping your tire in the Atlantic to REALLY finish your coast-to-coast trek!

  2. Biked in the Ozarks when I was in HS… not the best thing I have ever done… hills are deceptive, at least you were on pavement, a bit easier to pedal up. Good to hear from you, even if you have these kind of bad days. Talk to you soon.

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