oh ozarks

i’m sitting at the bike hostel in farmington, waiting for…well waiting for a couple things.

first, my bike needs some help

second, the storms have come again and that means wtf!

so the bike repair. in humansville my bike took a little spill when a sudden gust of wind came up. i had just gotton off my bike at the city park. i leaned my bike against, most likely a rail for horses to be tied to, turned to unload a bit before i locked it up. i’ve gotten in the habit of locking it to whatever i lean it agains, not so much for theft (no one wants to push that sucker around), but to keep it from falling over for various reason…like this one.

it had been fairly calm all day so this gust was a total suprise. the bike went crashing and the weight of the bag i have on the front snapped the front derailer cable. the rear one was slightly damaged but still usable. so i have ridden through the ozarks on a 1x.

at one point, when 16 miles felt like 60, i thought i was a so out of shape and that there was no way i was going to make it across and around the country. i pushed my bike. i cussed the hills. i cussed myself for not being more prepared. the humidity did not help. sweat and salt everywhere. fortunately the temps weren’t too high and the cloud covers were nice.

when i finally rolled into ellington and got set up at the route 76 bike hostel (way to go elington!) i was at my wits end. i had learned (by way of posted notes at the hostel) that the people at opy’s general store are very welcoming and have free wifi for bikers. and how right they were…well the people there are more than welcoming they are freaking amazing! so i set up and started doing some research. what are my options to still see my friends and get around the country?

while i was in the store, and later at diner, and then again on another day i learned some vital details. it seems that many people have commented that this section of the route is concidered some of the most challenging. what? the ozarks? i know it felt like it to me, but for others? as i ran into racers over the course of the couple days i spent in elington, who have more technology than i do (or know how to use maybe?) i learned that some of these hills have 18% or more grades to them. ahhhhh ok.

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i think the challenge also is not just the grade of the hills but that they are on curves, a banked curves at that, with no shoulder and lots of truck traffic. and if there is just a bit of edge to the road it has those ruts to let drivers know they are close to the edge, so one ends up having to ride in the road anyway. it is challenging and nerve wrecking! i would have to use all my mindfulness practice to calm my breath and mind during my breaks, and it renewed my dedication to meditation and mindfulness practice, and to remember that everything is impermanent, like this hill or this big logging truck.

it was in this realization that i took some pressure off myself. it was ok to go 16 miles with 2,000’+ of climbing. after all look at the amazing people you have talked to! the kid who appeared out of nowhere during a water break and asked if you could play with him. the cows that come running to great you. the healthfood stores you found. the people you talked to who value quality food. and something i’ll write about more later when i have more time to feel about it, i’ve come closer to the edge of the place where i can finally have a cathartic breakdown.

i’ve been tryig to have one since i left portland, well before i left portland. as i was transitioning through the end of challenging parts of menapause and the end of my time at i had concidered a dream job at a co-op. i have gotten really good at all my boundries and walls and defense mechanisms through all my years that even i can’t get though them now. but i’m getting closer. i tear up now. i almost cry in-fact i get do get chocked up, but then i catch it even as i want to release it.

now, for a different sort of challenge, trying to cross the mississippi river. for fucks sake! so i had seen that the chester bridge, which has been closed since early june is still closed. cape gerardie is where all route 76 riders and racers were being detoured through. that closed yesturday. chester bridge may open this weekend, but then many of the highways are closed on the illinois side. sigh…there was a big storm as i rolled into town yesturday, and it is currently storming with heavy rains right now.

this has me thinking so much about weather patterns (oh and it. snowed on the summer solstice in steamboat!), and what happens when those imbedded in the power structure try to manipulate and control nature like rivers and the oceans. i have had some wonderful conversations with the farmers in these small towns, especially when i get up early and go to the local diner for breakfast. a few times, it seemed a couple of them waited until some of their buddies left and we had a chat about how difficult it had become for them: doughts floods heat cold ice. if they adjust and shift and change with the weather patterns, the patterns change again.  it is chaos and those who live on and work on the land feel it and know it. there is a concerned look in their eyes. i’m not sure if it is for their livlihood or the future or what, but its there.

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for those of you who say “yeah but they have crop insurance.” well pay attention to the freaking farm bill. it effects so much of our everyday lives farmer or not. see, they can only make a claim if they have their seeds planted by a certain date, and in years like this, in nebrasks iowa missouri illionois the dekotas…they couldn’t get their seeds planted before the floods hit. in some cases farmers have been going out against their nature and planting seeds that they know are going to get flooded out, washed away. they know it is a waste of seeds, time, and energy, but it means they will be able to make an insurance claim.

its a funny world. in many ways i feel totally disconnected to what is happeing (spotty to no cell service and reallllll slow internet when i get it) but then i get to talk to people not reflected in the daily news cycle. or people that have been relegated to “small town mentality”. i am beginning to have some faith in humans again.

as for my traveling adventure, it has been amazing. deciding to go slower and not follow anyone else’s expectations, by giving myself a break, i’ve camped or stayed in some fun places.

one humid sweaty day i decided to try this campsite that was on an older map that i had. i had just spent a fair amount of time having a snack at elly’s spring…so beautiful and i was biking through a protected scenic river way, why not camp here? then when i pulled into the area and saw that the park headquarters was abandoned and the down the road, the river running over the road, i remembered that it had been flooded out a couple years ago. but there were brand new pit toilets. this is also a trailhead for the ozark trail. there were a few cars in the parking area so i went for a walk to the river with some food, my chair, and my water filter.

i camped out by the toilets since it was suppose to have scattered storms figuring i would just tuck into one of them instead of dealing with a wet tent in the morning. i learned that this spot is a local’s favorite and that they recently got word that the park service is going to start rebuilding and repairing the campground. and as for the abandoned park headquarter building, it has flooded up over its roof!

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as a side note, that night the trees, the grass, the whole view was full of fire flies! i had had nights where i spotted a few here and there, but this night!wow! this is one creature that i did miss while living in the pnw, and one of my biggest arguments against lawn chemicals.

in ellington, there is a little house turned bike hostel set up my the city council. at diner that first night i met one of the members who told me the advocacy they were doing for cyclists traveling through this area of missouri, like wider roads without those ruts. i ended up staying a coupe nights here. the first alone, the second with a couple of the trans am racers (some guy and the 2nd woman i’d seen of which there are only 6 this year).

the next day i met an astralian racer who actually does some of the organizing of some of the races i follow downunder. the next night i stayed at a state park called johnson’s shut-in for swimming holes and something different…why not right?

in ellington and now in farmington, several mornings i’ve woken up with an unpleasant feeling in my stomach. it usually comes on as i’m getting packed up or i’m part way through breakfast. one morning…actually this one morning i went to the local cafe in ellington for the 2nd morning. after the first breakfast they made me was so good, i told them i was going to stay another day to get some some done and would be back the next day. i showed up and he had made me special vegan sausages! the couple that runs this place is amazing! go to vintage cafe in ellington when you are in the area. you will not be disappointed, unless you show up after closing time of 11 am.

at first i was worried i was sick or maybe that last tick bite infected me with something. but i think it is my intuition telling me to stay put. days i was going to leave, like was packed up and ready. i felt sick and laid down for “just a minute”, woke up hours later to a huge thunderstorm, or found out that there was a big car accident in the direction i was going. in this recent case i probably would have been caught between open and closed bridges.

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this bike hostel in farmington has been amazing! it is the old old jail. the upstairs has been converted into a super nice bike hostel. the first night i arrived during a big downpour. like so bad i couldn’t use my phone to call for the code so went to the library and asked if they could call for me while i dripped all over their carpet. it stormed until after the bike shop closed so i had to take my bike in the next day. as i was coming back from picking up my bike, a big group of 20+ riders started showing up. they are with the bike the u.s. for ms, and they were so nice!

they welcomed me into their group. we talked and chatted and shared stories of lives blowing up so going on adventures. we shared logistical info. we celebrated one of the guy’s birthday. a bunch of us went to dinner together. the evening was capped off with watching the movie seven. i hung back while they all packed up and took off in the morning, and then i was going to pack up…but then the thunderstorms started up again, so tomorrow. and tomorrow i can make one last run to a healthfood store here before a bigger push to get across the mississippi river.

i keep thinking that i should be in a hurry, but for what? yes, i want to see my friends sooner than later, but i’d like to show up with good stories to tell and not just miles logged and elevation climbed.

welcome to summer friends! i hope you are finding ways to celabrate, enjoy, and adventure.

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2 thoughts on “oh ozarks

  1. Gorgeous landscape. The thunderstorms here have been complete madness! I’m glad you stayed put to stay dry. You’re great!

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  2. Great pics of your Great Adventure, your right…..the stories of the people and places is much better then the stats of the ride. Love you DAD

    Like

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