7,841 ft. 66+ miles. Wow, a LOT of climbing! Alarm of the neighboring tent woke us around 4 am. And the Cacophony of birds!!! Today was one of rolling hills and a couple of steep head, walls, water crossings, dogs, fast dogs, faster dogs, more rollers, cows, and a great cold water spring. We made a stop in Kingston for coffee and a great breakfast sandwich for me. It had a cute town gazebo, surrounded by vacant buildings and a library. We dodged the rain with heavy clouds most of the day. Cooler, in the 70’s but pleasant. We’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife: deer, turkeys, lots of red tail hawks, many Turkey vultures. Lots of roadkill too: sapping turtles, possums, armadillos (really smelly!), sunny mud turtles. Many beautiful birds, bluebirds, cardinals, swallows and beautiful wild flowers along the roads and meadows. Lots of spectacular farms and remote dirt roads. Did I mention dogs?We rode almost all dirt, and towards the end got quite wet and muddy. We had one stream crossing that Tara braved first, and got quite wet. We both ended up with wet feet for the last couple hours of the day. But we were warm because the last dog adventure was quite an adventure! Tara first commented that the owners were in the yard so we didn’t have to worry, but then she said here he comes, “go faster, faster” then there was a pause and I’m thinking “phew, made it”, then she yelled “faster, faster faster, faster!” We were faster but he was fast as a cheetah. That was a downhill. On the uphills and flats we stop for the dogs and keep our bikes between us and them. A few miles later, after walking the biggest head wall of the day, we road a few more miles until our savior picked us up! Susie picked us up in her big Dodge van with a bike rack. She drove over from Bentonville, having recently moved there. She also had two hot pizzas and a Stromboli and a cooler full of cold drinks. A godsend!!! Some People really are amazingly king and generous! She dropped us at the hotel with really muddy bikes . It took us a couple hours to dismantle them and pack them up. Dirty, dirty. The hotel room went from a disaster to just a muddy area. We estimate we missed about 40 miles of the overall route but rode more miles than anticipated. On the bikes 10-11 hours each day. Early flight tomorrow. Headed home for 2 days then to the Adirondacks.
May 16th, 2023
66.1 miles 7,841 ft. Wow, a LOT of climbing! Alarm of the neighboring tent woke us around 4 am. And the Cacophony of birds!!! Today was one of rolling hills and a couple of steep head, walls, water crossings, dogs, fast dogs, rollers, cows, spring. We made a stop in Kingston for coffee and a great breakfast sandwich for me. It had a cute town gazebo, surrounded by vacant buildings and a library. We dodged the rain with heavy clouds most of the day. Cooler, in the 70’s but pleasant. Lots of spectacular farms and remote dirt roads. Did I mention dogs? is a few Belzer sunshine. We rode almost all dirt, and towards the end got quite wet. We had one stream crossing the Terra braved first, and got quite wet. We both ended up with Gretc for the last couple hours of the day. But we were warm because the last dog adventure was quite an adventure! Tara first commented that the owners were in the yard so we didn’t have to worry, but then she said here he comes go faster faster then there was a pause then she yelled faster, faster faster, faster. We were faster but he was fast as a cheetah. A few miles later, after walking the biggest head wall of the day, we road a few more miles until our savior picked us up! Susie picked us up in her big Dodge van with a bike rack. She also had two hot pizzas and a Stromboli and a cooler full of cold drinks. A godsend!!! She dropped us at the hotel with really muddy bikes . It took us a couple hours to dismantle them and pack them up. The hotel room went from a disaster to just a muddy area. Early flight tomorrow.
May 16th, 2023
Riding and riding and riding
We woke up on a slant, but Tara said we didn’t go to bed on the slant so we’re not sure what happened. We had some minor flooding with the torrential downpour when we went to bed and then we had an exciting battle with a raccoon in the middle of the night. He was determined to get into the limited food we had, so we took our packs off the bikes and brought them into the tent vestibule. We started our day with road closures, some road closures which lead to some serious re-round going around the closures which took a lot of time but it was doable. Why don’t we turn around when there’s a road closure? We still haven’t learned that they apply to us on bicycles! It was an adventure. And really challenging to get them up the hill. And our success reinforced again that road closure signs don’t apply to us, as we survived it! Big up hills, big down hills. We met some retired men who are doing the trans America to Oregon and they’re from Alabama. They’re doing it on big dirt bikes and they were headed up the closed road as we were coming down the closed road. We tried to warn them. Great snacks at the Byrd outfitters complex then back on the road as to try to make it to Oark. pulled into the Byrd BYRD campground recreation center got lunch. Delicious (?omg!) lunch of three slices of American cheese wrapped around a meat stick. All rolled into a tortilla. That’s what you eat when you don’t have a stove on the trail. Tara, what did you have for lunch? I had a slab of jerky American cheese, muddy buddies, and Powerade and ice cream. Since we’re talking about food, What did you have for dinner? I had a can of Hormel chili cold, and I’m not sure how its sitting. Me? I had a can of Chef Boyardee beef ravioli slopped into a tortilla with two or three more slabs of that processed orange American cheese. After warnings of rain by the shop owner we headed to Oark and got some information about where to camp. Tara said this is where Mork, from Mork and Mindy was from, but we didn’t see him. The woman behind the deli offered to drive us wherever we wanted to if we needed to camp locally because of the weather. We decided to risk it and head to what we read on our navigator was an informal campground about 20 more miles away. Got caught in the rain, but it was not too bad. Made it to the campground after it stopped raining so we could set the tent up in the dry weather. We used Tara’s photos of poison ivy to make sure we weren’t sitting up in poison ivy. Terra retreated into the tent to avoid accumulating more than 100 black fly bites before the end of the trip. We texted Susie, an awesome woman we met at the girls gravel festival, who offered to come pick us up tomorrow. We sent our estimated location so we have a plan for tomorrow. We rode a total of 52.4 miles with 5600+ feet of climbing. It was a slow slogging day on the dirt roads and the washouts. It was hot again, but not as hot as yesterday.
Lizard of Oz
We started the Northwest highland loop trail today. Up at 5 am. Carrying very little. Left by 7 am. Rode 10 miles to the trail. The Razorback Greenway trail was about 25 miles long through urban, small towns starting in Bentonville going south. Then the trail ended and it became rural……and climbed up onto the plateau and up and down through the Arkansas hollows. Lots of gravel roads late in the day and only one fast terror of a dog. We are in our tent and it’s pouring and thunder and lightning - third night with the same weather on this trip. We are glad to be sleeping in a giant litter box tonight because they drain really well and we don’t end up in a puddle! Really great infrastructure on the urban trail with access for many communities. Lots of bridges, followed a Creek for miles. Lots and lots of turkey vultures here feasting on carcasses, but not ours. The bike is not killing us! We estimated we rode 87 miles today with over 5,500 feet of climbing. The lighter bikes made a big difference on the steep, climbs up the Ozark mountains. Early views were cows, cows, cows. Cows in the pond. Then lots of vultures. Lots of dead armadillos. A crazy crocheted mushroom. Staying at white rock campground. The highlight of the day was the purple Mt Dew slushie and Tara’s favorite cherry slushie filled right into the water bottles! Everything is really lush and green here because they’ve had lots of rain. Tara said yesterday was brutally hot (it was!!) and once again, we found ourselves in the trickling water ditches getting our sleeves wet for the cooling effect. If you’ve never worn sleeves to protect yourself from the sun and wet them for cooling, they really are I was amazing. We arrived at the white rock campground just in time to have a popsicle and ice cream sandwich before they closed. Bag chips. We also had chips and Gatorade. This Viking biking diet is crazy.
Following Esther thru the woods
We started our day early with a 4 AM thunderstorm. We stayed in camp a bit longer this morning and had coffee in the tent as we were waiting for the rain to stop. My banana this morning had 867-5309 scratched into it and I have no idea who put it there! the picture with Tara and her bowl on the top of the tent was funny because we looked a long time for that bowl!. The campground host was a giant dog, a fancy farm dog. Kelly came up and then eventually we took off and arrived late, so we went to the fueling (feeding yourself) seminar. We decided to ride the Esther green trail, which is a mountain bike route in Kohler park on our gravel bikes. It was really fun! It was a bit muddy in spots because of all the rain this morning. Then we went to a tire workshop and had lunch just before a big ride returned. We road with the rowdy girl at 2 pm, we rode the rowdy Gowdy with this woman from Colorado who runs an organization to make bike riding more accessible to people of all walks, talks backgrounds. It was hot, long sections of gravel that were fun. Lots of grassy buttercup filled fields with occasional herds of cows. Met even more new people started to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the greetings that take place when you meet somebody new, but all really awesome people. made it back to the event location and then debated on whether to leave or not or wait for the party or leave, clean up and go back to the party, but in the end we decided to head out because we were getting very excited about Working on our bike packing simplicity model. On the ride to the hotel, it rained a bit, but it was so hot, so it just cooled us off a bit. We arrived at the hotel, and brought our bikes into our room and stripped them down and decided to do the next three days ultralight. Tara left her sleeping bag behind but has a sleeping sheet, we left the stove and the dishes, And the fuel, and all the clothes and the shoes. So what do we have with us? Just the basics. Snacks, tent, sleeping pads and I have my sleeping bag. we have our riding shorts and top and our PJs and a rain set. We also have a repair kit and our headlamps but really that’s about it….. this will be a new adventure, traveling light!
The land of oz
Wow. Steamy day! 50 miles for me, 65 for Tara. We had a great day here in the land of Oz. Temps in the 80s and really humid. We commuted to Coler park. Spectacular commuting bike trails. Tara then started her day with a 30 mile fast ride and I went with an intermediate group for a 20 mile skills ride. Navigation was a challenge for the group leader so after a few wrong turns delayed us we had to cut it short to 14 miles, so we didn’t miss lunch! Skills practice included climbing, cornering and going down. Other informational sessions included learning about the great divide, tires, female bike seat challenges and lots of other clothing booths, gear, organizations that support all bodies, all races, all riders. After lunch we did a second 20 mile skills ride. 37 women on this ride! We stopped at Wally World for stove gas on our way back to the campsite. (And icecream) then Kelly, our camping neighbor had the brilliant idea to go find a truck stop and shower. Best idea ever as we were gross and sticky and smelly. We washed our bike shorts in the shower. Stopped for Mexican dinner out. We made a plan to eliminate a lot of our gear and “go lite” on our post festival 3 day trip on the NW Trail. We’ve met someone who will pick us up wherever we end up and take us back to the airport. Lying in a damp tent again this morning. Thunderstorms have rolled through at 3:30 am both nights. A bit scary in a tent. Rain, wind and boomers and lightening. The birds here are loud too! So many more that at home.
May 12th, 2023
SQUISHED critters - ugh!
Our timing was good. Landed early. Built up the bikes in the dining room of a hotel and rode away. They agreed to hold our bike bags for the week. Greasy black hands. Had to wash the hotel sink before leaving. We have as much gear as the last trip but 6 days vs 66 days. How is that?! A squished possum, a flattened armadillo and a large black rat snake in the road on the way to the venue. Good food, great people. Women from all over the country, many from the Midwest. Our campsite was another 7 miles away. Mostly on a bike path. We couldn’t find gas for our stove. Arrived and set up just at dark. Kelly, camping next to us, in a family’s field, gave us soapy bath wipes as there is no shower here. It’s warm-70’s. Big clouds and the tornado warnings NW of here were all we heard on the hotel tv as we were packing. Yikes! All good here though. Back on the bike with Tara!