Day 17, Farmington, MO – Owl’s Bend, MO (near Eminence, MO) 75 miles (1375 total)
Time on bike: 07:30:16
Avg: 11 mph
Daily Ascent: 5104 ft (68 ft/mile)
Max: 43 mph
A New Friend. Inevitabely as I bike along this famous bicycle route I encounter other cyclists. As I waited to meet my friend Ashby outside of Motel 8 in Farmington I saw a man approaching on a bicycle. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. I initially thought he was pulling kids in his trailer rather than gear just by the size and structure of the trailer. He pulled up and introduced himself as Pat McLaughlin and said he was traveling to Nevada for the Burning Man Festival. We chatted for a few minutes about the terrain and weather, as most cyclists do, and then I offered him my maps to photograph since he didn’t have maps and was going strictly by his GPS. The thanked me and then later brought down 2 bananas to my room as a thanksgiving offering.
I didn’t plan on cycling with Pat. To be honest he didn’t seem to be well prepared for this type of trip. He was on a mountain bike, pulling a large load and wearing hiking boots rather than cycling shoes. But he looked in great shape for a middle aged man and he certainly seemed like he was determined to get to where he was going.
The next morning there was a knock on my door and Pat was there asking what time I was leaving. We decided to travel together and it proved to be a good move. Biking with someone is generally better than biking alone. We cycled through the Missouri Ozarks and small towns along the way. Missouri drivers are apparently known for being a bit hostile towards cyclists and we did come across a few vehicles that yelled for us to get off the road. But the scenery is still beautiful and Pat and I both agree that this is an amazing way to travel for every reason.
Once we had reached about 50 miles we saw up ahead on a hill a cyclist who appeared to be in trouble. His bike was flipped on its side and he was standing next to it. It looked like a mechanical problem. Once we arrived it was merely an out of shape cyclist who had started his ride in St Louis and was traveling to Oregon. We told him we came from Farmington and he said, “Oh yeah, I was there 2 days ago.” 50 miles in 2 days? Dude, you’re out of shape, but glad that you’re out here doing this. The hill he was on top of he walked up and it wasn’t a steep hill, but we all move at a different pace and in a week he’ll probably be cycling up most of the hills. Pat and I had a good chuckle though as we went on wondering which hills our comrade would be walking.
We settled down for the night in a beautiful little camping site called Owl’s Bend in the Ozarks along the Current River. We inquired about showers from some campers who were already set up and they said there were none but they bathed in the river. Sounded like a good idea, so Pat and I made our way down with our soap and towels in hand. It was such an incredible thing to be bathing in a crystal clear river in the middle of the Ozarks as the sun was coloring the sky the most amazing pastel colors behind us. It was surreal. The reason for making such a journey and certainly a fantastic way to end the days riding, which was good because we climbed some monster hills in our last 14 miles. It was certainly the first time I’d bathed in a beautiful mountain river, but hopefully it won’t be the last!