April 15, 1999
|So far the ride has only been 1700+ miles but I've already
begun to notice a change in me. Initially bike touring piqued my curiosity after
seeing several people touring by bicycle last summer in Canada. Then as things went
from bad to worse in healthcare, I knew I had to get away on a journey of
self-discovery. I was really needing this time to re-think my role as a health-care
provider or another possible career choice. Now I'm beginning to see myself in a way
I've never imagined. The long rides alone are giving me much time for contemplation
as I'm exposing all my senses to the world around me. I have never been one to spend
very much time alone. Most of my time has been occupied in the company of
others. Solitude was something I never really sought out and now I think it could be
difficult to ride with someone else as I am beginning to enjoy this time alone.
There is also this strange attraction to riding down a road and having no idea what the
next town will be like, or what the landscape will reveal just around the corner.
As I write this I'm thinking about the forecast of heavy rains for today, but a day cycling in cold rain is far more enjoyable than a day watching TV. It is dark and cloudy as I head out into the cold morning. (9:45am)
Oh my God!!!! What was I rambling about this morning??? Geeez I don't know if I really enjoy cycling into 30mph headwinds!!! Only 53 miles today but my knees are a bit sore from pushing into the headwinds.
I slept in late today and then had to gather all my crap that was scattered all over the hotel room. There were clothes hanging all over the place drying, my trailer was empty with its contents spread all over the floor and on any exposed surface in the room. After I checked out I went across the street to the convenient store across the street. Inside there was a small grill and a few small tables with some of the locals sitting eating there morning sausage biscuits with a cup of coffee. As I walked by the coffee machine one of the guys was speaking to another "Who's the crazy guy on the bicycle?" The other guy glanced over at me and smiled as he said "Well I don't know." I laughed and admitted to my insanity :) All the guys there were very interested in my ride and were exceptionally nice. They told me about the "Pig Trail" that I was about to go on and warned me about the twisty, curvy roads. Many people drive too fast, especially college students heading to Little Rock. There are many accidents and quite a few deaths each year. They went on to say the the grades are very steep but it will be a very nice and scenic ride.
Leaving the store with my 3 Gatorades and a fresh homemade biscuit, I headed north on 23. I'm realizing as I ride away, that these little convenient stores are one of the best places to meet locals. Unlike some of the restaurants and cafe's, these places have many locals standing around engaging in gossip and seem to be very eager to engage in conversation.
As I headed north the wind was blowing south blasting me with freezing air. The cold penetrated through me and I just kept pushing, trying to work hard enough to warm myself. When I arrived at the sign depicting the "Pig Trail Scenic Byway", I was shielded from much of the wind by the forest. As I made the climb up Cass mountain I was finally beginning to sweat... wooo hoooo warmth! But then I hit the downhill that froze me. The wind was penetrating through me the faster I went. Just as I was really needing to get warm again, I saw a small store, Turner Bend. It was a small gas station/grocery store with canoe and kayak rentals. I went inside for a hot chocolate and warmed up a *bean* burrito in the microwave from the freezer section(good thing I'm riding alone hee hee).
While inside I meet Brad and Lisa, who were very interested in my
ride. After finding out about my website, Brad asked if I wanted to use their
computer to gain internet access. COOL!! I logged on and checked my e-mail and
deleted a bunch of spam. Then read my guestbook and contemplated my route change
that was suggested by someone in my guestbook. Looks like I will be heading up to
Golden City, then try to find a route to get to Missoula, Montana, and then head north to
do the Banff to Jasper ride.
Arriving in Huntsville I checked into the only motel, Faubus
motel($32.51). The owner, James, checked me in and had a very expressionless
personality and a monotone sound to his voice. I tried to joke a little but the guy
couldn't even smile. He told me "you can lock your bike and trailer up to the
rail outside." Riding around behind the office/residence, I noticed 2 vehicles
under the carport and both had confederate flags on the front license plates. And
just when I was thinking all the confederate stuff was going to disappear as I headed
north. I went to my room, and after disconnecting my trailer, I did my usual routine
and brought both of them in my room. James called my room and asked if I brought the
bike in my room, I said yes and he said "well don't mark up the floor." He
sounded a tad bit upset but I wasn't going to leave my bike and gear outside. Well
my bike wouldn't be too bad but not all my gear.
Today - 53.85 miles