DAY 32

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.

Lisa and Brad were very nice, even though I accidentally called Brad Doug.  I have a terrible time with names but I never forget a face :)  Before I left Brad asked if there was anything else they could do for me.  I felt so good there and was very grateful for there kindness to this cold stranger cycling through.  Come to find out they have a website: 

There were some local hunters there hanging out and one guy  was showing off his morning kill, a turkey.

If it were warmer I would've taken some time to rent a canoe to enjoy the scenery from the river.  It was a very scenic area, reminds me a little of the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.  This has been a great route that I chose to cycle and very scenic.  I would recommend anyone else to take this scenic route through the mountains.  They also have Turner Bend Campground for $5 per person with restrooms and hot showers.

I continued north and just as I was about to meet my tolerance level to the cold I saw a small store in St. Paul (pop. 145).  Inside I met Carrie and even though they didn't sell coffee or cocoa, she let me fix a package of cocoa.  I decided to buy a box of cocoa packets and she gave me a cup to use.  And then she said that I really don't want to drink that water so she got a bottle of spring water out of the refridgerator section and poured it into the cup for me.   And again I'm greeted with exceptional hospitality!  She said that they were all just a bunch of hillbillies around there as she described the area.  Carrie got married a day after her 16th birthday since 16 was the legal age for marriage in Arkansas.   The locals came in and out of the store and I happened to meet one guy that owns the land where the second highest peak in Arkansas is, just 18 inches shorter than Mt. Magazine.   As I was leaving St. Paul a group of guys in a Suzuki Samurai drive buy yelling out cheers and giving the "power" fist, gotta love them "hillbillies" :)

The winds began to pick up and were ferocious as I could only get a max speed of 7mph on the straight flat roads, standing I could push myself to 8mph.  Normally I do not cuss but I was really cussing the wind over and over.  I hated it!  The last ten miles would just not end. 

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.

The rooms were actually old apartments converted to motel rooms.  I had a stove, oven, refrigerator and a recliner!!!  After fixing some red beans and rice, I burned my tongue trying to eat it to quickly and not letting it cool.  I was really hungry!

Today - 53.85 miles
Total -  1757 miles
Maximum Speed: 34mph
Average Speed: 8mph

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