Yesterday was our most physically challenging day of the tour so far. The distance was doable (70 miles) but the terrain was hilly and we ended up climbing over 3,500 feet. So today we decided to be smart and give our bodies a rest. Not sure if a 20 mile bike ride in the Ozarks is really a rest day, but it has been a rest compared to yesterday!
Here is the thing though: we may have climbed 3,500 ft yesterday but we descended nearly 4,000 ft. It was incredible and sure enough those speed records of ours got smashed. For two days in a row now I have reached speeds of 47mph on my bike and, yeah, that feeling is hard to let go of, it is unbelievable!
The sound of the wind screaming past.
The sensation of flying free.
The crazy adrenaline rush.
I would re-live yesterday over and over again if I could!
Our rest day has been a good day to catch up on jotting notes about the trip so I will conclude this post by sharing a few of our exploits, especially those concerning panniers.
You see, before this trip, I thought I was pretty handy in using my bike to transport anything, but the last week has proved that I have only scratched the surface of what a bike can haul.
First up was the pizza box. It doesn’t push the boundaries of ingenuity or creativity by much but the responsibility of carrying pizza on a bike is a grave one. If the box had slipped and the pizza had crashed with a sickening thud onto the pavement…Noah and I probably would have cried like little, hungry puppies.
The next challenge was a bit trickier.
I was riding in front of Noah when I heard a very insistent meowing sound coming from the grass alongside the road.
“Is that a bird or a cat?” I called back to him.
“I think it’s a bird.” He responded.
But it wasn’t a bird. Noah saw a little black kitten pop it’s head out of the grass. He stopped and coaxed the kitten toward him.
The poor little kitty kept meowing, it was obviously lost, alone and hungry. So we fed her cornbread. Then I called the Sheriff’s office and they said if we dropped her off they could find her a good home. Now the dilemma facing us was how to take the kitten the eight miles to the Sheriff’s office. Finally, I placed her inside my breathable, athletic bag and placed the bag inside my open pannier.
I was so nervous she would jump out, or overheat in the bag that I kept one of my hands touching her for most of the eight miles. During the ride, she alternated between napping, meowing noisily, licking my hand and trying to escape. It was a relief to hand her over safely to the lady in the office, but for the next few miles my pannier suddenly seemed depressingly boring without a squirming little kitty.
Unfortunately, the last hauling experience wasn’t cute or fun, it was just plain tough. Noah had broken two of his spokes and spoke repair is something I have no experience with (yet). I was completely flustered so I called my bike shop back home. Before the trip, Jake had told me that I could call him if we ever needed advice on the road, it was such a relief to dial to his number. He told us that the bike was rideable until we reached a bike shop, but that it would be wise to lighten the load on the back wheel as much as possible.
We only had 8 miles left to go that day, so the easiest solution was to pile Noah’s panniers on my bike. Both of us packed light for this trip so that we could carry everything on the backs of our bikes, but really it is ideal to have the weight distributed between the front and back. Now I did have a heavy load and it was all in the back. While going up one steep hill, I found it nearly impossible to keep my front wheel on the ground. Yes, learning how to wheelie on a bike would be cool, but not when that wheelie would cause me and my bike to tumble-down a hill.
As I was straining, red-faced up the hills, Noah danced up them on his practically weightless bike. He teased me the entire way by groaning dramatically about how steep the climbs were and complaining about how exhausted he was. I couldn’t laugh over my huffing and puffing so I just rolled my eyes at him and warned him that I was going to break my spokes so that he would have to return the favor.
My question is this-is transporting a cat, a pizza or a person’s stuff or going 47 mph in a car very exciting? Probably not.
But on a bike? Oh yes, because somehow bikes turn everything into an adventure!