This part of the Transamerica Trail in Missouri is known for the Ozarks. A bunch of hills that could be called “rolling,” but due to their higher elevation climb than a normal hill, they have built themselves a reputation. As Dad likes to point out, they are not the Appalachian mountains. However, going up and down, up and down, even with small elevation gains is annoying. But- they are nothing like what we experienced previously and we don’t think it called for taking the Katy Trail, a separate flat trail that crosses Missouri about 200 miles off route.
As the bartender in the Eagle’s Club in Chester, IL (see previous post on Illinois) said- some people from Kentucky moved to the Ozarks and brought their dogs meaning dog chasing us on bikes (see previous post on Kentucky). We did run into a few occasions of dog chases, but they were either old and tired or too small to keep up. A good yell usually did the trick.
Day 28- June 28th
We crossed into Missouri! The bridge over the Mississippi River was a bit intimidating since it was narrow and cars were going by, but after a few moments we reached the otherside. People did tell us we could call the Sheriff’s office for an escort.
The ride was relatively flat for 10 miles then we reached the first of the Ozarks. After 12 miles or so into Missouri we came across a convenience store, called Our Place, and stopped for a cold drink since it was already getting hot. They have a cyclist journal for bikers that ride through and it was neat to sign it and see familiar names.
We continued on and came across several wineries and a brewery along with a red road! Oh, yeah, and in the middle of basically no where there is a tiger sanctuary.
It was pretty hilly, which with a hot day it wasn’t great, but we trudged through.
Eventually we made it to Farmington, MO about 48 miles. Due to many recommendations we stayed at Al’s Place, a bikers’ hostel run by the city. It was great! It was an old jail converted to hostel so the old cells are now rooms with bunks. There was wifi, though it didn’t work most of the time and laundry. Limited kitchen such as hot plates not stoves. Two bathrooms. And linens for the beds and towels. There was also a TV though none of us used it.
They ask for donations. We spent the night with four other bikers. One from Florida, one from Colorado, and two from China. They met each other on trail and decided to bike together. Florida man, who kept telling us he was a bartender in Key West and made more money than he ever has, looked to be in charge while the Colorado girl planned out the route. The Chinese couple were very cute, but quiet as they didn’t speak much English.
They are not against taking short cuts, which allowed them to catch up with us so quickly and this particular day, Key West man’s cousin picked them up and drove them. They were also a bit crazy as they woke up at 3.30 am to leave at 5 am in order to beat the heat. There are others who do that, but after biking for 5-6 hours….I like my sleep.
We went to the bike shop in town- Transamerica cyclery. Very helpful! The gentleman tuned up my bike and redid Dad’s gears and handlebars within two hours. This shop as well gives out a discount to transam cyclists.
Day 29- June 29th
We went to the Factory Diner for breakfast and it was scrumptious!
A nice big meal for a lovely day! Though we left late- around 8:30, the weather report said it was suppose to be the coolest day we have experienced and it was! Barely any humidity and high of 80! With just enough clouds. We stopped for a 20 mile break at Pilot Knob, the biggest Civil War battle in Missouri.
Pilot Know is also the highest peak of the Ozarks, though we didn’t summit the mountain it was still nice knowing the tallest was behind us.
Our lunch break, about 20 miles later, was in Johnson’s Shut-Ins state park. Johnson was this rich guy in the early 1900s who bought lots of acres to donate it to the state- no strings. He actually didn’t want his name mentioned at all! Shut ins are rocks that block the river from flowing.
We had lunch then walked down the path to the river, where people were swimming, then back again and got ice cream.
After about 48.32 miles of decent flat terrain we made it to Centerville and camped at their city park. Unfortunately, it didn’t have showers, but it was a cool day so we didn’t sweat as much. We had access the the sheriff’s bathroom. We got cold orange juice and relaxed before heading to 21 Diner for dinner.
Catfish is very popular food item here…
We also met two friends…one a loving dog that looked to be a cross between a lab and a pit bull- very beautiful and a drunk local who was friendly. In fact a little too friendly as he was telling us about his life that strangers really shouldn’t know about…
But back to the dog, he appeared to be homeless, but he is well trained and has a collar. I felt bad.
As much as people warned us about Kentucky Coal drivers, Missouri commercial drivers are the worse (semi’s and construction type trucks). They don’t move over and don’t slow down. I believe some have purposely sped up when they saw us. These roads have no shoulders/are narrow and are curvy- overall, very dangerous for what they are doing. Couple of trucks have come close, but one company in particular was quite rude. It was blaring his horn and basically ran Dad and I off the road. Normal drivers are polite and give us plenty of room, its just the commercial drivers that are bad.
Day 30- June 30th
An official month of being bike tourers! Sometimes it feels like yesterday and others, so long ago. We set off for Summersville- about 62.42 miles. Though the previous day has some bigger climbs, according to our map, this section was the most strenuous. Mr. Cali from Chester (see previous post) also said he thought this was the worst part.
We set off early, about 6 am and watched the sunrise a bit, but the fog was strong. We made sure our lights were on! We stopped in Ellington for a grocery store and some breakfast then continued on.
Again, trucks were on the road. The trail really shouldn’t run on highway 106 and 17 as its too busy. As Dad and I have come to agreement on- this is the only reason to do the Katy Trail. No car traffic there.
Once again, the rude company from before ran Dad and I off the road. Never moving an inch for us.
On a happier and positive note, we met several bikers this day. Three gentlemen going East from San Francisco and two bikers heading West to Colorado from Georgia. One of the San Fran guys filmed me biking up a hill….it was rather creepy. We also met one of the last Transamerica trail bike racers (I believe he is third from last).
In Centerville, many folks were telling us to swim in the Current River because it’s spring fed and super clear. Well, when we got there (below pictures) it was cloudy and a bit chilly (it later rained on us twice). So we didn’t swim, but it was still pretty.
We stopped in Eminence for lunch and met up with the two men from Georgia.
Ruby’s Diner with a lunch buffet- for hungry cyclists…sold!
We continued on. This day we climbed 5623 feet and descended 5134 feet.
About 6 miles later we reached Alley Springs, part of the National Parks/protection area and stopped by the river there.
It didn’t rain on us the rest of the day, but it was quite gloomy. Because of our fear for the rain, we stayed at the Youth Center cabins in Summersville, not far from the route. The room was quite nice!
It proceeded to rain and thunder storm in the night.
*Please see part 2 of the land of Ozarks for the rest of Missouri*