Holy dead armadillo do we have some catching up to do. Last time we talked we were 300 miles away in Oklahoma avoiding drunk drivers and getting creeped out by extreme rednecks hopped up on Mountain Dew.
After leaving Chandler, we rode 80 miles to Tulsa. I don’t know why, but the University of Tulsa always seems to play their football games on a random day of the week. Thursday happened to be game day so Joe and I headed to the university to check out the atmosphere. Not yet having a place to stay, we showed up with all of our gear, still decked out in spandex. We got quite a few stares. Undeterred, I approached a security guard, explained what we were doing and asked if she would let us in the stadium to watch the game and check out the crowd. Overcome by my dashing good looks and wicked charm, she let us in and offered to watch our bikes while we were inside – sweet. We went searching for the student section thinking that would be where all the dedicated fans would be, but instead found eight bros in matching shirts standing and yelling. It was worse than the mass halftime exodus at ASU games. On our way out, some drunk woman thought we were crazy religous preachers and told us to, “drop the Christianity and get laid.” Our moms will be happy to know we’ve been staying abstinent, just like we always have; but we did see a few prostitutes leaving a motel we almost stayed at.
The next day brought us another 80 miles to Natural Falls State Park. If you’ve been keeping track, that was our third 80 mile day in a row – almost a quarter of our entire milage in three days. The last 25 miles into the state park sucked. However, the park was overran by Girl Scouts who saw us riding and thought we were rock stars. We had a good time talking to them about what we were doing, but felt a bit awkward doing it in bike shorts. Natural Falls was smaller than I expected, but still beautiful. There are eight different species of fern that only grow at the base of the falls – eff yeah BIODIVERSITY.
Here’s when things get cool. So the whole reason we biked 240 miles in 3 days was so we could get to Fayettville, Arkansas by Saturday to see Johnny Football take on the hometown Razorbacks. We wanted to experience the crazy SEC fooball environment and party with a bunch of Southern college kids. We woke up Saturday morning at Natural Falls, about 35 miles from Fayettville, with no plan, no tickets and no place to sleep that night. Then Joe got a call from Shelby, a nurse from ARORA (Donate Life Arkansas) who offered us his brother-in-law, Lance. When we got into Fayettevile, we were supposed to call him and he would hook it up with a place to stay and maybe tickets to the game. When we got within a few miles, we called him to ask for directions to his house, but Lance insisted on picking us up. Sure enough, five minutes after we get off the phone with him, it starts POURING rain. We took refuge under some store awning until Lance arrived to pick us up. Here are my first impressions of Lance: Holy crap this guy is huge (in a bro buff way); oh my god is that a gun in his cupholder; how is he not wearing shoes right now.
Turns out though, Lance was the nicest stranger we have encountered thus far. His hospitality and kindness have been unmatched – allow me to elaborate. So after getting picked up we get back to Lance’s house, shower, and leave for the Razorback game. Despite the rain, there are people everywhere. Lance explained to us that Arkansas has nothing but the Razorbacks so every football game is a state-wide event. It was crazy. Lance bought us tickets to get in the game (wouldn’t let us pay for a thing all weekend) and then told us of his plan to get us into the suite where he usually watches the game. WHAT. So he knows people, yada yada yada, Joe and I get to go up to the suite and eat and drink for free. It was awesome. The only condition was that we had to wear Arkansas gear and learn to “call the hogs.” Calling the hogs consists of the entire stadium raising their spirit fingers in the air and yelling in unison: “WOOOOOOO PIG SOOIE!” We felt awkward without a southern accent and all of our teeth.
The Hogs lost, Johnny Football was amazing to watch, Arkansas became our favorite SEC school and we headed back to Lance’s to watch ASU destroy the Trojans (pun intended) and get Lane Kiffen fired.
The next day, we were planning on a short, three mile ride over to a lake to take a rest day, but Lance insisted that we stay with him, hang out with his family and watch football. We pounced on the opportunity to sleep as late as we wanted and be pampered by a 6-3 230′ Southern gentleman. That afternoon, Lance hosted a bar-b-que and we finally got to meet Shelby. He was fantastic and even set up a radio interview for us for the next morning. Here is a write up from the radio station: http://www.power1057.com/common/page.php?pt=Dudes+Riding+Bikes+From+Phoenix+to+Chicago+Crash+Our+Studio&id=13763&is_corp=0
That night we went out to dinner with Lance, his wife, Lisa and their adorable 3-year-old son, Kade. Joe and Kade became besties over the weekend – probably due to similar maturity levels. At dinner, it was revealed that I had never tried custard before. Lance could not believe it and insisted on taking us after the meal. Losing my custard virginity was delicious – but still a step below ice cream in my humble opinion.
The next morning we did the radio show. We were on the Power 105.7 morning show with Tim & Jeff. They were great. I never realized how difficult radio is. They had a single commercial break to get our story, brief us, and explain the functions. It was a bit stressful, but the interview went well and we’re on our way to becoming celebrities. Bring on the cocaine and hookers.
After the interview, we headed over to the ARORA Fayetteville regional office and got to meet the staff. They were incredibly encouraging and gave us a bunch of stuff. Definitely the most support we have gotten from a local Donate Life organization and we both were really appreciative.
Our morning of celebrity cut quite a bit into our riding time for the day so Lance drove us to the Missouri border to save us some time. We said goodbye and headed towards Roaring River State Park in the Mark Twain National Forest. It was the most beautiful road we have encoutered thus far. Roaring River is a huge trout fishing destination so we figured we would get there early, rent a fishing pole and catch dinner.
But then I stepped in dog poo. In my biking shoes. That was awful. Then I steped in dog poo in my sandals, then I stepped in dog poo in the other last pair of footwear that I brought. Are you pooing me? I was ready to declare a fatwah on every dog in the state. This cut into our fishing time. Luckily I have a ton of body hair, making me incredibly manly, giving me extraordinary fishing ability and I was able to catch a couple decent sized fish to eat. Joe and his freckles didn’t catch any, but I’m a phenomenal friend and didn’t want him to go to bed hungry, so I gave him one of mine.
The next day we headed to Springfield, Missouri where Lance had arranged for us to stay with an acquaintance of his, Steve. Steve called us while we were en route and asked what kind of beer we wanted. We knew this was going to be a great place to crash. After 65 miles of hills, 4 miles of rocky road we had to walk, and a dog almost catching us (we get chased a lot), we arrived at Steve’s. We took our gear inside and before we could shower, change or get clean in any way, Steve had a beer poured for us. That turned into four more before we showered. He also cooked us a delicious dinner and we stayed up late just hanging out – it was great. Steve has been a huge biker for years and even gave me an extra pair of his bike shorts since I have been chaffing. My ass hurts 24/7.
Anyways, we left Springfield yesterday morning and headed to Bolivar, Missouri. Unfortunately, 15 miles into the ride we got caught in a really heavy rain. We waited it out for about 45 minutes until the storm passed and we were able to continue. Most of the riding today was done on a dedicated bike path. It was a forest-y path that was absolutely gorgeous, and it was fantastic to ride without any fear of cars killing us, but most of the path was gravel that was difficult to pedal through. Also, when we were riding, a wild turkey popped out of the woods and scared the crap out of us. Have you ever seen a turkey fly? We did. Gobble gobble gobble.
Love from Bolivar,