Day 29: Woke up knowing we were taking on a mountain range that I had just learned about: the Ozarks! I wasn’t too worried about it because after taking on the Appalachians and the Great Smokys, it really couldn’t get much harder. Also, something that I’ve learned about myself on this trip is that I’m really good at climbing hills and I love the challenge of it, so needless to say I was excited about it!
Regular Ryan and I had a plan to attack our team with a huge water gun to start the day off right. His idea was this: we would hide behind the church building, and after everyone was done doing the “morning shakedown” warmup, he would run out and yell “SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND”. Then, I would come running behind him with the water gun, jump on his back, and he’d run around while I would shoot all the people gathered together. Our plan was successfully executed. In the words of Ryan, “that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at 7:00 in the morning”. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I headed out with Max and soon thereafter Scott and Aaron caught up. Aaron wanted to get to town early to meet up with his parents, and Scott always wants to ride fast, so Max and I dropped back once we hit the town that was actually called “Ozark”. Max found a barber shop to get his haircut, and I found a Daylight Donuts to get coffee. I waited outside on a bench, sipping my coffee, looking around the town, enjoying the morning, and listening to Ray LaMontagne. It was perfect. A huge crew of B&Bers caught up to us, so we all stopped for more coffee and donuts.
After getting our caffeine fix, we were ready to take on the mountain!
We ran into a few signs like this that made us a little nervous, to say the least:
I spent the morning climbing by myself. I don’t know why, but I actually really enjoy climbing up mountains alone. I don’t have to worry about going too slow or too fast for others. Weirdly enough, I don’t like it when others can hear me breathing too hard because I’m exerting myself, so I don’t have to worry about that when I’m alone either. Also, if I get to a part of the hill that is really hard, I can curse out loud at the mountain and no one will judge me for it. Similarly, I love flying down the mountains alone because I can pick any song and sing it at the top of my lungs. Being on a bike almost everyday for 5 weeks will make you a little loopy.
I made it to the top and it was a beautiful view!
I sat on that gravel in front of my bike, looking at the view for 30 minutes as I waited for a few fellow teammates to make it up the mountain. When I saw Sarah and Amelia biking around the corner, I shouted “YEAH BIKERS!”, which has become the phrase we shout when we see each other OR other cyclists on the road.
There were a ton of motorcyclists on the road that day, and surprisingly they were all pretty nice! I talked to some of them about what were doing, and I got the usual “that’s crazy” response. I talked to Lo the other day about how the Bike & Build spiel has evolved. In the beginning, when we started in Nags Head and had only been traveling for a week or less, we would tell people we started in Nags Head. Then as we got into Tennessee, we found ourselves having to say “we started in the Outer Banks” because people didn’t know where Nags Head was. Then it just became “the coast of North Carolina”.
Sarah, Amelia, and I rode together for the rest of the afternoon, which was a little over 30 miles into Fayetteville, AR, home of the University of Arkansas. I think the funniest part of the day was the ridiculously steep hill on the LAST ROAD to the host. Seriously, the phrase “where there’s a host there’s a hill” has been true everyday. This particular day, I actually cursed out loud at the bottom of the hill because I couldn’t believe that we had to actually pedal up this thing.
It was worth it though. The three of us made it to the host by 4:15pm, and since many people hadn’t arrived yet and the van hadn’t either, we decided to sliiiightly break B&B rules and go out for a drink or two while still wearing our jerseys. We used “YOLO” as an excuse for this rebellion. We walked down Dickson St, a pretty hoppin’ street downtown, and found a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating. Margaritas were calling our names, and they were much deserved.
Since you’re always hungry and likely dehydrated on Bike & Build, no matter how much you eat or drink, it didn’t take much for our margaritas to put us under the influence. What was meant to be a quick margarita and chips/salsa snack time turned into a 3 hour ordeal of laughter and silliness with some of the best friends I’ll ever have. Claire and Meegan joined in our silliness as well, after we’d already held down the fort and kept the restaurant in business for the past couple of hours.
This is Sarah jokingly covering up her B&B logo on her jersey while I took a photo of the band that played on the patio.
It was an early night to be after that. Amelia joked “Drinks by 4:15, bed by 7:00… This is Bike and Build”.