This is clearly a very touristy region, and the road is a busy one. The first 10 miles to Osage Beach were busy, but scenic. The lake looked extremely tempting but we made do with icy drink no. 1 of about 27 for the day instead. Google maps showed us that we would be riding through the Osark National Forest for most of today, and on a yellow road, we hoped for a relaxing day.
Sadly this was not the case. The road was SERIOUSLY hilly and windy and with no hard shoulder we were not in a good situation
. Most cars waited for us to toil up some horrifically steep climbs before over-taking, but not all. There was no option, but to put the helmets on and dig in for the day, Mikey at the back fending off those who came too close. It was such a shame as the scenery was incredible, endless forest and fields. Throughout Missouri so far we have seen houses spread out in between towns, where it seems people have found a plot on top of a hill and built an incredible house to live in isolation. They all have big outside porches/balconies so that they can make the most of the views – very nice.
32 miles into the day and we made it to Iberia, the only significant town before Vienna, our destination. The temperature read 102F and we were not looking forward to another 22 miles in these hills. More fast food and icy drinks and we set off again. If anything, the hills were worse and we were drenched in sweat.
At one point in the day we discussed the fact that generally in Missouri, people have been less friendly and eager to talk when compared to the incredible hospitality we received in Kansas. Four miles from Vienna we then had a horrible encounter. We struggled up an insanely steep hill, one so bad that my legs were screaming and I was standing up in the pedals and using my arms to pull up on the handle bars and force my feet down
. At the top a pickup whizzed past, the fat driver shaking his head, obviously very angry he’d had to wait a few seconds to pass us. He stopped 50m ahead of us, evidently to confront us, then seemed to change his mind and headed into a side road. It turned out he didn’t want to 'punish’ us when anyone else was watching, so waited until other cars had passed us and we were toiling up the other side of the valley. As he passed he chucked a full bottle of drink as hard as he could into Mikey’s chest. This kind of behaviour is completely unbelievable – how can having to wait make you so angry that you then waste even more time hiding and concocting revenge? We were both so angry and upset that there was absolutely nothing we could do – obviously he had no intention of stopping and confronting us face to face. Later, we realised that had we been quicker and photographed the event, not only could we have reported the assault, but he would have been prosecuted for littering, an offense which gets $1000 dollar fine and/or a year in jail here. Pretty gutted we didn’t do that. Obviously this was horrible, and really upset us, but we’re trying to remember that it is only the 3rd time drivers have sworn/swerved/thrown things at us in nearly 2000 miles and that in some other countries we were facing such things daily. I miss Thailand where they just blew kisses!
Arriving in Vienna after this, we didn’t really want to hang around, and when some friendly folk at the garage said there was a campsite 4 miles further on we got straight back on the bikes and came here. It’s lovely. An empty site by the river with an honesty box. Damon (the marine) and his son Jack are the only other campers. They’re from a tiny town nearby and by offering us cold drinks and hotdogs reminded us that most people round here are lovely
. Damon was shocked by the bottle throwing story, but did ask Mikey if we were carrying a gun! It is completely insane that we are in a country where that would be acceptable!!!!! The fact that nearly every town we’ve been to has a gun shop suggests that it would be though.
Its now 8.30pm and we’ve eaten some lovely, albeit very spicy pasta (Mikey threw in all the last of the chillies our friends from the commune a few days ago gave us) and we’re feeling a lot better. It’s been a long time since we spent 8 hrs on the bike though and we’re definitely feeling it.
PS: Throughout these central states, we’ve been passing some innovative weather inspired religious statements posted outside churches. Today’s is photographed, but we’ve also seen – "Don’t sun bathe, Bathe in the Son" but my favourite was in Kansas when it was 109F and the church’s slogan read “If you think this is hot, try ignoring God for a lifetime!” Right – it’s now Saturday, 2 days from when I wrote this. As I finished, Damon (the Marine) came over and gave us an insight into the mentality of a Missouri Hill Billy. He just came over for a chat and obviously we got onto the topic of guns (They’re his passion) and he gave us the reasons why he thinks it is so important for everyone to carry one. His 9 year old son Jack has two, and a massive machete. Every single reason he gave us illustrated precisely why we believe civilians shouldn’t carry guns. However, as we were on a completely abandoned campsite with an armed marine, we didn’t argue with him. His racist and homophobic views were threaded through his conversation and are clearly widely held. He’s very concerned about our trip to St Louis due to the huge numbers of “insert insanely racist word” who “thrive” there. During this conversation, Damon was wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “Jesus is my wingman.” We were both pretty much speechless…
Miles Cycled; 59 with even more serious hills, heat and this time, horrible hill-billies
As you can just about see from the rubbish photos Mikey took, the RV was extremely luxurious and sleeping in a bed with AC was fantastic. I can now see why so many Americans have these gas guzzlers, they're great! We would happily have spent a day relaxing by the pool in this lovely campsite, but the baseball game on Sunday night in St Louis is calling us, so we set off.