Yesterday was such a difficult day for everyone that team morale was very low this morning. Even a great breakfast of oatmeal with strawberries, cornbread, and bacon couldn't cheer people up. The combination of muscle soreness, residual dehydration, and lack of sleep was enough to break the team down and the mood was pretty depressed.
However, the attitudes soon changed after we realized how beautiful of a morning it was. People rolled out at about 6 and the morning was perfect. The scenery featured dewy hay fields and swaying corn fields drenched in morning sunlight. We even had a slight tailwind which boosted our speed and our spirits. I rode with Eliza and she told me stories about her adventures in New Zealand. It's definitely a place I'd like to go one day!
The scenery has changed again. The landscape is the biggest indicator that we're traveling across the county. I know that, as it changes, we are getting further and further along our journey. We started in the low lands of South Carolina, with slightly rolling countryside. Eventually the hills became mountains and we entered the Appalachians. The mountains shrunk into foothills and the foothills have shrunk again into the kind of country that I am more familiar with. Flat, flat, flat. And with flat comes wind.
Today, we crossed our fourth state border into Arkansas. To do so, we had to climb a bridge that spanned the Mississippi River. It was a two lane bridge with no shoulder and it was pretty scary to cross. Semis buzzed by as we held our position on be road. It was stressful but it is just an everyday part of biking. We couldn't take a picture at the state line because it was too dangerous, but we did get pictures at the Arkansas welcome center.
Naturally, after the border-crossing, our tailwind turned into a relentless headwind. Nothing is more demoralizing that having to tackle a century ride averaging about 13 mph. We lined up in a long pace line and took turns pulling into the wind and then dropping back for rest. Each person pulled for 2 miles before retreating to the back. It was efficient even though we were moving slowly. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when you're taking turns breaking the wind for each other.
Lunch was awesome as usual. It is fun because everyone usually hangs out for a while so the back of the pack riders get to talk with the leaders and we all just play music, dance around, and eat everything in sight. Sarah DMed ice cream to boost the team spirit and it totally worked!!
After lunch, we pushed again hard into the wind stopping for breaks in the shade. The heat was overwhelming again and the wind was so forceful. We came to another dangerous bridge with no shoulder but this amazing man in a truck asked if we needed escorted across the bridge. We said, "Heck yeah!" And he drove behind us the whole way with hazards on forcing other cars to wait or at least pass at a safe distance away from us. There are angels out there!
We were all tired but accomplished getting into the host today. I spent almost 7 hours on the bike today and my body definitely feels it. Tomorrow we have 60ish miles so it will not be half as challenging.
We had to "DM or die" tonight for dinner because dinner was not provided to us. Unfortunately, we were not able to DM anything except a few frosties from Wendy's which we were grateful for. We ended up going to a Mexican place for dinner.
We had a fun time tonight in Stuttgart. We have all been talking in foreign accents lately per Marcus' example and the German accent was popular tonight because we are staying in "Stoot-gaht." What a crazy group of people we are! We I'm getting to bed. Goodnight!