Paris, Arkansas: One of the towns we rode through today.
I fell asleep last night to the flashing of heat lightning and woke up this morning to the warnings of severe weather. Our leaders went over the basics of storm safety while biking.
"Seek shelter if you see lightning. Bushes and/or trees do not count as shelter," they said referencing a funny incident that occurred earlier this summer.
We set off around 6:45 after a delicious and nutritious meal of McDonalds breakfast burritos (sorry, Mom). It was an 82 mile day and we wanted to get going early.
I rode with a large group: Emma, Brian, Cindy, Travis, and Curtis. We formed a casual pace line and played a few games of "hot seat" and "would you rather," throwing questions back and forth:
"Would you rather smell road kill constantly while biking or always have to ride on unpaved roads?" Coincidentally, we passed a decomposing possum after the question was asked and the consensus was that unpaved roads would definitely be the lesser of two evils.
It wasn't 20 miles into the trip before the sky darkened with thunderclouds. We turned on our red tail lights as the rain started coming down. The slight mist turned into a drizzle and then a hard rain. Brian concluded that the enjoyment of rain while biking occurs in three steps: 1) An incredibly comfortable calming mist. 2) A light rain that leads to the uncomfortable feeling of your butt pad soaking up water like a sponge. 3) A downpour that inevitably results in your shoes filling up with water and the sinking realization that they'll be like that all day.
When we got to lunch at mile 44, we were drenched and our hands and feet looked like drowned raisins. Luckily, we had a little shelter under an awning while we ate lunch and discussed our opinions of the rain. Brian's tube exploded while his bike was leaned up against a wall. The noise echoed like a gunshot. That is never a good sign when you have 40 more miles to ride.
We set out again after lunch and Brian's new tube exploded 5 miles away from lunch. We discovered a large gash in his tire and he was forced to wait on the side of the road for the sweep riders who carry an extra tire for situations like this. He took shelter in a high school while he waited and Emma and I continued on. He later told an interesting story about how, while he waited, he observed a frustrated, shirtless man drive by with the tailgate of his truck dragging on the road, half unhinged from the vehicle. The man angrily got out, fiddled with the tailgate, and ended up ripping it off. He then threw the detached tailgate into the bed of his truck and attempted to drive off causing the tailgate to promptly slide out into the middle of the road. The man furiously wheeled his truck around and got out into the pouring rain to attempt to reattach the tailgate. Finally, with his patience at its end, he hurled it in a nearby field and peeled out in his truck. Brian was in hysterics the whole time as he watched the situation pan out. Oh the things you see on the road!
As the day went on, the rain eventually cleared up and the weather heated up. We got in just in town before it got too hot, but not before I got my first flat of this summer a mere half mile away from our host site! Ugh!
We're staying in a church tonight which is awesome because the hosts are always be nicest and the food is always unbelievably. Tonight was no exception. We dined like kings and queens.
Well my thermarest is waiting for me. Looks like Sarah has already turned in for the night:
107 mile day tomorrow into Oklahoma... Bring it on!!!