TRIP 2013

Update #23 - September 21
Checotah, Oklahoma
Mission Trip 34: 7,715.41 miles (12,344.66 KM)
9,065.14 miles (14,504.22 KM) - Year Total

Currently, I'm in Checotah, Oklahoma. From here, I'll be heading West to Moore, Oklahoma. I am riding to Moore, Oklahoma to see what I can do with regards to helping out with the rebuilding after this Spring's deadly tornado. Estimated time of arrival in Moore is about 5 days away.

September 12 : Saltillo, MS to Oxford, MS - 62.97 miles (100.75 KM)

I had an okay night. I got more rest than I expected. I got almost 7 hours of sleep. I got the cabin cleaned up and I took of my gear that wasn't on Alice yet into the garage and packed up Alice. When I got into the kitchen, I found a bag of chocolate chip cookies that Jan had made last night and a GH from her and Mark. Mark had left on his bicycle around 6 AM to his endocronology practice at the hospital.

I headed out around 7:45 AM. It was a short ride to the Natchez Trace. I rode along the Trace for about eight miles. About a half mile (one km) from where I left the Trace, I got stopped by another cyclist. He was in his late 70s and he told me that he had ridden 100 miles (160 km) in each of the fifty states. I got on US 278. The ride to Pontotoc went okay. I got the first 20 miles (32 km) in by 10:20 PM. In Pontotoc, I stopped for an early lunch. By noon, I got 26 miles (42 km).

Once I got back on US 278, I found the scurge of all cyclists (rumble strips). The rumble strip took up almost 3/4 of the small shoulder and in some places I had a space of four inches wide to ride along. In several spaces, I had to ride to the left of the shoulder. About 12 miles out of Oxford, I had to wait out a localized rain shower. I waited almost 20 minutes for the rain to stop.

I got into the downtown area around 4:45 PM. I rode through the downtown area. It was too late to try and connect with a minister. I didn't think that I could anyway because Oxford was a university town (Mississippi State University). I rode passed the university. I stopped at the Super 8. The desk clerk gave a $10 discount because the motel was under reconstruction.

Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to be in the 80s. I was thinking about riding to Clarksdale tomorrow. This would have me cross the Mississippi River into Arkansas Saturday.

September 13 : Oxford, MS to Clarksdale, MS - 65.57 miles (104.91 KM)

I had an okay night. I got more rest than I expected. The free breakfast was okay. I got on the road a little after 8 AM. About a half mile (one km) down the road, I almost got hit. A lady wasn't going to stop at an intersection to get on the main road. She glanced at me and stopped when I was right in front of her. She didn't have her mind on the road because she was talking on her cell phone.

The ride to Batesville was slow because of the high traffic and the continuous rumble strip. I was able to get off the shoulder when there wasn't any traffic behind me. I road my mirror a lot. I was helped by a tailwind coming from the Northeast. I still made 24 miles (38 km) by noon. I stopped for some lunch. I stopped at a BK. There was a little girl under 2 years old who was really friendly. She loved to wave at me. The lunch break was just 20 minutes long.

MS 6 was a two lane past Batesville. Right after getting across a bridge, the rumble strip stopped. It was so good having a wide shoulder to ride along. The road was pretty flat because I was in the Mississippi River Delta. I rode through cotton. There were farmers harvesting corn and soy beans. About 11 miles (18 km) out of Clarksdale, the front tire went soft. I stopped along the highway to check it out. I found a small piece of wire sticking up inside the front tire. It didn't take too long to put the new inner tube in and inflate the tire up. A couple of miles out of Clarksdale, one of my water bottles fell off the bike on a bridge. I wasn't able to rescue it before it got run over by a semi truck.

I got into Clarksdale around 5:45 PM. I rode into the downtown area. I stopped to get a room at a motel in the downtown area. From the motel, I've got about a 26 mile (42 km) ride to the Mississippi River Bridge South of Helena, Arkansas.

September 14 : Clarksdale, MS to South Brinley, AR - 90.12 miles (144.19 KM)

I had an okay night. I got more rest than I expected. I left the motel around 7:15 AM. I was hoping to find an easy way to MS 1 but it didn't happen. I got on a road that I thought was going Northwest but it didn't happen. After a couple of miles the road that I was on ended at a farm. It was tough to backtrack. I got on another road and it headed back into town. A local guy got me on the right road to MS 1. A couple of miles down that road, another guy stopped to put some long strips of flourescent green plastic on the flag.

Once I got on the right road, the miles flew by. MS 1 was the Great River Road bike trail. In a couple of places, I got on local roads. I got to US 49 a couple of miles East of the bridge over the Mississippi River. US 49 was a two lane road with no shoulder. There were a lot of grain trucks going over the bridge. I was concerned about getting across the bridge but there was a shoulder wide enough that I was able to walk across the bridge. I stopped along the way to take some pictures. I crossed into Arkansas around noon. I got 36 miles (58 km) by noon.

I saw that there was a lot of grain trucks trying to unload their corn at a large granery that was on the Arkansas shore of the river. There were two barges being filled up with corn. There was so much corn in the silos that they were having to store some more grain on the ground. There must have been a hundred trucks lined up for unloading and more trucks coming every minute. I stopped at a gas station for a break and some lunch.

The ride into West Helena went okay. There was a wide paved shoulder to ride along. I was going to stop in West Helena but I decided to go on because there was a good shoulder to push me along. I kept on going till after dark. I used my headlights for about a half mile. I found a place to camp out a couple of miles out of Brinkley.

September 15 : South Brinley, AR to Brinkley, AR - 04.88 miles (07.81 KM)

I had an okay night. It got a little cold but it wasn't cold enough to crawl into the sleeping bag. I woke up around 7:00 AM. I got back on the road around 8:30 AM. It was a short ride into Brinkley. I stopped for a break at a gas station. I rode around town and stopped at the First United Methodist Church. I got there before Sunday School and I got invited to take part in the class. After the class, I got to meet and talk with the pastor. At the beginning of the service, the pastor introduced me and I got to say a few words to the congregation. Afterwards, I got to take part in the meal during the worship committee meeting. The pastor slipped me $60 so that I could get a room at one of the motels in town. Instead of going up to the interstate, I got a room at the motel in the Western edge of town. I got the room in the upper 30s.

September 16 : Brinkley, AR to North Little Rock, AR - 74.02 miles (118.43 KM)

I had an okay night. I got on the road around 7:20 AM. The ride was okay but there was a noise coming from the right pedal. I tried putting lube. After about 18 miles (28 km), I flipped the bike over on it's side to put lube into the pedal. When I flipped the bike upright, something happened to the rack. The top of both rack mounts had snapped off. I was able to get the rack fixed. Even with the delay, I was still able to get 24 miles (38 km) in by noon.

The afternoon went really well. The miles flew by fast. Before dusk, I got to the Motel 6 in North Little Rock that I had a discount coupon for.

September 17 : North Little Rock, AR to Morrilton, AR - 57.42 miles (91.89 KM)

I had an okay night. I got on the road around 7:40 AM. It was a little tricky getting on AR 365 going North. There were a few hills to go over and then the road leveled out. There was a tailwind to push me along. About 21 miles (33 km) out of North Little Rock, I met up with a group of cyclists who were finishing up a ride across the state and were heading to the state capitol in Little Rock. They were riding for cystic fibrosis. I was surprised that none of the group had fancy bicycles or clothes. I didn't see any helmets.

By noon, I had ridden 26 miles (41 km) . I rode on to Conway. I stopped for a late lunch. I was going to make it an early day. I stopped at a Motel 6 but they had quite a few extra charges instead of including everything in their basic rate. I wasn't going to pay for internet at this Motel 6 when I got it for free at the Motel 6 last night in North Little Rock.

I got on US 64 heading West. The ride to Morrilton went okay. The temperature was in the upper 80s. I got into Morrilton around 4:30 PM. I stopped at the First Baptist Church. The secretary was there by herself. The pastor had only been there for three weeks. The church had been without a pastor for 16 months after their pastor retired after 21 years. One of the deacons, Mike Turpin, was called and he came over to talk with me. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the might, Mike escorted me to the Holiday Inn Express north of town near I-40. Before we left the church, Mike took me into the church so that I could get a few things from their food pantry. After I got checked in and moved into the room, Mike took me out for supper. We went to a nearby Pizza Hut. I got a chicken personal pan pizza.

September 18 : Morrilton, AR to Clarksville, AR - 59.67 miles (95.47 KM)

I had an okay night. I got on the road around 8.30 AM. It was a couple miles ride back into Morrilton. Once back on US 64, the ride West went okay, I got 26 miles in by noon. I stopped to get some lunch in Eastern Russelville. After lunch, the afternoon ride went okay.

I got into Clarksville around 4:50 PM. I stopped at the First United Methodist Church. I got invited to take part in the family meal. Between the meal and the prayer service in the chapel, the pastor took me to the motel that I had passed coming into town and got me a room. During the prayer service, the pastor introduced me and I got to speak for a few minutes. The pastor had me help him pass out communion and he also asked me to say a prayer in Hebrew as a benediction.

September 19 : Clarksville, AR to Van Buren, AR - 60.17 miles (96.27 KM)

I had an okay night. It would have been better if the internet worked. I got connected to the motel's router but the router wasn't connected to the internet. It wouldn't have benefited me anything to contact the people in the office because they were from India and their English wasn't that good.

I got on the road around 7:30 AM. The morning ride went really well. I got 31 miles in by noon. The afternoon didn't go well. There was one climb and it was a long one. I walked up about half of it. Right after going over the top, it started to rain. I was going to put on my windbreaker but I couldn't find it. It must have fallen off the bike earlier in the day. Instead of strapping it down with the bungees, I pushed it in between my camping gear. I had to take a lot of stuff out of the clothes pannier to get the cold weather coat out. The rain lasted for about twenty minutes.

Between Ozark and Alma, the rear tire went soft. I checked the inside of the tire but I couldn't find anything. I put in the new innertube. I got maybe a half a mile down the road and the rear tire went soft again. I found a small piece of glass in the tire. I put a patch inside the tire to cover the hole. I might have to think about getting a new tire soon because there are several gashes in the tread that might get bad. When I got the bent upright, I couldn't head out because the chain was catching. The rear derailleur seems to now be acting up. The chain seems to be stretched out a lot. I bet if I take out several of the universal links this might make the chain last a little longer.

Right near the outskirts of Van Buren, the front tire went soft. I couldn't see any pinhole leaks in the tire. It was too windy so I couldn't hear any leaks. I got the tire inflated enough so that I could at least roll it. Every once in a while, I had to stop to add some more air into the tire. I was hoping to find a shop that had an air hose along the way but there wasn't one. After walking the bike for a little over a mile, I stopped at the first motel that I came across. I spent a little more that I wanted to spend on a room but I didn't have any choice because I wanted to be inside tonight since there was going to be more rain tonight.

I'm about 8 miles (12 km) out of Ft. Smith and 10 miles (16 km) from the Oklahoma state line.

September 20 : Van Buren, AR to Sallisaw, OK - 33.68 miles (53.89 KM)

I had an off night. I tried several times getting the front tire inflated but I couldn't. I thought that I had every pinhole patched up. I was able to get the tire partly inflated. I headed out late from the motel around 9:20 AM because I wanted to wait out a rain shower. I walked the bike about a half mile until I found a gas station that had a free air hose. To play it safe, I switched inner tubes. It was good having both tires up and inflated. About a half mile further down the road, I stopped at an Ace Hardware. I bought two 20 inch innertubes, one 26 inch innertube, and patch kit. I put in a new innertube. I had to go across the street to an auto shop to get the tire inflated.

It was around 10:40 AM when I got back on the road. I rode into the downtown area. I was going to stop at a bike shop to get the derailleurs checked but I misplaced the address of the shop. I did stop at a gas station that had a deli for some lunch.

I rode over the bridge over the Arkansas River into Oklahoma. I stopped to take the traditional pictures at the state signs. About five miles (8 km) down the road, the front tire went soft again. I quickly found the pinhole leak but the pump wasn't working. A guy with a bike rack on top of his car stopped to see if I needed any help. He told me that I should take the pump apart and lube the o-rings. Putting some chain fluid on the o-rings helped and the pump worked really well getting the tire up. About five miles (8 km) further down the road, the front tire went soft again. The patch got punctured. It took a while but I found a small piece of glass.

The ride West went really well. I was concerned about getting caught in some more rain but the closer that I got to Sallisaw the sky cleared up. About 2 miles (3 km) out of Sallisaw, the rear tire went soft. I put a new innertube in. I found a small glass shard. It didn't take long getting the tire inflated and back on Alice.

I got into Sallisaw around 4:30 PM. I checked out the churches but I didn't find anybody. I rode back to the Motel 6 that I had passed. I had found a discount coupon and I was able to get $6 taken off the room rate.

September 21 : Sallisaw, OK to Checotah, OK - 59.06 miles (94.50 KM)

I had an okay night. I left the motel around 8:10 AM. It was cool enough in the 50s that I had to wear my coat. I rode the first two hours in my coat before I took it off. I got about 27 miles (43 km) in by noon time. The afternoon ride went okay. Nothing much happened but it was really good not having to worry about flat tires. Hopefully, I've got the problem solved for a while.

I got into Checotah around 4:30 PM. I stopped at the police station to see if somebody knew how to connect with a minister but nobody knew anything. I found some people at the First United Methodist Church. They were able to connect with the assistant pastor. He came to the church. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, he offered to get me a room at the America's Best Value Inn West of town.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between September 28th and October 05th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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