July 10, Day 39: Wheel Disaster – Johnson’s Shut-Ins to Farmington to Ozora to Farmington, MO (59.5 miles)

First mechanical disaster of the trip. We might have jinxed ourselves today when we got to Farmington. Every westbound cyclist we’ve met has raved to us about a bike hostel called Al’s Place there, so we knew we had to take a midday break and check it out.

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The building was an old jail house. It was being used as a storage facility until one of the city officials (also an avid cyclist) turned it into a place for cyclist on the TransAmerica Train to stay.

It was so nice we just wanted to stay here for the night.

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It feels like we’re in a downtown loft somewhere in New York. This place is SO nice, clean, and comfortable. There was only one other cyclist here but the place can sleep about 14. We ate the ice cream Aimee, Peter, and Mike left behind and went to a Chinese buffet place they had recommended.

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$6 for a bad idea

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After lunch we made our way toward Chester. Thanks to Amy and Peter we saved 8 miles with a short cut through Pilot’s Knob on the 221 and there was actually a shoulder. We almost ran out of water on the F so we asked this couple for some out of their hose. They ended up giving us a tour of their farm. We got to pet some goats, see some baby chicks, rabbits, and a hog.

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Bought 6 eggs for $1 and they gave us some sweet onions. Thanks Karen and Norman.

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Missouri’s recently developed wine country has brought more traffic onto this once quiet road.

The humidity and heat started frying our brains at this point. At Ozora, 27 miles from Farmington and 20 away from our final destination of Chester, we went off route a couple miles to get water from the gas station.

(There was a restaurant called Kountry Kookin next to it. I’m telling you. The K’s..)

The guy working the pumps suggested a short cut to save us from backtracking, and being ready to get out of the heat we took it.

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Then Matt hit a huge nail. That’s what you get for trying to save time.

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Not only did he get a flat, but the cheap kickstand he bought got knocked out of place and went right into the spokes, breaking the rim apart.

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Pissed. The wheel was unrideable and out of true. No bike shops in Chester and the closest one was either 40 minutes by car away in Carbondale, Illinois or back in Farmington.

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Tried hitching. No one would stop for us. We didn’t think Sunday evening in the Bible Belt was the best time to find a ride.

Finally a lady, Tina, and her daughter pulled out of a dirt road and asked if we needed help. She invited us across the street to her mom’s house where her brother was and they tried to find an extra mountain bike wheel. They had no luck after calling all of their family members (Tina is a mother of 6), but in the meanwhile we were fed a lasagna dinner with salad grown in their backyard. It was amazing. Tina and her brother Dennis gave us and our bikes a ride back to Farmington. We were so thankful.

So yeah, we are back in Farmington staying at Al’s like we had wished.

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