• Sophia Fang

Day 33: route 66 & how to climb hills

Updated: Jul 13

Sunday, July 3rd.

Rolla, MO → Lake of the Ozarks, MO

69.8 miles. +2,648 ft. -2,923 ft.

Hiya! Sophia here. Great to be back on the blog. You may have noticed a shift towards a casual renaissance-painting style in our group photos, so here’s another one with our wonderful hosts after breakfast! Spot the little basil plants in front.

We finally hit historic Route 66 this morning! Route 66 was the first all-weather highway connecting Chicago to Los Angeles, and the shortest route between the urbanized Midwest and rural West Coast at the time (1930s). There was even a law passed to recognize the route as “a symbol of the American people’s heritage of travel and their legacy of seeking a better life.” Cool to be part of that heritage now.

Also this giant fudge candy store in Uranus, MO sported an awesome mural showing where the route begins and ends:

So our morning ride on Route 66 was absolutely lovely. We were cruising down the kind of roads where all you can hear is wind and birds chirping and the person in front of you softly singing along with their music because you forgot to charge your headphones again. So instead you ponder about what to blog about and how many dates you've eaten so far. This photo is from another day, but I like it a lot and I appear to be thinking deeply so here we go. 42mi flew by.

We stopped for lunch at Crocker Community Park where some local kids greeted us with an enthusiastic “Hey bikers!” I guess that's who we are now. We were chilling (i.e. napping on picnic tables, re-bandaging scrapes, water-gun-spraying water into unsuspecting ears) when an inquisitive two sauntered over after swimming in the nearby pool. Also check out pool rule #10:

These two kids were full of questions. Some memorable tidbits from our interaction - “Do you have kids? I mean sour patch kids.” While eating a fig for the first time, “This has a weird texture. Tastes like cinnamon.” Unfortunately one poor specimen was tossed into the grass before we could save it. When offered a lukewarm can of Sprite that none of us wanted, “Ohhhh so you do have good stuff.”

After lunch, google maps led us to some of our first gravel paths. Yes, we look happy in this picture. Keep in mind that this was before we hit the gravel hills.

Normally I love rollercoaster hills (my term for the drastically bouncing up-and-down landscape of Missouri), but a gravel hill is another beast. You clutch on your handlebars, trying not to swallow gravel dust while your whole body shakes in multiple directions. After about 3/4 of a mile in and a particularly treacherous downhill slope, we made the wise decision to turn around and get back on the paved freeway which meant more cars, but at least we could go fast.

Strategy for climbing steep hills (ideally not gravel):

  1. Hope for a downhill right before (almost guaranteed in Missouri).

  2. Change to one of your higher gears, and pedal as fast as you can in the aero-tuck position.

  3. Once you start climbing, come back up to an upright position with hands resting on top of handlebars.

  4. Fluidly change to a lower gear to maintain original speed.

  5. Pray.

After lunch, we biked for a bit and then stopped at a gas station on the way (a classic stop). I appreciate gas stations so much more than I ever have (they offer restrooms, cold drinks, and most importantly ice!). There were a bunch of random Nerf guns outside this one. I would have grabbed one if I had space to carry it but alas my fanny pack is only so big.

We arrived at our campsite in the legendary Lake of the Ozarks (Mariela had selected an excellent location by the water!) where Franklin had already started prepping some exciting saag paneer (except it wasn’t paneer - can you guess what we used instead?) As some of us cooked and one of us fished with newly acquired gear, the sun began to set, regaling us with classic pink sky reflections in the lake.

We ended up making a full pot of saag with more than enough leftover for breakfast and lunch the next day. We also discovered that a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or nooch) and a drizzle of agave makes the paneer-replacement extra delicious. My mom often uses agave in her cooking (meat, veggies, stews, you name it), so when in doubt about what is missing from a meal, why not some agave? So far we’ve added agave to our curries, our yogurt, and even our water.

Determined yet again to shift our sleep schedule, we went to bed, mostly drenched in sweat even after showering, and looking forward to swimming and fishing in the rest day to come.

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