• Franklin Zhang

Day 34: Fourth of July and Day 35: Our First Century

Updated: Jul 13

Day 34: Fourth of July

July 4, 2022

0 Miles, 0 feet of elevation gain, 0 fireworks, 0 fish

Happy fourth of July everyone!

We celebrated by not biking a single mile. Our bikes sat against the side of a tree the whole and our legs thanked us for it. The heat has gotten pretty bad these days and just existing during the day is pretty difficult. It's so hot at night that I’ve been sleeping shirtless and I still drench my sleeping pad with my sweat.

We decided to crawl into a cave this morning to escape the heat. There are a lot of caves in the area and the one we went to was called the Ozark Caverns. The cool thing about caves is that the temperature stays pretty constant the entire year, which meant that even though there is a severe heat warning, inside the cave is a perfect 56 degrees F. For those of you who don’t know, I used to be part of MIT’s caving club so visiting this cave and Mammoth Cave was a real throwback to those times. During my time in the club, I explored some caves in upstate New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Caving is a very involved activity, one has to wear wetsuits, headlamps, helmets, and dry bags. Crawling through dark underground labyrinths that have freezing cold water is pretty intense so it's important to come prepared! I also learned how to use vertical ascension and rappel gear which allow cavers to visit caves with more technical terrain! Eventually, I even became a caving club trip leader and led some caving trips of my own.

After a long day of caving, I just want to jump in the shower and hit the sack, but because we can potentially spread white nose fungus to other caves, cavers have to do a 2-hour long de-sanitation process. It’s important that we get rid of the white nose fungus on our clothes and equipment because this fungus grows on the body of hibernating bats, causing them to wake up from their sleep in the winter when there isn’t much food around. Apparently, in the Ozark Caverns, the white nose fungus has decimated the bat population. Over the course of a couple of years, the park rangers went from seeing hundreds of bats in the caves to just a handful of them.

Angel's Shower in Ozark Caverns


Although we didn’t get to see a bat during our cave visit, we did see a cave frog (Pickerel frog), cave salamanders, a bear den, and a nest of baby salamanders! We learned that the caves were made from dolomite, while in Mammoth cave the rocks were limestone. The formations in the caves were made from water slowly depositing layers on layers of calcite (Just like how a 3D printer prints layer by layer!). The most beautiful formation we saw was named “Angel’s Shower” because it kinda looks like water is flowing out from the ceiling like a showerhead, into a formation that looks like a bathtub. We also experienced total darkness, which is when we we turned off all our light sources deep into the cave where no outside light can penetrate. It's an interesting experience because we can’t see anything even with our eyes open and no amount of “adjusting to the dark” is going to help.

Funny photos from lunch

After the cave, we got some food and then headed to Walmart. It seems like Walmart shopping was the thing to do during the Fourth of July because it was poppin’! We even saw some familiar faces (some strangers we met from earlier that day) there as well. We also ended up stopping by a spring and a castle.

Lake of the Ozarks

The Castle

The Spring

Later we went swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks! I brought my inflatable sleeping pad into the water to use as a pool floatie. We managed to get most of us on top of the sleeping pad while Maxwell (btw he used to swim competitively in high school) tug-boated us across the lake.

Robert bought a fishing kit and planned to do some fishing in the lake, but we didn't end up catching anything today.

After some shenanigans on the water, we had a nice dinner during sunset before heading to bed early in preparation for our century ride the next day.

Day 35: Our First Century

July 5, 2022

105 miles and 5,790 feet of elevation gain

Lake of the Ozarks Campground → Springfield, MI

Today was quite a long day because it will be the day of riding over 100 miles, which is also known as a century ride. A couple days ago we had a ride that was just a couple miles shy of an actual century ride. We woke up at 5 AM, started biking at 7 AM, and arrived at our destination at 9 PM for a total of 8 hours of active biking time.

We left early today in anticipation of a long day of biking, however, we ran into some technical difficulties early on and it really threw a wrench into our plans. The first leg of the ride was through a tough gravel road that shook the bikes like crazy as we rode. My hands and butt were getting quite sore from the bumpy riding so we let some air out of our tires.

After the gravel section, we wanted to pump up our tires again to prepare to ride on paved roads again, but after pumping up a few of our bikes, our pump broke! We waited for SAG Wagon (Support And Gear) to arrive with another pump. While the rest of us sat around, Simone and I played “knock over that water bottle with a rock”, a pretty self-explanatory game. This little setback cost us a lot of time and the sun was already high in the sky, ready to scorch any un-sunscreened skin. The heat made riding a lot more miserable, especially after our water bottles have warmed up to the same hot temperature as the air around us.

The rest of the ride was a lot of ups and downs, literally. The roads were these huge rolling hills. One of the rest stops came with an old dog (with Gunther vibes) that approached us and asked for belly rubs. Another rest stop was at a gas station that was a candy store and a giant souvenir shop. Honestly I don't remember much from the day, especially since we've been behind on writing our blogs and I'm writing this a couple days later.

I do remember that the ride was pretty tiring and we biked until after sunset, finally arriving at our destination in Springfield, MI around 9 PM where we stayed with Greg. Greg was a barber and also a touring bicyclist! We talked about his experiences biking and he gave us some tips. With our bellies full and our legs sore, we went to bed with another long day of biking ahead of us whether we were ready for it or not.

110 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All