Blackburn

Christian Ayoob
TRANSAMERICA
Girard, KS - Farmington, MO Whew! It was extremely hot all week in Kansas and Missouri. Across the Midwest, there was a weather advisory from Monday until Sunday night at 9:00pm. Record breaking high temperatures and heat indexes forced cyclists inside during the heat of the day. Even following other riders on social media, the heat was taking its toll sending multiple riders into extreme dehydration. I know exactly how that is along with last year’s Ranger, Amanda, who likely saved my life.

Although the heat is insane, I just have to adjust my schedule around the heat of the day (11:00am-4:00pm). Today, I woke up in Girard to grab a couple of care packages and then rode 16-miles into Pittsburg, KS, only 7-miles from the Missouri state line. I split a hotel room with some other riders and took a much needed rest day.

Woke up the following morning around 5:00am and filled my Nalgene water bottle to the brim with ice as well as my water bladder. Hit the steamy pavement around 7:30am and planned to ride 30-miles into Golden City, MO and wait until the evening for another 35-miles. Hit the Missouri border today and took a few pictures and kept moving. Took a nap in the public library for the afternoon and got some supper at the local diner. Left town for Ash Grove, MO at 6:00pm. Took on the 35-miles over the beginning of the Ozark Mountain Range which is a series of insane hills and deep valleys. It is known as one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world as well as one of the most challenging parts of the tour. Hit a hostel for a terrible nights sleep...I think it was that diner food.

Only slept about 2 hours due to the constant cramping and turning of my stomach. This heat was already dehydrating me enough and now I am sick. I left on Tuesday morning at 4:00am planning on a 75-mile day. As I began to climb the 12 plus degree road, I realized 75 was going to be too tough in my state. At mile 10, I decided to go off trail into Springfield, MO and get a hotel and a doctor if I needed. I had to ride at 5-mile increments into town but, made it about 30-miles later.

Ended up drinking water and replenishing electrolytes on Thursday at the hotel. I swam and did my chores to all of my equipment. I felt much better and everything went back to normal after about 48 hours. I mapped a course and had to ride farm roads in order to get back onto the trail around Hartville, MO.

Woke up to my alarm the next morning and started the 30-mile hitch to Marshfield, MO. After an hour of nobody even looking at me, I began to ride to try and beat the heat. Made it before the sun got brutal and got another ride from a farmer who took me 18-miles into Hartville, MO. I felt accomplished I made it back here to keep riding but, I had to wait because I would be beef jerky if I rode during the day. I slept under a pavilion and left town at 6:00pm. Rode into the night 40-miles into Houston, MO and got so much McDonald's when I arrived. I then found the city park and set up camp to try and sleep.

Left the shade of the pavilion a bit later than usual on Saturday. I rode in the heat of the day and today was the worst. I took a screenshot of the weather channel reading heat index of 112 and temperatures exceeding 106 degrees. I took a long break at a gas station and they told me of a camp spot that is primitive and not traveled often. I headed down to Alley Spring to check out the crystal blue water then followed a side road a mile down river to paradise. Set up camp early and sat in the cold spring for hours. Fell asleep refreshed and woke up sweating.

Had a morning swim then rode into town to get some liquids. I had a good attitude about the day and had to because of the extreme inclines and no shoulders of the Ozark Mountains. I got cooking down the road with plans to make it into Farmington, MO. I was about halfway done with the ride when I suddenly felt a shift in my handlebars and I ran over a giant piece of wood. I stopped to see that my riding was over for the day. A sidewall tear and ruptured tube kept me from heading on. I immediately knew Farmington was my goal and there was a well-known bike shop there. I threw up my thumb and sat in the burning sun for a couple hours.

The only truck that stopped was a lady by the name of Gail. Gail was a local and saw me stranded in her neck of the woods and without a question, she had a talk with her husband and immediately took me to their ranch and would take me into Farmington in the morning to fix my bike. This ranch belonged in a magazine and it was so beautiful. Everything from a beautiful horse barn to a hot tub looking over their land. They fed me smoked ribs and gave me a place to stay. They made me feel extremely welcome and they were the biggest trail angels thus far.

The next morning, Bud and Gail made me coffee and Gail drove me into Farmington for some lunch and to say goodbye which, was like saying goodbye to family. Very difficult to say goodbye but, onward! I fixed my bike and headed to Al’s place Hostel and is the most amazing hostel yet. Check out my entries next week to see what kind of new adventure I find myself in!

People:
Well, this week was filled with meeting people and taking shelter from the heat gave me that opportunity to talk with them. When I left Pittsburg, KS and traveled to Ash Grove to the hostel. I met a man by the name of Marrian. He was from Atlanta, GA and told me he had a son by the name of Daniel who is his riding partner. It was nice to meet more riders from Georgia once again.

There was another kid at the hostel named Nate. We did not speak much there but, I left town earlier than anyone else so, he caught me at the gas station before I took off to Springfield. He was 19 years old and an extremely fast rider. He averaged 100-mile days and was an avid cyclist back home in California. We exchanged contacts before we separated and parted ways.

As I rolled into the hotel in Springfield, I immediately showered and crashed on the bed for a few hours due to the lack of sleep the night before. I then was told of a nice pizza place that has good food so, I headed that way. Ate a nice easy meal on the stomach and then met a cyclist by the name of Linda. We got in a conversation about my tour and she asked me if I could talk to her friend Tom who has always wanted to tour. 10 minutes later, I was shaking hands with a man who was about my height and stature. We immediately hit it off and we had a long conversation. He stuck out to me because he is in a battle with cancer and his attitude and emotions were so positive. This man was truly inspiring and I really enjoyed our conversation.

Gail and Bud were the amazing trail angels that took me into their home and fed me and gave me a ride to Farmington to fix my bike. Not only did these two set up their living room so I could stay comfortably but also, took me kayaking down the beautiful spring-fed River. Smoked BBQ ribs cooked in a giant Colt 45 pistol smoker for supper along with Bud’s famous BBQ baked beans. The most enjoyable part of it all was our conversation that extended late into the night and continued in the morning. We exchanged contacts and I gave them my word to come back and see them.

Southern hospitality is a very real thing and I cannot wait to see who I meet down the road!

Geography:
Those of you reading my journals know that Kansas was extremely hot but, very beautiful. The remaining 13-miles of Kansas were surprising in that they were different. Trees began to appear and the flat ground went away. Rolling hills began to appear and curves started to enter the road. As I crossed into Missouri, the Ozark mountain range began and what a tough range it is. I am only in the foothills and the climbs are very steep. On the flip side, the rides down the hills are fast and furious.

Trees are beginning to appear more and more due to the creeks and rivers which contain some good swimming holes. The heat is pushing riders off the route and toward the Katy trail through Missouri. The Katy trail is through a tunnel of shade but, cuts out the Ozarks. It rejoins the TransAmerica Trail in Illinois.

As I crossed the town of Eminence, MO the real Ozark hills started and the scenic riverways began. It was an amazing ride up and down the hills with speeds ranging from 3 mph to 51 mph. It reminded me of Georgia with the steep hills and plentiful oaks covering the rivers. I did find this road to be one of the most uncomfortable roads I have ridden. It has no shoulder with winding roads and the speed limit is 55 mph with most traveling at 65. Terrifying at times but, I made it out alive and well.

Tough tough week and a bit of a hiccup with my illness and tire but, I will continue with a smile on my face. The best stories are always the days you struggled with. Kentucky (and all of the dogs) here I come!

- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Christian Ayoob

Gear List

- My Ride -

- My Favorite Blackburn Gear -

- BIKE -

- BAGS: -

- BIKE ACCESSORIES -

- CAMPING -

- TOILETRIES -

- ELECTRONICS -

- TOOLS -

- CLOTHS -

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Christian Ayoob
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? The feeling of adventure and seeing new places. On a bike, time seems to move much slower and I would love to feel that again.
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? I have completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
  • What is your goal for the route? My goal is to diverge from the route off the beaten trail and go find adventure! I would like to be able to gather stories about my adventure in order to motivate others to get out there!
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? By the end of this journey, I hope to have collected stories, meet as many people as possible, and all around have fun. Along with doing this, I would love to have a very detailed journal and blog for others to follow and get inspired.

- TRANSAMERICA Milestones -

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