Day 31: Summersville, MO to Hartville, MO
June 16, 2011

We got an early start and had a nice, cool morning of rolling hills and a quick shower of wood chips from a passing truck. The Ozarks are flattening out…we’re kind of riding along a flat top of plains atop the Ozarks. People have been very eager to talk to us, especially about the Ozark “mountains.” We haven’t had the heart to tell them that they just aren’t that tall. We saw a lot of roadkill armadillos. We camped for the night on the courthouse lawn in Hartville. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find showers so we took birdbaths in the sheriff’s bathroom. There are lots of fireflies. It was a good day, but nothing of note really happened.

  • Starting point: Summersville, MO
  • Ending point: Hartville, MO
  • Slept: camped on the courthouse lawn
  • Miles: 65
  • Average speed: 10.6

Day 32: Hartville, MO to Ash Grove, MO
June 17, 2011

After camping out at the courthouse and overhearing some amazing would-be “bro” brawls in the middle of the night, we got up early and hit the road before 7am. The morning was uneventful and mostly downhill-we put in 47 miles before stopping for a picnic lunch under a town pavilion. The afternoon was hot and slow, with a series of sneaky short hills. It felt like the Ozarks overheard us saying they aren’t real mountains and threw in some nasty foothills for good measure. Nevertheless, we rolled in to town by 3:30 to discover an awesome town park to camp in. It had showers and a swimming pool with free swimming for cyclists. And also, a town full of the friendliest people. A friend of ours gave us advice before we left that we should meet as many midwesterners as possible because “they are the nicest.” She’s right. They are the nicest! We decided to treat ourselves to an air-conditioned dinner and went to Mama Loca’s for Mexican food. It was no Mission burrito, but it hit the spot. The location was a former catfish house and the proprietors kept the giant woodcarving of a bear holding a fish and put a colorful poncho on it. We got dessert at the bakery across the street where they also gave us some free peaches. We camped in the park with 2 other sets of cyclists–Ned and Kristin who we see a lot of and the “Bash Bros,” 2 brothers from Florida whose last name is not Bash but are brothers. The lawn was cushy but it was really hot for sleeping outside.

  • Starting point: Hartville, MO
  • Ending point: Ash Grove, MO
  • Slept: camped at the city park
  • Miles: 75
  • Average speed: 10.7

Day 33: Ash Grove, MO to Pittsburg, KS
June 18, 2011

We got another early start and had a pleasant morning of some small hills and reasonable temperatures. We stopped for water and a snack in Golden City and learned that in the future, Hillary should ignore her craving for fake Fig Newtons. They just aren’t very good. Immediately after Golden City, MO we had a premonition of what is to come. Usually our maps have us make turns at least every 5 miles or so. This afternoon: 33 with no turns (literally, a straight line). Wheee. We did stop and talk for a bit with a nice guy named Joel about the house he is building with his family, growing up in the area, and local farming (wheat–we tried some freshly picked, corn, soybeans). He also gave us some deliciously cold water. Shortly afterward we crossed into Kansas. Yay! Our ninth state! We stopped for the night in Pittsburg, a town of ~20,000 and home of Pitt State. In other news, we blew it. Big Brutus, the world’s second largest electric mining shovel is 22 miles south of here. Unfortunately, we are headed in the opposite direction and can’t muster the energy to backtrack. After showering, eating at another Mexican restaurant, and picking up some fresh fruit, we did some pirate laundry at a nearby Holiday Inn before heading back to our own, laundry-less motel. As we walked back, we watched the lightning bolts of an approaching storm and then watched unbelievably bright lightning from the comfort of our air-conditioned room.

  • Starting point: Ash Grove, MO
  • Ending point: Pittsburg, KS
  • Slept: motel
  • Miles: 71.4
  • Average speed: 11.5

Day 34: Rest day in Pittsburg, KS
June 19, 2011

We decided to give our legs (let’s be honest, mostly our butts) a rest in a comfortable town so we slept in this morning, enjoyed the motel breakfast buffet, and did some errands. At around noon we attempted to walk to the city water park. Hillary quickly concluded that 94 degrees was way too hot for voluntarily being outside on an alleged rest day and fled for the hotel to shower and hibernate in the air conditioning for most of the afternoon. Andrew and Collin made the prudent decision to ride their bikes to the water park, though Andrew made the rather imprudent decision of bringing only a Speedo on this trip. Despite his best efforts, Andrew did not attract the attention of the authorities and after the pool, we all feasted on Chinese food at Yummy Buffet. It was pretty yummy and the cashier really liked Andrew’s t-shirt of a blob monster eating the US Capitol.

Photos: we turned down success for Hartville, MO, Mexican catfish bear carving, a sneaky Hill on the last sneaky Ozark hill, sharing the road, Kansas!