Starting early, pedaling up plenty of hills

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2013

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at

Because of the recent accidents in the Marshfield, Mo., area, I didn’t leave the motel till 6:30 a.m.

The sun wasn’t up yet, and I rolled right on by McDonald’s, planning to make up some time. At 1.3 miles, I heard an odd noise and realized that the rear tire had almost gone flat. Nothing to do but fix it. I parked at an auto parts store and set about unloading my stuff. Got the tube changed and everything replaced in the bags, and an hour later I was off again.

There were once again no shoulders on the road, and there was a good bit of traffic. I just calmly set out climbing hill after hill.

First stop after nearly 30 miles was Hartville. It seemed like a happy little town, except for one thing: the main bridge was out.

I had to get some advice on how to get back on track. A little ice cream, some great advice, and I was rolling again.

Hill after hill, some steep, some not, but they kept coming. I knew that I was gradually climbing and soon I made it to Bendavis. There was a listed convenience store there, so I stopped in. It was hot enough that every few hours, I needed ice cream. He had ice cream sandwiches, but he also had the worst tasting water that I have run across. I had enough anyway, and after some good conversation about running, biking and farming, it was time to go.

With some of the best views that I have seen in the Ozarks, I realized that I was about as high as I would get today. A fire tower was the first that I had seen anywhere on the trip so far.

Two more little towns, Fairview and Bucyrus, didn’t notice me as I rolled on though. My goal was Houston, Mo., and that is where I am tonight. Three of the worst hills all day were required climbing as I entered town. Houston must be a real town because it has a McDonald’s and a Walmart. Total mileage for today was a hard-earned 69.

According to the convenience store owner in Bendavis, tomorrow will be the hardest day of all. Lots of the bigger climbs will come late morning and after. Some of the better scenery will come at the same time.

Granites at the core of the Ozark range are only exposed on the eastern side, so I will get to see some of that tomorrow. Also, since I am a Civil War history fan, I will get to see the area where Ulysses S. Grant had his first command in the Civil War. It is near a mountain called Pilot Knob, one of the peaks that I will climb tomorrow. Grant’s men were sent there to protect the railroad.

Tomorrow, I will start as early as I can be seen. Lots of tough climbing to do, and options on places to spend tomorrow night are limited. My goal is to make it to Ellington, Mo.

David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

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