On Highway 79, heading for Pine Bluff
Thanks to Dave Hair, I had a short, relatively easy, day today. Since I was tired from yesterday's adventure, it was really good to have a gentle day today. Riding from Stuttgart to about half way between Pine Bluff and Malvern, I covered about 55 miles and climbed less than 500 feet. the wind was probably a bigger deal today than the hills, and it wasn't bad. I had good shoulders - Arkansas does well on shoulders! -and decent pavement for all of the ride except the part through Pine Bluff.
Rice fields on Highway 79
Last night I asked about a place for breakfast, and was told that I could get breakfast at a place just past the stop light. This morning I went there and was told "we've been out of breakfast stuff for three days." I bought three pastries and a cup of coffee and walked back to my room. Then I ate one pastry and drank the coffee and got on down the road towards Pine Bluff, some 35 miles away where there were places to eat.
The road, US 79, was good and the riding was flat. I measured no climbing in the first 22 miles! The most interesting features were the huge rice fields along the road. One, that was being prepared, looked like a square mile of perfectly flat land. On the other side of the road were a fields of rice standing in water. The rice in different parts of the field was in different stages of growth.
A little later a truck heading the other way stopped behind me, turned around and pulled up beside. The fellow driving it introduced himself as a bicyclist, asked about my tour, and asked if I need anything. Later, when I stopped to snack, another man pulled over and visited with me. Both of these folks looked like farmers and were very kind and friendly.
At 24 miles I climbed an overpass. At 28 miles I rode over the Arkansas river on a big bridge. That was it for climbing between Stuttgart and Pine Bluff, a total of 100 ft of vertical. At 35 miles I reached a Huddle House and had breakfast. A waffle plate with two cups of coffee. Ahhh. Then I rode east through the town which wasn't as much fun as the ride on 79. The roads were bumpy and there were usually no shoulders, but, until I got to 68a, traffic was light. Then riding was not great for a few miles. Finally I reached 270 and, after a stop at McDs for coffee and two hot apple pies - I ate one - I was ready to ride to Malvern.
On Highway 270, heading for Hot Springs
Riding 270 was fine. It's shoulders weren't as good as the shoulders on 79, but it was a OK riding except when groups of trucks came by and wind blasted me. After about five miles, I started to notice hills. I put on my heart rate monitor just to see how I was doing a week into the tour. Not bad. My heart rate was about 100 on the flat, climbed to 120 going up hills, and dropped to below 80 on long coasts. My average heart rate while riding in the North Carolina mountains before this tour was 119. Today, touring on rolling hills it was closer to 105. I think that reflects a week of exercise and my adaptation to a touring mode of riding.
I stopped about 1:15 to eat my second pie and rest for a few minutes. I figured that I'd meet Dave at about 2, but a van pulled up alongside me just before 1:30 and Andy, Dave's friend, called out to ask if I wanted a ride. I did, and, after loading my bags and the bike, we drove to Hot Springs where I'm taking an rest day before heading west to visit Jim Foreman. Dave and I had a great time visiting after I got here, but last night I realized I shouldn't have had four cups of coffee during the day.