Hot Springs to Mena, AR

A view from a scenic overlook on US 270

I had another 55 mile day thanks to Dave Hair. It was raining in Hot Springs this morning, so Dave took me 25 mile from his house to near the edge of the rain on 270. I rode for less than a mile in very light rain and then had a pretty easy - 2100 feet of climbing - and very pretty ride to Mena that took just under four and half hours of riding. I did consider continuing on to the next place that might have a place to stay, Talihina, OK, but that is 50 miles, with no services or shelter, from here and there was the possibility of severe storms this afternoon. I chose to do that section tomorrow morning when the chance of storms will be less. The fact that my butt was sore from a rough section of AR 88 on the way here also had something to do with that decision ;-}.

US 270, west of Hot Springs
Pretty country, Nice Road

I rode US 270 for 25 miles. It had adequate to good shoulders except for about a mile which is under construction. Since it was Sunday morning that section was not a problem. There was a moderate amount of climbing and one, roughly 200 foot vertical, hill that required my granny gear. Mostly, it was just very good riding through pretty country. The weather was relatively cool but VERY humid. If I had had to climb big hills, my clothing would have become sweat saturated because there was very little evaporative cooling. Given moderate hills, I was reasonably comfortable.

The Ouachita river that feeds the huge man made lakes near Hot Springs seen from US 270
AR 88 runs along the Quachita river valley

I stopped for a snack at a beautiful overlook on one of the steeper parts of US 270. This was only a few miles before I turned onto AR 88 at Pencil Bluff. When I go to that turn, I discovered - Dave had told me about it but I had forgotten - another Corner Cafe. I don't think there is any relationship to the one just before the White River, except that both are good, inexpensive, places to eat. Even though I'd just snacked, and it was only 11 AM, I had lunch. It was good and it was enough to for me not to get hungry again till a couple of hours after I got to Mena.

AR 88 heading west near Pencil Bluff, AR

AR 88, which runs through the Ouachita national forest and in the Ouachita river valley is less hilly that US 270, but not flat. 20 of the 30+ miles I rode on it were very nice, but roughly the middle ten miles had bumpy, chip sealed, pavement. It was still pretty and still good riding, but harder on my body. The first and last ten mile have smooth pavement and adequate shoulders. There was very little traffic until the last half a dozen mile coming into Mena.

AR 88 in the Ouachita National Forest

AR 88 about half way between Pencil Bluff and Mena
Pretty, but bumpy

When I got to Mena, I pulled into the first motel I saw, checked for wifi ;-}, and registered. Since it was only 2 PM, I wanted wifi so I could entertain myself before supper. Of course, after doing a bit email, I decided a nap was a good idea. It was. Then I did some more web stuff and, a bit after five PM went looking for supper. There are the usual fast food places here (as well as a Super Walmart with a McDs in it which is right across the street from another McDs) but most of the cars were at a Chinese restaurant, so I went there for supper. It was very tasty, but hard on my digestive system.

I heard thunder earlier and now, looking outside, I see that it is raining. Tomorrow I plan to leave relatively early - if it isn't raining and my tummy recovers from the effects of supper - and ride to Talihina and then on to McAlester. That will be the longest day on this part of my tour. There are no services between here and Talihina and McAlester is the next place on my route that I'm sure has motels. I'll have breakfast at McDs and stock up on hot apple pies to snack on between here and Talihina. I'll also carry extra water. After Talihina, I think services are reasonably well spaced on my route until I reach western Utah.

In three days I should be at Jim Foreman's house in Moore, OK. It has been almost three years since I last visited the Foremans and I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again.

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