Day 19, Tour 10 Hot Springs to Mena, AR

The beautiful Quachita National Forest

When Dave and I got to Hot Springs Thursday, he suggested that, when I left on Saturday, he would take me down to near Glenwood on US 70 and I could ride from there to Mena on AR 8. Then the rain started. Friday morning, we learned that many people had died in a flood in the Quachita National Forest on rivers, one of which 8 runs along for a while. Today when Dave and I were riding on 8, he pulled off at a bridge over that river and we got to see how bad that flood had been.

The Caddo river just inside the south boundary of the Quachita National Forest
It looked like the water level here had risen at least twenty five feet
That is a camp ground, one of a great many in this area, on the other side of the river

Dave and I started riding from a rest stop on US just before Glenwood. He rode with me to the small town of Norman, then rode back to the rest stop. Norman is about 15 miles from Glenwood with 700 feet of climbing getting there and 600 feet getting back to were we started. A nice ride but not as nice as riding on to Mena. Dave wanted to ride with me to Mena and ride back tomorrow, but he had to be home tonight for a dinner party. He emailed me after he got home this afternoon to sat that he had had a great ride

Dave ahead of me on US 70

Dave ahead of me on AR 8

After Dave headed back, I had lunch at Norman - the only place to get food after Glenwood - and rode on up 8. Up was definitely the operative word. After Norman, 8 climbs steadily, but gently for the next 15 miles. Since this climb is completely in the forest, it is mostly just cranking uphill on a narrow, somewhat rough, road that occasionally has a shoulder.

Climbing on 8

It was really nice to get to the top of that climb, especially since I hadn't though about the effect of lots of climbing - almost half a mile of vertical from Glenwood to Mena - in very hot weather, on my water consumption. Climbing that hill, I realized that I might run out of water before reaching Mena. Tomorrow, I'll take more water. Getting to the top with half my water supply remaining meant that I should be OK. I was. I didn't drink the last of my water till just before Mena and I only drank another .75 liters immediately after I got into my motel room. My water consumption for this ride was over four liters.

On a down hill in after the top of the climb

Leaving the Quachita National Forest

The last 15 miles of the ride was flatter, but certainly not flat, riding outside of the forest. From my perspective, it was just hot, hilly, riding in muggy weather. I reached the point where, with 10 miles to go, I would just as soon be done with it as to keep on cranking. I still was enjoying the ride, which had been very enjoyable through most of the forest, but now I was more aware of how hot it was since I was riding in less interesting surrounding.

Tomorrow I'll be riding 8 to Talihina. The last time I did that ride it was quite wet and chilly. I don't think I'll have that problem tomorrow. The forecast high is 92 F with winds 6 - 8 mph out of the SSW. It is so hot that those winds will actually make riding easier.

Someone suggest I take the Talimena Trail which: "Stretching 54 miles through eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, the Talimena Scenic Drive winds along the top of the Ouachita, Winding Stair, and Rich Mountains, providing stunning views and outdoor opportunities sure to please and interest all visitors. Enjoy one heart-stirring panorama after another as this byway treads its way along forested mountain peaks." http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2485/stories/56333 Maybe if was a lot cooler I might consider riding the first half of that trail which only climbs 3800 feet in 33 miles (and less than 400 feet in the remaing 40 miles on 8] instead of 8 which only climbs 1200 feet in 55 miles. Maybe. I'd have to be a real masochist to ride the whole thing which climbs about 6500 feet in 61 miles, and much of that climbing is on really steep grades - up to 25 %!. It has Blue Ridge Parkway level of climbing, but with much steeper grades. That would not be fun riding on a loaded bike in 90+ degree weather!

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