Day9 - Conway to Ozark AR
Today's ride was my fastest of this tour; only 6:15 riding time to cover 95 miles. Part of that was due to a gentle tailwind and part was due to the fact that I rode the last 20 miles on I-40. It was still a mighty hot ride, but at least it was a shorter hot ride <grin>. Actually the tail wind made parts of it hotter because I spent some time cranking up hills at just about the same speed that the wind was blowing. That means I'd be climbing with the air around me not moving at all. Sort of like riding an exercise bike without a fan blowing on you. Hot!
I left Conway by climbing a hill to the north west and then having a very long gentle downhill to the west. 64, after it got out of Conway proper, was two lanes with a good shoulder and I was cruising along it at 15 to 20 mph. Nice. At Morrilton there was another significant hill, followed by a 30 mph downhill. The shoulder got bumpier, but remained rideable. Plumberville is bit bigger than Morrilton, but not too exciting. I finally stopped for an early lunch in Atkins. I had ridden over 30 miles at an average speed of nearly 15 mph. A good start to the day.
After lunch (at the a converted Tastee-Freeze about .25 mi north of 64 on the road that goes to I-40) it was getting hot. I rode on to Russelville remembering it as it had been in the mid 80s. I was disappointed to find it unrecognizable. Riding through Russelville is, other than a brief old downtown, just like riding any other 'strip' in the country. Riding was not much fun - too many cars and trucks in too much of a hurry to get somewhere! I did stop for an milk shake as I entered town and for a coke (from a coke machine) as I left. Leaving Russelville, 64 goes over a causeway with cooling tower of a nuclear power plant off to the west. It is a pretty area.
64 deteriorates after Russelville; both the road and the shoulder were bumpy, but in different ways. The road had regular tar strips and the shoulder had smaller scale waves. I removed my camera from my handlebars because the road was so rough. I stopped just before Knoxville at a boat launching area between 64 and I-40 which is only a few hundred yards north of 64. Another pretty area. I sat in the shade and cooled off for fifteen minutes before riding on towards Clarksville. When 64 crossed I-40, a few miles later, the road and shoulder became quite good again. 64 also became quite hilly. This area is the souther edge of the Ozarks, and it started looking like it!
In Clarksville I stopped at a motel to ask about services further along on my route. I found that the next places to stay were in Ozark and then, 20 miles or so further, in Alma. I knew I could make Ozark so I decided to ride on and see how I felt when I got there. I stopped for a second lunch in Clarksville. Then I rode on, on hilly roads, through Clarksville.
Leaving Clarksville, 64 crosses I-40 again. I could see from my map that I-40 took a more direct route to Ozark and I figured that the motels would be nearer I-40 than 64, so I decided to try riding I-40. After riding it briefly in Conway, I knew to stop and insert an ear plug (30 dB attenuation) in my left ear. That made riding the interstate reasonably comfortable.
I rode about 10 miles to the next exit - AR 164 to Coalville - and stopped for a break. Riding was fast (12 mph uphill, up to 30 mph downhill), hot (no shade and my uphills were in almost still air), and quite noisy (it would have been painful without the ear plug). There was a lot of debris, especially the remains of truck tires, on the shoulder and riding required intense concentration to avoid most of this debris. I only occasionally glanced at the countryside, mostly I just moved on down the road as fast as I could. I'd estimate my average speed to be 16 or 17 mph. Not fun but fast, so I continued on to the first Ozark exit.
As I expected, there was both a reasonable place to stay and a reasonable place to eat near that exit. I could have (should have?) ridden on to Alma so I'd have a shorter ride tomorrow, but I decided that this would do. I am much more comfortable in my motel room than it was out on I-40!
US 64 was nice riding most of the way today. I-40 was tolerable. I expect I'll be getting out that ear plug again for part of tomorrow's ride, but only for part of it. It is a lot nicer to ride on the 'old' road.