Today's goal was to get as far as I could toward Bigelow. I had Google-mapped directions from Tom Sawyer to Kim and Gary's place in Bigelow. I made a couple of modifications to avoid I-40, the busy freeway.
All but about 7 miles of today's ride was on US-64. It was really a pretty good highway for much of the way. There were mostly good shoulders.
As I left Tom Sawyer today and came up over the levee, I looked to the direction I was heading and saw nothing but very dark clouds. Not a promising vision for a long distance day! At least I had stowed my raingear in the top of the pannier.
Fortunately, I seemed to stay south of the darkest clouds. However, about 10 miles in, it started to rain. I pulled over to a closed florist shop that had an overhang and pulled out my raingear. I put my jacket and RainLegs on as well as my helmet cover and gloves. As I set back out on the road, the rain was already tapering off. About a mile down the road the rain quit altogether (of course it did!). I stopped and took the RainLegs off, but left the jacket on for awhile. Because I nothing better to do, I did a round of 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. When I got to zero, I took my rain jacket off. I know...I know...like I said, nothing better to do.
At the town of Parkin, I pulled over for my 10:00ish snack of chocolate milk and an oatmeal cookie sandwich thingy. A guy named Chris rode in the same time as me. He is from England. He is riding from San Diego to Washington DC. He just had rear panniers and a backpack. He had camped earlier when there weren't as many towns, but he was now staying in motels. He didn't stay long. While I was experiencing a tailwind, he battled a headwind. Sorry, dude, but I'm not wishing away my tailwind!
By 12:30 I had gone 57 miles. I can't remember the name of the town, but I told myself if there was a Subway, I would eat there (big surprise, right?). If there wasn't, I would eat my own food--a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. Well, there wasn't a Subway. I did buy a bottle of Gatorade to go with my PB&J.
As I was finishing my lunch, off in the distance there was lightening...yaaaaay! My favorite thing to do, ride in a thunderstorm! At the time, it wasn't raining...at the time. Not far down the road, I could see the rain. I pulled over just as the first raindrops hit (actually, hail). The thunderstorm was also continuing. Each time I saw lightening, I did the whole counting thing. It seemed to be (if there is truth to the counting to determine how far away the storm is) 7 to 8 miles away. Still, the sooner it stopped, the better.
Fortunately, the thunderstorm part did stop. It continued to rain for quite awhile. In the distance I could see lighter sky (even a hint of blueness!). I just kept telling myself to "go into the light"! By the time I got to Augusta, I had done 76 miles. It was no longer raining, and it was time for another break. What do we have here? A Subway of course! I had cookies and chocolate milk.
I had 13 more miles to Bald Knob. Earlier in the day I had told myself if I could make more than half of the miles (around 90), I would treat myself to a motel stay. When I arrived in Bald Knob, I had gone 89 miles. At the intersection of US-64 and a bunch of other highways, there was a Budget Inn. Looked good to me! There is supposed to be another thunderstorm tonight. I don't care! I will be INSIDE TONIGHT!!! Of course, it's also supposed to rain tomorrow...
Today was my longest touring day ever. My average speed was 13.3--my highest for this tour!