When you're driving a car on the interstate (which we lovingly call the super slab) you can cover 500 or 600 miles in a day over 8 hours. We are riding about 200 miles per day, over 10 hours, and moving eastward at less than 100 miles each day. That means we're averaging about 25 mph (including some breaks). And it's amazing.
The trail has so far been excellent. It surprised us when we hit the hardest part we've ridden within the first 30 minutes of hopping on, back south of Fayetteville. That section (Warloop Rd) set an expectation of difficulty that has been lessening each mile we ride. Today in fact had quite a bit of pavement and gravel in between the fun parts. But the fun parts included 18" deep river crossings, tree-canopied packed mud roads, and beautiful Arkansas mountaintop views.
Finding a campsite for the night was the biggest challenge. When we left for this trip we didn't know how far we could get each day. So we decided to do the very thing I hate: "just wing it." We're riding all day and finding a campsite wherever we can once we get tired. Yesterday was brilliant. We rode until we couldn't and camped in a clearing we found at 5pm that was 50 feet from the trail, in the Ozark National Forest. See our little tents in the back?
Tonight, though, was tougher. We ended the day in Beebe, AR. It's big enough that we couldn't find a place to camp or a paid campground anywhere near the trail. We drove back and forth for an hour, exhausted, looking for anything, to no avail. After getting stuck and unstuck in some mud, with no prospects... what did we do? Prayed for a place to sleep and rode back into town for some Arkansas BBQ. Then through a happenstance encounter and a kind eavesdropper, we were sent to a fishing lake, just out of town, with plenty of free campsites available (really???).
So here we are, lakeside: fully fed, warm, next to a dying fire made from wood that a stranger brought over, since he knew we couldn't haul any with us. Everything we need and more. It's good. All that and still no broken legs.
Tomorrow we hope to make it to Mississippi.