I got off to a slightly late start at 9:00 and mere meters down the road I entered the first climb of the day. Several more followed as I cruised through the forests of southern Missouri end eventually the terrain seem to reduce to gently rolling.
As I passed more and more houses flying the Confederate flag, I got the feeling of being deep into hillbilly country with mobile home parks, wrecked pickup trucks and weird accents. I had left my headphones in my pocket today and that turned out to be a wise choice as I was charged by growling barking dogs several times in the first 30 km. These were not wild dogs. They were for the most part laying around on some lawn and started chashing when they saw a lone cyclist. Although growling and barking and showing aggressive behavior, they seemed to second guess when I turned towards them to scream and bark as loud as I could, but after being chased three times I was getting pretty sick of it. When I passed by a house and heard barking from numerous dogs, I readied the bear spray (as I always do) and looked for incoming beasts. A big, lean, brown dog came up behind me and chased me down the road and I knew I had no chance to out-sprint this thing. I yelled and barked at it but there was no sign of hesitation as it closed in, so for the first time on this trip I made the decision of using the bear spray. I had been reluctant to use it out of consideration for the receiving end, as I had tried it myself during my military service and wanted to avoid using it unless absolutely necessary. Singlehandedly, I aimed the canister at the dog and fired off one short burst, sending a red cloud towards it. From my point of view it looked like I missed, but the immediate reaction of the dog was evident that I had got him. The dog halted immediately and I got the hell out of there to avoid any more trouble. Prior to entering this combat zone, I had mounted my GoPro camera on my handlebar and I had actually videotaped the whole thing, so I am looking forward to review this scene in particular.
Riding in the sunny weather alongside the rivers was actually quite pleasant and after pedaling through the winding roads - saving a wounded turtle on the way - I arrived in Pilot Knob. I scouted for a place to eat and entered a subway restaurant where I got a quick meal. I was eager to get to Farmington early today and see if I felt like going further.
When I got to Farmington at about 15:45, after passing through wide streets lined with beautiful brick houses and huge driveways, I decided to stay here for the night. Ever since the middle of Kansas I had heard stories about a great TransAm cyclist hostel in town called Al's Place and decided to check it out. After walking up and down the street where it was supposed to be located, I was stopped by a lady in a car who gave me directions, without even asking for it. I had to call the police to get a code to unlock the door and as soon as I set foot in this place - wow! Cyclist heaven. Shower, bathroom, laundry room, beds, wi-fi, kitchen, everything a traveler could need, all for a requested donation of 20 dollars per guest per night. I just loved these kind of places that are there especially for touring cyclists with taylor made amenities and it also provides a great place to meet new people. I bore up all my stuff, since bicycles weren't allowed up there and had to be stored in the basement, but on the way up and down I met this guy called Brian. Brian was a local and had done the TransAm in 2011 and we stood outside chatting for a bit.
I got the whole hostel to myself for a while before Anthony from day 32 and his fellow racing buddy Foster showed up, accompanied by a local cyclist called Wayne. After taking a shower, the four of us headed out to a pleasant dinner at a Chinese restaurant and spent the rest of the evening at the hostel.
I hadn't originally planned to take a rest day in Farmington, but taking into consideration that I am almost four days ahead of schedule with about three weeks to go and that I liked this place very much, I decided to stay here for another day.