Al's Place, the Bike Hostel

20110702-123851.jpg Greg Beavers is a man with a plan. Two years ago he turned the abandoned county jail of Farmington, MO into a cyclist's haven. The bike hostel he has created through his role as city manager is the product of a bigger vision.

Dedicated in loving memory of Al Dziewa, Al's Place will one day be a staple on the TransAm. Just as the Cookie Lady of Afton or Bob and Violet of Sebree have left a lasting impression on the route, Farmington will be revered by cyclists as a stop worth planning around for just a night, or maybe an off day.

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Greg has helped moved a bike shop right across the street and the accommodations don't stop there. He hopes to add camping for cyclists adjacent to the building and renovate the first floor into a visitors center of sorts.

I'm so glad I stumbled upon this place. I actually heard about it through twitter, solidifying for me the value of social media. I can't wait to spread the word amongst the west-bounders about the gem hidden just outside the Mississippi River.

When I arrived, exhausted from my bought with the heat wave, I met Spencer and Natasha. Working their way to Spencer's family home in Utah, their trek has not been a bed of roses since their ride started in Berea, Kentucky. Flat tires, a broken sprocket, axel; they've seen it all.

Crossing the country on mountain bikes with their dog Augustus, the pedaling zombies (pedalingzombies.wordpress.com) don't consider themselves cyclists. Like myself, they're here for the ride not the end-game. Deriving the value from the people and memories as they happen, Spencer and Natasha are able to keep each day as open ended as the last.

We talked about the cyclists who take themselves too seriously; the guys that can tell you they crossed the country, but can't tell you what they saw. The feeling I get from the randomness and beauty in each day is indescribable. If you one day talk to me about this adventure you'll see the happiness radiate beyond my smile. I wonder if this happiness is lost in some way on the riders who measure the value of the day in the miles eclipsed.

We also shared in a solid laugh about hitch-hiking, meth heads, broken bikes, and motorized wheel chairs in Somerset (this is a mental note for me, see me in person to try and explain the story).

So that concludes another day on the road. I will most likely be camping tomorrow as I head into the Mark Twain National Forest. Remember, 'Only YOU can prevent forest fires'.

Joke of the Day:

The people of Kentucky think Illinois built the bridge across the Ohio River so they could swim across in the shade.

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