Ozarks Rambling

My main takeaway from last weekend was man, how fun the short, steep descents are in the Ozarks Mountains of extreme southwest Missouri.

The Tablerock Lake area is one of our favorite places to disappear into. Woods, water, hills, sparsely populated sections of the Ozarks – what’s not to like? I’ve transported several different bikes with me to ride these hilly roads. My 650b Cycles Toussaint has kind of been the “go to” bike for these trips because the gearing and tires fit the conditions in the area very nicely. It was the bike I’d planned to take with me last weekend, quite frankly. But having just finished adding fat tires to the Raleigh International rebuild a few days earlier I wound up reaching for it when I packed the car.

The ride quality of these Compass Barlow Pass 700 x 38 tires is the most startlingly dramatic I’ve experienced. It took a little experimenting to find the sweet spot for tire pressure, but even when they were inflated above what turned out to be the optimal they still felt darned good. Once lowered to the right front/back combination for my weight and pedaling style, the road got really fun to ride. They simply soak up the rough stuff.

Descending to lake level, I found myself at Baxter Boat Dock pedaling around the campground. I paused at water’s edge for a few minutes. Rain seemed to follow me this weekend, but this spot was dry as a bone.

Pedaling back up the hills I was soon engulfed in thick mist. The gravel was saturated with water, perspiration mingled with moisture infused air and dripped off my face and arms. My shirt was saturated. The humidity was about 300%, and thick enough to cut with a knife. S

Sounds gross, right? But I was enjoying the ride so much that it was easy to ignore the atmospheric conditions.

So, the bike. The tires. The build. Yeah, I’m confident things have really gone very well. The whole package has come together really nicely, what I would describe as a harmonious build. I’m happy.


Addendum: I was curious to see how accurately my 700 x 38 tires actually measured out. They’ve been on the rims for about two weeks now, so one would think they’d be stretched out by this point. Right now they measure a solid 36.

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6 thoughts on “Ozarks Rambling

  1. Now that is how you do it. A ride like that is perfect for your Toussaint, Mark. The combination of frame, components and, as you note, tires unlocks the door to a ride that I can only imagine. Svelte bliss. And, the top photograph is wonderful. No camera or Photoshop tricks, just a perfectly composed image with the right color balance. It’s not always easy to get a bike to pop in nature. Bravo!

    I do have one question though. I notice you have 4 “likes” above. All of them from a pretty young crowd. Have I missed it that vintage cycling is back in vogue?

    • I don’t know about the Ozarks, but here in England, there’s a strong vintage cycling trend. Some of it is focused on the Eroica rides, first in Italy and now in Britain’s Peak District (as well as around the world–California, Spain, Japan, etc.). We’re starting to get other vintage cycle rides as well, and there is now a strong infrastructure of people restoring bikes, selling NOS parts and so forth.

      • I live about four hours north of the Ozarks. The worlds of extreme Southwest Missouri and that of my home in the metropolitan Kansas City area really couldn’t be more different in most ways. One commonality though is that road cyclists in both areas have almost universally embraced modern 11 speed carbon fiber rides. The vintage enthusiasts are markedly few and far between, but we tend to be bound together by a common interest, a few organized events (tweed ride, vintage bicycle swaps), and the magic strapping tape of the internet.

    • I really despise over-the-top fawning over products. Flattery is seldom anything close to accurate. That caveat made, these tires are the real deal for me.

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