Insane climbing day, probably my biggest of the trip. We got up as the sun rose around 7 and got ready by about 7:45 (super efficient!). As we left I was super tired for some reason. We didn’t have much breakfast food so decided to just eat at a convenience store in Eminence, about 6 miles away. That was a mistake. The ride between Alley Spring and Eminence was a climb out of the Jacks Fork river valley. Immediately upon leaving the campground we had massive climb. Then another, and another. When I say massive I only mean maybe 1-2 hundred feet, but at a very steep grade. The descents were steep too.
I was sweating already, and in a sign of things to come, Nick was well ahead of me by the time we finally pulled into Eminence, at the bottom of a very steep descent through town. We went to a Sinclair that had a little deli and got bacon/sausage, egg, and cheeses, two apiece. I was grumpy but felt better after the food and air conditioning: my gloves were already soaked with sweat.
We got back to riding at about 9 to what turned out to be probably the hilliest section of riding on the route so far. It was constant ups and downs. In particular, as we approached and left the gorgeous Current River
This area must have been heavily shaped by the river because this hills were just insane. One in particular stands out. It was a double hill, with a first steep section, and flatter section, then a second steep section. Here’s the bottom of the first steep section, the second steep section isn’t even visible above it due to the grade
The grade on both these was enough that I was in my smallest gear and still needing to stand to move the pedals. It was seriously tough. Luckily the weather was much cooler and less humid somehow, and the traffic somewhat light. There were actually these strange pockets of cool air that we got occasionally. Those were amazing. Despite these hills and the suffering we were making good time, better than expected. Within a few hours we were only 6 miles from Ellington. We had a nice flat segment, with only a few hills that I manifested by commenting on the fact that there werent hills. Unfortunately on this stretch I saw my first confederate flag and and got flipped off for the first time for some unknown reason. I guess there are just some angry people in the world. To make up for it when we went into the convenience store we met a very nice clerk who warned us about a steep climb up ahead, and confirmed that she’s heard people say that the section we’d just done was the hardest on the trip so far. We also met a very nice man who told us about a day where he picked up a bicyclist who was having mechanical trouble and drove him over 100 miles to his destination. If I ever need that kind of help I hope he’s around.
Faith in humanity restored and sodas in our stomachs we set off again. We had a scary moment on a bridge where nicks wheel got caught on a berm, and I saw him pitching towards the guardrail. He caught himself and made it away with just a scratched shoe (though it does now have a hole in it).
Once me made it up the climb we’d been warned about (it wasn’t too bad, long, not steep) we actually had some gentle rolling hills for a while. They even had a shoulder. The traffic was minimal and the weather good.
This segment flew by after the going we’ve had so far. Nick was moving and got pretty far ahead of me as we rolled through the town of Centerville, which had mostly nothing. A bit further up the road he waited for me, and reported another driver had flipped him off. I reported that a driver had rolled coal on me. Lots of unhappy people today for some reason. We passed another scenic river before arriving at an intersection that would take us to our campground over at Johnson’s Shut Ins State Park. This was a beautiful though shoulderless and trafficed bit of road. We weren’t on it for long though before entering the park
The park contained more steep hills, much like the morning, but it passed quickly and we soon arrived at the park. We went over to the store in the day use area and got some ice cream and drinks. We asked about camping and they said to go across the street and ask the host. Across the street was an understatement, it was probably 2 miles to the campground We tried to find the host but they were out. We split up and eventually the super friendly hosts rolled in with their golden doodle and they showed me over to a special use site. It had been about an hour of trying to get a campsite so we were super tired. We lazed about the convenience store for a bit using WiFi and eating snacks, then headed to our site. Once there I unloaded and we decided to go see the shut ins the park is named after. Someone later told me that shut ins refer to constricted water flows between rock. That definitely describes these
There were all these little natural streams running through the rock that created pools and rapids. You could soak on the warm pools or let the rapids take you down the rocks. It was crazy fun playing around in them. We met a duo from St Louis, the only name I got was Paul, and they go there every year. They showed me the best places to ride the rapids and were super friendly. Thanks guys!
We were getting hungry and left, but not before getting one final picture.
We went back to the convenience store and got hot pockets and burritos and snacks and sat around some more. I went back to set up camp while Nick stayed over at the convenience store. I might go look for him, he’s been there a while.
For the first time in Missouri it’s actually cold at night. That’s a welcome change from the heat wave of a few days ago.
The fireflies are out again, and it’s a cloudless night and we can actually see the stars. I’m going to take a gamble and leave the rain fly off tonight.
Anyways, I’m beat and need to sleep. Night!
Distance: 60ish Elevation gain: 6000+
- 2 bacon egg and cheese
- 2 poptarts
- 2 granola bars
- Ice cream sandwich
- Peace tea
- Ice cream
- Hot pocket