Friday June 12, 2009, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 1,462 miles (2,353 km)
We climbed into our sleeping bags at the Brawley Park in Ellington last night, and immediately a whip-poor-will started up 40 feet from where we were sleeping. Those birds are loud! Next, a couple of kids came and started playing behind our campsite, and the teenagers playing tennis got the court lights turned on. So much for an early evening! The kids went home about an hour later, but the bird kept it up, on and off, all night long. He was so close I could hear a cluck, or maybe it was him gasping for air, right before each whip-poor-will call, which I’ve never heard before.
This morning started off well. We climbed out of Ellington without any problems. But after that, things went downhill in a hurry. I felt cooked, fried, parboiled, stewed, and well done. It wasn’t that hot, maybe mid-70s, but it was humid, and there wasn’t a breath of wind, and we were just climbing these 5% grades out in the broiling sun. (Oops, forgot to say “broiled.”) I just couldn’t keep the pedals turning on any sort of uphill grade. Normally, that means I’m low on salt (the waitress last night would wonder how THAT could happen if she were reading this!), so I popped an electrolyte pill into a water bottle, and finished it off before 10:00. Didn’t help much. Virginia wasn’t much better off, so we suffered for the next 15 miles into Eminence (same town name, new location after it was burned during the War Between the States), where we could finally get something to eat and drink. My mind kept telling my body, “You rode up something like this yesterday in fourth gear, what are you doing walking this one?” to which my body kept replying, “Shut up and push!”
Most of the ride was sparsely populated and lightly traveled, with one exception. I started wondering if this was Missouri Take Your Horse for a Ride Day. There’s a goodly number of Ozark National something or other units up here, and all morning, when the weather was partly cloudy and pretty, there were loads of horse trailers headed to the parks. Later in the day, when the overcast started looking like it might rain, there were loads of horse trailers (still carrying the horses) leaving those same areas. (They were much better drivers than the bunch we ran into yesterday, though.) Did I miss a special day?
There were bunches of butterfly weed blooming, and what I think is milkweed. All the monarchs should come here to eat! And the rivers were clear and cool-looking.
We took our time over lunch at Eminence, and then decided to try for Alley Springs and maybe Summerville. Alley Springs is a pretty little corner of the world where the road crosses Jack’s Creek, and there’s a canoe/raft/tube rental place. They had hummingbird feeders out, and we saw two or three dozen circling one (but most of the hummers left before we got a good picture). There’s also a campground close by, but since it’s Friday night, I decided I could try to push on. It’d be hard to get a good night’s rest with horses, RVs, and country music playing until 2:00, with all due respect to all you country music lovers out there!
The food, fluids, and salt finally kicked in late in the afternoon, and we were able to ride up some of the hills we had to walk this morning.
There was one decent view, finally, from the top of a ridge near the end of the day’s ride. Most of what we’ve seen have been here’s a field, there’s a ridge, kinds of views from the tops of the ridges. Frustrating when that’s all the reward you get for all that work!
And of course, it finally started raining. Sort of. I was already well soaked with sweat, so that didn’t make any difference, but it was sprinkling so lightly it really didn’t help with thermal regulation. Grumble, grumble.
I decided to splurge and go for a motel tonight, for air conditioning and showers. You never know what you’ll get with a town park. Ellington was pretty nice, except for the lack of a shower, but in Summerville, you can sleep in the town park, but there’s no toilets or water. Huh?
I don’t think we saw any grades all day over 8%, and it’s just frustrating to know you should be able to ride it, but you can’t. Virginia says the grades were higher because she could ride down pretty fast, but nowhere near that monster this side of Lookout, KY. Still, we made 48 miles through the heart of the Ozarks.