Hardy, AR to West Plains, MO
Total Miles: 2912
Let’s start off today with a little bit about last night. First off, the cheeseburger I was recommended was amazing but it definitely was not the Biggest, Baddest Cheeseburger in Town. That prize went to the aptly named “Baddest Cheeseburger in Town” and it weighed in at a whopping 3 pounds. Now I have no doubt that I could have destroyed that thing in a way that only a hungry cyclist can do, but it cost the low, low price of 40 bucks. I asked the waitress if there was some sort of competition-like thing where if I finish it then it’s free. No such luck. When I came back to my camp I was laying on the picnic table reading when my camp neighbor came over with a plate of hot dogs for me. His name was also James. That makes two James’ in the same day that gave me free food, not bad for a days work. I was really full from my meal 20 minutes earlier so I only ate one of the hot dogs and saved the other 2 for breakfast in the morning. That’s totally safe, right?
I set my alarm this morning for 5:30 as I had planned a 70 mile day today but when it went off I knew there was no way I was getting up. So I turned it off and went back to sleep. When I finally woke up at 7:30 I did some quick googling and decided that I was going to have a short ride today and stay at a campground about 18 miles up the road and relax and swim in Mammoth Springs all day. Content with my decision I got up and started packing up camp. While I was doing this my other camp neighbor came over to chat. His name is Isaac and he’s a fellow cyclist as well, but of the mountain persuasion. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him once I get near Colorado Springs and he’d set me up with some of his cycling buddies there to take me in for a night or two and show me around. Gotta love the cycling community, we take care of our own 🙂
After saying bye to my new friend Isaac I set out into the cool and blissfully humidity-free morning. The terrain this morning was fucking rough. Right off the bat I’m climbing this twistingly steep bitch of a hill, my legs were not even close to warmed up yet and it was really kicking my ass. Is there some special cycling significance to the muscles located on the rear upper part of your thighs, like directly below the butt cheeks? Those things were fucking killing me the whole way up this hill and were just a breath away from turning into a full on cramp. Not ideal. By the time I reached the top I was huffing and puffing like a smoker on a treadmill. The downhill, though, was sweeeeetttt!!! I probably hit like 45 easily (I don’t have my cycling computer so everything is guesswork at this point). It was badass, until I reached the bottom and had to contend with another hill that seemed even bigger, steeper and meaner than the last. This continued for another 18 miles but seemed to get progressively more bearable as my legs got into the zone, not easy by any means, but bearable.
I rolled up into Mammoth Springs and learned 2 things. Firstly, the campground was like 30 bucks a night and it wasn’t all that special. Secondly, the spring stays at frigid 58 degrees all year round. I really don’t know what I was expecting, it’s a spring for turtle’s sake but these 2 factors persuaded me to adjust my plans for the day. I found another campsite another 22 miles up the road and made it into my new destination. I hung around the spring for a while to rest up and cool off before heading out. This spring is MAMMOTH (hence the name I suppose)! It dumps out 10 million gallons of water per hour. The river I was camping at last night is fed entirely from this spring and it was not a small river. Just think about that, this random hole in the ground just magically shits out enough water to make a river out of nothing. Nature is metal as fuck.
After marveling at the the earth’s wonders for a while I set out to find some lunch. A foot long sub and a mountain dew hit the spot perfectly. Immediately after leaving the city of Mammoth Springs I hit a NEW STATE WOOOO!!!! Watch out Missouri, James and his Bike are here.Next up is a quick stop at AutoZone to get some fuel for my stove and some WD-40 for my break line. The rear one hasn’t been functioning at 100% the last few hundred miles, it seems all the sweat I’ve been dripping all over it has caused it to rust a bit and start to stick. A few quick squirts of lube and it’s as good as new. Almost. Some methed out weirdo was attempting to talk to me while I was doing this, I didn’t really catch much of what he said except that apparently the road kind of levels out from here. And you know what? It kind of did. Instead of the big, steep hills of doom the next 12 miles were a bunch long, gentle climbs. Much easier on the ol’ two stroke.
I got to about 8 miles from my destination when I was presented with a dilemma. Google had seen fit to incorporate a gravel road into my route, Forrest can totally handle that but it is neither fast nor comfortable to do so. My other option was to take a long, circuitous route to my destination totaling about 25 miles. Yeah, screw that. Off road, baby! The road started off in pretty good condition but quickly deteriorated once I got a few miles in and the gentle grades of the main highway were replaced with these practically vertical hillocks that i’m convinced only an ATV could easily handle. But we did it. It took bout 90 minutes to travel 7 miles, but we did it. The scenery was stunning, though, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the road was a mess I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I finally hit real pavement again guess what was waiting for me?! A turtle! It was like a prize for having suffered the last 7 miles so I think tomorrow is gonna be a good day.
I got to the campground no worse for wear. The owner is a real badass adventurist himself, 80 years old and cycles 20 miles a day and he just completed the Appalachian Trail a few years back. We hit it off pretty well and he it’s a really great guy! This place comes complete with showers, laundry and a sweet pool to cool off in. Not bad, James, not bad. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!