Eminence, Missouri to Farmington, Missouri
by Dean Broz
Taking over from John ("Chairman Joao") de Figueiredo, I set out with the boys from Eminence at 6:40 a.m. I figured this first day in the Ozarks of Missouri might equate to misery for me, with the boys rested from their down time in Eminence and with more than 2,000 miles behind them.
Instead it was fantastic. As expected, the hills were big, steep, and numerous. But the whole morning was cool, with even some mist at times. The fun and exhilaration of the downhills more than made up for the effort of the uphills. And convenience stores were conveniently available every hour or so for drinks and snacks.
I did mishift once like a neophyte, which made me get off my bike to stand for a minute, because there was a total lack of upward progress in the gear I had shifted into. I should also note that Alex took pity on me at first and carried my tent -- until it got hot and he decided I did not need any help.
By now the boys know the drill with little or no input from me. Midmorning they stop and diligently don sunscreen and sun sleeves. The tan lines are comical.
A bald eagle watched us pass from his perch on a dead tree near the road.
Noonish, about 50 miles into the day's ride, it started to get really hot. At that point, we reached Johnson's Shut Ins State Park. A "shut in" is another name for a gorge through rock, in this case where harder rhyolite held up to erosion better than softer minerals, forming a series of the local swimming holes.
In the spirit of the bike trip, when an opportunity like this comes up, you have to take advantage of it. We spent about three hours there cooling off and waiting out the hot part of the afternoon.
Coming out of the state park the road followed the Black River up a valley making for easier travel.
Today we had 6,200 feet of climbing -- the most for any day so far.
We ended the day at an amazing local hostel on Franklin Street in Farmington, a nice little town. "Al's Place" was built out of the old jail building to host cyclists, in honor of a local cyclist who died of cancer.