July 8, Day 37: KRUSHING ze Ozarks – Houston to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, MO (98 miles)

We’ll try to explain today’s madness.

The further we get from the coast the more things we see spelled with k’s: A crossroad sign that says Kids Krossing, a gas station named Kum-n-Go, a restaurant called Kountry Kitchen. We have been cracking up over these. I think it really started way back when we stayed at a KOA on our first tour and saw their sign, “It’s not camping, it’s kamping!” And ever since then it has become this big inside joke about hillbillydom and all kinds of crazy (krazy?!). Anyway, this tour we started drinking sodas a lot and Matt crushed so many cans with his feet that he became the Krusher.

How this relates today, well, I don’t know but it got us hyped. We were determined to get through the Ozarks after Chris said we couldn’t do it, plus we realized our stove was going to arrive at the Ellington post office today. We knew we had to make 70 miles by 3 or 4pm so we somehow started channeling Werner Herzog — “Can ze cyclist make it through ze Ozarks in time?” — and it worked. That led to us to start yelling, “KRUSHING” and “KRUSH IT” every time we were climbing. To KRUSH came to mean: when you just pedal so hard you can’t pedal anymore because you’re busting up a 17%+ grade so fast and your legs burn and you’re sweating so bad you can’t see but you make it over the hill so fast you fly down and do it all over again.

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The campsite. We left at 7:30, little did we know today would be so crazy.

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Actually, this dog was a good precursor. This crazy, old, deaf dog walked across the street this morning from his house just to take a shit on the picnic area where we were camped. Make that multiple shits. Then the poor old thing scooted his butt all over the concrete and left.

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Our first 20 minute break in Summersville after 23 miles. We made it in about an hour and a half which is really good for being fully loaded through mountains. Got Missouri peaches, sarsaparilla, candy, and two pieces of chicken so we wouldn’t have to get lunch later.

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Jack’s Fork.

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Highway 160 all the way.

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Second 20 minute break in Eminence, 19 miles away from Summersville.

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Checking out the elevation chart. The climbs are steep even for the most granny gear, but not long. We thought the Sierras and some climbs in the Rockies were way worse.

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Current River.

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Almost done with the 27 mile stretch to Ellington. We were so over the speeding cars on this road. One truck sped past is on the uphill and nearly crashed into an on coming car coming up the other side.

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VICTORY. Thank you so much David and Rita for mailing us our stove.

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Seriously, since when do post offices give you water?

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Grocery shopping in Ellington for our 2 nights at Johnson’s. Need we say more?

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The 21 to Johnson’s. Just 20-something miles to go. This gravel doesn’t count as a shoulder. Speeding cars and logging trucks, no fun.

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West Fork Black River. This place makes me want to get a canoe.

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So happy to have made it here. We were pretty over KRUSHING hills.

It cost us, as bikers, just $2/night to camp here! The showers are free and really nice.

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Screw touring supported. This is all the food we carried with us. We got most of it in Ellington for our rest day. The last thing we wanted was to be hungry.

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Cheesy pasta dinner again that hit the spot. We KRUSHED the Ozarks, now it’s time to end the most loopy post ever and go to bed.

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