Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bicycling from Mansfield MO to Birch Tree MO April 20

April 20...... 73.5 miles in 6:37....Today's ride was a perfect example of why I should NEVER listen to my GPS girl give me a route to follow, and it was also a perfect example why I SHOULD take her advice. I started from our campground rather late in the day, after going to Easter mass, and headed out County Road A, towards US60, past the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, towards the east, not the way I came in, through Mansfield, from the west. After about twelve miles of perfectly nice 'old rt. 60', I had a decision to make. The old road had been a bit more hilly than the four lane it was paralleling, and I was feeling adventurous, sort of bored with the four lane, new US60. I came to an intersection, where I had to go on the four lane, or ask the GPS girl if there was another way. I asked her and she gave me a route that went south of 60, sort of off the beaten path.
For the next twenty miles, I had a ride that may be one of the more memorable on my trip. It started with a descent into the town of Mountain Grove, and through the streets of town. The climb out of Mountain Grove was pretty damn steep, and it was a harbinger of what was to come. I was up and down like a yo yo, with steep climbs and very sharp descents, not unlike riding in West Virginia. I definitely was not on the plateau any more that I've been riding for a few days, but was in some serious hills. There was no wind, so the climbing was quite tolerable, and the distant hillsides full of cattle and horses were a nice backdrop. Then, as I was flying down a hill, I saw a sign that said ' pavement ends', and the first cuss words for my GPS girl began to form in my mind. I followed the dirt road across three wet stream crossings, and up and down some major washboard, loose dirt, climbs, one of which I had to walk up for about fifty yards, and the roads went from good to bad, and back. The very things that made this such a tough trip also made it a very beautiful ride through adventurous country that some of the locals may not even know. The stream crossings were actually pretty cool, and I rode past animals grazing next to the road with no fences. I saw whitetail deer sprinting across a field. The squirrels and birds running through the fallen leaves sounded like big animals, and I was constantly accompanied by something making the leaves rustle as I rode. As it turned out the scenery and the steep climbs and drops were all part of the Mark Twain National Forest, and I was in the thick of it. I climbed almost 3000 ft, and probably descended just as much, before I popped back out onto US60, at about the forty mile mark of my ride. I was very near the town of Willow Springs, so I took the business 60 route through town, and stopped at a Subway and refilled my water and had a sandwich to fuel the next 30 miles of the trip. It actually got pretty warm as I was on the back roads, so I had my shirt totally off for a few hours, so I was soaking up some sun, as well as getting pretty dehydrated. After the lunch stop, it was back out onto the four lane for the rest of the trip. It was more of the same scenery and terrain as the rest of US60. It was rolling along plateau like terrain again, until I came to the town of Mountain View. I actually thought I might view a mountain there, but there was none to be viewed. The terrain was actually flattening out, and descending slightly. The sky clouded up and looked like rain for a while as I finished up, and that may be the beginning of things to come. We have been so lucky with good weather, but we may see rain tomorrow. I ended up doing over 4000 ft of climbing for the ride, and 4400 ft of descending, even though I was always between 1000 and 1600 ft above sea level. 
Pam had a difficult time finding any campgrounds out here, the phone signals are very sketchy, and we ended up at Lucky's Travel Plaza, parking with the 18 wheelers for the night in Birch Tree, pretty much on the outskirts of nowhere. Now, I believe that the touristy, beautiful scenic rivers and hills are still in our future. We may not see any of it, as big sections of the Mark Twain Scenic Rivers and National Forest will be to our north and south.
For the first time since I found my bear spray, last fall, I had to discharge it at a dog. Well, I might not have HAD to, but this guy was way to cocky for my comfort as he ran along side me. Usually, if I get up over 20 mph, a dog is working so hard to keep up that he can't bite. This dog was running along side of me, but he didn't seem to be straining enough for me. I pulled my weapon from my holster, and aimed, and just waited for him to make a lunge or move closer to me. He was just too strong, in the prime of his life, very arrogant as he barked at me. Then he did it. He moved closer to me as he ran, and I fired. It was just a one second blast of spray, and it wasn't even a direct hit, but it blew up that dog. He disintegrated the instant I pressed that button. No more running, no more barking, no whimpering or yelping either. By the time I looked back to see where he went, he was gone. I was going over 20 mph, with traffic passing me, so it took a second to look back. But he was not in sight. Dropped him like a six inch putt. BOOM.

1st water crossing on the back road

2nd water crossing

Unfenced horse on the back road

This is what you get when you're halfway between Oklahoma and Louisiana!!!

Long ribbon of rolling road in the Ozarks

3rd water crossing

Challenging pedaling on the dirt roads

Getting back to civilization

Coke machine graveyard in Willow Springs!

Downtown Birch Tree, Missouri!


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