Average Speed: 10.0 mph; Max Speed: 37.8 mph
Elevation Gain: 4,610 ft
Average Temp: 80.8 F; Temp Range: 57.2-96.8 F
The temperature today was supposed to top out in the 80s, a welcome change from the 90s and 100s of the last two weeks. With that in mind, I took the opportunity to sleep in a bit, waking up around 5 instead of 3:30AM. For all the people camping there, I have to say that Circle B campground was pretty quiet last night, and I got in some good sleep.
In a passing conversation with some riders headed west, I was told that the ride between Summersville and Ellington was the toughest day they had experienced thus far. Yesterday I rode the first parkt of that stretch, but this morning’s first 27 miles would cover the rest. Unfortunately, they were not exaggerating. I plodded up some of those hills working all-out to maintain 3.5 mph or faster. On two occasions I stopped for a breather only to realize the hill was so steep that I had trouble getting started again without risking falling over. Both of those times I walked 100-200 ft to a slightly less steep area and then resumed riding. This was all made more difficult by my legs being tired from yesterday’s ride.
It didn’t take me long to recognize that I was not going to make it to Farmington today. I guess I won’t get to sleep in the jail, unless tomorrow is equally hellish in terms of elevation. And so, today becae a day of riding to the next potential stopping point, taking a quick break, and assessing whether or not I could make it to the next stop.
On my approach to Ellington, I passed two young guys both riding west. They were speeding down and I was slogging up a hill, so in both cases, we just waved as we passed each other. I was feeling drowsy by this point, though it was only 10:15 in the morning, so I paused to check out what was around in Ellington, thinking maybe I’d stop for a bite to eat and some coffee at a local café. They had a few restaurants, none of which did breakfast, so I went to the grocery store instead. I replenished a few supplies, bought dinner for tonight, and picked up some juice and a nectarine for now. The nectarine was ripe based on texture but was not as sweet as I had hoped. Oh, well, maybe next time.
After sitting outside the grocery store for maybe 20 minutes, nearly drifting off at least once, I dragged my sorry, tired but up off the ground and moved on. Just outside of Ellington, I ran into two gentlemen headed east. They were both riding from different places to different destinations, but who had linked up for this section where they were both on the TransAm trail. We were at the base of one of the steep climbs, and we chatted for a bit about this and that. They had just started their day because one of the had left his computer in the pizza restaurant last night and they had to wait for it to open for him to retrieve it.
We had spoken at the base of one of the day’s bigger climbs, and I found a patch of shade at the top to rest and eat in. They joined me, and we got to talking a bit more. Still drowsy, I don’t think I was the best person to have as part of a conversation, but I did manage to ask and answer a few questions.
The next town up was Centerville, and I paused in a convenience store there to buy a pint of milk and refill my water bottles. While I was there, I saw the guys cruise on by, which made me smile. I chatted a while with the woman running the store, commenting that I had half a mind to pour my water bottles, newly filled with ice water, over my head. She suggested I go jump in a river. Not as a dismissal, but as actual advice. The Current River ran under a bridge just outside of town and is a popular place to cool off. I didn’t jump in—it wasn’t really hot enough to require that—but I did stop and take a photograph.
I caught up with the two gentlemen where they had stopped for a break a bit later on, but they were getting ready to move again, so I didn’t stop for more than another greeting. I didn’t see them again after that point.
Soon, there was nothing but road and hills for a long while. Sometimes the road had a shoulder, but the rumble strips wandered and the ridable width was varied enough that I felt safer in the lane. Other times the road was just two lanes with no shoulder at all. In one of the stretches of the latter, a guy passing me rolled down his window to shout at me to “get off the road.” As if there was somewhere else I could go. I gave the back of his car a big smile and a cheery wave to show him exactly how sorry I was that he had to slow down for a whole 15 seconds to wait to be able to pass me safely (a hill limited visibility). He did not make the asshole count, because what he did was merely annoying, not threatening, harmful, or potentially dangerous. The guy who rolled coal on me a little later, though, did. I consider having to breath a cloud of exhaust to be harmful.
Around this time, my muscles started twinging in the way they do when they’re either overworked, about to cramp, or both. The next potential stopping point was a campground in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. I looked at my map and then took a pass, because 4.5 miles of gentle climbing (for once today!) further up the road was another campground. Now that I’m here, though, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I had stopped early. The campground is next to a bar that serves hamburgers, fries, and frozen pizza. It has water, a flush toilet, but limited electric and no shower. It also has a number of people who like setting off fireworks. A lot of very loud fireworks. One couple took the time to come over to warn me, which was nice. Given how sleepy I am, I’m hoping I drop into a deep sleep that the fireworks can’t reach. I’m hoping that tomorrow I can make it to the Illinois border.
Roadkill count: 2 birds, 3 armadillos, 1 cat, 1 possum, 1 raccoon, 1 skunk, 2 unknown mammals, 3 snakes, 1 turtle