Day 27, 4/22: Mountain Grove, MO to Fremont, MO (85 miles)
Day 27 going into our 4th rest stop of the trip in the Ozarks was a long and challenging (4200 feet of elevation) but beautiful day. The weather stayed sunny (knock on wood) and for the first few miles we continued on the same freeway as yesterday, only this time the shoulder was pretty rough and the cars were less friendly. Luckily we were only on for a few miles before switching to beautiful open country roads. However, around mile 16 right after riding down a big hill, the road turned into gravel/rocks for what looked like a few miles, so we had to turn around and climb back up the hills we’d just come down to get back to the freeway.
The second stretch going into lunch was lovely, as we went through forests and winding hills with trees forming a canopy on both sides. We had our lunch stop in a cute little town called Birch Tree and met some more friendly shop-owners who were interested in our ride. The last part of the day involved some hilly freeways (including one Payson-esque long winding hill!) and as we entered the Ozarks National Forest, we biked through 3 miles of gravel to get to our campsite. Mary, the last rider without a flat, finally got a flat tire on this gravel section so now everyone on the team has officially gotten a flat!
Our original 85-mile day turned into a 92-mile day with all the detours to avoid gravel, so we got to our campsite around 4pm. Eric and Stephen were super gungho and rode around the campsite a bunch of times to get in enough miles to make it a century ride! We set up all our tents and Dan started an awesome campfire. Since there weren’t that many restaurants around, we had a nice homemade dinner of spaghetti, salad, and other random food we had. Our camping neighbors were really friendly and even gave us a pack of local Missouri “Float Trip Ale”. After dinner, we sat around the campfire roasting delicious s’mores and winding down after the long day.
4/23: Fremont Rest Day aka Camping in the Ozarks!
Our rest day in the Ozarks started with sleeping in (first time in ages, as most rest days we have an educational event in the morning to get ready for) and chilling by the campfire as people slowly got up. We were excited to check out the Ozarks, so one group went rafting down Current River for 4 miles while another hiked to Big Spring, the largest-volume single spring in the world. The tube ride down the river was really nice and relaxing, as we lazily floated down the river and enjoyed the sun and view of the forests and gorgeous riverside houses. We had 2 rafts and once Dan cannonball-ed into the water to get the other raft wet, the war was on lol. All but 2 people eventually jumped into the water, which was actually quite refreshing and not too cold.
For dinner, we checked out some local restaurants including a BBQ joint and a bistro overlooking the river, which were both great. In the evening, we enjoyed just relaxing at the campsite (we even set up some hammocks!) and more s’mores around the campfire. Warning though – Kyle’s dog and a few of the riders found some ticks on themselves, as we were quite close to the dense forests. After learning all about Lyme disease during medical school, we definitely were a bit freaked out about the ticks lol.