Ozara, MO to Carbondale, IL
Today's ride was nothing special. Both of us had tired legs today and thankfully there were not to many hills. We did cross the Mississippi river today into Chester, Il; which is the hometown of Popeye--at least the man who created Popeye.
Don had some trouble with tires today and my gears were not shifting correctly, so once in town we visited a few bike stores and got things fixed. My cables were stretched a bit and the chain needed to be replaced so I hope it will shift a lot better.
Probably, the worst thing about today is the hotel..we know understand to check out the full hotel before getting rooms. We also know no to stay in a hotel that offers 'weekly rates.' The people staying here are at the low end of the food chain and enjoy it!
Tomorrow we ride through the rest of Illinois and into Kentucky.
Salem, MO to Ozora, MO
This was an interesting day for many different reasons.
First, let's start with the dogs: I am not sure if Don rubbed hamburger meat all over my bike last night or what the reason was, but today--the dogs were on the attack. There were six different episodes of dogs running out to the road and barking or nipping at me while I rode. I'm sorry to say that the first dog that did this was hit by a truck. As the dog was running in its yard, I saw the truck coming and yelled at the dog to 'stay' but it bolted out in the road and was hit. This is not a good way to start the morning. As many of you know, I am a dog lover and I still feel bad about the incident even as I write this. What/who I don't care for are the dog owners who do not leash their animals and allow things like this to happen! In the five other incidents, I was able to outsprint the other dogs and seemingly made them tired enough that they did not even chase Don. This is why I think it was a conspiracy:)
Second, the roads were very narrow and there were many semi trucks on the road. I was run off the road twice by semi's as they blew their horns coming up the road right behind me. Thankfully I did not crash and was able to stop in the weeds or the gravel before falling. I was able give them the universal sign for 'my displeasure' but was pretty freaked out about getting run off the road. Today was the most dangerous day of all the days we have ridden:(
Third, if there were no cars on the roads--I would love this route. I am more of a climber vs. riding on the flats and this route is up and down all the time. For you bicyclists or runners out there; this is the ultimate interval workout. The climbs are 30 to 60 seconds in length with a 20 second downhill and then you start climbing again. Except I am doing this for 100 miles and 7 hours!!! Don had me totally freaked out about the Ozarks, but so far I am loving them...it is just one more thing against that state they call Kansas!
Fourth: Miscellanous items:
I have lost two inches around my waistline and have lost a five pounds...I was disappointed that I had not lost more weight with all the exercise I have been doing, but it was pointed out to me that I have gained a lot more muscle mass in my legs. They look like tree trunks right now!
Rod and Sal have been doing an amazing job of keeping us hydrated with fluids. We are going through 20 pounds of ice a day in the cooler and in our water/gatorade bottles. I know it must be boring at times following us around but Don and I could not do this trip without them.
The longer I am out on the road, the more I am forgetting about where I have been. This is why this blog is so important.
We have ridden just under 2,000 miles as of today
Marshfield, MO to Salem, MO
One thing that Don and I have learned over the past twentysomething days is that the maps of the route we are supposed to take, have not been updated in quite a few years from the original 1976 'BikeCentennial" route. The problem with this is the roads have not always been kept up (some are gravel now) or newer roads have been made that make a more direct route between cities. Today, we left the map and made up our own route to Salem, MO. I believe this route was much nicer (roads) than what we were supposed to be on and we still had to do over 100 miles to get to our destination. I guess it comes down to personal preference, but the hills were still challenging.
We again battled with the heat today but it was only 97 degrees, so I did not sweat as much (i.e. please read sarcasm into the last statement). It seems that we are out of the plains and into the hills and trees which is a nice change from the desolate landscape called Kansas. Today, I was strictly business in getting the ride done and rode alone the whole ride. It was one of those days that I knew I had to ride the 100 miles, but my legs were tired and I missed my kids dearly. Hearing them on the phone last night was nice but it made me homesick!
Doing laundry as I write this -- have to do it every four/five days b
Pittsburg, KS to Marshfield, MO
Don and I got up early to try and get in as many miles as possible to beat the heat that we knew was coming today. The problem was that Kansas is in the middle of an extreme heatwave and the temps were going to be hot. Well, it was and we battled most of the day with 100 degree temps and a heat index of 110 degrees:( We were able to put in 84 miles before we finally said that it was crazy and we were going to go into heat exhuastion by continuing. It was a good thing we stopped becuase it too a few hours for Don and I to get our core body temp down but we were still pretty tired and did not updated the blog. Sorry about that for you addicted followers:)Don was the unlucky rider of the day with two flat tires. I felt bad becuase it was so hot out and we normally only carry one spare tire, so he ha
We were starting to get into the ozarks and the rolling hills that we are riding on are a telling sign of what is to come.
Eureka, KS to Girard, KS
Today was a 100 mile day and the temp was over 100 degrees. Nothing really special today on the ride; just a grind for the whole day. We did have to ride for about 4 miles on a gravel road as we had another detour around some road work.
Once we arrived in Girard, we found out that there were no hotels and had to drive to Pittsburg, KS to get a hotel. While there we found out that Pittsburg was hosting "The four state Farm convention" and it was a big hit. We have not seen so many trucks, cowboy boots/hats and wrangler jeans in one place before.
It was suggested that we go to the #1 steakhouse in the area (Jim's Steakhouse) and it was well worth it. I had the best filet ever.
Short post today since nothing happened today and I am wiped out. Tomorrow, we head into Missouri and the ozarks.
As it turns out, two of my past students while I was teaching in Oxford, are now out here in Wichita, KS. The family moved out here a few years ago and Josh and Aaron followed along. It was great meeting them for dinner and catching up on the last few years.
Hutchinson, KS to Eureka, KS
It is hard to believe that we have been out here 22 days. Thankfully, I have the blog to go back and remind myself about the different days and what I did--it is all blurring together.
I think the way today started off should have been a warning that it was just better to keep the bikes on the van and drive to Eureka vs. riding them. Here are just a few of the things that we can now laugh about:
Rod, my 'roommate' during the trip, decided to snore last night and kept me awake most of the night. We tried to figure out why last night and not any other night and our only guess was that he ate spicy food at Applebee's for dinner.
So I am already tired and go down to the breakfast in the hotel lobby only to have my waffle somehow destroyed on the wafflemaker and I end up eating fruit loops and a cheese danish. Not the breakfast of champions when you are riding 100 miles.
As we are going to our drop off location to start the ride, we somehow miss the turn and end up 9 miles north of where we are supposed to be...that is okay but when we turn around we miss the turn again and are now 20 miles in the hole and have not even started riding East yet.
We finally get on the correct road only to see road construction signs saying that the road is closed two miles ahead. We forge ahead anyways, in the hopes that we can work around the construction. NOPE, the bridge is out so we have to travel 2 miles south, 3 miles east (on dirt roads), and 2 miles north again to get back on track.
At this point, any reasonable person would have called it a day but we are not reasonable people....remember we chose to pedal our bikes across this country.
So off we start from Buhler, KS at a very quick pace since we are being attacked by Mosquitos the size of humming birds. I have never seen such large mosquitos before and they were flying as fast as we were pedaling.
We are finally settled in to our ride and heading East on some lonely deserted road when we hear a plane coming in pretty low over the fields. We realize he is spraying the fields (probably to kill the damn mosquitos) when we see that he is heading straight for us. We slow down to watch and then had a sinking feeling that he is going to 'strafe' us with machine guns by the way he is aiming at us. He overshoots us by about 30 feet and flies back out into the fields..we laughed but kept looking back over our shoulders to make sure he did not make another run at us.
As we enter Hesson, KS, we see a fully loaded biker heading West and decide to stop and speak with him and tell him about the detours ahead with the bridge being out. We find the guy to be pretty jovial about his trip and then preceeds to tell us that this is his second year on a bike as he has traveled around the world (Europe, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, India, etc..) on his bike and that he is finishing up here in America before he goes home to Ireland. We wish him well, put our tails between our legs and head off. No longer do we think we are so special after hearing what he has been through and done over the last year and half. My hat goes off to him!
As we come into Newton, KS at 10am, we see on the bank sign that it is already 101 degrees out. We are not sure if the sign is correct or we are just getting used to the heat, but the 90% humidty was what was drag today.
As the day progressed, I had my chance to pet a cow...I know, stupid, but I have it in my mind that I am going to pet one of these animals before the end of the trip. I see this huge bull standing next to the fence and decide that I have to try. Everyone on the road has stopped to see the Irish guy in bike shorts trying to convice this bull to come towards me so that I can pet it. I can imagine the comments being made in the cars as I was standing there....Anyway, I did get the bull to move towards me but not close enough to touch. I guess that was my "running of the bulls," experience for the year:) You want to be close to them, but not close enough that they can get you!
As the miles progressed and we were finishing the ride, the black skies arrived. We thought we would be able to make it all the way into Eurkea, but the lightening changed all that. We stopped and waved for the support van to come get us, which they did slowly. Don and I are 'having a cow' (no pun intended) becuase the lightening and rain is getting closer and our van is not really interested in saving us. As we look closer, we see that Rod and Sal, are taking video and pictures of the storm and have become "Storm Chasers." We put our bikes on the rack and get inside and they do not even notice. They are so excited about the storm and the possiblity of a tornado that they decide to drive into the storm to get more video and pictures. Well, we end up in Eureka for the night and are recupperating for tomorrows ride. If things go well, we will end the day at the Kansas/Missouri border.
That's all for now!!
Larned, KS to Hutchinson, KS
Today, Don and I got an early start after the thunderstorms cooled everything down during the night. We were on the bikes just a little past sunrise and rode directly East on county road 96 forever...We knew our final goal for the day was going to be Hutchinson, KS becuase there was a full service bike shop called Harleys who was going to look at our wheels and see if they could fix Don's broken spoke.
Bob, the owner of Harley's, was great in helping get Don back on the road. Bob did not have the specific spoke in stock but called a buddy of his in Wichita and they did. Bob got somebody to drive the spoke over to his store and replaced it for Don. Bob also took the time to look at my front wheel and take care of some creaking noises that I did not care for...and no, the creaking noises were not from my knees!
So here is a shout-out to HARLEY'S Bicycles in Hutchinson, KS: www.harleysbicycles.com
YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!
Once the wheels were in for repair, we got a hotel, cleaned up and took a trip down memory lane with Don. He went to college out here in Sterling, KS; at Sterling C0llege. It is a small college where he was a big man on campus being active on the school paper as a sports writer and playing on the baseball team. It was cool to see him relieve some fond memories, at least the ones he could remember since next year it will be 50 years since he graduated from Sterling.
After the trip down memory lane and getting our wheels back we ate a hearty dinner and are turning in early. We have some mileage to make up the next few days since we needed to take care of business today.
Thank you for all the comments. It is enjoyable reading what you all think about the ride and the pictures we are taking. Keep the comments coming.
Scott City, KS to Larned, KS
The sun was rising out of the East at 6:30am and we were on our bikes and ready to do another 100 miles today. The sky looked great with the blues, reds, and orange colors of the morning sun reflecting off the semi-trailers whizzing by us at 65 miles an hour. That is when the day went south!
Don and I had planned on getting out early today to beat the heat and get in as many miles as we could before the temperture spiked to the 101 degreees the forecasters were predicting for the day. We rode out of the hotel parking lot to the goodbye waves of our only two fans (Rod and Sal) and set forth on the lone deserted highway. It was already 80 degrees at 6:30am. About 15 miles into the ride we got a call from Rod saying the van would not start. We offered some suggestions but kept riding in the hopes that the van was just being tempermental and they would soon be on thier way to save us from the heat and wind. In the multiple phone calls that followed, we found out that the security feature (pass-theft) would not allow the van to start. Why, we still do not know....but 23 miles into the ride, Don and I stopped in the small town of Dighton, KS. Since the van was still not starting we were worried that we may have to turn around and go back to Scott City while the van was being fixed.
Our stay in Dighton (3hrs) was an interesting observation of a cattle culture. To us, it seemed like Dighton was the crossroads of Kansas, since so many cattle semi's came through the town. Many stopped at the kwikshop gas station we chose as our home for the next three hours. We saw a father/daughter pair that had cowboy boots AND spurs walk into the store and others that looked like they had already put in a full days work in the cattle yard by the look of their clothes.
I, myself, decided to take a nap and fell asleep on the sidewalk about 25 feet from the main intersection. Don laughed at me but the sidewalk felt good, and I was out cold for about a 1/2 hr. Semi's and trucks are going by and I did not hear any of them:) It was a tough wait, becuase right across the street was the bank with the electronic sign telling us the time and temperature. As the hours ticked by, the temperature continued to rise. After three hours, Don and I decided it was time to ride back to the hotel and see what was going on--we would just deal with the ride later...but just then, the van comes roaring into town to save us the ride back. We found out the problem was with the keyfob and it talking with the security system. After disconnecting the battery for 15 minutes, the system reset itself and the van started with no problems.
It is now 11:30am and we decide to ride on...and the temperature has risen 10 degrees..its now 90 degrees and rising as we had out of town with our support van. We ride another 50 miles and call it quits becuase of the heat.
It did not help that we had the pleasure of riding on newly laid asphalt which is black and radiated the heat like a dry sauna right back at you.
Eads, CO to Scott City, Kansas
KANSAS: After driving back to Eads from Lamar, CO becuase of the hotel room situation, we were on the road and planned on taking it easy today. Since we had pushed it yesterday in 100 degree temps and I was not sure how my back was going to react to the bike, the plan was to ride an easy 100 miles. Well, that did not happen. I felt good and promised myself that I was not going to use my aero bars becuase that is what caused the back pain, but I was still doing 23-24mph with a slight tailwind. At 50 miles, I was on pace to be under 5 hrs for the day and decided to go for it. I completed the 100 miles in 4hrs and 59 minutes (20.1 mph) for the whole ride which is not real good, but it was a saving grace since I was not able to do that yesterday!
The view was grasslands or stockyards full of cattle. The smell from these places were like smelling salts--it hits you all at once and it is not pleasant!
During the ride we came upon 8 other adults who were doing the TransAmerica route from East to West. I stopped briefly to talk to them and give them some pointers about the sandstorms (wear surgical masks) and wished them all good luck. Don cuaght up to me at this point and I ducked in behind him and rode his wheel for awhile. It was then that I noticed his back wheel was wobbling and after investigating, we found that a spoke had broken off and caused his wheel to 'go out of true.' We quickly put on the spare back wheel and kept the ride going. We hope to get his wheel fixed someplace in Kansas, but the bike stores are not real plentiful around here.