“Peak”-a-boo

Rain and Snow at the top

Rain and Snow at the top


Hoosier Pass continued….
Hoosier Pass was high, cold, wet, clouded, and exhilarating.
I waited for the traffic to clear and headed down the mountain after Eleanor’s lead. I was wearing every bit of warm weather gear that I had including my bike gloves that were sure to make the descent easier than without gloves, as Eleanor would try, or with plastic bags on my hands, as Kaitlyn would do. Bah! By the time I had gone about 2 miles down and made it around several hairpin switchbacks I tried very hard to slow my bike. I squeezed the brakes and the pain shot through my arms. They were so cold that it was incredibly painful to make a fist or squeeze the brakes. Shake shake shake the hands. Warm them up. Jump around. Grin and bear it.
Down again. The wind was penetrating my gloves like they didn’t exist and I stopped again. If a car came near me, could I stop? If I hit a rock and began to wobble would I go flying off the mountain top? Fear set in. I removed my gloves this time and stuck my hands on my bear stomach for warmth. When Kaitlyn caught up to me she asked if I was okay and I shook my head “no”. I wasn’t sure I’d make it down. She gave me one bag so I could try keeping one hand dry and blocked from the wind. Down again but not for long. I was just too cold and had to stop once more. I began to cry. I just couldn’t help it this time. It was not what I had imagined the downhill being like. I was cold to the core. I was turning blue and couldn’t trust my hands to close around the brakes. We went around one more turn and thankfully Eleanor stood there breathing hot air onto her bare hands. Breckenridge was 9 miles down hill….I had to give up. We all did. We stuck out our thumbs for a ride but all we got in response were thumbs up and waves from drivers. We looked so pitiful. How did they not see that we were asking for a ride? Eleanor cleverly suggested we put our bikes away and try to hitch hike down the mountain. We would warm up and come back or find a kind soul with a pickup truck to do the honors. Within 1 minute we had a ride from a wonderfully nice man in a sports car. He could barely squeeze us in but wanted to help so badly that we made it work. Down into Breck we went. SO Beautiful! Kaitlyn found a guy in a bike shop who offered to ride his bike home, pick up his truck, drive us up to get the bikes and take us to the hostel. I didn’t fit in his small truck so I stood in the bike shop making small talk with the bike employee who so kindly poured me a glass of warm water(my lips were blue). I stripped off the soaked clothing and threw on the over sized ski outfit he found in the back room. A solid 30 minutes later the girls returned to throw me in the truck and get to the hostel. It had begun to rain again. Ugh. The best part of the whole experience was the amazing hostel. A hot tub did the trick of warming us up and stopping the shakes. After showering and settling into our bunk room we headed to get pizza. End scene.
Happy to be warm

Happy to be warm


The next day was spent on logistics that I won’t even bother to talk about. When you are solo and trying to get down the road you only have to discuss the million options for the day with yourself. Not the case with 3 brains and 3 agendas and deadlines and money issues and so on….we spent a solid 6 hours looking for rides to boulder, having them fall through, exploring every possible option of what to do for the next week. Having nothing pan out, we headed to Frisco at about 4pm.P6210434 2
P6210443 2
ROCKIES!

ROCKIES!


It was down a bike path along a stream. This was the beginning of the prettiest riding of the trip. We only went a few miles down the road when we began to scope out Frisco for a place to stay. From what we could tell, our best bet would be putting our sleeping bags on a sleigh hidden beyond the city park. Ooooo, scandalous.
Our campsite: a Sleigh

Our campsite: a Sleigh

After some much needed brews and the good news that tomorrow evening we would get a ride to Boulder, we headed back to our site. After dark, of course. As we rode into the park we spotted a cop. Turn off your blinking lights! As he rounded one side of the building we rounded the other. A little game of cat and mouse. Safe. He didn’t see us.
“Peak”-a-boo.
I stick my nose out of the sleeping bag. It’s 3 am and I have to pee! Go figure. It was the most crisp and clear night. Millions of stars and I’m sleeping in a sleigh at the base of The Rocky Mountains. Can’t get any cooler than this. 5 am. I stick my nose out again. Brrrrr. This time I really have to pee. So I do. The sleeping bag just wasn’t the same when I returned and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was quite alright though. Who wants to sleep when you can lay in a sleeping bag covered in frost with snow covered peaks at your toes that are being lit by the rising sun. Seriously cannot beat that moment.
The view from the Sleigh

The view from the Sleigh


I’m going to skip some details because they are not only boring but they were not fun times.
We waited all day for our ride to Boulder, found out he wasn’t coming, racked our brains for hours, Hertz was out of rental cars, Greyhound buses sometimes come by but are not reliable nor do they have a customer service #. We decide to ride the bus to Denver for $15. All aboard. Not my phone though. There it sat on the ledge outside of the Hertz rental company….
Luckily they put it in the safe for safe keeping until my return in a couple of days. We stayed in Denver at a friends house, got a ride to the outskirts of Boulder, loaded our bikes again, and took off down the road in the wee hours of the morning soon to arrive at my friend Adams house. More to come….

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Pueblo, Colorado. Halfway.

I sit as a watch-dog over our freshly washed clothes outside of room 125 at the Bramble Tree Inn. Bike shorts, t-shirts, socks, and jerseys drape heavily over 3 wooden benches we’ve moved into the intense sunlight. I rotate them like pancakes every 15 minutes in hopes that they will quickly dry. The smell of tar and cigarette butts passes me. There is an over sized flower pot posing as an ashtray and trash can to my right. In front of me on the second floor men work on patching the roof. This is the most uncomfortable I’ve been on this trip. We asked to stay at the Nature Center for another night but they “highly discouraged” it because of their lack of security. I was more afraid of the raccoon at night than any human. Oh well. On my way to Safeway this morning 3 separate people slowed their cars down to say something to me. Nothing harmful but also nothing worthwhile. I didn’t care too much because I knew soon I would have cereal in my belly and that’s really my favorite thing in the world. Where have the friendly faces gone? Vanished.
It was nice to sleep in a bed again but is it worth the huge knot in my stomach? We’re not in a great area and I’m really not fond of this city. I fear a conversation with someone because it may lead to disclosing too much information. Normally I relish telling someone that I don’t have a place to sleep tonight and that I’m from VA, etc. No. Here I am just a lady on a bench watching the moisture evaporate off of her clothes.
Kaitlyn’s hand seems to be doing well. That was Monday morning and now it’s Wednesday, day 47. Should we have taken the ride? Did we really need to?
Julia called places in Pueblo to get a gift card for me. She and some other friends all chipped in to fund the surprise. She ended up picking a cute little bakery called Hopscotch. We were able to get 2 sandwiches and 2 loaves of bread. Thanks again everyone!
As we sat on the darling downtown street we ran into Jim and his wife again. We hadn’t seen them since Pittsburg, Kansas and it was a big surprise to him to see us there. How did we go so fast? Oh, Jim…we are magical.
It turned out that Pueblo wasn’t half bad and by the time we left we were sad to have not seen more of it. A visit to a bike shop gave us a few new tips for the road and some gear to help. I tried to unlock my Brooks saddle from the twisted lock that held it captive to my stem. Mom did such a good job attaching the thing that no one in the shop (over 4 people) could figure out how to unlock it. Good thing clippers can solve the problem. I was fitted AGAIN and found something I had been looking for the entire trip- a small water bottle to fit in my bottom cage. The old one was from my days doing MS bike rides in Virginia. The mold growing in it wasn’t very appetizing but hadn’t stopped me from sipping from it a couple of times.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My new book. Please everyone read this book. I may only be 2 chapters in but it’s a must read for every American!
Canon City.
We land in Guffey the next day as mentioned before. We hadn’t gone that far but we’d climbed to 8,000+ ft.

An early start gets us moving just as a sprinkle of rain comes. We head out of Guffey ready to concour lots of miles and Hoosier Pass. The highest we will be all trip. Psssssssssssssssst. Flat tire.
More rain. Of course it’s the back tire. As I pull at the tube to remove it from within the tire I struggle. Why is it so hard to get out? Oh, because it has made it 2,100 miles without having to be changed! Wow.
Rain stops. Tire is fixed. We continue.
Deer dash towards the road from our right. How beautiful. Whhaaaaap. Fumble.
One of the deer runs straight into the fence instead of gracefully clearing the top as it’s relatives did. Not a pretty sight but he was able to shimmy out rather quickly and return to a gallop into the aspen trees.
Clip in to my pedals again. With every rotation I’m hitting my panniers with my heel. Why? Oh, I put my bags on the wrong side. Ugh. Stop. Kaitlyn holds my bike as I struggle to switch the bags. I have yet to find a kickstand that will support my bike weight so I have to resort to the kindness of the girls in times of need.
Off again. Up Up Up. We have a tail wind and a storm chasing us. We stop at the grocery store for some grub and bathroom stop. Yes, for those of you who know me well, I am still the queen of peeing abnormally often. Means I’m well hydrated, right? How is it that I can drink 1/2 of what the girls drink and pee twice as many times. Oh body.
We travel through the most beautiful and breathtaking areas I’ve ever seen. The Aspen trees line the road and look as if they are waving to us in the wind. Aspen have a different root system and are considered one of the largest, if not the largest living organisms. They have a network of roots connecting their many white trunks. The leaves are also unique because they attach to the branch unlike other leaves. This makes it so they twist and turn like whirly gigs. Mesmerizing. The rolling hills are covered with rich green grass. But only on one side. Looks like the Western side. Most of the rest of the hills or mountains are covered by dark green trees. Anyone know why?
Buffalo dot the landscape on enormous farms. They have so much room to roam. “Buffalo Burger” signs appear at the cafe’s. Sad.
The tail wind carries us about 40 miles to the grocery store and with a quick journey to a monument for Prunes the donkey, we’re closing in on our ultimate goal : Hoosier Pass. It’s raining heavily now but we’re lucky to have a bike path to ride along until Alma, a mere 4 miles from the summit. It’s here that we had to integrate back into traffic. Boo.
Though it was a long ride up, the grade was reasonable. The lowest gear was need for most of it but not all. I never stopped pedaling once we left Alma. I was sure that if I did I would not start again. My feet were frozen but I decided to push through it. Kaitlyn had stopped ahead of me to jump up and down. Her feet must be cold too. Eleanor is drinking water. Smart. I’ll wait for that too. We make it to the top and I find myself tearing up a bit. We’d gotten soaked by rain and watched as the magnificent Rockies passed by us unrecognizable. They were covered in clouds that hid their peaks. It was tears of joy to have made it and also tears of sadness not to be able to see exactly what we just accomplished. About 1/2 way up it had even started to snow. With temperatures that cold we knew not to stay at the top to celebrate for long. It was time to enjoy the downhill! That will be the best part. Right?…..
As much as I would love to continue, it’s 1 am and I’m getting up in 4 hours. The stories will have to wait. Since sleeping through the night is rare, sometimes it’s nice to stay up late. Then I have a better chance of sleeping sound for longer. Gnight

Pictures

I have been able to add some pictures to some past blog entries so check them out. I was also lucky enough in Boulder to use a computer for more than 1 hour at a time. This may not happen again so enjoy! I wanted the pics to follow the order in which I post blogs but to save time I’ve added them all to one post.

13 pints of gelato for FREE!

13 pints of gelato for FREE!

Fairview. Pancakes fill our bellies!

Fairview. Pancakes fill our bellies!

Sleeping in a sleigh

Sleeping in a sleigh

Frisco, CO

Frisco, CO

YUM!

YUM!

Snowing!

Snowing!

I was not impressed

I was not impressed

Showing some leg!

drove up to flagstaff before the rain came, again, onto Boulder

drove up to flagstaff before the rain came, again, onto Boulder

Breckenridge, co

Breckenridge, co

Guffey, CO

Bill knows how to greet folks

Bill knows how to greet folks

A tastey brewski before seeing the town of Guffey.
Time it takes to see Guffey : 5 minutes.
Streets in Guffey : 1, goes in a square.
Population : 20
Characters : 20
A small restaurant called Ritas has fed us well. We’re dirty from the dusty ride and tired…maybe as a result of being at 8,600 feet. It’s been a low mileage day but hilly to say the least. This is such a small town, 20 strong, and boasts the most out-houses. Oh joy. We’re not sure where we’ll hang our hats (helmets) tonight. There are 2 good options but making decisions is not our strong point. According to Rita, we’re the first all girl group of riders that have come through and she’s been here 5 years! Come on ladies….git on those bikes!

Last night we went to Canon City to sleep in the city park but were turned away by the cops. We ate at the picnic tables-burritos-while we wondered what to do. We could look for a car with a bike rack on it in a driveway and ask for a patch of grass for the night. We could make friends with the soccer coach at the middle school down the road. We could continue on….
That’s when Eleanor spotted a women working on her house next to the park. She rode “Merl” over and struck up a conversation. Luckily she was game for letting us crash in her yard. We got a tour of her beautiful home and chatted it up about her artwork. She teaches art in Pueblo and is gearing up for her art show in Boulder next Friday. Hopefully we’ll get to go! We were ever so grateful to get to stay with her. There’s been nothing better on this trip than the kindness of complete strangers. They surprise us every time! This is the second art teacher we’ve stayed with…must be a sign….should I become an art teacher?

I was able to develop my pictures at the Walmart and I’m so disappointed. I’ve been without my digital camera for weeks and disposables are hardly a good replacement. Good news is that in Boulder I will be able to get the camera back and hopefully download some pics to this site. Cross your fingers. SO much for spending $300+ on a waterproof, shockproof camera. I guess you can drown it, drop it, but not lean the weight of your bicycle on it. No fair!

Gnight all

The Stabbing

Hello Kansas
Got your attention?
Don’t panic, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Let’s back up to last week. We’d been in Kansas a while and were more than happy to see the golden fields, big farm equipment, and teeny tiny towns. They’d gotten sparce but are filled with the most welcoming of people. While in Buhler, we had an invitation to stay for dinner. Every Friday night Ester and her husband Bill invite folks from all over to come to their home for a cookout. Since we happened to cross paths, we were invited as well. Ester was big into biking and was very happy to serve us iced tea and home cooked grub. We figured that after dinner we would finish our day with another 30 miles to complete 60 for the day. Instead we crashed in Esters spare room. I got the bed this time! 3 days of sunlotion, sweat and grime went swirling down the drain as I enjoyed my shower. In the morning we headed out with a TAILWIND! We just rolled through the miles going up to 23 miles an hour without even trying. This is very lucky in Kansas. Usually it’s storming by 3 with headwinds all the way. We landed in Larned that evening around 5, just in time to hit the local coffee shop. We got 2 huge smoothies and one coffee drink but when we went to pay the lady told us that our money was no good here. Wow! But that was not all. She washed out all of our water bottles with soap and water and sponges and refilled them all with ice water. On top of that she gave us all her grapes, apples and bagels that were left over from the week. Sweet deal! So if you’re ever in Larned, Kansas go to Scraps to see Jaime….she rocks and her drinks are delicious! Across the street was a movie theatre so we were able to watch UP (wonderful) in a packed small room. A huge bag of popcorn and one Dr. Pepper later it was bed time in the local park. This was our best shelter yet. It had walls! This would be perfect for when the storms come and the rain starts to blow in. We were snug and dry all night. Sunday was my most enjoyable morning. I got up early and headed to the only thing open on Sundays-the grocery store. I resupplied with trail mix, clif bars, oatmeal, milk and cereal. There is no better food in the morning than cereal! A leisurely day of catching up with phone calls and reorganizing my panniers, again. We packed up around 4 and headed out of Larned with another surprising tail wind. We had to get to the next town, Rush Center, for the evening (30 miles) so that in the morning we could pick up a package at the post office. It’s been a pain to try to schedule package pickups and deliveries but I was very happy about this one because it contained a new pair of shorts for me. I’ve been wearing 1 pair the whole time. On cold days I have a pair of wool bike pants but for the most part I’ve been in the shorts working on my sweet tan line. By the way, my left leg is more tan than the right. I believe I will have to bike back across the country to tan the other half of my body next!
In Rush Center there were 4 things. A post office, a gas station, a bar, and a small plot of land with a swing set and picnic table that boasted being a park. We quickly set up before the rain came and headed to the bar.
Out of goblets that would have fit a softball, Eleanor and I drank 3 Amberbock beers. Oh they tasted so good. And what’s a good beer without pie! 2 pieces of pie.
We awoke at 6 instead of 5 and headed out at 7:40 to the post office. With excitement Kaitlyn came out of it holding her new Brooks Saddle and the pair of bike shorts for me! I needed to adjust my seat so I told Kaitlyn to go ahead and put her saddle on. She began to open the packaging when we heard her say she cut herself. That’s when the blood began to flow….and flow. A lady in a red pickup agreed to drive us to the hostipal so we stripped the bikes, loaded up and headed to the emergency room. We walked hesitantly into the elementary school building. Really? The hospital was the old school. Kaitlyn, Eleanor, myself and 2 nurses crammed into the small room. The wound was cleaned and the color in Kaitlyn’s face began to drain. There was fatty tissue coming out of the wound…ugh….that’s when I had to bail. Not only was she about to get stitches but she was also going to get a tetnus shot and there was no way I could handle watching either.
I closed the door and began to walk clickity clack, clickity clack down the hallway. Before I could get far I was asked some questions by a very tall man holding a cup of coffee. Oh it smelled so good. The typical questions came and then my typical reaction to stress reared it’s angry head. I like to call it diarrea of the mouth, blabbing, too much information, etc. Either way he could tell I was a little dazed and offered coffee. YES! Would I ever say no?
How will she bike? It’s going to hurt. It will need time to heal. What if she cna’t continue? WHat if we get behind? We can’t stay in this town for rest days, there’s nothing here. This town isn’t even on the route. He was still listening intently. When I had worked through all of this and had concluded that we must hitch hike to another bigger town to rest he offered to try to help. He thought maybe he could give us a ride. He would have hated to see us leave and not know that we got somewhere safely. How nice….
Back to Kaitlyn…4 stitches and a near fainting later she was good to go and so were we. We had a ride to Pueblo, CO! I couldn’t believe that this stranger was going to drive us 6 hours one way to a large town a state over…He offered showers before we hit the road. We can take a hint. 3 days of grime doesn’t sit well in a truck for 6 hours. It turned out that George Stouver was the head of the hospital and because it was a slow Monday, didn’t mind making the trip. Thanks so much George and Trish!
The ride was long and I watched as the flat lands of Kansas turned into the largest mountain range I’ve seen in a long time. It was the beginning of The Rockies. They sprung up out of nowhere. You feel very big when you ride the roads of Kansas. You can be seen for miles. You are bright. You are the most exciting thing going on. But all that changes when you stare a mountain down. It wins. It towers over you to put you back in your place. Pikes Peak was the first one we saw towering at over 14,000 ft. Wow. Soon we would be climbing to 11,000+ ft. The highest I’d hiked was 6,000 so doubling that was inconcievable. I have to BIKE that high?
We came into Pueblo about 5. Exhausted from the ride, hungry for real food, nervous at what we’d find in such a big city. The park was enormous and wasn’t a place we wanted to stay overnight. The cops didn’t know where we should camp or even if it was allowed. We put our bikes back together and with Kaitlyn biking one-handed we headed to the mexican place on the corner. Surely the worst mexican food I’ve ever eaten and we’d all be paying for it for days to come. Luckily a couple having just finished a bike tour themselves recommended we stay at the river along the greenway. Perfect. Eleanor and I scoped it out while Kaitlyn patiently waited at the top of the hill. After miles of looking we asked Kaitlyn to join and took a chance on a strangers suggestion to go a little farther to the Nature Center. Thank you random person. It was a welcome site after a stress filled day. We arrived after 9 by bike light.
It was the most beautiful place we’d seen. A well maintained Nature Center to our side. A greenway path running along the river for miles behind us. We set up camp quickly and were happy to sleep, washing away such a crappy day.
I lay in my sleeping bag with my tent around me (w/o fly). I’m under the shelter and surrounded by picnic tables. The stars are out and the river will sing me to sleep. Deep breath in, then out. Ah.
Thud.
What was that?
I look towards the spotlight on the building and I see a racoon come crawling out of a trash can…that has a lid! Talented sucker. He was able to lift every lid to crawl inside the 4 ft bins. Eleanor emerged from her tent ready for war. Rocks were thrown. Mace was threatened. I fell asleep before knowing the results of the confrontation. Turns out that nothing else happened. She waited for his return after getting nailed by one of the rocks but I suppose he learned a lesson.

Where am I?

It’s mile 9.76 and I don’t know what time it is. I click my odometer buttons until 10:33 flashes across the bottom. We woke up at 5 am to rain, just a little. I was engulfed in my down sleeping bag which is sealed in a limp mesh tent around me. I just can’t seem to make the effort to put the poles in it every night…I’ll just have to take them down again tomorrow. Ugh. I looked out into the darkness past the swingset. I couldn’t remember where I was. Back to sleep. Too much rain to ride. Oatmeal, coffee, and organic food store stop (I’ve been looking for one since I left Charleston 1.5 months ago).
I look down at the pavement. It looks like a tiger sratched at it over and over. They must be prepping to repave it. Mile 6 : Eleanor has flat tire #1. Mile 11 is flat tire #2. I eat my cinnamon roll as I patch my tube and then hers. I have a feeling much more patching is to come. What day is it? Oh Friday.
I watch as Eleanor’s tire goes round and round and feel dizzy after starring at it too long. Water. I need to drink more water. Less coffee. I thought I wasn’t going to drink coffee on this trip.
This is Kansas. Flatlands today. Fields. Wheat and corn and barley. Gridwork roads. There’s enough room and few enough cars that folks can easily ride in the entire oncoming lane to pass us instead of being stuck behind our 12 mile an hour bikes. The pace is steady and I find myself looking up at times wondering what I’ve missed since I last looked around. Nothing. Fields maybe.
I’m tired today. It will only be 50 miles to camp but it feels like so much more in the heat and after an 80 miler yesterday. But I’m happy. I’m enjoying the endless time to think and get lost in my own brain. Sadly I’m lost in there so often that I have no idea where I am….
Kansas.

Eureka!, Kansas


Oh my oh my. We left Pittsburg yesterday with good intentions of riding early as far as we could in hopes that we could get 108 miles behind us. Kansas is very different from the previous states because now camping sites and city parks are much more spread out. If you get a 60 mile day in then you have to either stay where you are, go another 40 miles, or hope that you find a nice person along the road that will take you in.
We got about 15 miles down the road when a small diner in Girard caught our eye and lured us in with buscuits and pancakes. Yes, we’d already eaten a wonderful breakfast of an entire box of cereal but we couldn’t pass up the meal. We sat down after explaining our adventure to the local men at the first table who had a great time watching us prance around in our ou-of-place outfits. There’s nothing stranger than 3 young women waltzing into the local diner disrupting the daily routine of coffee and chit-chat with the clamour of cycling cleats and the odor of week old bike shorts. Ugh!
I soon put my new seat on and we were doing well mileage wise when the sky became the most brilliant color. It was a harsh black layered in purples and teals. It was just after lunch and our still digesting bellies turned with fear of bad weather. A man had warned us that a tornado was 20 miles away but he figured the winds would keep the weather system north of where we were. I looked for hiding places as we continued down the road. There we’ren’t many options. Low ditches, few homes, sparce trees….uh oh. I told the ladies we should press on until we found someone to help or something to hide in. The winds were not going to hold this back any longer. It was then that a man in his pickup threw it in reverse down his driveway and ran out to tell us we could hide in his garage. We hauled it to the shelter and made it in as the enormous rain drops fell. Circling clouds, hail, and heavy rain blasted the dry land for about 30 minutes. We couldn’t even see the driveway we had just come down. When the storm passed we pressed on. There was still thunder and lightning but we didn’t feel welcome in the garage so we didn’t have much choice. Kaitlyn and I opted for rain jackets and Eleanor did not. 5 minutes later we were in a downpour. We spread out as we rode for fear that if lightning should strike one of us, it may get all. Would spreading out help us? We’re still not sure of the best way to ride in lightning storms. I think maybe next time we just won’t! How about that!
Less than 2 miles down the road we found an open garage for shelter again. Ah. Off we went just 15 minutes later when it cleared again. So much for our high mileage day. We were happy to have just gotten to Chanute-about 65 miles. We toured the cute and desolate downtown before settling under a shelter at a ball field near a park. The rain was coming again. We had enough time to eat our mac n cheese with tomatoes and put up our tents. We staked them down and bungeed the heck out of them for fear that they would blow away. That was a very real fear when gusts of over 60 miles an hour tore through our camp. It stormed until 10 pm and once again at 12am. Everything was wet.
We got up at 5 am today. Today is the day to go 100 miles! We had a great start and by 11 am 40 miles were behind us. Kansas is not flat! Whoever said that is on some wonderful road that we have yet to find. The people here wave to you as they pass, they honk AFTER they have gone around you, they smile and cheer you on. Yay for Kansas!
Today was a big day for me. My knee brace was wet so I decided not to put it on. By 11 am I was still pain-free and braceless. Wow. I won’t get my hopes up and I certainly won’t be throwing away the tylenol and knee brace but it looks like this seat is working some magic. So maybe my ass hurts like hell adjusting to the new seat but it sure beats the knee pain. We made it to Eureka, about 65 miles again. We planned on going farther but now Kaitlyn is having knee pain. I guess 65 miles is our magic number!
I write these things quickly and don’t usually edit so feel free to let me know what issues you find!
Happy Hump Day

Pittsburg, Kansas

My first rest day in 2 weeks has been a glorious one. I’m sitting in the library; belly stuffed full of cookies and coffee, and contemplating a late afternoon nap. Sleep is very hard to come by on this trip. I tried to catch some z’s while on the computer yesterday but that slowed my getting anything accomplished on the internet. I tried sleeping while riding yesterday but that made me awfully wobbly and we can’t have that. Then I tried this crazy new idea….sleeping at night! Sadly it also proved to be harder than you think. Rain gets you out of your sleeping bag to go grab your cell phone before it drowns. Thunder strikes just when you’ve dozed off by being sung to sleep by the rain. A spider crawls onto your arm, you knock it off. It crawls into your sleeping bag, you freak out. You pull out your tent and lay it on the concrete floor of the city park pavilion. You slide in your mat and sleeping bag, crawl inside and zip yourself in. You’re trapped under a blanket of mesh that lays limp across your face. Add to that getting up twice to pee and you’ve got a typical nights sleep on this trip. I’m not exactly complaining. It’s an adventure and I do like adventures. I’m learning how to make do with what I have.

It has been wonderful traveling with Eleanor and Kaitlyn. They keep me entertained and I hope I’ve given them a chuckle here and there as well. Two nights ago we ran into Dane again. I met Dane back in Demascus and hadn’t seen him since. He, like all cyclists along this trail has happily gotten rid of many pounds of gear since I last saw him. We all enjoyed eating at Cooky’s in Golden City 2 days ago – a place my mom had eaten on her trip in ’76. We all then rode here yesterday and got to enjoy an amazing pool with slides and diving boards and volleyball courts. Then it was off to dinner at Chili’s. We’ve all been craving margaritas so dove right into them! I would much prefer a mom and pop style food joint but there’s little to be found on a Sunday in a small town. Today I got my new seat and a longer stem for my bike at the bike shop Pedal Power. Josh was very nice and tried to rig up a kickstand for me to no avail. Oscar Bean will have to wait for such luxuries. I’m excited to have met some friendly faces and curious stares. It’s good contrast to the waiving fists and honking horns of the state I need not mention again.
Today has flown by but in the best of ways. I was able to go to a coffee shop and sit for over an hour while slowly eating my food and reading my bike book, writing, and looking at the next map. I was able to mail some items home :my broken $300 camera, ace bandage, disintegrating handlebar bag that mom had mailed me in hopes that I would use it (sorry ma but it’s really gross), spandex pants I haven’t worn in weeks, and a rock I found while peeing under railroad tracks that has crystals in it.
It didn’t add up to much weight but it freed up some more space for other things like food in my panniers. I got fuel for my stove. I’m updating my blog. I will taste a local brew later tonight and make a walmart run here in a minute. What a delightful day.
I’m so happy with how this trip has gone and is going. I’m at peace with a lot of things that at other times in life I may not have been. I’m happy to be out here doing something that most people would not do. It feels good to take risks. If feels great to have the support from everyone reading this. Thanks to the 3 amigos who organized the “free meal.” Julia you rock!
I just feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I can’t wait for the opportunity to return these favors to everyone. I can’t even describe how valuable it is to show people how much you care about them. Go make someone’s day! Go put a note on their windsheild, go cook them a meal without being asked, go call them and tell them you miss their company. It’s not mushy, it’s not too hard….it’s important and needed!

Marshfield, Missouri

Oh it’s so hard to get to a computer. They are more plentiful than showers though at this point. I think I’m on day 3 without a shower and I’m feeling sorry for those poor folks sitting next to me. It’s day 28….i think. I haven’t had time to write in the journal or get to a computer to keep track of such things. I just had a delicious cinnamon roll and coffee and it’s a beautiful day here is this small town. It’s been nothing but perfect weather for 2 days so the miles have been easy. Tonight we may be staying with a couple in the next town which is 15 miles down the road. I heard of them from a friend that’s ahead of us on the route and called to let me know that they will put us up. In case anyone is wondering and in case I have not mentioned before…I’m now traveling with 2 ladies. Eleanor McDonough, 22, is fresh out of college and wanted to do this trip and possibly move out west. Kaitlyn Millen, 25, works for a school and had the summer off so she decided to join her friend on this adventure. I met them in Carbondale 1 week ago and we’ve been traveling as the 3 Musketeers ever since. We’re all the outdoorsy types and get along very well. It’s nice to have found probably the only other girls on this trail. It’s nice to be able to plan a dinner, share the expenses, and actually talk to someone other than yourself for a change. This way we can all bitch and moan over how bad Missouri drivers are. I had no idea people could be such rude, impatient, and idiotic drivers. Today we were pushed off a road with no shoulder twice. On the flip side, many people you come face to face with are ever so nice. “Where you’uns come from and going to?” is the most asked question of the week. We’ve also gotten: “Well I believe I’d get a car if i were to do that. Don’t believe I’d do that. You’uns glutton for punishment or just crazy?” I answered, “Both!”
The Ozarks were rolling, beautiful, and hard on the body. They’re almost over and it will be smoooooooth riding in the flatlands of Kansas. Brutal heat but I’ve heard there are the nicest people there. Boy I hope we meet some of them. I hope they know how to give some poor bikers some room on the roads.
Running out of time here at the library. Hope to write again Sunday!