Homecoming

The only word that comes to mind when I try to describe the events of yesterday is whirlwind.

The day began at Johnson Shut-Ins.  I had camped there with Deane, Mark, Glynn, Harriet(Glynn’s daughter) and Adam(Harriet’s boyfriend).  It was a wonderful crisp morning and the excitement of knowing I was going to be seeing my wife, children and friends should have spurred me to move rather quickly, you would think.  Not so.  With plans to roll out at 9:00 to meet some of my friends in Graniteville at 10:00, there was a time frame of sorts to follow.  Everyone else was ready, but for whatever reason, I was behind.  I finally had everything together and made the guys stop waiting for me about 10:20.

The ride with the four of us up N highway was very nice.  Nothing too fast.  Just moving along intently enjoying the views and talking.  The trees are just starting to show a hint of color change along the hills so the ride was quite scenic as well.  What a beautiful day!

When we got to the meeting place on 21, it was a wonderful sight to see people come out to meet me!  John, Lora, Bruce and Scott were there.  After introductions, we went inside the gas station and took a little break to eat, drink and chat.  Then it was pictures outside and away we went.

We rode through Bismarck, down old 32 to St Joe.  There were a few times, fueled simply by adrenaline I’m sure, that we were traveling along well over 30 MPH.  Then it was on to part of the bike trail to the Maple trail head where Gary Grix had hiked in to take pictures once more.  Thanks Gary!

Down Maple and into town, at a blistering 47MPH!  We all went by my wife’s work.  What a great reunion! I was very happy to see Jeneen after 40 days.  More introductions and pics followed.

At that point, I said my goodbyes to Deane, Glynn and Mark.  Bittersweet moments really.  So nice to see my wife and everyone who was able to come out, but sad to see my new friends carry on.  Such is the way this trip goes.  Folks come into your life.  Some have been forgettable.  Others, like the chaps from England, are not.  But it is only for a season, however short that may be.  Their journey carries on and mine takes a break for now.

I spent lunch catching up with Jeneen, then went out and saw my mom for a short bit.  Back to town to see my kids when they got home from school. Then just a wonderful evening with my family.  It had been a long time coming and I enjoyed it immensely.

So now it is the next day.  I didn’t want to take the time to write last night.  It helps to process things a little anyway.

I’m feeling a little less like a stranger in my own home now.  LOL! When I first walked in yesterday, it was just surreal.  I had so looked forward to sleeping in my bed as well, but I had gotten un-used to it and used to sleeping alone.  My sleep was broken, but it is still comforting to be home.  I’ll sleep better tonight, I’m sure.

So this will be a closing thought for now.  Of course I will be back in a week or two to keep you up to date on the remainder of my trip from Farmington to Yorktown, but I am taking a break for now to focus on family.  I might drop a line here and there while on break, but certainly not every day.  Enjoy and I’ll be back soon!

Stats:
Mileage-41.49
Total-3238.02
Trip time-2:27
Avg speed-16.86
Max speed-47.54
Climb-1848

 

 

So close to home!

A great day! After sleeping absolutely great in Houston, I woke, had breakfast, gathered my things and set out with my new friends just a bit after 9:00.

Right away, the terrain was rather hilly. Lots of climbing today. Having 3 great guys to chat with and break up what would have been tedium by myself was just amazing.

Although the area we rode through was what I would consider home, or at least close to home,  I had never cycled through it before and thus had never gained the perspective that it is only possible to get from the saddle of a bike. Beautiful is not the proper term to use. Breath taking would be more appropriate.

You just cannot truly see sights from a car. I have found it true that the proper way to experience an area is by cycling.

We had a late lunch at 3:00 in Ellington at Saso’s Pizza. The meal was great and the conversation was better.

Carrying on, we cycled to Johnson Shut-Ins to our campsite. Glynn’s daughter Harriet and her boyfriend Adam had the guy’s tents already set up and were preparing to cook bar-be-que. After showering, we had a great meal and more great conversation. I only wish I could continue on with them as their company is so nice. It’s something I have missed along the way on this trip, but didn’t fully realize how much until I was able to spend the last 2 days with great folks. I’m thankful for the experience!

So tomorrow is the big day- the day I return home after 40 days. I am looking forward to it immensely! I will probably take a break from the blog and just enjoy my family time. I’ll be back in a week or so to finish this up though! Until then, enjoy!

Stats- big day!
Mileage-99.53
Total-3196.53
Trip time- 6:19
Avg speed-15.72
Max speed-44.83
Climb-6950

A little company comes my way

What a great day! I started this morning in Marshfield. After sleeping in, I rode across town to Sheila’s Place, a local restaurant suggested by my friend from high school Leatta Bergeson Workman. The owner is Leatta’s cousin Sheila. Surprise.

After having a great conversation with Sheila and a great breakfast, it was made even better by Sheila taking care of the check. Certainly unexpected and not necessary, but really cool!  Thanks!

Just trolling along today was nice. No hurrying today.

I went through another stretch of bridge construction. No detours for me! It worked well. The workers were cool with it and it saved me probably 10 extra miles if I had taken the alternate route.

One black mark on the day was the complete jerk I came across mid afternoon.  Keep in mind, with the exception of just one or two instances, people in general have been great. Not this guy. I’m riding down a 2 lane country road, no shoulders, all the way to my right doing everything I’m supposed to. A car is coming at me on the other side. This truck comes screaming up behind me. Waits for the car to pass. Guns it, lays on the horn and flips me off as he goes by. I returned the favor. He then slams on his brakes in the middle of the road up in front of me. I kept riding toward him. I’ve been itching to get at one of these idiots. I pull out my mace as well. Before I could get to him he guns it and leaves. Lucky for him. I was going to mace him, kick him in the nuts and pitch his keys in the woods. Maybe next time. I’m really not a mean person, but I can only be pushed so far.

Moving on. The afternoon got much better. As I was riding along, I came across three cyclists taking a break on the side of the road. It was the guys from England that I had heard about ahead of me! They had taken a day off in the Springfield area so I was able to catch up. Names are Mark, Glynn and Deane.

After introductions and a nice chat, we rode together the remaining 15 miles to Houston. I planned to stay and I thought they were going to head on. After a little pow wow, they decided to stay as well. We spent the evening having dinner and hanging out talking. Great guys! Tomorrow we are going to ride together as well. What a refreshing way to boost my last couple of days along before I get home!

Midday or so, I had stopped at a little station for a break and something to eat. While stopped, my bike computer battery gave up the ghost. It retained all my overall info, but not the speed average and whatnot. So since the numbers are incomplete for the day and the computer is up in my room while I sit far away to get wifi, I’ll just skip the stats for today. Nite all!

I might be mistaken

Today was filled with a bunch of miscalculations. I certainly need to be more careful.

It started last night actually. I am in need of new tires, a couple tubes, a new patch kit, some handle bar wrap tape and some Chamois Butter. I planned on going to one of the two LBS’s this morning. Knowing that basically every bike shop in the country opens at 10AM, I stayed up late(2am) watching tv planning on sleeping in. Silly.

Up at 8:30 or so, I prepared and gathered and hit the road about 10:00. The closest shop of the two was on route just a mile or so down the road. When I pulled up, I realized I had made a mistake. Closed on Mondays. Dang. I’ll just give the other one a shot.

Heading onward, the map showed the other shop just a half block off route and about a half mile away. As I came up to it, I realized mistake number 3. They were closed. Forever. Later I checked the addenda for the maps online and saw the closure. Bummer. Looking forward, there isn’t another bike shop within 10 miles of the route until Farmington. Looks like I’ll just have to make do with what I have! It’s only about 300 miles. No biggie.

So down the road I go. I stopped at a gas station on my way out of town to grab a few snacks. A woman in front of me was checking her lotto ticket with one of those scanners. She won $500! That was pretty cool for a minute. Until she started looking at the scruffy touring cyclist behind her like he might follow her out of the store and clock her in the back of the head. I am SO ready to get home and shave!

Just 6 miles into my day I crossed the state line. I’m home! Kinda. Lol!

So the plan for today was to put about 100 miles in the books. Like I’ve said before, for me, that is a manageable day and it would put me close enough to home that it would make my next few days easy.I really didn’t think the 100 would be too bad either as there was a nice west wind pushing me and western Missouri is fairly flat from my recollection. I hope you are looking for the omens in my writing here.

I stopped in Golden City at the world famous Cooky’s Cafe for lunch and some pie. Their pie is really good! If you ever come through, make sure to stop. Great people to talk to as well.

Moving on, as I turned onto K highway in Dade county, following my map, I was confronted with a Road Closed 3 Miles Ahead sign. Decision time. Signage stated that a bridge was out and to find an alternate route. From the best I could tell from the map, if I went through, it was 7 miles. If I went around, it would be about 20. I decided to go for it. Most bridge construction will leave a way for the constructors to get across and worst case scenario, I would strip down and carry everything across whatever river there was. Nothing too big or deep in these parts.

This worked out to be my best decision of the day. There was no bridge, but for construction there had been installed some large culvert pipe with gravel over it. I had to come down a very steep embankment, descending probably 75′. It was extremely steep and unrideable so I was off the bike and doing everything I could to keep it from careening down into the ravine all while trying to keep myself from careening into the ravine as well, being in road bike cleats on dirt and rock. I wish I would’ve taken a pic. I don’t think mountain bikers would have went down this way, much less a road bike with touring gear on it.

I made it across, talked to the bridge crew and found out I had made a mistake. Fortunately I didn’t have to go back the way I came. My issue was that it was 4:15 and I thought I was about 35 easy riding miles from Marshfield, which would put me arriving just a bit before dark. Wrong. I had read the map wrong. I was almost 60 miles from town. No way I’m making it in the daylight. And it wasn’t going to be easy. Lots of hills. The Ozarks were closer than I thought. Being bull-headed, I decided I’m going where I set out to go. Dark, hills and all.

Off I went. About 25 miles from town, the sun went down. With 22 to go, it was dark. The hills just kept coming. Riding in the dark in Kansas was fun. Going 35mph downhill on rough, curvy roads in the dark with just a little LED lamp to light the 30′ or so in front of you is not a good time. Add to it all that my lovely home state was living up to it’s reputation of having loose dogs chasing cyclists, and the last 20 miles were just a bit stressful.

I rolled into Marshfield about 9:30, tired and spent. I stopped at Taco Bell, ate a bite, picked the Holiday Inn Express over the truck stop motel and crashed for the night.

Aside from my mistakes, today was a banner day for the trip in a few respects.

First off, I’m in Missouri! Not far now to see my wife and kids. I look forward to a week or so of being off the bike.

Secondly, today I crossed the 3000 mile mark. That blows my mind. I just can’t grasp it really.

Third, because of the up and down of the Ozarks that I am just getting into, I had my biggest day of climbing yet. I’m curious how the next couple will go in that regard.

Stats:
Mileage-120.59
Total-3029.54
Trip time-7:27
Avg speed-16.16
Max speed-46.34
Climb-5732

A great day

I was thinking this morning of how it seems I write the same boring things day in and day out. So sorry for those of you who might be looking for something interesting. I guess the facts are that I get up and ride my bike everyday. Sometimes it’s hard to make that exciting!

Anyway, I didn’t sleep well last night and was concerned it would affect me today. I shouldn’t have worried! After pancakes for breakfast(!), I hit the road. I left town right behind the Spaniards. They are a father and son from Spain that I have been leapfrogging for several days. Nice guys, but the language barrier is significant. I passed them pretty quick and set about making tracks.

I did have a fairly stiff headwind early on. I was banking on the terrain becoming hillier and more forested and that breaking up the wind. For once, I was right!  The occasional hill and tree line gave me the breaks I needed to keep a decent pace, which I knew would be necessary to reach my goal of Pittsburg.

I had a small setback midday with another flat. Although I haven’t reported on them as of late, I have had a few flats. Probably 4 in the last 5 days. I think the source is my tires are getting really worn. The smallest little thorns have been giving me flats. I patched it and carried on. The break was actually nice.

I stopped in Chanute for lunch and had McDonalds. It was my first trip to a McDonalds in weeks and the dirtiest restaurant I have been to in a long time. Sub par service too. Disappointing.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening went well. The riding was enjoyable and I continued to feel strong. I rolled into Pittsburg just a little after dark. Another day of getting where I intended to go!

I don’t know if it was the good breakfast, Snickers and Mt Dew snacks, the adrenaline from getting ready to leave Kansas or the excitement of being so close to Missouri, but today went exceptionally well. Not once did I feel too tired or like I wanted to quit. That probably sounds a bit funny, but most days there comes a point where I feel that way. Not today. It was a great day!

With such great day, I should not only be able to make it back to Farmington by Thursday, one day earlier than I had intended, but the next 4 days should be fairly easy, barring any injury or mechanical issues. I’m pretty excited!

Stats:
Mileage-125.72
Total-2908.95
Trip time-8:34
Avg speed-14.66
Max speed-40.02
Climb-2728

Eureka!!!

I had a great nights sleep and woke up late again. After breakfast and gathering my things, once again it was almost 10:00 before I got on the road. Oh well.

The whole morning was a slog. Lots of wind in my face making headway difficult. Luckily as the day wore on, things seemed to get easier. I think it was because I got into more undulating terrain. That’s my hypothesis anyway.

The day ended a little short of my preferred distance at 77 miles in Eureka. I went to a local Chinese-American buffet for dinner. I had never before seen such a diverse buffet!  Oh, and they should have seen me coming. I figure they lost money on me!

The forecast is calling for stronger yet winds tomorrow. I’m hoping that the terrain will continue to get more hilly with more trees and help to buffer the wind!

Stats:
Mileage-77.49
Total-2783.23
Trip time-5:52
Avg speed-13.19
Max speed-25.27
Climb-1703

An Oreo kind of day

Today started out a bit lazy. I slept in after 8:00 and didn’t get too excited about hitting the road. After breakfast and a gas station stop, I finally left town just a little before 10:00.

The whole day kind of had that Oreo cookie feel, except the middle wasn’t that good. The first 40 miles were pretty good. Nothing spectacular to look at, but I felt ok.

The next 40 were a big slog. The only highlights were that I met some westbounders. Not doing the TransAm, but the Western Express, which goes straight across to San Francisco. There were 3 groups of 2 each. The first, Thad and Courtney (I think the names are right!) were some great kids. It was nice to talk to them. The next 2 were Mark and Miles, a couple of nice guys and a welcome break as well. Late in the day I ran across the next 2. I can’t remember their names. That may have something to do with the contact high I got just standing 5 feet away! I didn’t hang out long. I had places to go and daylight was fading.

The last 30 miles of the day I felt awesome! I don’t get it. Earlier my butt and hands were killing me and I didn’t feel strong at all. Once I got to the 80 mile mark I felt great! Started averaging near 20. Maybe it was the Mt Dew and 2 Snickers. Maybe it is the fact that I now can see trees and a few rolling hills here and there. All I know is I wish I felt that good all day!

It got dark on me before I could reach Newton, but that’s ok. Just the last 5 miles or so were in darkness. Overall it was a good day.

Stats:
Mileage-111.62
Total-2705.74
Trip time-7:30
Avg speed-14.87
Max speed-29.79
Climb-975

Bitesize pieces

What started out as a planned “epic” day turned into, well, just a day.

My plan was to get up early and hit the road. I guess I’m getting tired cause I just didn’t want to get up. When the alarm went off at 6:00, I did the math. Sunrise at 7:30 meant there was no reason to get up and hour and a half prior, so I went back to sleep.

After getting up at 7:00, I got my things together and hit the road about 7:45. It was chilly, but there was little to no wind for a change an I started laying down a pretty good pace right away. I was averaging 20 and felt pretty good. Throughout the morning the wind gradually built up out of the WSW to about 5-10. This just made things easier, as I was going east.

When I got to Rush Center, it was about 11:00.  I was 64 miles in and averaging 19.8 and getting hungry. I stopped at a bar and grill and had lunch. It was good.

When I left, the route took a turn to the south, literally, for 19 miles. After stroking along all morning, I didn’t have much left to fight the wind. I slowed considerably and was feeling beat up.

When I turned east again, there just wasn’t much left in the tank to take advantage of that great tailwind. I rode the 12 or so miles into Larned with the idea that I would stop and determine what I would do next.

Planning for my “epic” day last night, my primary goal was to reach Larned. That being done, I had a second goal and a third. The second was to reach Nickerson, another 60 miles down the road.

So here I was in Larned with a tailwind and 4 more hours of daylight to go 60 miles. Very doable for me on a regular day. But the more I thought about it, today wasn’t a regular day. I’m getting tired. Not sleepy. The daily grind is wearing me down. I still have the stamina to have done the 160 to reach Nickerson, but over all, it would have been a detriment to my ability to reach my next big goal, which is to be in Farmington next Friday for my kids marching band performance. 100 a day is sustainable for me right now and I need to make sure I don’t talk myself into anything grander.

So the only thing epic today was my will power. I really wanted to go over 150. But the bigger goals take precedence. I’ve used the analogy a few times that this tour is like eating a horse. You can’t sit down and eat it all in one sitting. You can’t even imagine what it would be like to finish the whole thing off. But if you just keep taking bites, before you know it, it’s half gone. You also have to pace yourself with the bite size. No sense taking off too big of a bite. You might choke or get more than you can chew. Today I just kept chewing.

Stats:
Mileage-97.34
Total-2594.12
Trip time-5:32
Avg speed-17.56
Max speed-33.10
Climb-842

A rest day… sorta

After such a long hard day yesterday, I chose to reward myself with sleeping in. Daddy likes!  I didn’t get up until after 8:00 and after eating a hardy breakfast, I finally hit the road at 10:15. It was nice to have a break.

After checking the forecast, I made a decision to give myself an easy day as well. The wind was in my face again today. Granted it was only 5-15, but the forecast for tomorrow is for 5-10 out if the SW, so saving my energy today and doing less miles hopefully will translate to me being able to perform better with the favorable wind tomorrow. We’ll see.

So I just lolled along most of the day. No sense fighting it if it isn’t there. Especially if I can get it tomorrow instead. I just tried to enjoy the ride as much as possible. Admittedly that can be a bit difficult with the boredom of the plains. I watched for things along the road and listened to my iPod. It passed the time.

I had my first flat on the front tire today. Something punctured it and then came out, just like the rear flat I had the other day. I’m wondering if it might be what is referred to as Texas Tacks. Supposedly a small thorn that will sometimes be found along the roadside. The only evidence of something like this is a thorn I found in the bottom of one if my shoes. It wasn’t too bad. A nice little break and a simple patch. No biggie.

My day ended in Dighton. Unfortunately that ate up all of my miles that I was ahead of schedule, but I am hoping tomorrow will be the equalizer. I’m hoping with tailwinds and fresher legs I can flex my muscles and lay down an epic day. Hoping.

It was a banner day today. Today marks one month on the road, as I rode Portland to Astoria on 8-21.
With 2496.78 miles and 29 riding days, I currently have an average of 86.10 miles per day. That makes me happy as it surpasses my goals. I’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the trip plays out, but so far, I’m happy!

Stats:
Mileage-71.77
Total-2496.78
Trip time-5:24
Avg speed-13.26
Max speed-24.67
Climb-351

As the wind blows

What a day! I started out early in Ordway. Hit the road at 7:00 and temps were cool, but the biggest issue was wind. Blowing 20-30 out of the ENE, which just so happened to be the way I was headed.

Out here there just isn’t anything to stop the wind. The first 4 hours were absolutely brutal. 40 miles in 4:05 for an average of 9.85 was like beating my head against a wall. I stopped in Haswell at the only place of business and had a microwave burrito, candy bar and a soda for lunch.

The wind died down to a less brutal 10-15 after lunch. The going got a little better. A 3:00 or so I reached Eads, which was where I had intended on reaching in my original plan. Being as I have been ahead of schedule, I wanted to stay that way and carry on. The issue- the next place to stop was Tribune, KS, 60 miles down the road. I REALLY wanted to get to Kansas. As grandma would’ve said, that’s no hill for a stepper!

I ate a good meal at a cafe (chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes), called a little motel in Tribune and got a reservation (so I would be committed) and set off a little after 4:00, knowing full well I wouldn’t make it before dark.

The wind seemed to pickup a little a I left Eads. I didn’t let it bother me though. I was resigned to make Kansas if it took me all night.

The sun went down about about 15 miles before the state line and it was fully dark with 10 miles to the line. The moon hadn’t come up yet and with some clouds in the sky, it was really dark.  It did give me an opportunity to view the night sky. As long as I had my light off, it was really spectacular. Just riding down the road in the dark admiring the sky, I almost missed the state line!

I caught a glimpse of something along the road, turned on my light and saw the sign. The pic turned out kind of cool, being dark and me shining my light up on the sign. From there, it was just 16 miles to go!

I rolled into Tribune just a few minutes before 9:00 mountain time. I checked in to the little motel, ran across the street to a little truck stop and got a burger, candybar and a soda for “dinner”, then crashed. I was beat.

Stats:
Mileage-120.76
Total-2425.01
Trip time-9:56
Avg speed-12.14
Max speed-23.47
Climb-1627