Friday, June 27, 2008
Day 21 - Fair Grove, Missouri to Pittsburg, Kansas
Wow....so much to share! I am in Pittsburg....Kansas (not Pennsylvania which is home to my favorite hockey team). Yesterday we rode out of Fair Grove, Missouri after getting up at 5:30am at our hotel in Marshfield and driving 15 miles west to the drop off point. Luckily, we got out of Marshfield just in time to avoid a local catastrophe. As I was eating my breakfast this morning I saw on the news that a levee had broken in southwest Missouri early this morning. There was severe flooding in Marshfield and we missed it by 24 hours!
Our ride yesterday was scheduled to be a long day followed by a day of rest today. On my planning of the itinerary I mistakenly inserted an extra day, which means we were able to take a much needed day of rest today without falling a day behind. We rode 103 miles in about 7 hours and 30 minutes. However, the day's ride got off to a very slow start and we rode 23 miles to Walnut Grove (yes, just like Little House on the Prairie) in 3 hours! The problem surfaced about 10 miles into our 103 mile ride. Bob's rear tire deflated, so we checked his wheel to look for anything sharp that might be puncturing the inner tube and found nothing. Bob replaced the inner tube and we got back on our bikes. As we approached our first hill, Bob's tire deflated again! Bob sprinted up the hill on foot in frustration. I inspected Bob's tire pretty thoroughly and found a teeny tiny stone that was very sharp embedded into his tire. We removed the rock, patched up the inner tube and set out again. We all held our breath and luckily the tire did not give us trouble for the rest of the day.
The other problem of the day was Sam's bike. It just wasn't shifting properly. By the time we got to Walnut Grove, 23 miles and 3 hours later, Sam was very frustrated. She mentioned that her bike was not shifting well, but ultimately thought that Bob and I were just riding really well and that she was the reason we were going so slow. That was not the case at all, Sam has turned out to be a great rider! I offered to switch bike's with Sam until our stopping point for lunch which was at the 63 mile mark in Golden City, MO. Since our bikes are the same frame size, I simply adjusted the seat height. After only one mile, I have no idea how Sam was able to put up with that bike for the past two days. It felt like I was riding my bike through the sand. Every pedal stroke took double the effort that I had to put in on my own bike (which I might add was riding like a dream). By the time I got to Golden City for lunch I was dripping in sweat, while Sam and Bob were looking pretty fresh (and somewhat bored by my slow pace). I scarfed down a few sandwiches and rested my legs. I was glad to be back on my bike, but felt bad for having Sam ride on her bike again. She did an awesome job and didn't complain once (haha...unlike me).
To be honest, I was not looking forward to the last 40 miles of our ride. I was tired, hot, and the beautiful rolling hills of eastern and central Missouri had turned into the flat lands which were baked by the mid-day sun and the whipping hot winds were blowing in my face. I think Kansas and I will have a love-hate relationship. I feel so exposed out there on the flat lands. I have never been west of Michigan, so this is new territory for me. However, I love the challenge of being out of my comfort zone and I look forward to making the most of what Kansas has to throw at me.
Okay, so you probably all think I was miserable yesterday. Yesterday turned out to be one of the longest rides of the trip so far, but I had a blast hanging out with Bob and Sam. The entire day I could not stop laughing. Despite Bob's silent rage as he fixed his tire for a second time in the same mile, we were able to keep the mood light and make each other laugh. The first time Bob's tire deflated we all pulled over onto the side of the road. The driveway we chose must have just gotten fresh gravel put down. As I pulled into the driveway and braked, my tires slid out from under me. The next thing I know, I am laying on my side laughing hysterically. Bob tries to help me up off the ground, but my feet are still clipped into my pedals. I wasn't safe at 1st base, but you could say I had a nice slide into the mailboxes!
Later on in the morning I was biking up a bike hill and Bob and Sam were behind me. As I stood up off the saddle, my left hamstring cramped up. Whenever I get a cramp like that I usually half laugh and scream, but I've never gotten one while riding my bike. I began to laugh and laughed myself off the road and almost into a ditch. It took all my energy to launch myself out of the tall grass and back onto the road. Sam and Bob thought I was loosing my mind!
I've found that when you are on a bike all day for 3 straight weeks, the littlest things can amuse you. Sam asked if I had any song requests. So I requested "I Would Do Anything For Love" by Meatloaf. Sam and Bob then belted out the best rendition I've ever heard by two people riding through the wheat fields of western Missouri on a bike. It was touching...not really, but it made me laugh once again. We played the song game for a good 15 more miles and hit just about every genre and decade of music.
The second half of the day's ride was flat. It was the first time I had ever been to a four-way intersection were you could look east, west, north, and south and see for miles in each direction. The corn and wheat fields were beautiful. It seemed like they were never ending. Bob and I got our picture taken in one of the fields.
We finally reached Kansas, our 5th state,101 miles after leaving Fair Grove this morning and about 2 miles east of Pittsburg. We jumped off our bikes to have our picture taken by Mr. Mangum who was eagerly awaiting our arrival. (side note, I could not have made it through the day with Mr. Mangum. On two separate occasions as I took my last sip of water from my camelbak, he was waiting for us at the very next intersection ready with ice cold water, Hershey's chocolate, and lots of encouragement - thanks!).
We hit up a local pizza place across the Pittsburg State University where we all cleaned our plates! We went to bed early and I got to sleep in until 8am. It felt good to wake up and know that I did not have to sit on the tiny seat today. My butt feels better already. It's 5pm now and I've had a very productive day so far. We took our bikes to the bike shop, we made copies of the last 5 sets of maps for each of us, I bought some new cds, and picked up some needed supplies at Wal-mart. Today is Bob's 24th birthday and we are taking him out to Chili's for dinner.
Tomorrow we ride from Pittsburg to Toronto where we plan on staying at Cross Timbers State Park. It should be another 100 mile day, but hopefully with Sam's bike working properly. I also hope the winds won't be blowing too strongly in our faces.
*Breaking News.....we went to pick up our bikes tonight (thanks to Roger who stayed 2 hours late on a Friday night to help us out) and you'll never guess who we ran into...Super Dave! Yes, he made it safetly to Pittsburg this evening. We all thought he might be ahead of us, but it turns out he was a day or so behind. He's doing well after ditching his hub trailer and some extra gear to make his bike lighter. We traded stories about dogs, Bob and Violet in Sebree, and random bikers that we both met along our travels. We also gave him some food to fill up on tonight. Dave, I hope you especially enjoy the Mac & Cheese! We hope to see you soon (call if you need anything).
Enjoy the photos!
Posted by Setch at 5:17 PM