[lang_all]A North American Bicycle Journey
I pedalled my way from Key West, Florida to Tok, Alaska. What I wrote in my journal is what I was thinking and feeling at the time, it’s just a reflection of who I am, my own personal opinions, my own perceptions, and written exactly as I saw the world around me at that particular moment.
Why I did it? That is what most people ask, and you know, it is not a simple answer. One of my thoughts was to really do something with my life and truly live. Experience the world around me before I shuffle off the mortal coil.
The story continues from:
Missouri – Day 36 to day 38 (April 1999)
37 North all the way to Golden City
to 126 west into Kansas
DAY 36 Continued… – April 19, 1999
There was a moderate headwind/crosswind and reaching Cassville, I decided to stop. The campground was another 8 miles away in the wrong direction so I opted for a cheap motel. The Rainbow Motel was by the road and the guy that owns it gave me an excellent deal…$22.50 total!
Going through my stuff, I realized I’d forgotten the souvenir coin that Tracy gave me L Maybe she will mail it to me…or better yet, I’ll just get it next time I’m in town!
Today – 18.92 miles in Missouri
Total – 1820 miles
Average Speed – 9.0mph
Maximum Speed – 38mph
DAY 37 – April 20, 1999
I turned in my key and headed north on 37. Woo Hoo….Tailwinds Baby! The hills were extremely mild compared to the Ozarks in Arkansas. I felt extremely strong on these roads and I was in exceptionally good spirits. The ride was mostly farms and pastures all the way to Golden City. I rode from 8:00am ‘til 2:00pm
While mostly alone on this boring stretch of road, I did my usual thing to help preserve my sanity and sang one of my very dumb made up songs.
“I’m pedalin’ out in the middle of nowhere
and I’m thinkin’ ‘bout shavin’ my hair
ya know it’d be easy to take care of
and I wouldn’t have to worry ‘bout dandruff
but I’d have to put sunscreen on my head
to keep it from turnin’ bright red
Now this shoulder that I’m cyclin’ on
it’s really quite bumpy
ya know if it’s gonna continue on
I’m gonna have to go pee
even though this shoulder really sucks
at least I’m away from the big trucks
‘cause if I’m really gonna get smashed
I’d rather do it in a bar with whiskey sour mash
I can just sit there and listen to Johnny Cash
and not have to worry about getting road rash“
Now I gotta admit that I sound like the biggest dork trying to sing my stupid lyrics, but it makes me laugh as I make this stuff up. Just a good thing no one is around to hear me!
I reached Golden City at 2pm and Wow, I couldn’t believe how fast the time had went by. I found the Post Office and Cooky’s Café next door to each other, how convenient. After parking my bike I went into the Post Office and said, “My name is Wade Anderson and…” “Ah yes, you have a package.” I had the pair of capilene, polyester, long underwear that I’d forgotten, mailed to me. When I inquired about camping, the guy told me about the “Bike Hostel.” He said that he’d make some calls for me and then meet me at Cooky’s Café to give me the details. Wow! That was really nice.
Going into Cooky’s, I saw a huge selection of those famous pies I’d heard about. I sat at a table and Linda got the guestbook for cyclists. Cool, I’m the first entry for 1999. Another woman came out of the kitchen with a giant, beaming, smile. She asked about my trip then went back to the kitchen. A few moments later she came over and sat across from me at the table. I couldn’t help but smile because she still had that giant smile on her face, making me wonder if she wasn’t a bit kooky! Her name was Carla and she questioned me about God and what I’ve learned on my journey so far. Now, I’m not one that believes in traditional religion and I find those topics uncomfortable at times. But I proceeded to tell her what I’ve been through, the positives and the negatives. She sat there staring in my eyes, listening intently and seemed to be radiating with so much positive energy. Carla asked if she could pray for me and I was like”uh…..sure.” She held onto my hands and prayed while asking for a shield of protection to be placed around me. Although I do not go to church, and am not a religious person, I appreciated her sincerity and caring. After she prayed for me she gave me a hug and wished me luck on my trip. Ok now, am I in the Twilight Zone? I’m sure I crossed over into another reality of “Shiny, Happy People.” A place where everyone is happy and goes out of their way to be kind.
I sat at the table and finished reading the other guestbook entries. Unfortunately, this only went back to 1994 and they didn’t have one for 1993. I was supposed to look for Bill’s entry on May 6, 1993. In reading the other entries, it really didn’t seem to matter which direction people went. Many east-bounders and west bounders complained of the headwinds. My entry on April 20, 1999, was the first entry for the year and I’m also the first cyclist they’ve seen this year.
Before I finished eating, the older lady from the table beside me paid my bill and left. I didn’t know she had done that until the waitress told me and by that time she was gone. Wow! What a day this has been! Actually, ever since Friday, when I stopped in Eureka Springs, I’ve been sort of high on life. The people are being sooooo nice and I just hope they realize how much I appreciate it.
Just as I was finishing my meal, Paul came in and introduced himself as the manager of the Bike Hostel. He walked over with me and let me in. Cool! It’s a house with EVERYTHING! A complete kitchen with dishes, silverware, and even some food in the fridge. Oh yeah, and a washer and dryer with laundry soap and those dryer sheet thingy’s. Up until now I’ve washed all my clothes by hand with bar soap. After taking a shower I put all my clothes in the washer. It’s nice to get everything really clean :-)
I walked to the end of town (ten minutes), and took some photos. There is really nothing in the way of businesses but there are lots of friendly people. After returning, I read through the guestbook entries. Everyone was praising the Bike Hostel and the town. I can see why! They were all thankful to have small luxuries like a washer and dryer – with soap! It was a nice comfortable place that made you feel at home. And, all they charge for this is a $9.00 donation. Oh, and did I mention that they offer e-mail at the library across the street? All you have to do is fill out an e-mail form and someone sends it for you. While watching TV, I happened upon Dateline and learned of the gruesome killings at Columbine High. It made me really sick so I just turned the TV off.
Today – 65.98 miles
Total – 1886 miles
Average Speed – 13.5mph
DAY 38 – April 21, 1999
I went to Cooky’s to eat a slice of Dutch Apple pie for breakfast. Then it was time for my morning Gatorade (or PowerAde) stop. I stopped at the Golden City Food Fair and met some really nice people inside. Although they’ve seen a lot of cyclist through here, they seemed somewhat concerned about me on such a long trip by myself. We talked for 20-30 minutes and before I left, a guy gave me the phone number to the store. He said for me to call him if I get into any trouble before reaching Pittsburgh. There’s not much between Golden City, MO and Pittsburgh, KS. But it’s not too far, only about 35 miles. I was very grateful that he expressed an interest in my safety and well being. Golden City has indeed lived up to its name. Although it’s extremely small, the people are what make it an oasis on the road. I’m so glad that Bill signed the guestbook at my web site and recommended this change in my route. From my very first encounter at the Post Office to my stop at the Food Fair as I was leaving, everyone was exceptional.
Leaving town, the wind was blowing to the north. So then I had a crosswind instead of the tailwind I had yesterday. It was blowing about 25-30mph…..It Sucked! There were absolutely no trees or anything until I reached the state line, about 30 miles. I had to go to the bathroom 5 miles out but held it until I reached a small store at the state line.
Continued in Kansas
Today – 30 miles in Missouri
Kansas – Day 38 to day 48 (April 1999)
126 west to 69 north to Crawford State Park
146 West to 169 into Chanute
39 West to 400 West
77 North through El Dorado
to 56 west
to 81 North to Lindsborg
then 4 west to 141 North then 140 West
then 232 to Lucas
18 west to 281 north at Luray
then 9 west through Gaylord to 183 North at Glade
to 36 west
to 83 north at Oberlin and into Nebraska
DAY 38 Continued… – April 21, 1999
Reaching Pittsburgh, KS I stopped at “Bicycle Etc.” I was still looking for a good rear rack and panniers. After talking to Phil, the owner, he recommended that I wait as long as possible on my trip before I start adding more weight on that rear wheel. The panniers can wait until Montana. But after that, I’m going to want to be able to carry more food and water with me. As I mentioned before, the longest stretch of isolated road will be the last road to Prudhoe Bay. I’ve been thinking about getting a couple of bear resistant food containers too. Above the Arctic Circle there are no trees to hang your food and you surely don’t want to keep it in your tent! I used them last summer in the Denali wilderness and they worked great. That means I’ll need more space…..like rear panniers.
While at the bike shop I had Phil adjust my rear derailer. I adjusted it at the beginning of the trip and just recently started having problems with it due to cable stretching. Also, I have to add that this is one very cool bike shop. I’ve been in many in the past few years. A lot of the guys in bike shops have “attitudes”, but Phil was really cool. I would highly recommend a stop here for anyone riding through.
Before I left, Phil recommended that I camp at the State Park about 30 miles north. It was the closest place to camp and I could head west from there tomorrow. I headed north on 400, which is called Broadway in town, then turned west on 57 at Franklin. Following 57 west, I had crosswinds again until I turned north on 7 at Girard, then heading north was a breeze! The wind just pushed me along @ 24mph :-)
By the time I got to the park, the winds were gusting to 40mph. There was one very slick, flooded, section that I had to bike across. It was like an overflow for the lake and I came very close to wiping out! There were no other tent camper’s in my area and I saw only 3 RV’s, across the water from me. Somehow a bug got trapped under my tent and kept making this annoying buzzing sound. So to preserve my sanity, I had to eliminate the noise by beating on my tent floor ‘til the buzzing stopped.
Today – 36.02 miles in Kansas (total for the day 66.02 miles)
Total – 1952
DAY 39 – April 22, 1999
My GAWD! That was a bad storm last night. It rained really hard and the lightning must have been right over my head. Just before the lightning would strike, I could feel a tingling sensation all over, then BAM! I’m blinded by a bright flash followed immediately by thunder. There was no delay at all so I knew it was very close. I could feel the sonic vibrations go through me and could feel them in the ground. What an incredible sensation! I think my heart skipped a beat each time it happened.
When I woke up, it was still raining a little, so I waited. After the rain stopped, I took a shower then got everything together. I waited until the last moment to take down my tent, hoping it would get dry…..And yes, it was dry. Before leaving, I stopped at the office to pay my $5.00. They informed me that there were no stores close by to buy my Gatorade. Ahhhh, that sucks. But the guy was cool and drove down to the marina where they have a small store. I followed on my bike and bought 3 PowerAde’s. Great, now I’m good to go! He also looked at my map and gave me good directions using back roads towards the next State Park.
Heading out of the park, I had to turn south on 7 (into headwinds) for about 3 miles then I turned west on the first paved road. It was unnamed but a small section of it turned into 146. I followed the road to its end and then headed north on the road it terminated on. This is Elk Road and it heads into Chanute. By that time, I had been biking in heavy rain for about and hour and I was miserable. So I stopped at the first motel I saw, the Safari Inn, and paid 42.39 for a room. Basically, this day sucked. Up until the town of Walnut it wasn’t too bad, just a lot of crosswind.
At Walnut I sopped at a small gas station/restaurant called Boots and Saddles. There I was able to order a grilled chicken sandwich….that was a first! Most small Podunk places like that have breaded and deep-fried chicken.
It was right after Walnut that the winds got stronger and I wondered if they would have “Tornado Crossing” signs. The wind was followed by the crappy rain :-(
Today – 43.69 miles
Total – 1996 miles
Avg. Speed – 10mph
DAY 40 – April 23, 1999
What? SNOW! They said the snow was out further west, where I’m heading. UGH! The temp this morning is 40 degrees with a north wind of 25-30mph. The sky was dark and cloudy and the forecast for today is for heavy rain. Now I’m wondering, am I a wimp for not wanting to bike today? Or, am I foolish to attempt to bike in thunderstorms and heavy winds? A part of me says that it’ll be a great challenge of what I can endure, but then what about enjoying the ride instead of just enduring it? Well, I’ve decided….I’ll take today off and bike tomorrow, no matter what.
Sitting around the motel room I was just getting bored, so I walked about a half-mile to the bookstore. Not much there, it was really small. Next door was a Subway so I popped over there for lunch. I walked in right behind a guy with a shaved head, small hoop earrings in both ears, and a beard. He had kind of a grunge look to him. Sort of like one of those “extreme” snowboarder types. After finding out what I was doing, he asked if I wanted to sit with him for lunch. His name was Jeff and he was wearing a work shirt from the welding company he works for. Prior to moving to Kansas he lived in California and built bikes. He was cool to hang out with and talk to but then he asked if I go to church. Geeez,…do I look like I need to be “saved” or something? Jeff was really cool though and he didn’t try to push any religion on me. I just told him I don’t go to church and have my own views and philosophy on life. Before leaving he gave me his e-mail and phone number so I could call him from the road. And yet again, I’m experiencing this alternate reality that I somehow shifted into. A realm filled with positive energy and really nice people.
After eating, I went to Wal-Mart to buy a new Walkman. My last one quit working and I threw it away back at the Hazen Inn. I enjoy listening to music at night. The two tapes I brought contain a variety of music. One has a mix of Alternative Rock, Reggae, and Techno/Rave music. The other tape is a Mozart. So I have music for any mood I’m in :-) My last walkman type player was a $10.00 cheapo and I think it messed up from all the vibration in my handlebar bag. This time I decided to fork out the $50 for the Sony Sports Walkman. Hopefully this one will last the rest of the trip.
Back at the motel, I prepared some tea using the coffee maker for hot water and tea bags. By late afternoon, I was hungry again and ordered a veggie sub from “Hungry Howie’s” to be delivered. The rest of the day was spent listening to my walkman and catching up on previous day’s journal entries. Wow, I’m getting a bit behind. Some days I don’t feel much like writing, but I know that writing all my thoughts, dreams, and perceptions, will give me insight into myself. With the details of my journey documented and photographed, I will be able to look back and recall all of the intimate details that would otherwise be lost or obscured through time.
Today – 0 miles
Total – 1996 miles
DAY 41 – April 24, 1999
Well it was another century day for me. I usually don’t go that far in a day. A good day for me is about 65-70 miles. That gives me plenty of time to take photo’s, talk to people, and take breaks to stretch. But today there were not many places to stop. It took me 8.5 hours to go 100 miles which is an improvement over the first time I went that far. But that time I took may breaks. I was constantly stretching and I head even taken several quick power naps along the side of the road.
Leaving Chanute, I followed 39 West until it ended at the junction of 96/400. I took 96/400 West and had a very wide, smooth, shoulder to ride on. I stayed on 96/400 West until turning north on 54/77 into El Dorado. The wind blew west all day.
When I left Chanute it was a cool (50 degrees), cloudy, morning. The roads were definitely not “flat and boring” like I’d heard. I biked up and down the rolling hills and wondered when it was going to turn flat. Maybe they meant flat compared to the Rockies, but when I think of flat, I think of south Florida. There were no stores or anything for the first 50 miles. When I reached the junction of 99 at Severy, I stopped at a small convenient store on the south side of the road. When I was getting ready to leave, a 40ish looking guy walked up wearing gold-framed, Ray-Ban sunglasses and sportin’ a dark tan. He had a rugged, outdoor look with a Ralph Lauren style. Looking at my bike, he made a comment about it and said, “I’ve always liked Specialized, they make good bikes.” We talked some about my ride as well as other outdoor activities. This guy was an avid rock-climber and previously had a business in California. The tragedy of “Dano” also came up. He was one of the best climbers around but died recently. Apparently Kansas and Oklahoma are home to several rock-climbers. He mentioned many that he knew including one guy from Oklahoma that is in a Prudential commercial. It was nice to have a little mid-day conversation and it was quite surprising that there is any rock-climbing in “flat and boring” Kansas.
Continuing my ride west, and after about 70 miles, I sort of fell into this Zen mode. I really felt connected to the bike as if we were one entity. Soon my mind was transported back to a time when I was this long-haired, hard-rock music listenin’, pot-smokin’, teenager. Who would’ve guessed that the little hippie that always skipped school would go on to college? Not only go, but also get exceptional grades and be awarded scholarships! I found that I began to get a “high” from expanding my mind with knowledge, not drugs. And now, here I am on a bicycle riding across the continent. The most important, life enhancing event, I’ve ever experienced. I’m able to explore my inner world as it interfaces with the world outside. This is so incredible!
Arriving in El Dorado, I stopped at a store and asked the girl behind the counter about motels. She called her boyfriend, who works at the Super 8 motel, and found that the cheapest he could offer was $42.00 because it was Prom Night. He recommended that I call the Sunset Inn to see if they had any rooms left. They did. I got a room there for $37.00, which included a continental breakfast. The forecast predicted heavy thunder storms after midnight and through tomorrow. If it’s raining in the morning it’s easier for me to leave from a motel room. I really don’t like trying to pack in the rain, especially trying to pack a wet tent. After I checked in, I had 99.2 miles on my bike so I decided to drop my trailer and ride to Subway. At Subway I ate a seafood and crab sub then headed to the Nations Bank ATM. When I arrived back at the motel I had broke 100 miles for the day! :-)
Today – 100.47 miles
Total – 2097 miles
Avg. Speed – 12.5mph
DAY 42 – April 25, 1999
Flood watch for today through Monday. Man, that sucks! At 9:30am it was 53 degrees with west winds @10mph, and raining! I had the best continental breakfast so far. They had fresh fruit, waffles, six kinds of cereal, biscuits, gravy, bread, bagels, muffins, orange juice, apple juice, and grapefruit juice. I had 1 biscuit (no gravy), and 1 of each of the juices. Then I was off, into a crappy day!
I stopped at the same store I’d visited yesterday to buy my Gatorade and the same girl was behind the counter. She told me about a guy that biked through there last year. She said he was a real jerk to her boyfriend (the one that works at the Super 8 Motel.) Apparently, this cyclist was expecting a free room and got a bit angry when her boyfriend said he couldn’t give him one. She also said the guy was writing a book and was going to name it something like “Jokes and Spokes.” I thought it was pretty bold of someone to expect a free motel room and then to act like a jerk when someone doesn’t give him one.
Heading north on 56/77 I was in rain with the wind blowing west all the way to Florence. When I reached Florence, I decided to end my day early. I was miserable and cold. It was not a fun day!
The guy at the small, cheap looking motel, called “The Holiday Motel,” gave me a $2.00 discount and charged me $28.00. After paying, I walked to my room and opened the door. Doh! There’s some guy inside lying on the bed watching TV. I apologized and told him a mistake had been made at the front desk. He just made a stupid noise, “umm hmm” and looked at me like I was some sort of idiot. This was the second time I was given an occupied room. The first time was in W. Helena, but I was fortunate that the person in that room was gone. Finally, in a room, I relaxed in a tub of hot water. Afterwards I was going to take a short nap. Well, 2.5 hours later I woke up from some crazy dream. This dream had me cycling with a severe GI upset causing a lot of gas. What a strange dream indeed!! If only I could harness that energy to propel me forward. :-)
After getting up, I washed my rank water bottles. There was stuff growing inside and around the cap. Man, those things sure did stink…Whew!
Today – 33.25 miles
Total – 2130 miles
Avg. Speed – 11.0mph
DAY 43 – April 26, 1999
From Florence – North on 77/56, turned west on 256 through Marion, followed 256 to 56 W., continued on 56 W. to McPherson, turned north on Main Street – which turns into county road 1961 and then Bus. 81 – and stopped in Lindsborg.
According to the day’s weather forecast there would be heavy rains and thunderstorms in the afternoon. I was anxious to get as far as I could before the rains came. I stopped at a store and bought two Gatorades and some Nutri-Grain cereal bars. When I was getting ready to leave, a guy walked up and asked questions about my ride. After telling him my trip itinerary, I commented on the rain and how I was hoping to beat it to Salina. He said, “Well, I was hoping to ask you to talk to my class today. I teach Special Ed. Students…” Before I commented he added, “But I understand, you have to make time on the road.” I looked at my watch, and seeing that it was already 7:45am, I said yeah and re-explained my reasoning. I did give him the web address in case he might be interested in following the trip.
After I left, I began to think about the opportunity that I had been given to speak to those kids. By the time I reached Marion, I was feeling guilty. Why didn’t I do it? There have been so many things other people have done for me and this was an opportunity for me to give something back! The more I thought about it, the more upset I got with myself. Even if I had to sacrifice a day, it would have been worth it. My mind was so focused on getting ahead of the rain…hoping to set up my tent before the rain started. The motels are getting expensive and it looks like I’ll be broke by the end of the trip. Oh well, everything will work out. I just know it will. Maybe I can go back and talk to his class after the trip is done?
When I reached Marion, I stopped at the Post Office to mail my photos and journal entries. As I was leaving, Rowena from the local newspaper stopped me. One of the guys inside had called her after they found out about my bike journey. Two of the guys inside enjoyed cycling and took an interest in what I was doing. Rowena took my information, asking the who, what, when, where, and why, of my trip. Then, as she was taking my picture, we heard a lot of sirens and an ambulance drove by. Then she was informed of a traffic fatality about 2 miles away. All of a sudden, I felt terrible inside. Here I am smiling and happy in front of a camera as someone died in a car accident just down the road.
Anyway, I continued on and stopped at a small gas station called “The Station,” in Galva to use the bathroom. I noticed the pizzas and decided to eat lunch there. Unfortunately, all the pizza’s there had meat on them and since I don’t eat red meat, I ordered a turkey sub instead. One of the ladies was very interested in hearing about my trip. She look to be….hmmm….mid-twenties? I’m not sure about the age. As I was talking to another guy in the store, she walked up with her arms full of trail mix packages. “Do you eat these?” “Yeah, I do.” “They’re yours.” “Really? Wow Thanks!”, I said with a big smile on my face. OK now, kick me and wake me up!! Her name is Lisa and she owns “The Station”, She bought it about 6 months ago. If any other cyclist happens to be in Galva, stop in and say Hi to Lisa and have lunch from the Deli. You don’t always find exceptional people like this on the road so I’m trying to make it a point to highlight these special places.
Since I started today’s ride the pedaling was easy and I had a tailwind. All the way to McPherson was exceptionally easy as I exerted very little effort. As I headed north to Lindsborg I had a crosswind which was soon accompanied by rain. Ugh! I’m beginning to get used to the rain but what I didn’t like was the lightning as I was cycling on the flat Kansas plains. And yes, It is now getting very flat.
By the time I reached the Coronado Motel in Lindsborg, I was very happy to be able to get out of the thunderstorm. I called Steve and he checked my email for me and then faxed two of them to me. One from Bill, giving me more route suggestions to Missoula. The other from Gianluca describing his bike ride from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and back. I know that it will be about 500 miles each way (1000 miles total) with only one stop halfway, in Coldfoot. Coldfoot is just a small gas station with a restaurant and they sell no packable food. Deadhorse, the town at Prudhoe Bay, is the same way. That trek will be my most challenging and that is when I’ll really need to have a rear rack and panniers. I couldn’t believe his food list! Looked like at least 50 lbs. Of food! Hopefully I can find what I need in Missoula since I’m changing my route to go there.
By the way, Bill(in my guestbook) mentioned the “Butt’r” stuff I’ve been using. That really did help…I couldn’t believe the difference. But now I’ve quit using it and I guess my butt is finally “broken in.” :-)
Today – 64.8 miles
Total – 2195 miles
Avg. Speed – 14.0mph
DAY 44 – April 27, 1999
This was another one of those lazy mornings for me. I’ve never been a morning person and some days I really have to force myself up. The continental breakfast was supposed to be ready at 7am, so I got up and went at 7:10am. There was a young teenager there that said it wasn’t ready yet. I asked what time it would be ready and he replied, “I don’t know. Whenever my parents feel like getting up.” I went back to my room and got a call at 7:30am saying it was ready. Not much of a breakfast, no bread and no bagels. I really like bread and bagels, dang it!
When I was leaving, I tried to ask the lady about the roads I had marked on my map. She made it apparent that she was not interested in giving me advice on my route. She just took a quick glance and said “Yeah”. As I was leaving, she took the dog out to use the bathroom. The dog was barking at me and she gave me some snotty remark about how the dog doesn’t like cyclists. I was very unimpressed with the motel. When I checked in, the husband seemed to have a very flat affect. He did not appear to be very enthusiastic about owning the motel. The motel was purchased when farming had failed for him and his family. According to him, the only way to make it in farming these days is in very large volume. Most of the people in town are of Swiss descent. Lindsborg was started by a group from Switzerland back in the 1800’s. The town has preserved much of the culture. There are many unique shops and art studios. I got the feeling that the “transplants” owning the motel were not very happy with how things have turned out for them. There was a “Viking” motel down the road, I should have stayed at.
Leaving Lindsborg, I headed west on 4. I did not want to pedal at all. My legs were cold in the 54 degree temp with crosswinds. I hate the wind! Ahhhhh!!!! Good, now I feel better :-) I moved exceptionally slow because I didn’t want to ride at all. When I reached 141, I headed north and rode by a very nice lake with State Park campgrounds. (Kanopolis Lake) It was way too early to stop here for the day. I had only gone about 20 miles and still needed to get some distance in. There was supposed to be 2-3 days of no rain and I really wanted to take advantage of the dry weather.
I stopped at the “Korner Mart” which is north of the lake and past the “Big Bear” store. The only food on the menu was burgers and hot dogs. I looked around the store and found tuna on the shelf. I asked her if she could sell me one of her hamburger buns to go with my tuna. She opened the cans of tuna, gave me a fork and bun, and only charged me 79 cents for the tuna. There was a table of older ladies that I spoke to while I ate my lunch. Everyone was very nice and it brightened my spirits.
Continuing north, the landscape began to remind me of south central New Mexico. Lots of rolling hills with rocks jutting out from hillsides. The sun was out, warming me up and making the day brighter. I was in a much better mood, especially with the scenic landscape. I was constantly reminded of New Mexico and I thought of the good times and good friends I’d had there. When I reached 14, I headed west past Caneiro. The ladies back at the store said there were no longer any businesses there and haven’t been for a long time. There were some houses where people still lived but the building for the old businesses have long since been abandoned.
Reaching Ellsworth, I decided to stop since the campground I was going to was still about 25 miles away. I was off to a late start and as I said before, I pedaled extremely slow today. The lady at the store said they had no campground and only the “Best Western” or a bed and breakfast. She was really pushing the B&B and offered to call for me. The owner of the B&B said she’d give me a corporate discount to match the price of the motel ($42.00.) I had never been to a bed and breakfast before and wasn’t sure I wanted to stay there. But I decided to support a local business rather than a corporate chain.
The “Ira Lloyd House Bed and Breakfast” was only about a half mile away. Riding up to the 3 story home I wasn’t too impressed with the outside. I expected it to look like some of those really neat Victorian homes in North Carolina and Virginia. When I went inside, I was overwhelmed with an elegant interior, richly decorated with antiques. The owner, Clovia, said she has spent all of her time on the inside so far. There was a new, 20 some thousand dollar front porch added, but there was still more to be done on the outside.
At first I was uncomfortable inside someone else’s home. In a motel I could wheel in my bike, hand wash my clothes, hang them around the room to dry, be a slob, and fix my own meals with dehydrated food. But Clovia was very nice and I was the only guest for the night. Well, she also had her 6-yr. Old granddaughter Kayla there. She even offered to wash my clothes for me.After I took my shower, Clovia recommended the restaurant downtown to me. As I rode my bike to the end of her street, I saw the DQ sign just 300 yards away and decided to get a grilled chicken sandwich instead. I’m trying to save money as much as possible, wherever I can. This trip is costing much more than I expected. Actually, I should have gone to the grocery store and picked up a few things.
When I returned, I sat in the living room and talked to Clovia for awhile. Found out about her and her family. She asked what I wanted for breakfast. Telling me she would fix anything I wanted, I was confused with too many choices. I finally decided on cereal with skim milk, a bagel sandwich with egg whites, fresh fruit, and orange juice.
Soon Clovia’s husband came home and Kayla was very excited to see him. I think she felt left out since Clovia and I were talking. But when her husband and I began discussing my route for tomorrow, Kayla got a little upset. I felt bad for her since she wasn’t getting the attention she wanted. A part of me wanted to play a game with her or something so she wouldn’t feel ignored. So I decided to get my camera and lenses and show them to her. As I let her look through he camera with the different lenses, her teary eyes were replaced by a smile. She was amazed at the difference between the 300mm and the 20mm lens. I think it was fun for her to hold the camera and focus in on different things outside. We were on the front porch and I told Kayla what each one could be used for. I told her I could use the 300mm to take a picture of a big grizzly bear and be really far away so he wouldn’t eat me for dinner. It made me feel good to cheer her up and it made me wonder if I could be a good parent someday. The thought of kids sometimes scares me, but other times, I think of everything I could share and teach.
Afterwards, I went to my room upstairs, drank hot tea, and wrote in my journal.
Today – 45.77 miles
Total – 2242 miles
Avg. Speed – 7.0mph
DAY 45 – April 28, 1999
Getting up later than I’d wanted to, I headed downstairs for breakfast. MMMMM!!! That was delicious! I was wanting to hurry up and make some distance today but I was finding it hard to motivate myself. Now that it is staying light much later maybe I’ll just start leaving later. I’ve never been a morning person anyway.
Clovia’s husband came into the room as he was getting ready to leave for work. He wished me luck and then asked if he could contact the paper for a story. “The people in Ellsworth would love it.” I said “sure.” At this point in my trip, I’m now wanting to share this experience with everybody. The reporter showed up around 8am and I was on the road by 9am. The wind was blowing to the south on this cold, cloudy, 45 degree day. I rode back up to 140 and then turned west. It was at this point, 140 turned into “Old Hwy. 40.” This part of the ride offered nothing scenic, it was quite boring and I was cold. The cold wind gave me another one of those headaches I always get in the cold. It was at my right temple region where the wind was hitting me. After about 15 miles, I saw a sign…”Wilson-Czech Capitol of Kansas”. Riding into town I was immediately greeted by a cheerful “Hello”. I looked over and saw a gentleman in a small car lot. After asking for a good place to eat, he recommended “Al’s Bar and Grill”. Riding into town I saw the sign and stopped at the front door. I tried to open it but it was locked….Darn! Looking inside I could see some people so I went to the side door. Sure enough, they were open :-) Inside, I was immediately met at the door by three exceptionally nice ladies. They saw my bike and wanted to know where I was from, where I was going, and why. After sitting in a booth, Denise, my waitress, sat down across from me and talked some more. We talked about my ride and I asked many questions about the town.
I ended up ordering a grilled chicken salad, baked potato, and hot tea. It was excellent! The salad was served on a giant plate with slices of seasoned chicken breast(hot off the grill) covering it. Mmmmm!! It was great to eat a good meal with someone to sit and talk to for a little while. Denise took an interest in what I was doing and seemed to admire me for taking on the challenge. I told her anyone can do this, and gave her examples of people in their 60’s and 70’s going on long rides. She told me about someone I should stop and see in town, Peppy Joe the barber. He is one of the old Czech’s in town. He still cuts hair and is a man with many stories to tell. Denise also mentioned that the Czech festival is held the last weekend of July.
When I went to pay for my meal at the register she wouldn’t let me! Wow, am I still dreaming? Kick me harder to wake me up! Such a break from the miserable cold, this really makes it worth it. All of the great people I keep meeting help keep me motivated on days like this.
I rode to the barber shop but it was closed :-( While I stood across the street taking pictures, Denise appeared at the barber shop. She was disappointed that it was closed too. Then I was led to another store that an old Czech lady owns. This lady was recently featured in the Kansas magazine and would be another one to talk to. The store was closed too and the sign said “Having lunch at senior center, be back at 1pm”. It wasn’t quite 12 yet and I didn’t want to wait for over an hour. There was rain in the forecast so I really needed to get going. The town was small but the Bohemian architecture made it very unique. As I was leaving, I was stopped by an older man, short in stature. He asked where I was going and we talked for a few minutes. His name was Paul and he was as friendly as the rest of the people I met here. Paul told me about some of his travels around the world and even invited me to stay in his spare room.That was very tempting, a free place to stay. You know, I could spend several days in all of these small towns and really enjoy it but I would never make it to Alaska. So, I continued north on 232, into headwinds.
After passing I70, the incredible views made the cold bearable. The road was very hilly and from the top of the first big hill, I looked across miles of rolling hills with limestone rock jutting out in places. This is not what I’d been told about Kansas. Maybe the southwest part of Kansas is flat and boring but this is very scenic.
I followed 232 to 18 and then headed west on 18. There was a sign for the town of Lucas which indicated that it was the home of the “Garden of Eden” and the “Grass Roots Art Center”. Well, I had to check these two places out. First I stopped at the Garden of Eden. It was a house with incredible figures surrounding it. Initially it was just going to be “take a few photos and be on my way.” But Jean wanted to make sure I knew some of the details. He gave me a tour of the place and I was very glad he did. When you first see the home you might think, OK, just a bunch of figures and statues made by some eccentric guy. After learning about Samuel P. Dinsmoor, (1843-1932) I realized that he was not only an artist, but a genius. I was so impressed with this place that I’m going to have to add several pages with photos here to share this man’s vision. Hopefully, I can inspire others to come out and learn how he told many stories, from Biblical to political, through his art. It will take some time to write all of the incredible details so I’ll wait until I’m stopped for an extra day or two.
Next stop was the Grass Roots Arts Center. There, I was astounded even more, at some of the grass roots artists. This was my type of art! I took several photos and will add more info later. Leaving the Grass Roots Art Center, I was offered a tour into the backyard of another artist. The name escapes me now but she used concrete to re-create the landscapes of several places she’d visited. Adding different colors to the concreteas it was mixed, she was able to create surreal landscapes in her backyard.
By this time I was hungry so I rode to the “K-18 Café”. It was locally owned and my waitress, Amanda (a young high school girl), was the owner’s daughter. While talking to an older couple in the booth next to me, a lady from a group of 6 sitting at another table, began to ask me some questions. Her name was Leigh and before I left she wanted to take a picture of me. After she took mine, I went back inside and took a picture of her and her friends. They were all very nice and Leigh warned me of all the hills I’d be riding through.
Outside the café, Lois stopped me and told me about the Geodetic Center of North America just outside of town. This is the exact point for the center of the continent. There’s a government survey marker to indicate the place where all maps in North America begin. “It’s just the starting place of all our maps, the origin of all accurate land measurement in North America”. (Quoted from text given to me by Lois) This point was of interest to me since I’m on a cross continent bike ride. The location of this point is about 12 miles north of town and on private property, Meade’s Ranch. The property is owned by family members of Lois’. Unfortunately, it’s located in a pasture down a long gravel road. Since I can’t ride my bike out in the pasture, Lois offered to get some information and bring it to me.
The town had no camping and just one motel, The Lucas Country Inn. It wasn’t too bad for the price, just $27.00. Later that evening Lois dropped off the info she’d told me about. Among the papers was a photocopied picture of her parents, taken in 1930, standing on the marker.
Today – 39.06 miles
Total – 2281 miles
Avg. Speed – 8.5mph
DAY 46 – April 29, 1999
My watch alarm woke me up at 6am. Looking out the window, my eyes were greeted by another dark, cloudy morning. Only this time it wasn’t very wet outside. Leaving the motel, I rode into a cold (45 degrees) morning with wet streets and drizzling rain. It was hard to enjoy the ride since I was so focused on how much I dislike the cold and the wind. After about 11 miles I reached the junction of 281 and the Mid-Way co-op gas station. I went inside the station to use the bathroom and get my feet warm. I had a ski mask on today and 4 layers of clothes. But my feet were still cold under my thick wool socks. Inside the store I met Angela. We talked first about cycling; and then, about her recent trip to Europe. She happened to have photos with her and I was able to experience small pieces of it through her pictures and stories. My little break from the cold ended up lasting an hour as we engaged in many conversations. One old fella reminisced about the old days when his grandfather would ride his horse from Kansas to a town in the panhandle of Texas. He has ambitions to set out on horseback someday and do that ride. “But they didn’t have fences back then,” he went on to say, recognizing the difficulty in attempting such a thing.
Leaving the gas station, I headed north on 281. Now I have a crosswind as I tackle this very hilly road. After about 20 miles, I crest a large hill to see the town of Osborne below. Cool! It was about 4 more miles and mostly downhill. I stopped in a convenience store and asked about motels here and distance to the next town with one. The next town on my route with a motel was 55 miles away. I could still get there before sunset easily, but decided to wimp out from the cold.
Riding to the north edge of town, I found the “Camelot Inn”. After checking in, ($36.45 total) I walked to the Pizza Hut next door. The hostess that seated me was not too pleasant. But another waitress, “Mel” short for Melany, came to my table with a cheerful smile. Mel took my order and with each visit to my table she listened to me as I told of my trip so far. She seemed interested but maybe she was just being nice. Sometimes when I begin talking about it I get a bit excited and tend to ramble on :-) It’s just that I really can’t believe I’m doing this! I’ll have to admit that I have fleeting thoughts of quitting during cold, windy, days like this. But once I reach a town and meet people, it makes enduring the cold worth it. I REALLY HATE COLD!!! I can’t imagine how those guys bike in the winter with ice tires. They must have a much better tolerance to cold than I do. I must have poor blood supply to my distal extremities making it very easy for me to get cold.
While eating my small mushroom and green pepper pizza, I noticed an old schoolhouse across the street. After I finished eating my lunch, I walked to the schoolhouse and then to the Historical Museum next door to it. Inside the museum I met Lillian, a petite older lady. She had short graying hair and these youthful blue eyes. Lillian took me through the museum explaining the historical significance of everything on display. She is a very neat lady with a wealth of knowledge. It has taken her many years of hard work to get the historical society where it is today. There has been much resistance met by a city government that doesn’t seem to appreciate the history of their culture. Lillian has fought 5 years to keep them from tearing down one of the old historic buildings downtown. Her hard work doesn’t stop there either. At 75, she has decided to write a book beginning with her and branching into the lives of her ancestors. Both of her parents came from the Czech Republic and moved to Wilson (the Czech capitol of Kansas). She has been doing extensive research and recently began obtaining help from people in Czechoslovakia. Lillian is a very lovely lady and charming to talk to. I spent the whole afternoon in the museum as time escaped me. Then, as Bob finished on the computer, we realized it was 5:30pm. Bob works with the historical society and was busy training someone on their “new”, donated, 486 computer. After Lillian introduced us he took an immediate interest in what I was doing and wanted a picture. He came over to the motel room and took some photos of me with my bike.
Now another night in a motel :-( I really miss those warm nights camping. Like the time when the little dust devil appeared a few feet from me as I was sitting on the ground. Those little moments like that make being in nature so awesome. I miss camping and with these short riding days I’ve begun to put on weight. It’s difficult to find that nutritional balance with the caloric expenditure. The temp this time of the year is supposed to be in the 70’s but the high today is only 55 degrees. I hope this cold spell is over soon; then I’ll start riding longer during the day.
Today – 35.19 miles
Total – 2317 miles
Avg. Speed – 10.0 mph
DAY 47 – April 30, 1999
Cool! This was an excellent day! Actually, it started out as a crappy day, literally!! Yesterday I wasn’t feeling 100 percent as I reached town. I tried to ignore it and hoped whatever it was would go away. This morning my body decided to purge itself of everything inside me. I sat on the toilet for an hour with bad diarrhea. Just when I thought I was done, Bam, there’s more. Geeezz, how could all that be inside me? Finally, I checked out at 9:15am with the sun shining but still cold, about 50 degrees. The wind was blowing to the west as I headed north giving me a crosswind. When I reached 9, I headed west. Wooo hooo! The 10-15 mph winds were now giving me a tail wind! At the small town of Gaylord, I debated if they would have any type of café or restaurant. It looked like a small nothing town. There was a sign that said “Business District”. It led me down a dirt road and the 4 roads that comprised the town were dirt. There really wasn’t much of a business district but I did find the “Gaylord Inn”.
It is a very old building, like the others, and inside there were three old-timers sitting at one of the round tables. One of the ladies at the table, Fern, talked to me quite a bit about my trip. No one knew for sure how many people lived in this town, somewhere less than 100. But they all did agree that it was getting much smaller as people moved away.
After I finished eating, I continued west on 9, then north on 183 to 36. At 36 I turned west into downtown Phillipsburg. By this time I was hungry again so I stopped at the “Third Street Bakery and Sandwich Shop”. It was mediocre food and mediocre hospitality. I was advised to go to a café called “Sally Ann’s” or something like that. But I saw this first and stopped for a grilled chicken sandwich and iced tea. By now it was 65 degrees and a bright, sunny day. On 36 west, continuing towards Norton and my destination, Prairie Dog State Park, I had strong tail winds. I reached Norton and was hungry again. This time I got a chicken salad sandwich at a convenience store. Then, at 95 miles, I reached Prairie Dog State Park. I was feeling great and did not want to stop. Days like this have been rare lately so I wanted to make it last and enjoy it as long as I could. The day was perfect for riding and I felt I could go another 100 miles. So I passed up my opportunity to camp to relish every moment I could on the bike. Oberlin will be my final destination and there’s no camping there. It was a choice between my love of camping in nice weather or my love of cycling on such a perfect day.
After passing the park there was a sign along the road that stated “Caution Strong Wind Currents”. I was going to stop and take a photo but at this point I was zipping along at 23mph and decided to keep going. The winds were gusting by now and I was very glad to have it as a tailwind. There was a whistle as the wind passed through the power lines. I could see the fast moving waves the wind made across the green prairies. This was a day I didn’t want to end… Man, I felt invincible flying down the road. What an incredible sight across the prairies. It was like ocean waves, over and over, as the awesome power of the wind moved over them.
Reaching Oberlin, I had gone 120 miles and the next town, (McCook, Nebraska) was 30 miles north. That would have made 150 miles for the day but I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it before dark. There would be heavy crosswinds blowing me into the road. It was 6:45pm and with my speed now averaging 18-19mph I could have made it before the 8:40pm sunset if it was due west. I stopped at the Oberlin Inn ($29.15) and decided to go north tomorrow.
Sitting in a hot bath, I started to feel tired. My lower legs had also begun to bother me some during the last 20 miles. It was some muscle aches but also periosteal pain. Basically, “shin splints”…Geeezz! I would’ve thought after 2400 miles I’d be over aches like that. After my hot bath I was really feeling tired so I decided to indulge in a Coke to help keep me awake while I watched the weather channel. I put on a T-shirt and my sandals, then started to head for the soda machine outside. Doh! All I have on is a T-shirt and sandals! Good thing I noticed before I opened the door and exposed myself! My mind really doesn’t function well at the end of a day cycling.
Today – 121.38 miles
Total – 2438 miles
Avg. Speed – 15.0 mph[/lang_all][lang_all]
DAY 48 – May 1, 1999
Temp – low 60’s Wind – Blowing to the northwest
Wooo Hooo! Another incredible day riding! I headed north on 83. The wind blew to the northwest helping to give me a little boost. The road continued to be hilly along the virtually treeless, rolling plains. I rode past a huge cattle farm. There was cattle as far as the hills would let me see. They were all fenced in and separated in many groups. The smell was so bad I held my nose with one hand while I biked past the 2 miles of cattle. Whew! That was very bad! Before long, I arrived at the Nebraska state line.
Continued in Nebraska…
Today – 12.97 miles in Kansas
Nebraska – Day 48 to day 55 (May 1999)
83 North through North Platte to 97
to 2 West at Mullen
to 27 North at Ellsworth
to 20 West at Gordon
to 385 North near Chadron into South Dakota
DAY 48 Continued… – May 1, 1999
I stopped in McCook, Nebraska. I was looking for the Chamber of Commerce to get a free state map. While in the downtown area, I was stopped by a couple of young guys wearing suits and name tags. Before they got close enough for me to see the name tags, I already knew they were Mormons. I wanted to look on my back to see if someone had put a sticker there saying “Help me, I need saved.” Both of them were very nice and about 20-23 years old. They asked about where I was headed and all the usual questions most people ask. It seemed important to them that I carry a Mormon Bible with me so I accepted their offer. Inside the cover one guy wrote their names, phone numbers, and what I should read. Adding to the end, “Read, Ponder, Pray”. Both of the “Elders” wished me luck and told me to call if I wanted to talk about anything.
Giving up on the Chamber of Commerce, I decided to go to Wal-Mart for 1-hour photo finishing. Dropping my film off at the counter, I walked around the store with the usual stares I get. I was wearing my green, white, and black, bike shirt and my shoes made some noise as I walked-with my bike shoe wearin’ gait pattern. Finding the powerbars, balance bars, and Tiger’s Milk bars, I loaded my arms up. Those are great to eat while on the bike. Sitting on the bench near the photo counter, people walked by and either stared or pretended not to notice me. I smiled but many probably don’t know what to think of me. At the photo counter the girl was really nice and also interested in my trip so I gave her the web site address. There was another lady there that called the local paper for a story. Unfortunately, it was a busy Saturday for the paper and no one was available to come out. She was told that someone might drive up 83 to look for me along the road. I thanked her for her efforts and headed out with photos and food bars in hand.
Continuing north on 83 there was still nothing much to see apart from the rolling hills and occasionally, a few trees. Then about 40 miles north of McCook I see “Wellfleet Pop. 63”. There was one small café by the road, the “Country Inn Café”. I went inside for a glass of tea and a roll to satisfy by bread craving. Did I ever mention I like bread? :-) On one wall there were numerous newspaper and magazine articles with stories about some maker of fine chocolates. There was a glass display case filled with carefully placed chocolate candies. I noticed many shapes and designs to these chocolates. The display reminded me of the display I saw at the Godiva Chocolate Store in North Park Mall, Dallas. So why does this little hole-in-wall café’, out in the middle of nowhere, harbor such elegantly made fine chocolates? Well it ends up that Jerry’s (the owner) wife, Debbie, has found a passion for making chocolate candies. In fact she is now shipping orders to other parts of the world. They are now at a point where they are working on a move to the big city of Chicago. From there they will be expanding the business of “Debbie’s Delights”. This was very hard for me to imagine. Both of them were down-to-earth and seemed to fit in this rural setting very well. Jerry looked more like a farmer or a truck driver, not a big city entrupreneur. He was indeed a good-hearted, sincere man and we talked a bit about my current adventure. There were two other gentlemen, sitting in a booth, that appeared to be regulars and friends of Jerry’s. The four of us talked about other things as well, like the cattle drive that went through there from Texas several years ago. They also told me about a guy that skated through there on in-line skates going across the country. It was a nice break and I felt right at home there. I went to pay for my tea and roll but Jerry said, “It’s on me”. Then he gave me a big piece of caramel and told me about how carefully the candies are made with no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
The rest of the ride into North Platte was hilly and void of buildings or trees, well maybe a couple of small trees. Arriving in North Platte I saw the “Buffalo Bill Cody Museum” and was instantly reminded of when I was here as a child. The memory had been long since lost and now I was flooded with images of the place through a childs eyes. It had been 22 or 23 years ago and things were smaller than what I remembered. Wow, this was weird, I’ve been here before and didn’t even know it until I got here. Seeing the Subway sign, I popped in for a Vegi-Max sub. As I was leaving, it beginning to sprinkle and heavy thunderstorms for tonight and tomorrow was in the forecast. There were many motels around but Motel 6 advertised “$31.99 Single”. So that’s where I went and paid $35.51 with the tax.
Today – 86.29 miles in Nebraska (total for the day 99.26 miles)
Total – 2537 miles
Avg. Speed – 14.0mph
DAY 49 – May 2, 1999
Well, I decided not to cycle in these plains with heavy rains and lightning. The severe thunderstorm warning is in effect until late afternoon. It was 8:30am and there was only light rain. I got dressed and went across the street to Roger’s Café. It’s the place where all the locals go. Inside I sat on a stool at the counter and hung my wet jacket on the back of it. I ordered an egg white omelet with vegetables, toast, and decaffeinated coffee. A big stalky black guy walked in and sat to the left of me. Curtis is a local and frequents the café to get oatmeal for breakfast. He is very large, like a football player, probably 280 lbs. As we engaged in conversation, he refused to believe what I was doing. Curtis has not been exposed to bicycle touring and continued to question me like a detective questioning a suspect. After hearing many details he seemed to accept my story. So he gave me the direct line phone number of a friend of his that works at the local newspaper. Then he asked if he could stop by to see my bike after he got out of church. I said sure and gave him the room number.
Arriving back at the motel, I paid for another night and got a discount, $31.97 total. I decided to try the phone number Curtis gave me and a guy answered the phone, identifying himself as Tony. I told him who I was and how I’d obtained his phone number. Tony informed me that he is in the wrong department for my story, he’s in advertising and it was only by chance that he had to go to the office for a few moments today, a Sunday. He was excited about the story and wanted to get the information to someone in the news department. I asked him if someone would be able to do an early morning interview so I could get on the road by 8:30am. He said he’d leave messages and have someone call me first thing in the morning.
At about noon I heard a honk outside my window. I looked out to see Curtis in the parking lot. He got out of his car and walked to the window to talk to me. After seeing my bike through the window, he wanted a closer look so I invited him in. “I guess you really are telling the truth.” Curtis hung out for about 45 minutes and remained in awe over the whole concept of what I was doing. He checked out my front suspension. I have Judy XC’s that are at their firmest setting until I hit the rough terrain of the Dalton Highway. He also turned on the headlight, pushed down on the suspension seat post, and inspected my clipless pedals. Which by the way, what should I call it when I put my feet in them? Don’t I clip them into place? Or maybe I just “click” them into their attachment. What about those pedals I had on my tricycle? They didn’t have a clip or strap, so wouldn’t they be “clipless” too?
Anyway, Curtis asked many questions and one thing he couldn’t understand was how someone could be celibate for 4 months. He wondered if I visited any clubs along the way and picked up any girls. “You mean you’re not getting any trim?” Before Curtis left he asked if I could send him a postcard from Alaska to see if I made it. He had spoken of his interest in the Kodiak bear earlier and asked if I could also send an Alaskan T-shirt with a Kodiak bear on it. When he asked for a picture of me with my bike, I directed him to my web site. He said he could print one from there. He said he was going to a friend’s house that has a computer with Internet access since he doesn’t own one and doesn’t know how to use one yet.
The rain stopped around 4pm so I went for a walk. There were mostly fast food and motels around here. The mall was only about 4 blocks away so I decided to go there and wander around a bit. It was a very small mall, maybe I should call it “The Small” hehe… Inside I found the GNC store and bought more food bars. They had some “Genisoy” bars so I bought the last 5 they had and some powerbars.
I ended the red meat habit after my college nutrition and physiology courses. So with what knowledge I do have of nutrition and exercise physiology, I’m trying to maintain a healthy balance.
Today – 0 miles
Total – 2537 miles
DAY 50 – May 3, 1999
My watch alarm went off at 6 am. Then at 6:01 am I could hear another watch alarm that was just like mine through the thin motel walls. At about 7:30 am Pat, from the local newspaper called. We set a time of 8:30 am for me to meet her at the newspaper office. I don’t remember what all I said, I just rambled on and went off on my usual tangents.
Leaving town at 9:45 am, I took 83 north to 97 north. With virtually no traffic, I was mostly all alone on a landscape of sand hills. It reminded me of when I was in the desert a year ago. There were endless rolling hills of sand, mostly covered with grasses, for as far as I could see. Reaching Tryon, I stopped at Aunt Bea’s Cafe’. Hey I thought Aunt Bea was in Mayberry, NC? Must’ve moved huh :) Inside I ordered a salad and 2 dinner rolls since the rest of the menu was filled with red meat and fried food. The town of Tryon itself is the county seat with a population of 100 and a county population of 500. Wow, talk about being in the middle of nowhere!
Continuing north on 97, the hills got tougher, but still had this incredible tailwind. They talk about how strong the wind gets out here, I was glad to have it pushing me. It was now gusting to 35 mph, which helped me on the uphills. The steepest grade was at the Dismal river. Going downhill I reached 47 mph, WOW what a rush!! The town of Mullen is at the intersection of 97 and 2. It was there I stopped at Big Red’s Cafe’. Yes, they even have grilled chicken sandwiches! That is rare in small places that normally deep fry everything.
The guys up front, are they called train conductors? Anyway, those guys would always wave at me as they passed. Most of the trains were very long with 75 to 115 cars. And yes I counted them :) And 115 was the most I counted on a train. One song I listened to, and found had a nice beat to pedal to was “The Difference” by The Wallflowers.
At times I would get into a small area of road where the wind was blocked by the hills. It was at these places I would ride down the middle of the road and practice riding with both arms held straight out to my sides. Riding with no hands is very difficult with the weight in my handlebar bag and the weight of the trailer on the rear. I was fortunate to have the whole road to myself most of the time, still no traffic out here except for the trains. But I couldn’t help but wonder… if I fell, and with no one around to hear,…. would I make a sound? :)
Reaching Hyannis at 7:45pm, or well 6:45 pm since I just crossed into mountain time today, I was stopped by a lady. She asked me if I was going to need a place to stay. Her name was Sharon and she owns a trailer that is normally rented. Lucky for me it was empty and she let me stay there for the night. The town did have an old, sort of run down looking motel and a small hotel. The hotel looked like a nice and it houses the towns only cafe’. Sharon had told me that if I run out of water out on the isolated roads, I could get water from the small windmills near the road. They pump water out of the ground and it is clean water that’s been filtered in the sand hills. The trailer was probably about a 1970 model but it was very clean and well kept. I took a hot shower and then opted to sleep on the sofa. During the night the wind got very strong and then heavy rain came which sent me off to dreamland. Thus ending a very nice, sunny and warm day.
wind – blowing to the north
temp – hi 75 degrees
Today – 115.92 miles
Total – 2653 miles
Avg. Speed – 13.0mph
Max. Speed – 47.0mph
DAY 51 – May 4, 1999
This was the most difficult day of riding I’ve ever experienced. The wind was blowing to the southeast as I went west on highway 2. The road zig zags through the hills so I had combinations of headwind and crosswind. It was the same when I turned north on 27, headwinds and crosswinds except the crosswind was at my other side.
Prior to leaving town I stopped at the small grocery store and bought instant coffee packets, gatorade, and 2 bananas. The coffee for my anticipated cold night of camping in Gordon tonight. Gordon is 85 miles away and I thought it would be no problem going that far. It was really cold this morning so I stopped at the convenient store for a cup of hot coffee. I was expexcting it to be warm again today, but the people inside informed me otherwise. So I put on another layer of clothes in the bathroom. Sharon stopped by to wish me good luck on my trip. I had told her I’d send a postcard when I get to Alaska. Come to find out, the streets have no names. So I guess I’m in that place the band U2 sings about… “Where the streets have no name…” :) The houses are unnumbered as well, so the address consists of the persons name, city, state and zip. The postman obviously knows where everyone lives in the town. But that was weird, nameless streets in a town. Before I left the store, the lady that worked there told me that if I couldn’t make it past Ellsworth, to stop at the Post Office and Cathy could help me find a place to stay.
Leaving at 9:45 am, I continued west on highway 2. The wind was horribly strong. My eyes were watering as tears streamed down my face from the cold wind. My nose began to continuosly run like a river which lasted all day. I could hear my flag whiping in the wind and cracking like a bullwhip. the sun would occasionally pop out at times, but mostly remained very cloudy. The trains were going by about every 20 minutes again today. It was nice to have all the waves from the ….. hmmmm…….. What do you call them? train conductors or something? Anyway it was nice to have them waving to me as I struggled in the cold wind. The gusts would occasionally push me out into the road, luckily there was barely car to be seen out here. I was moving at an all time slooooow pace. Now I started having my doubts about making it to Gordon today. The previous 3 riding days were 100+ miles and I thought for sure I could go 85 miles easily.
About half a mile before Ellsworth, the rain started. Making it to the Post Office in Ellsworth at 4pm, it was already closed, it closed at 3pm. There was a general store beside it in the same building. I went into the store cold and wet. The guy inside seemed a bit standoffish and unpleasant towards me. I asked about a place to stay or even pitch a tent nearby. He offered no help except that Gordon was 55 miles away and if I couldn’t make it, I could set up my tent along the road somewhere. I could not believe what I was hearing. It was already 4 pm with freezing rain and a 30 mph wind gusting to 40 mph. I was expecting at least some assistance in finding a place to set up my tent close by. When I looked around the store, I was going to buy a sandwich out of the refrigerator case but decided that I would prefer starvation over giving him any of my money. Yes, I was very negative at this point. I couldn’t believe the lack of compassion towards another human being in need of a place to stay. Frustrated and a little upset, I was determined to get to Gordon even if it will be 2am when I arrived there. I pedaled into the rain which did let up for a little while, long enough for me to take a picture of all the cattle lined up along a fence staring at me. My negativity soon dissolved as I told myself that it wasn’t meant to be and there will be something better for me when I get to Gordon. I also thought that it couldn’t be that bad biking out on a desolate road way past midnight. The rain soon began to get worse again and the wind was blowing the small bits of hail into the left side of my face.
After cycling an hour and a half in the heavy downpour, a chevy pickup pulls over in front of me. I pulled up to his window to see a gentleman about 55 years old with short graying hair and a robust look to his face. His brown coat was beginning to get soaked as he sat there with his window down. He asked it I wanted to put my bike in the back and he’d give me a lift. I was sooooooo cold, wet and very miserable. The sky was very dark and gloomy reflecting how I felt inside. A part of me wanted to put my bike in back and get in the warm inviting truck. But I told him that I really had to do this without “cheating”. I explained my trip and the importance of being able to bike the whole distance. He smiled and told me that there was a church 12 miles down the road, “…you could go inside and ask the lord to forgive you for cheating”, giving a small chuckle. I told him how much I appreciated his concern and stopping to help. He went on to say that his name was Larry and for me to go to the church and tell the pastor he sent me there. Larry said the church is always unlocked and anyone is welcome there. By this time Larry was soaked on his left side as the rain continued to pour and the wind continued to gust. I could tell this nice man did not want to leave me out here in the middle of nowhere in this dark rain. After I thanked him, he started to pull away and then stopped again “If you can’t make it to the church, stop at the Hamiltons ranch 4 miles before the church. They are really good people and will help you.” I thanked Larry again and my spirits were lifted knowing I had only 12 miles to bike and that there was someone kind enough to stop like Larry.
By this time my fingers and toes have long passed the stinging and burning stage. My feet were soaked and numb, feeling like blocks of wood as I pushed them down on the pedals. I tried to sing “I’m only happy when it rains…”, that song by Garbage, but I couldn’t get myself to sing. It was a difficult struggle for me as I kept looking for something inside to keep me motivated. I thought about how much worse others have had it. This struggle is nothing compared to what I’ve heard about others enduring.
The rain soon let up and the sky brightened a little. I reached the chusr 2 hours after my encounter with Larry. And it was exactly 12 miles as he told me. I parked my bicycle and knocked on the door of the house beside the church. A relatively young lady, about 30 to 35, answered the door. She was relatively tall for a female, maybe about 5’8″ with shoulder length brown , curly hair and glasses. I introduced myself and explained my dilemma. She had a concerned look as she asked what she could do for me. I asked if I could either pitch my tent or stay in the church. And I was really hoping to stay in the church in this inclement weather. She said I could stay in the church and went on to say that she’d prefer me to come in the house but couldn’t allow it since her husband wasn’t home. By this time I had already noticed her two young boys peeping out the window. Sheila took me over to the church and asked if I was hungry as she searched the refridgerator for food. “How about some beef noodle soup?” I said “Yes, that would be great.” At a time like this I would eat red meat even though it had been many years since I’ve touched the stuff. But as it turned out it was chicken noodle, cool!!
As we stood in the kitchen of the church talking, I saw something at the window out of the corner of my eye. I looked to see a young boy jumping as his head bobbed up and then down out of sight and another that was tall enoguh to peek in the corner of the window. She has 2 boys, Bennett (5) and Christian (10). Apparently her boys were concerned about their mother giving the history of other unusual people that have stopped here in the past. One lady had claimed to be a witch and she cast a spell on them. She had a worn look to her with a leathery face. One could only wonder what someone like that was doing out here in nowhere land. The temp that day was 110+ as she continued on and walked south on 27. After hearing a story like that I could understand why her childrens concern when it came to strangers.
Sheila and I talked for quite awhile, discussing my challenges with being alone on this journey as well as her upcoming trip to Africa. She will be going there through a literacy program at a college in east Nebraska. This will be her first time going somewhere alone without her husband or family. Going there will be with the group, but she will return on her own with several stops in other countries.
It was getting late and Sheila had to put her kids to bed. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” she asked before leaving me for the night. I said “no thank you” and expressed my appreciation for all she’s done already.
temp – 45 degrees and dropped through the day
wind – blowing to the southeast 30-40 mph
Today – 50.79 miles
Total – 2704 miles
Avg. Speed – 6.5mph
DAY 52 – May 5, 1999
This day I almost gave up and wanted to quit. The wind was unbearable and I could not understand why I was out here enduring such misery. I did not want to be in this desolate land offering no shelter from that God-awful wind! It was gusting 80-90mph and pushing my bike off the road and then me off the bike. At times it was difficult just holding my bike up without me and the bike taking flight. The tumbleweeds didn’t tumble across the road, they were usually airborne. I attempted to lean my bike into the wind when it gusted, but that always resulted in my front tire being swept out from under me. This was indeed a day I did not want to be on my bike!
The morning began with me getting up at 6am and Tom, Sheila’s husband, showed up soon after. He was in his mid to late 30’s and has been at this church for 4 years. He told me that since the church was built, 40 years ago, it’s always been unlocked in case someone needed a place to come to. This stretch of road is empty for 55 miles and others have stayed here in the past, like the family whose car broke down near by. We talked for well over an hour about our careers, people in the area, and my proposed route to Rapid City, South Dakota. He expressed concern about my route through the Indian reservation since there were few places to stay for about 150 miles. Plus, he told me of some of the parallels between the Indian reservation and inner city project areas. One well-known fact that I learned in anthropology is that the reservations have an exceptionally high incidence of alcoholism. Tom also confirmed that fact. If I could ride through during the day, I’d probably be all right. This is what I intended on doing since I will ride through any place during the day. After all, I rode through the Black community of Belle Glade, which may very well be one of the most dangerous places with it’s very high crime rate, drug abuse, and the highest Aids epidemic in the nation. So, the Indian reservation didn’t bother me, I was actually looking forward to it.
After Tom left, Sheila stopped by and asked if there was anything she could do or if I wanted any breakfast. She brought me yogurt, toast with jam, and an apple…mmm! I love yogurt and of course, bread is always a favorite of mine. We talked about the amount of confidence it takes to go on a solo adventure like this. Sheila loves the idea of travelling but thinks she lacks some of the self-confidence needed for a trip like mine. I assured her that I’m not an overly confident person and that’s what makes this a challenge for me. And, as Sheila put it, Once you do something like this, it just boosts your confidence. Her youngest son kept coming and showing me his bicycle helmet. He wanted to talk to me but was very shy. As he told me things, he always looked away, but was eager to make a new friend :-)
As I left Pleasant Point Church I thought, yes indeed what a pleasant point along the road that was. It was a bit of a struggle with the wind and the steep hills as I was starting out. Their dog followed and I kept trying to yell at him, telling him to go home. I tried my meanest voice but he just looked at me with those sad eyes and stayed with me. I tried for an hour then Sheila pulled up, with her two boys, to get the dog. When they realized he must have followed me, they drove out to get him. If they hadn’t, I told them, I was going to call first chance I got. I also mentioned how strong the wind was and how it had already blown me off the road several times. She said that it was very difficult keeping her Jeep on the road. I guessed the wind was gusting about 60-70mph and she agreed.
I continued north and the wind continued to blow from the northwest, hitting me at an angle. It got much worse and I debated my ability to make it to Gordon. Once, I was blown off my bike, and it was even hard to stand at times, let alone get on my bike again. I was so miserable that I just wanted the day to be over. If only I was headed in the other direction, imagine how fast I could go! I could surely go 150+ miles, no problem!
Reaching Gordon, 7 hours and 35 miles later, I was very hungry and tired. During my 7-hour ride all I had to eat was two powerbars. Stopping at the first convenience store, I asked a guy about places to eat. He recommended the Hacienda Restaurant at the Hacienda Motel. I asked about the wind and he informed me that he was a police or fire officer (I don’t remember which) from Chadron and that the wind was dangerous to be in. He said there are 80-90mph gusts and will be for the next two days. He also told me that wind advisories had been issued and I should be careful out there. I thanked him and rode the half-mile west to the Hacienda. Walking inside, I saw a police officer sitting by himself at a table up front. I said, “Does it ever get windy around here?” He laughed and told me it was supposed to be like this for a couple of days. I asked if I could join him and he said “sure”, then introduced himself as Ron, the Police Chief. Sitting at the table I told him of the ordeal I just went through during the past two days, and that out of 2700 miles this was my worst day yet.
Ron, a 40ish looking man with glasses, had an Indian look to him but he wasn’t (I asked). He asked me why I was doing this bike ride and I explained all the things that led to me doing it. I told him that this was the first time ever doing something like this and that it had indeed been a mostly positive experience. He asked what some of the good and bad experiences had been. As I told him about the beer can incident in southern Alabama he chuckled and said, “Sounds like you have some of the same things happen to you that happen to me.” He told me about a time when someone drove by and threw a beer can at him while he had someone pulled over for a traffic violation.
Ron has spent most of his life here. He left a few times, once for four years while in the military, but he always came back here. I enjoyed talking to him as he was well versed on many topics…a very intelligent man. He warned me of my route to Rapid City. I would have to leave Gordon and ride close to 150 miles to get somewhere safe to stay. The Indian reservation has a high incidence of alcoholism and he asked if I carry much money on me. The road was in disrepair according to another and I realized that in this wind, it would take several days to get through the reservation and the badlands. I would be out there at night with a high chance of getting robbed. The best and most scenic route would be to head west to Chadron (47 miles), then north to Hot Springs (54 miles), then continue north to Rapid City (about another 50 miles). It is not only supposed to be scenic, but also offers short distances between cities so I won’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Guess the Badlands will have to wait. Ron helped me make up my mind to take this other route.
While sitting at the table Ron got a call about one of the storefronts downtown getting ripped away by the wind. Then, a few moments later, he got another call about a lady who locked her keys in the car. At this call he had to leave and told me that if I stayed in town to stop by the police station. There they could provide me with maps or anything I need. By this time I had eaten one grilled chicken sandwich ($2.50) and made three trips to the all-you-can-eat salad bar ($2.00). I went for one more trip to the salad bar then checked into a room. The total, with tax, was $27.43 and I had a big room with two double beds. I lay in a deep bathtub filled with hot water and just relaxed. Going to sleep, I could hear the wind howling outside, and I wondered if it would’ve even been possible to set up a tent in this. Surely the wind would’ve made that task almost impossible.
Temp – Low 40’s
Wind – gusting 80-90mph, blowing to the southeast
Today – 35.01 miles
Total – 2739 miles
Avg. Speed – 5.5mph
DAY 53 – May 6, 1999
Whoa! I woke up out of a really bad dream. Many of the people I met on this trip were on a cruise ship. Then the ship sank very quickly and I found myself under water trying to save them. The water was dark and a girl told me to save myself and swim up to the surface with her. Both of us swam up out of the water. Many died and I regretted not being able to find the young daughter of someone I know. Searching among the survivors, I found her mother but the young girl had drowned. I was very sad and had a helpless feeling. Other people were mad at another girl that took a long time to save an old lady with senile dementia. Not only save her, but took the time to change her clothes while they were still under water. Many people thought she should have saved a young child, not an old lady.
Coming out of the unusual dream, I heard the ferocious wind outside. The wind is supposed to be even stronger today as the front continues east. I don’t ever want to re-live a day like yesterday. Nope, I’m not going anywhere! The wind is supposed to die down in a day or two, followed by rain. I think I’d rather cycle in the rain than those horrible winds.
I headed to the motel restaurant and ordered a vegetable egg-white omelet and toast. When I was in Hyannis, I predicted I would be eating breakfast near Rapid City today. Well if things don’t work out for me to make it to my destination before the early Alaskan snow, it won’t bother me too much. This really isn’t about a destination; it’s more about the journey. I guess it’s much like life in general. In life it’s not about the destination, which would be death, but the journey along the way. My path in life has changed many times and taken me in many directions, as I’ve been influenced by my environment and my thoughts. This bike route has already changed several times as I’m influenced by the world around me. There are many parallels I’m beginning to see between this bike journey and my journey through life. Let’s just hope that the end of this journey doesn’t mean the end of my life journey. I could think of much better places for me to die than Prudhoe Bay :-)
Back at the motel room, I called the local paper to see if they might be interested in my story. Speaking to Barb, She said she would very much like to do a story. She drove over to interview me since I was dead set against cycling in this “howling wind from hell”. After the interview she gave me a ride into downtown so I could look around.
The first stop was to introduce me to Kim, she’s the only physical therapist in the area and owns an outpatient center. We talked in great length about the many problems in healthcare right now. It is so frustrating when you want to give quality care under these limitations. In talking to Kim, I could tell that she is a very good therapist with a sincere interest in the care of her patients. These are the therapists that are the most frustrated. The mediocre therapists that were only in it because it was a good paying job are only upset because their income was drastically reduced or they lost their jobs. These people will hopefully move on to another profession. I believe Kim had some of the same beliefs as me. It isn’t about the money; it’s about being a good clinician. Some of the things she talked about reminded me of my friend Kathleen in Florida (days 10-12). When Kim talked about her interest in prevention and especially with osteoporosis, I was again reminded of the project Kathleen had just finished on early intervention for osteoporosis, so I told her I would contact information for Kathleen. One thing I noticed was how tense I felt when we talked about the problems in healthcare. I don’t know if I want to go back into that kind of environment. The government is really screwing up the system and it just makes me too upset to think about it.
Leaving the physical therapy clinic, I walked to the “Ad-Pad”. Inside, they sell some books and miscellaneous items as well as housing a small museum-like area dedicated to Mari Sandoz. On my ride to Gordon, I passed the gravesite for Mari Sandoz and the Mari Sandoz rest area. Although he rest area consists of nothing more than a picnic table, a home made outhouse that empties directly on the ground surface, and an empty building that used to contain some of Mari Sandoz’s things. Since the place is so far out and away from everything, it was hard to maintain and the place had been vandalized. The lady inside the Ad-Pad gave me a brief history about Mari Sandoz. She published 22 books and a few of the popular titles “Old Jules”, “Crazy Horse”, and “There Were Sioux”. She was a historian so she wrote with exacting detail of how things were. “Crazy Horse” is the most accurate book ever written about the early American Indian. Several of her books have been translated into different languages. The lady in the store said that they’ve had people come from other countries to see the places she wrote about. After reading a few excerpts, I was beginning to get drawn into her culture. This place has a lot of history around it, which is not unlike many of the places I’ve been through. There just isn’t enough time to learn too much detail about any one place. If anyone is even reading this stuff I write and is interested in knowing more about Mari Sandoz, or wants to order any of her books, just send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org They are currently working on a website.
From there I stopped by the towns small police department, behind City Hall. Ron was there and he gave me advice on the best route to Mt. Rushmore. He gave me some detailed maps and pointed out scenic areas, points of interest, and places with historical significance. While we were looking at the maps, he had to leave because of a complaint about some drunk guys loitering and panhandling. When he returned I tried to take his picture but had a problem the motor that raises the flash. I am very lucky it works at all with all the vibration it gets in my handlebar bag. The filters always vibrate loose and manage to twist themselves off the lenses. When I mentioned this problem and the need to pad the bottom of my bag, Ron came to the rescue. He got a large piece of foam rubber and let me cut out what I needed. Cool! Now, hopefully, my camera will survive the rest of the trip :-)
Going to the public library next, I asked about Internet access. They said I could use it for twenty minutes, until the person that had it reserved arrived. I tried to type a journal entry to email but couldn’t finish it in time. So I was able to reserve it for an hour later. During that hour, I waked to the grocery store (granola bars, cereal bars, and deodorant), to Radio Shack (2 spare camera batteries), and then back to the motel room. By that time the hour was almost up so I hopped on my bike and rode to the library. I was able to finish the journal entry and type another. Then all I would have to do was type in yesterday’s and all would be up to date. I decided to check for new email at my email account first. Before the page even opened the Librarian walked over to me, I could see her out of the corner of my eye as she walked briskly and with purpose. I turned to look and she said, “You have 5 minutes”, holding up the 5 fingers on her left hand. The way she said it made me feel like some elementary school kid. Her voice had very little inflection as she stated it boldly, to get her point across that I need to get off the computer. Is it too difficult to say it nicely and smile? Geeez, I felt like I was committing a crime. I read one e-mail, someone asking about my Bob trailer and the weight of my gear. There wasn’t enough time to reply so it will have to wait, sorry :-( As I was leaving, I smiled at the librarian and gave her a sincere “thank you” as she sat at her computer terminal behind the desk. Of course it went unacknowledged as I walked out the door. The librarian I’d talked to earlier wasn’t overly nice but at least she didn’t seem so cold.
Back at the motel I decided that I’d enjoyed last nights good and inexpensive meal so much that I was going to go back for more. This time I ended up eating too much at the salad bar. Oh, my stomach is going to burst! Before I could go to sleep I had to put my earplugs in because of the loud noises from the pipes. They kept making these loud pops and cracks. At least the sounds came from around the sink and bathroom. I remember hearing it last night but I was so tired I fell right to sleep and slept through the night.
Wind – Even worse than it was yesterday!
Today – 0 miles
Total – 2739 miles
DAY 54 – May 7, 1999
Getting up, I checked the local temperature – 36 degrees with a wind chill of 21 degrees…Brrr! With my 3 layers of clothes on I rode into the cold. I wasn’t feeling very well, sort of like nausea or diarrhea, my stomach just wasn’t right. I think I ate too much last night. Now the cold wind was giving me one of those awful headaches. Almost like you get when you eat ice cream too fast. I really hate the cold! The pace was very slow but at least I was going somewhere.
Reaching Rushville, I stopped at a store to get a 7-Up and extra strength Tylenol. Sitting in a booth I read a photography magazine from the magazine rack while I drank my 7-Up. After about 20 minutes I continued my journey west. By the time I reached Hay Springs the temperature was warmer, I was feeling better, and I was hungry. The small town looked very old as I searched for a café. Bob’s Bar and Grill was on the right and looked like an old saloon. I parked my bike and headed inside. It had big thick wooden doors. I thrust the door open thinking it would be heavy and difficult to open. The door flew open much harder than I expected, and I stepped into a room with all the tables filled. Conversations stopped and many eyes were looking at me as I entered onto the wooden floor. My bike shoes with metal cleats were loud on the wood. I felt like a cowboy with boots on as I made my way to the wooden bar. Sitting down on the wooden bar stool, the waitress hands me a menu. Again, red meats and fried foods. I ordered a chicken sandwich and salad.
Leaving Hay Springs, the road changed direction and I rode northwest, directly into headwinds. By 2:30pm I was finally warm enough to shed some layers of clothes. At 3:00pm I reached Chadron and immediately found Mountain Mania, Inc., the local bike shop. It’s a very small building and also houses a tanning bed and a corner for haircuts. The owner, Herb, runs this very unique shop with his son, David. Actually, David is called “Boo” by everybody and prefers that nickname. They were both exceptionally nice and fun to talk to. Herb has been a barber for over 20 years.
The bike shop was added to fill a need in the area. Although initially, he didn’t think it would do very well, they are now in their sixth season. Bike sales have increased from 40 the first year to 100 last year. As I watched Herb work with the different customers, he was always very patient and took a sincere interest in everyone. Herb is also the best resource for any riding in the area. He has spent many years in motocross and competed many times in the Enduro Challenge. So if anyone rides through here, stop by and say “Hi” to Herb and Boo.
Before leaving, Herb recommended that I stay at the Roundup Motel, one of the cheapest in town. The lady at the motel said they were booked up and that all the motels in town were full since it’s graduation at the college. She said I might try the Log Cabin Motel. I cross the street and head a block west to the motel. And Yes! One room left. The lady said they wouldn’t take reservations in advance and are just “taking them as they come in.” I paid my $32.70 and then had to carry my bike down a flight of stairs to my room.
Then I walked a couple of blocks to “Donald’s Hamburgers”. Hmmm, sounds like another restaurant I’ve heard of. This is one of the favorites among the locals. They offer a wide selection of food, even pizza and subs. After eating my grilled chicken sandwich I walked back to the motel and relaxed for the evening. The phone consisted of just a handset with no way to dial out. I had to pick up the phone, wait for them to answer at the front desk, then tell them what number to call. Giving them a toll free 888 number the lady was skeptical, “you mean that’s toll-free?” Apparently they’ve never heard of the newer 888 and 877 numbers. Using my calling card would have been too much of a hassle. So I called it a night and went to sleep early.
Temp 36 degrees (21degrees with wind chill)
Wind – blowing to the southeast
Today – 49.94 miles
Total – 2789 miles
Avg. Speed – 8.0mph
DAY 55 – May 8, 1999
WHAT A DAY! I feel fortunate I’m sitting here writing on this piece of paper in my journal. There was a point earlier today when I thought this day would see the end of me. My thoughts were, “how painful would it be? Or would it be a quick and painless death?”
The day started with me getting up at 6am. I showered in this cheap metal shower stall and the metal floor popped and creaked every time I moved my feet. When I was ready, I carried my trailer, then my bike, up the stairs. I headed west on 20 and stopped at a convenience store for Gatorade and snacks. The subway inside was open since they sell breakfast sandwiches now. Unfortunately, they all have eggs and I try to stay away from egg yolks. So I got a tuna sub for breakfast. Yum smile
Heading north on 385 I encountered lots of hills. It was cold like yesterday so I had on 3 layers of clothes. Going up I would get hot and sweat, going down I’d freeze, brrr. The landscape was filled with treeless, green, rolling hills. And I got to see my first wild life for the day, cool! I think it was an antelope? Not sure. I’m not the best at identifying some animals. But, I stopped and took a picture of him as he stared at me…the typical response I’ve been getting from animals. Except for one time in the sand hills, the day it rained on me. It had just quit raining and I was about 4 miles from the church. While riding by a ranch, about 10 big black bulls charged at me but stopped at the fence. Usually, it’s stare….or run away.
Day 55 Continues in South Dakota
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