Archive for August, 2010

Day 23 – Manhattan, KS to Beloit, KS

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Computer Stats:
Miles – 95.51
Avg. Speed – 13.7

We left our basement home in Manhattan as soon as the sun lit the pavement enough to guide us along, and we peeled off our first twenty miles in dead calm wind, with the sun rising on our right and the air blowing cool on our skin. It was lovely riding conditions, and saying goodbye to the Flint Hills, we thought we’d be seeing flat land for the next 500 miles. We we’re on our way to Clay Center, KS, where we were scheduled to meet with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Clay Center (GFWC), who found us through our website, saw that we were headed their way, and wanted to make a donation, and treat us to lunch. (The GFWC’s mission is help prevent child abuse!)

After a beautiful, and speedy, forty miles, we made it to Clay Center an hour and a half ahead of schedule: just enough time to take a quick nap on the picnic tables at the Clay Center park. After an hour or so of relaxation in the cool morning, we were greeted and led into town by a biking envoy from the GFWC. Geri Meals was the woman who reached out to us, and her two sons along with Kelly, a kindergarten teacher, and Verne, a Kansas state legislator, escorted us in Clay Center and to the Mexican restaurant “El Pueblo.”

The women from the center, and citizens from Clay Center at the restaurant donated almost $300 to our Pedal for Prevention, and what a great boost it was to meet such committed and giving people so unexpectedly.

After saying goodbye, we got back on the road just in time to catch the brunt of a hot Kansas summer day. The wind had also found it’s legs and was now blowing a constant twenty miles an hour from the South. As we headed West, the crosswind from the plains did it’s best to grind us to a halt, and simply turning the pedals became our main focus.

Riding across Kansas is a new experience in so many ways, and one of the overriding differences is the vast distances between towns to stop in. When we’re riding through the plains we’re always looking for water towers. Every town has one, and you can see them from miles away in the distance. In some ways the act like enormous push-pins that show you where your next stop will be. A water tower is generally a good sign out here, but the water tower in Glasco was a red herring. Thirsty and tired, we were so excited to get to a gas station until we realized that Glasco’s service station had been closed for years. With nothing open on a Sunday, we were relegated to getting Powerade out of the Main St. vending machine…

Slowly and surely we creeped toward Beloit, where we had a rental house arranged to stay in thanks to our friends from the GFWC. The last few miles into town were hot and dull, but we did pass our first sunflower field, something that we have all been looking forward to…

When we got to Beloit we felt dual emotions, relief and hunger… Yes, hunger is an emotion after a 95 mile bike ride! We grabbed a bite to eat, and laid down on the carpet for the night’s sleep. The house was unfurnished and we slept on the floor, but we all slept like babies.


Day 22-Topeka, KS to Manhattan, KS

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Computer Stats:
Miles – 53.62
Avg. Speed -13.9

We arose from our homey Holiday Inn suite around 7 in the morning. We were in no rush this morning, because we knew that a 50 mile bike ride to Manhattan, KS was going to an easy glide -just as long as the roads weren’t going to be as busy as they were the day before. We ate our breakfast, hung around our room, and even caught a soccer game. Around 11am we were out the door, with our fingers crossed, hoping that that the roads were not going to be as busy.

Ah, Kansas. Yes. Flat lands and cornfields all around. WRONG! It seems like that’s all we heard before heading into the state. You start to wonder if people actually know what they’re talking about. Although it was not flat, it was not bad. The long plains and fields were really beautiful. The colors of green, yellow, and browns all over the rolling lands, and the royal blue in the sky, really made you feel like you were in Kansas.

The guys and I were really excited to get into Manhattan. It is one of the biggest cities in Kansas, and also a college town, home of the Kansas State Wildcats. On our way into town Tyler, once again, broke a spoke on his tire. We quickly decided to take care of the problem, before we had nowhere else to take it for 400 miles. We came across, what people of the town seemed to say, “the cool part of town.’ There we found a really nice bicycle shop, called Big Poppi’s. We were greeted by the wonderful, friendly, staff and was taken care of right away.

With no idea where we were staying, we quickly were approached with the idea of staying with bike shop owners. Aaron and Jeff let us stay in their lovely house, and saved us from having to buy a hotel room. We were so grateful to be around such accommodating and nice people. Thanks guys!

With a little walk around town, and a full belly, we were ready to get some sleep. We knew we had a long day the next day.

On to Beliot, KS tomorrow… Wherever that is?!


Day 21 – Kansas City, MO to Topeka, KS

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Computer Stats:
Miles – 54.81
Avg. Speed – 10.0
Leaving Kansas City, MO was sticky to say the least. Our patience was tested to the max as we were constantly having to cross roads in order to be able to make it safely over bridges and busy intersections. The only way to access the road we were trying to get to was via the industrial part of town, therefore, it was a constant case of being “safe rather than sorry.”

After about an hour of battling traffic and potholes we found ourselves in Kansas City, KS without even knowing it. Unless all three of us missed it we didn’t see a state- border sign, but there we were, happy to be in Kansas!

A few miles out of the heart of Kansas City, KS we made a stop in a gas station to grab some water and take a mental break from the busy start to the day. Amazingly, we bumped into, Mike, who rode in the Bike Centennial 1976 – a cross- country effort from Oregon to Virginia to celebrate 200 years of American Independence. It was great chatting to Mike who shared some stories about his ride and some inside info about what were getting into, especially crossing Kansas.

We rolled down Highway 24 for about 15 miles quite comfortably, although the shoulder was pebble- packed and a little tricky to ride until, again, we stopped at a gas station in Tonganoxie to double check our directions. As we pulled up to the entrance we noticed a cyclist packing his gear into the back of his car. In turns out that, Jeff, was a keen cyclist and he and his wife were kind enough to donate 40 bucks to our cause and took a picture with us before we set off again. Thanks guys!

We rode into central Tonganoxie before we turned west onto a winding country road that, at first, seemed to be good to ride. The road took us up and down some rolling hills before spitting us down into a dip that suddenly transformed into… DIRT. Unfortunately, our touring bikes do not magically turn into mountain bikes and for the next 15 – 20 miles we were reduced to low speeds, dust sandwiches, and not-so-fun high-breaking descents in order to keep our bikes from falling to bits. Tyler busted a spoke and all of us a had a few close shaves with a fall to the canvas. But, once again, the dogs were our biggest worry. The horn was a blowin’ and the vinegar was spraying every mile or so as we were helpless to the speed of a big dog going at such slow pace.

Big smiles all around as we caught a glimpse of the PAVED Highway 24 in the near distance. Our smiles turned to frowns however when we realized that the road was filled both ways by commercial traffic. Huge 18-wheel trucks were zipping up and down at really high speeds and after a few close calls we knew that we simply couldn’t ride, especially seeing as the shoulder was far from sufficient.

We took relief from the sun under a big tree at the corner of a farmhouse front-yard to assess what to do. We waited 30 minutes or so to see if the traffic would settle down as the time was approaching 6pm. It didn’t. We decided it was best to walk. We walked with the sun beating down on our faces as it sunk down to the West until it was safe enough to ride for stretches of maybe half-a-mile at a time, with our eyes peering out the back of our heads for approaching lorries (semi’s in American). Tire- cursed-Tyler said a sad goodbye to another tube and tire as we managed to make it safely to a gas station in Perry, just outside our destination.

The traffic and road situation, again, was worse from this point. With no motels or hotels in Perry or ability to walk  further up the road we were once again lucky enough to gain the generosity of local man, Mike (…not the same Mike), who let us throw our bikes in the back of his Dodge and run us five or so miles up the road to Topeka. As we talked about Basketball and Football with our savior Mike, it became more evident that we would have had no chance at making in to Topeka without his help. No shoulder, no grass to walk on, and heavy traffic going in all directions on the now highly sun-glared four-lane roads.

It is an overwhelming understatement to say – we are happy to have made it to Topeka. Manhattan tomorrow; hopefully the road eases up…


Day 20 – Sedalia, MO to Kansas City, MO

Friday, August 27th, 2010

After our night spent at Doug and Connie’s ranch in Sedalia, we woke up ready for a relatively easy 55 mile push to Lee’s Summit, MO. Lee’s Summit is a suburb of Kansas City, and staying in Lee’s Summit we would’ve had about a another twenty mile ride to the city the next morning.

Connie made us a delicious Mexican breakfast casserole and after we all got showered, we hopped in her truck with our bikes in tow. Connie was going to drive us five miles down the road until it had a shoulder to help make sure we got through Missouri safely. Once we got to our drop-off point, Connie offered to drive us on to the next town, another 10 miles along. Funny thing happened… When we got to drop off point #2, Connie offered to go ahead and drive us to Lee’s Summit, another 25 miles down Highway 50. And you wouldn’t believe it, but when Connie got us to Lee’s Summit, she offered to go ahead and take us into Kansas City! How could we turn down such generosity?!

It’s funny, when someone offers you a ride, you feel two distinct emotions. The first emotion is relief, or maybe elation is a better word? The second emotion is easier to describe; guilt. In this instance, elation ruled out over guilt and with the steady log jam of semi’s rolling by, it seems that we made the right choice. It’s one thing rolling along country roads all day, but navigating an unknown city provides more hazards than a few nasty dogs.

Connie’s truck was cool and comfortable, and getting into the city was a breeze in an automobile. When we “finally” (in two hours as opposed to two days) got into Kansas City, Connie and Doug extended their generous hand one more time and booked us two nights at the Embassy Sweets! After highway motels and firehouses, The Embassy Sweets seemed like Eden. We each had our own sleep space, and the toilet paper was three ply! Pure luxury.

Another 75 miles gone from the total, and it only took two hours. It really puts it all in perspective stepping into a car. We really are going a loooooong way. Thank you so much to Connie and Doug, and now we’re off to Kansas!


Subterrenean Homesick Blues from Kansas City

Friday, August 27th, 2010

We filmed a video about our trip here in Kansas City yesterday that we thought we’d share with you. It’s a take off of Bob Dylan’s old Subterrenearn Homesick Blues video with an altered narrative. Hope you enjoy it!

We’re on our way into Kansas today, 600 miles of flat windy corn and wheat fields. EVERY person we’ve talked to has said Kansas will be the toughest part of our trip… We’ll fight boredom, extreme distances without water and food stops and worst of all, brutal headwinds. Being in Kansas City, MO feels like we’re on the edge of the highboard looking down in the pool below, and we’re just about to take that leap into the deep end. We’ll get you our blog from Sedalia to KC up tonight, we were just so excited about our video we had to shift up the order!