Written Sept 1st
I know most of you readers are going to be quite jealous to learn that Ale and I have finally arrived in Kansas. The weather is perfect (107 degrees), there are so many wonderful dinosaur looking bugs, and the scenery is extremely consistent. All is well…
I am currently sitting in our tent in a park in Leoti (about 20 miles into Kansas). I am still sweating even though I am sitting here in limited clothing and a wet shirt around my neck. It is safe to say it is still uncomfortably hot even in the shade (at 7:00PM). Ale and I have been at the park since 12, because we started a new riding schedule. After riding the world’s longest 25 miles in the blazing sun and strong headwinds yesterday, we decided to start night riding. So far it is one of the best decisions we have made on the trip. Our plan is now to become nocturnal through Kansas.
Yesterday was a day full of emotions as I had some bike maintenance trouble and I thought we were going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for parts. As we set off towards the highway we road over some obnoxiously bumpy railroad tracks. Immediately after I heard a loud noise indicating something was rubbing on my wheel. Ale inspected it as I road along and soon realized my rack had not only bent out of shape, but had broken off 2 key screws. This would have sucked a lot, but because the screws were still screwed into the bike frame and the heads had come off, this sucked a mother load. I knew we needed way more tools than what we had and I was convinced my bent rack was not fixable, so you could say I was a little stressed. Ale was secretly furious inside because she assumed it was because my panniers were too heavy and unbalanced, but she graciously offered to help and did not mention this until later. Haha
I ended up going to a car repair shop and asking if they had a hand drill and an easy out to get the screw out of the frame. Jacob, the nice guy working there, agreed to help me fix the situation and before long we had my bike on the floor and he was drilling into the broken screw. I was terrified that something was going to happen to my frame, but he did a great job and got both the screws out without damaging the bike. Then he offered up some replacement hardware and bent my frame back into place. It was seriously a miracle. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. When I returned to Ale, who had been waiting with all the baggage at a rest stop, she was more than happy to hear it was fixed. When she asked how much it cost me and I told her they did it for free, she just responded with, “we are soooo lucky we are girls.” We laughed about it for a while, we ate lunch, and then we set out on what soon became a miserable 25mile ride.
We were so happy to get to civilization in Lake Sheridan, where we ate dinner at a gas station and then spent the night in a church. I couldn’t believe how safe and comfortable I felt in there (the church, not the gas station). It was our first time sleeping in a church, even though the Adventure Cycling maps often suggest certain churches to stay in. We had been slightly avoiding it, because we didn’t know what to expect, but it was really nice. We slept on the ground by the pews looking at pictures of biblical figures and reading bible quotes as we fell asleep. It was surprisingly calming and peaceful, and if we come across another church that accepts cyclists, I would definitely want to do it again.
We awoke this morning at 4am and were biking by 5. It was beautiful! No one was on the road; there was a subtle darkness with a huge moon, no wind, and no sun. We biked side by side for hours and laughed about how wonderful it was and why we had not thought to do this earlier in the trip. Thank you to Hugh, one of our cyclist friends, who told us how he did his first century throughout the night. We were first critical about his dangerous acts, but then realized, he was totally right. I don’t think we are at the point of being able to ride the whole night, but we are definitely going to continue with the early wake up calls.
However, our nocturnal schedule has been slightly altered do to the fact that it is over a hundred degrees and there are bugs everywhere, so the sleep has not come all that easily. When we first arrived, I lay on my sleeping pad sweating for an hour before I gave up and biked to the gas station to buy a tub of ice cream. I have actually been quite productive today. It is amazing how much time there is when you aren’t biking during the day. I cleaned my chain, put a new padding layer on my handlebars (thank you to Robert who showed me the numb hands fix), organized my panniers, cleaned my clothes (in a water fountain in the park, its funny how much my definition of clean has changed), observed the Kansas kids and parents playing in the park (the parents literally just stood at the water fountain filling up buckets of water and dumping it on all their children, even the babies, to keep them cool), and of course ate a tub of ice cream. Great Success.
The rest was written sept 3
When the temperature finally cooled enough for us to stand being in the tent without sweating profusely, Ale and I got ready for bed. We were just setting our 3am alarm and closing our eyes (at 8pm) when the unexpected happened. Incredibly obnoxious preteens invaded our park space and started some sort of volleyball / catch game about 10 feet from our tent. Sweet… There was one girl who was the leader of the pack and literally screamed every thought that came to her mind. When there were no thoughts she just screamed. It really made me grateful that I was no longer that age. It was just awful!
This is a direct quote from the girl, “YOU GOT THIS TINA, YOU GOT THIS GIRRRRRLLLLLL!!!!! GO TINA, GO TINA, GO GO GO GO GO!!!!” At first I thought it was sweet that she was cheering on her friend while playing. Then it got dirty. “DON’T MESS UP TINA! DON’T MESS UP GIRRRRLLLLL!!!! IF YOU DO, YOU ARE A LOOOOOOSSSER!!!!” Nice encouragement. (sounded a bit too much like some of my favorite collegiate coaches, but in this case, the girl was probably 12 or 13 (not in her 30’s), slightly more acceptable). Obviously the quieter friend messed up and the loud one went crazy. “GIRL, YOU ARE A LOSER! TINA IS A LOSER! WHAT A LOSER! SUCKS TO BE A LOSER!” I could sense Tina’s embarrassment and shame as I heard her quietly laugh it off. That poor girl! Ale and I seriously considered getting out of our tent to teach the loud girl a lesson, but then decided that she seemed like the type to vandalize our bikes if we told her off, so we left it alone and just put earplugs in. The earplugs did nothing. That voice was insanely loud. On top of that, a 5 year old little boy started running around our tent, occasionally crashing into it. To say sleep was not an option is an understatement. Ale just looked at me and reported, “I HATE Kansas!” haha well said.
We finally went to bed at about 11 when the kids had to go home. I have never been so grateful for silence. The next day we got up painfully early and road all morning. When we got to our destination, we checked into a motel and turned up the AC and passed out. It looks like Kansas is going to be the place where we spend all our motel money… worth it.