Broz Mash Up

Note: This is a combination of Dean's last two days with the crew.  

 

Sebree, Kentucky to Falls of Rough, Kentucky

70 miles

By Dean Broz

 

The day started with a bit of comedy as Brian managed the spectacular feat of falling over within the first 10 yards. He started off in too high a gear and fell at zero speed in the parking lot of the church.  He got up too quickly for me to snap the picture.

 

 

Then before we could leave town a freight train pulled across the road and stopped.  We went and sat down on the sidewalk for at least ten minutes.  Alex tightened Will's cleat.  When the train started moving again it made a most impressive sound with a series of bangs that flowed down the train from the front to the back as it took up the slack between the cars.  It's worth finding a stopped freight train to hear it.

A light rain fell, starting the theme for most of the day:  whenever we would stop, the rain would stop.  And whenever we would ride, the rain would fall.   For the most part though, the rain was light enough to make the ride pleasantly cool.  Quiet country roads the whole way.  Great riding.

Some things I noticed in Kentucky:

We started seeing more horses -- to be expected, perhaps, in the home of the Kentucky Derby.

 

The smell of crude -- Oil that is. Black gold, Texas tea. As soon as we crossed the Kentucky border we started seeing pumpjack oil wells here and there.  You can smell them when you ride by. 

The smell of chicken farms -- This is Purdue and Tyson country, and having had chickens Alex and I recognized the smell when we rode by the chicken farms.

The tobacco -- the plants are not as far along as the tobacco crop in North Carolina. I was told that too much rain has made this the worst crop in 50 years .  I was also told that it is harvested differently, with the whole stalk being cut and hung to dry as opposed to just the leaves, though I never found out why.

RC Cola -- it seems to have the clear edge over Coke and Pepsi.

 

 Ah, signs of The South. We compared barbecue notes. 

Ah, signs of The South. We compared barbecue notes. 

 

The barbecue  sandwiches -- served with pickles and onions.  At a little old country store I had a discussion about this with the proprietress.  When I told her that we put coleslaw on our barbecue sandwiches she responded with an immediate "ew."

"Share the road" signs -- in Kentucky they have pictures of motorcycles instead of bicycles!

We stopped for the night at Rough River Dam State Park, where they let us sleep in the pilots' lounge of the small airport. 

 

Falls of Rough, Kentucky to Bardstown, Kentucky

75 miles

By Dean Broz

Today gave us perfect biking weather -- overcast and pleasant, but no rain.

At the McDaniels convenience store we saw three Amish boys dressed neatly in boots, blue pants with suspenders, blue button-up shirt, and straw hat.   They looked strong.  People hire them to do carpentry and agricultural work -- someone drives them to the job and that was apparently the case here.  They are known for their work ethic and competitiveness.  One of them bought a case of Mountain Dew.

The boys ate a ridiculous amount for lunch at the gas station in Eastview.  Alex ate six fried mozarella sticks, a country-fried steak sandwich, and six doughnuts.  A couple of the others ate six doughnuts also, though some limited themselves to three.

Alex later fell asleep at the Dairy Queen in Elizabethtown. Perhaps his blood sugar was dropping after those doughnuts.  He still managed to eat a Blizzard.

E'Town Schwinn Cyclery next door had some neat bikes:

A Hershey bicycle with wooden rims and skip link chain.  

A "swing bike" which pivots both at the handlebars and at the seat tube, so you can ride with the handlebars out to the side.  I want one.

None of the boys are shaving on this trip.  For the blond boys this does not really mean much.  But for the others there are interesting permutations.  Sam with his beard somehow manages to look like a groomed Spanish aristocrat.  Andrew on the other hand also sports a full beard but it comes off more like a Portuguese explorer who has been marooned on an island for five years.  Alex is sporting a set of sideburns that would make Wolverine envious.

Perhaps most interesting is David with his "neckbeard". It is best not seen nor imagined.  

We ended the day in Bardstown, Kentucky -- known for the farm that helped inspire the song "My Old Kentucky Home" as well as three distilleries.

 

 Alex and Dean day goodbye. It was hard to let them go.  

Alex and Dean day goodbye. It was hard to let them go.  

 

Today is Alex's last day on the bike trip. By the time the boys hit Wrightsville Beach he will have gone a few thousand miles farther and be starting his year abroad in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program. 

For his final evening the boys enjoyed Mexican food (of course) and a movie.  The boys always like a good show. 

A Cyclists Thanksgiving

 

Carbondale, IL to Sebree, KY

103 miles
By Dean Broz

The weather forecast for today was a little ominous -- flash flood watch, heavy rain, and periods of thunderstorms.  On the plus side, the route had numerous places along the way to hunker down if we needed to, and our destination town of Sebree, Kentucky is noted for its hospitality to cyclists.

Early morning was supposed to be dry, so we planned a 6:15 departure.  When 6:15 rolled around the young German couple that is also heading east departed punctually -- Team XCXV not so much.

 

 Our new friends Benja and Caroline

Our new friends Benja and Caroline

The Germans, Benja and Caroline, ride a tandem bike.  They started in San Francisco and went through the desert to join the Transamerica Trail.  Two things you should understand about a tandem bike:   1)  The person in front controls everything -- steering, braking, and shifting -- so the person in back has to have complete faith in their driver.  2)  both people have to pedal in unison because their drivetrains are connected.  Think about doing that for a few thousand miles over hill and dale...

We caught sight of the Teutonic tandem about halfway into our ride at Harrisburg, Illinois.  Then we stopped at Hardee's. 

The generosity of the Hardee's patrons of Harrisburg was impressive.  Ed met the local Scoutmaster having breakfast, and three folks donated to Be Loud!   On the way out someone in a pickup pulled up next to Ed, handed him a $20 bill, and said, "I don't know what you're riding for, but it must be a good cause."

After Harrisburg the weather caught us.  No thunder or lighting, but the term "biblical deluge" comes to mind. We got wet.

 
 Crossing the Ohio River

Crossing the Ohio River

Thankfully, after a while the weather cleared, we enjoyed lunch at Belle's Diner in Shawneetown, and then crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky.  Kentucky brought us nice country farm roads until we reached Sebree.

 

 Dinner for 17? Bob and Violet made it look easy. It felt like Thanksgiving.  

Dinner for 17? Bob and Violet made it look easy. It felt like Thanksgiving.  

Sebree is a small country town of about 1,500 people with a rail line running though it.  The First Baptist Church there hosts cyclists on its lower level -- with shower, laundry, and even food in the fridge and cupboards.  Violet, who lives across the street with her husband Bob, the retired minister, welcomed us to the church and showed us around.

Then she invited us to dinner. She and Bob hosted 17 cyclists that night for dinner:  the nine of us, two Germans, two Australians, one from D.C., and two from New York.  We ate chicken and dumplings, biscuits, homemade pickles, and brownies with ice cream.  I still can't quite believe the warmth and generosity.

By the way, Benja and Caroline, the Germans on the tandem, beat us to Sebree and managed to remain dry the entire day.

Jailbreaks and Blocked Roads

Farmington, Missouri to Carbondale, IL

95 miles
By Dean Broz

 

 Each day presents it's own set of challenges... 

Each day presents it's own set of challenges... 

Farmington, Missouri to Carbondale, IL

95 miles
By Dean Broz

 

The crew started the day with a two minute forced history lesson from Mr. Broz about the building in which we were staying.  In 1932 the downstairs (where our bikes spent the night) served as a jail  and the upstairs (where we spent the night) served as living quarters for the sheriff and his family.   In the Jailbreak of 1932, 31 prisoners huddled in the back of their cell as nine sticks of dynamite were used to blow a hole in the north wall. Five prisoners fled and were later recaptured, one was shot and another was shot and killed while climbing a fence that surrounded the jail.  I thought it especially interesting that in the aftermath the steel window weighing 14 pounds was found two blocks away on top of the high school -- the boys not so much.

Today also brought a number of landmark events:
* Crossing the Mississippi.
* Entering the state of Illinois.
* 3,000 miles on the odometer.

After a few more departing hill climbs, we descended onto the Mississippi River flood plain.  It was welcomingly flat terrain.  It also seemed to take the air temperature up a notch.  Ed tells me the dewpoint is so high that our sweat won't evaporate.

Apparently the convenience stores of yesterday were a luxury, as today they lie 25 miles or so apart.  The boys tell me this is more typical. To escape the heat convenience store drinks and air conditioning are sought after.  The boys are happy to sit down on the convenience store floor.

On the Illinois side we chose to ride the alternate route taking the levee for its flatness.  Initially railroad construction seemed to block the way, but the workmen let us through when it was safe.

 

 Crossing the tracks, safely. 

Crossing the tracks, safely. 

After 27 miles with no services, water bottles are dry and we are happy to see the Bottoms Up Family Restaurant and Bar.  We eat a late lunch here and head on to Carbondale.  Arriving late in the afternoon leaves Ed few options for finding a free place to stay and camping  is not allowed in the city limit, so we stay at the Super 8, which has a $50 cyclist rate for a room.  It's pretty nice.

Dean Joins The Crew

 

Eminence, Missouri to Farmington, Missouri

88 miles
by Dean Broz

Taking over from John ("Chairman Joao") de Figueiredo, I set out with the boys from Eminence at 6:40 a.m.  I figured this first day in the Ozarks of Missouri might equate to misery for me, with the boys rested from their down time in Eminence and with more than 2,000 miles behind them.

Instead it was fantastic.  As expected, the hills were big, steep, and numerous.  But the whole morning was cool, with even some mist at times.  The fun and exhilaration of the downhills more than made up for the effort of the uphills.  And convenience stores were conveniently available every hour or so for drinks and snacks. 

I did mishift once like a neophyte, which made me get off my bike to stand for a minute, because there was a total lack of upward progress in the gear I had shifted into.  I should also note that Alex took pity on me at first and carried my tent -- until it got hot and he decided I did not need any help.

By now the boys know the drill with little or no input from me. Midmorning they stop and diligently don sunscreen and sun sleeves.  The tan lines are comical.

A bald eagle watched us pass from his perch on a dead tree near the road.

Noonish, about 50 miles into the day's ride, it started to get really hot.  At that point, we reached Johnson's Shut Ins State Park.  A "shut in" is another name for a gorge through rock, in this case where harder rhyolite held up to erosion better than softer minerals, forming a series of the local swimming holes. 

In the spirit of the bike trip, when an opportunity like this comes up, you have to take advantage of it. We spent about three hours there cooling off and waiting out the hot part of the afternoon.

Coming out of the state park the road followed the Black River up a valley making for easier travel.

Today we had 6,200 feet of climbing -- the most for any day so far.

 

 Al's Place. Pretty nice digs for a converted jail.  

Al's Place. Pretty nice digs for a converted jail.  

We ended the day at an amazing local hostel on Franklin Street in Farmington, a nice little town.  "Al's Place" was built out of the old jail building to host cyclists, in honor of a local cyclist who died of cancer.

 Hanging out at Al's Place

Hanging out at Al's Place

Attack of the Leaping Fawn

by John de Figueiredo

 

Hartville, MO to Eminence, MO

85 miles

A 6am departure from Hartville allowed us to witness a beautiful sunrise over the Ozarks. As we rode across the serene hills at about 15-16 mph in the early morning, the blurry form of a large brown animal seemed to fall from the sky.  Actually, the hidden animal leaped unexpectedly from the high left embankment toward the pace line.  As it soared through the air it looked likely to pounce on its quarry--the rider on the middle left side of the pace line--Mr. Billings.  At the final moment, Mr. Billings swerved almost imperceptibly to the right, causing the animal to just miss his back tire.  I, riding somewhat behind Mr. Billings, saw the landing, and recognized the white dots on the beige coat as those of a young deer.  The deer, clearly realizing that the bikes and riders were much larger than it had bargained for, immediately, upon landing, attempted to halt the momentum of its jump that had transitioned into a slide across the pavement into my bike.  As it did, I too swerved right to miss the deer and the animal leaped back into the woods.  So our day in the Twilight Zone had begun. 

 

 Crusing along in the Ozarks.  

Crusing along in the Ozarks.  

Our objective was Eminence, MO, 85 miles from Hartville. Given the steep grades of the Ozarks, this was a lofty goal, with a total climb for the day predicted at 5,000 feet.  However, the Lonegan family of our own Troop 845, had very kindly offered their family's beautiful summer home in the resort town of Eminence as a way station for the Crew. This provided incentive for us to push through the heat index of 102 degrees to get there.  


By now the Crew had become accustomed to riding the Ozarks, with low gear ratios on the steep uphill and higher gear ratios on the speedy downhills, allowing us to keep a respectable average of 13-14 mph while riding.   By 12:30p we had we stopped in Summerfield, 62 miles into our ride and within striking distance of Eminence.  

As we rolled on the beautiful Ozark Scenic Byway managed by the National Park Service, we took in the magnificent scenery the Show Me State had to offer.  The only thing sitting between us and Eminence was Alley Hill. An extraordinarily steep grade of, according to topographical maps, of 300+ vertical feet.  We attacked with vigor, the Crew commenting that this was the steepest climb of the entire trip as they made the ascent with effort but little drama, but watched as I exerted my all of my reserve energy to crest Alley Hill.  

As we came down into Eminence, the valley welcomed us with food, friendliness, and the respite of the the Lonegan's house and the extended family's kind hospitality--they even delivered to us nine large pizzas to requite our hunger after a 85 mile day.  

Riding the Roller Coaster

by John de Figueiredo

Ash Grove, MO to Hartville, MO

76 miles

Within 30 min of our early morning departure from Ash Grove, the rested and refreshed crew encountered both much cooler temperatures (in the 80s) and the Ozarks of Missouri. 

 

 This speed profile from the day's ride illustrates the roller coaster nature of the Ozarks

This speed profile from the day's ride illustrates the roller coaster nature of the Ozarks

What are the Ozarks?  To some cyclists they are mountains. To other cyclists they are big hills.  To all cyclists they are very steep, with grades of 7% to 15%. In fact, the Ozarks are not mountains but a dissected plateau.  A dissected plateau is a plateau area that has been severely eroded so that the relief is sharp, but lack folding, metamorphism, extensive faulting, or magmatic activity that accompanies mountain creation (thanks Mr. Broz for that!). What really matters is that they are slow and hard going up and fast and fun coming down. The grades are steeper, shorter, and much more frequent than the Rockies.


Cyclists debate whether the Rockies or Ozarks are more difficult. The crew unanimously voted the Ozarks are harder.  Our total daily climbs meet or exceed the elevation gains of the climbs in the Rockies. Nevertheless, the four weeks of riding in the Rockies at altitude has paid off for the Crew now.  They have a "Bring it On" attitude. 

 

 Dinner and a shower at the Yakety Yak.  

Dinner and a shower at the Yakety Yak.  

Our day took us from Ash Grove, around Springfield, MO, through Fair Grove and Marshfield to Hartville, MO.  We camped in the Hartville city park with minimal facilities.  At dinner at the Yakety-yak, we met Terry and Wanda.  When they heard there were no sinks or showers at the park, they kindly opened a vacant apartment Wanda owned to let us shower and clean up.  Yet another act of kindness that has become so common, yet so appreciated, on this trip. 


And now for the special, and last, crew profile...

 

 Ed Billings

Ed Billings

Ed is the only adult leader on the trip accompanying the Scouts for the full 66 days. (Dean Broz was planning to lead the trip but had to withdraw 10 days before departure because his wife was diagnosed with brain cancer.). The other leaders who accompany the boys, including myself, drop in for a couple of weeks. 


Traveling with Ed for the past two weeks had been an educational experience for me.  There are so many laudatory descriptors that could be used to describe Ed.  If I had to find one, though, it is selfless mentor--selfless mentor to the boys, selfless mentor to me.  Ed is not just a leader, but he is also more than a friend. He has the dedication and wherewithal to have seven teenage boys follow him across the country while at the same time teaching them so many different skills:  how to ride safely, how to be responsible, how to work in a team, how to interact with people.  Ed is a wizard engaging with the people we have met across America, infecting the them with his optimism, and passing these traits to the boys.  And though Ed is the teacher on the trip he is also just one of the Crew.  As he puts it, "you have to find your inner sixteen year old" in order to understand these boys and succeed. Two weeks with Ed and I understand (a bit too deeply) what his high school years were like!

This said, Ed has gone a bit native.  I think there is no one living the dream more than Ed. He absolutely loves his tent and seems a little disappointed when we find a free, air conditioned building to sleep in when it is 105 degrees outside. He eschews Pete's Coffee but is devoted to his pocket rocket stove which allows him to brew "Nobel prize winning" instant coffee in the morning.  And he sees little need to wash his clothes more than once every couple of weeks; an occasional dip in the river suffices. He wears this torn, dirty, beat-up white jersey and black shorts--bearing a striking resemblance, with his body shape, to the nickname the Crew had given him--"The Penguin." The Penguin is having so much fun, odds are slightly better than even right now that the day after The Penguin arrives in Wilmington, NC, he will turn around and head back to Florence, OR for the return trip!

I can't tell you how many times, while riding, Ed will just turn to me and say, "Isn't this great?"  And the answer is yes--it is great for the boys and great for Ed.  Because without Ed, this trip would not be happening. Thank you, Ed!!!

Shutting it Down...

by John de Figueiredo

 

Golden City, MO to Ash Grove, MO

37 miles

Scientists have often wondered how many days boys can ride 80 miles in 106 degree heat.  The answer is six.  

After sleeping on a dusty concrete floor the Crew woke up a bit later and a bit more lethargic than usual.  Getting off to a start 45 minutes later than the plan, the morning ride in high heat was plagued with both bad luck and some minor lapses in judgement. We experienced a flat tire the previous night  that was difficult to repair, as well as repeated problems with one of the bicycle's seat.  In addition, one Crew member fell over because he forgot to clip out when stopping, one lost his sunglasses, and two others began to experience morning dehydration.  By 10:30am, a time when we might have normally covered 50 miles, we had covered only 37 miles.  The leaders felt the karma for the day wasn't good and made an executive decision to stop the day's ride at Ash Grove, MO to get out of the heat and avoid the risk of something more serious happening. 

The town's City Hall was so kind to provide us keys to a historic house in the middle of the town's park to spend the night. While half of the Crew went to the town pool (which was free for the cyclists), the other  half took a three hour nap.  The idea was for the Crew to get recharged, rest, and relaxation. 

One curious thing we have noticed as we move from West to East is that the frequency with which dogs are aggressive, chasing us in the street, had risen noticeably.  Other cyclists we have encountered going East to West tell us it will get worse as we continue our eastward progress.  Crew members have adopted various techniques to deal with this problem. David M. hollers at the dog in his own angry, Appalachian accent.  Alex prefers spraying the approaching dog in the face with his water bottle.  Max recently acquired a toy cap gun and shoots the dog with loud caps, scaring the dog.  Many more methods will be tested in the days to come, we are sure!

Now to our crew profile...

 Max Morgan

Max Morgan

MAX.  Max's nickname is "The Night Train" because of his continuous, constant, powerful riding.  He is very quiet while he rides, mainly because he is in charge of the music.  Crew members frequently are jockeying for a position near Max in the pace line so they can jam to the the 1970's and 1980's classic rock music.


Max is also a wizard bicycle mechanic who, as one leader said, "can fix anything that goes wrong on the road."  He is also happy to share his talents with other Crew members whose bikes are in need of doctoring.    He also has read more books on the trip than any other Crew members. 

Max's bike does look like a flea shop. He is carrying two pounds of Lucky Charms, an old Colorado license plate (sometimes in his biking jersey), stickers from all over the country, a cactus named "Fred" acquired in Canyon City, and a plastic scorpion found on the ground in Oregon.   When I asked him about the weight, he said he's reached the point where he does not notice weight.  

Next time...a special profile. 

Zero Day Diary: Tailsmans

by Ed Billings

When you're spending an entire summer on the road with seven teenage boys, you start to build a culture of your own. You also hang on to little things to maintain your own identity when living this close in a group. Here's a sampling of some good luck charms that define this traveling band of brothers. 

 Some sample stickers

Some sample stickers

Stickers. The crew loves stickers, they decorate their panniers and bikes with them. Beyond design, they rank stickers for durability. The best: Hands down it's Willie's Distillery. Not only do they look cool, they can take the heat, wind, and a midnight sprinkler blast in a city park. Good Job Willie!

 


 Carlos The Snake

Carlos The Snake

Meet Carlos the Snake. With Carlos at the helm, the ride has been pretty smooth for Sam. Picked up roadside in Yellowstone by one of the crew and bequeathed to Sam, Carlos adds a certain silent flare to his ride. Fitting. 

 

 Son of Fred

Son of Fred

Fred was Max's first Cactus. Fred had a rough go in the  mountains, so  Son of Fred was procured at the Walmart in Cañon City. He appears to be doing much better. 

 

 Bobble Head Jesus & The Lucky Whistle.  

Bobble Head Jesus & The Lucky Whistle.  

 

I keep both these items tucked in my handlebar bag. The guys wonder why I won't strap "Hay-Zeus" to my bars, but I don't want to lead with the big artillery. If it really hits the fan, I want to be able to reach for the Big Guy and have him take the wheel. 

The whistle is on loan from a friend of mine who just completed a trek in Ireland. It was given to her on the road to bring her luck. So far it's doing the same for me. 

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more"

Erie, KS to Golden City, MO

80 miles

by John de Figueiredo 

 

Another predicted 104 degree misery index for the day led us to depart Erie at  5:45am. By 11:00am we had completed our crossing of Kansas, having reached the Missouri border.  The Crew really loved Kansas.  In their words, "the people were so nice, the churches were so hospitable, the cars and trucks were so polite, the roads really good, the food was so cheap, ...and it had the best Mexican food on the whole trip." Thanks, Kansas!  You will be missed. 

 

 Goodbye Kansas, hello Missouri!  

Goodbye Kansas, hello Missouri!  

Crossing into Missouri, we noticed  two topographical features largely absent in Kansas;  trees (good) and hills (bad, for me at least).  The trees provide desperately needed shade for our 10 minute breaks.  The hills....well the hills separate the men from the boys.  Literally.  The boys cruise across these hills with ease.  Like a choreographed ballet, the boys approach a hill and, in unison, a simple "click" is heard as all the boys downshift one gear to take the hill effortlessly.  When they crest the hill, another "click" echoes across the landscape as the boys upshift one gear for the downhill. Let it suffice to say the men struggle with the hills with the elegance of a clown at the circus. (Well, it is not that bad, but you get the idea.)


We arrived in Golden City in time for a late lunch at an excellent restaurant, Cooky's, which also hosted us for dinner.  Mr. Billings tracked down the local sheriff who kindly opened up the local recreation room for us to spend the night. 

A couple of people have asked me "What do you eat each day on the bike trip?"  The short answer is "whatever you want."  Today is a good example.  Breakfast is a dry bagel with peanut butter, pop tart, Gatorade, water, and banana. Ride for 50 minutes. Eat multiple 30 cent honey buns and drink water.  Ride for 50 minutes. Eat a gas station biscuit, Scoobies, and Gatorade. Ride 50 minutes. Eat Scoobies, Pringles, and chocolate milk.  Ride 50 minutes. Eat pop tart, Scoobies, and Gatorade.  Ride 50 minutes.  Eat power bar, Scoobies, and Gatorade. Ride 50 minutes. Late lunch (2p). Eat three pieces of fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, huge milk shake. Four hours later eat dinner. 16 oz T-bone steak, baked potato, salad, mac and cheese, homemade pie, ice cream.  Four days on this diet, lose a pound of weight. 

Some boys do have food idiosyncrasies. Andrew, for example, carries two 16 oz. cans of beans, a bag of shredded cheese, and a stack of tortillas, ready to make a burrito at a moment's notice should the opportunity arise.  Max had strapped to his back rack a two pound bag of Lucky Charms, ready to eat it dry.  David, as has already been noted, carries enough Scooby candies for a large orphanage.  He is also developing his cooking skills while riding, grilling frozen pancakes on his back rack. 


 Will Owen  

Will Owen  

Now to the Crew profile....


WILL. Will is a strong silent type.  His  riding is excellent on the flat, but he is really known for his hill climbing abilities, which comes in handy in Missouri.  He has a "let's just get there" attitude which means nothing interrupts his focus when riding--except an available basketball court.  In fact he is carrying a full size regulation basketball. 

When not riding, Will is usually found in a pool, attempting front flips off the low board (with varying success) or engaging in chicken fights with the other boys.  He accomplishes all this with the least sleep of all the members of the Crew.  

Next time, Max....

Stuck in the ditch

 

Eureka, KS to Erie, KS

81 miles

by John de Figueiredo

After having had a good night's sleep in the cool basement of the Lutheran Church, the Crew perfected the4:45am wake up routine, departing at 5:35am into the warm darkness.  The heat wave in Kansas promised another heat index of 106 degrees today that would make afternoon riding difficult and fighting dehydration a challenge. 

Despite the early wake up time, the clouds were not on our side.  By7:30am the penetrating summer sun confirmed our decision to apply copious amounts of sunscreen at our6:45am stop. 

 

 

 Uh, this wasn't on the map. The scouts came up with a very efficient solution.  

Uh, this wasn't on the map. The scouts came up with a very efficient solution.  

 

As we rolled through southeastern Kansas, we encountered an obstacle--a four foot wide, six foot deep ditch spanning the entire road.  A construction crew was laying drainage pipe.  They allowed us to cross if we could "figure out a way to get our bikes across."  Faced with a 10 mile detour in the high heat, the Scouts put their heads together to solve the problem. They eventually developed a bucket brigade, with one scout on the other side of the ditch and two scouts in the ditch, passing the bikes and panniers across.  


We pulled into Erie, KS at 2:30p, famished--eating at the local air-conditioned pizza restaurant. The Scouts found the local pool to complete the cooling process. We were hosted by the First Federated Church who graciously allowed us to sleep in their basement and provided us with bottles of very cold water. 

Biking 8 hours a day can get a bit monotonous, and all kinds of crazy games and challenges are invented by the Crew to pass the time. Counting armadillo roadkill, guessing the make and model of cars approaching from behind (looking through the bike rear view mirror), and playing "triangle tag" are all pastimes. My favorite, though, that the Crew has perfected is the group "moo" where we moo at passing herds of cows to create a stampede. Two successes were recorded today. 

And now for the crew profile...

 

 Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

Brian is the youngest and one of the smallest members of the crew, but his riding is incredibly strong and powerful. He also seems to really enjoy the ride because he has a smile on his face at all times.  Although he has the smallest panniers, whenever anybody needs something--food, water, socks, shorts, zip ties--Brian always selflessly volunteers his "extra" set.  He is also great at playing Hearts. 


The oddest thing that has happened is that Brian lost his cell phone in the high grass on the side of the road while riding under circumstances that are still unclear.  A Kansas State Trooper stopped and actually helped us find the phone.  Fortunately, no arrests. 

Next time, Will.