July 22, 2012
We have happily spent the past two days basking in the Napa Valley sun kicking it with Andrew’s good friend Reid and his wife Linda. As we’ve opted to end BikeForBrady in San Francisco, its odd not waking at 5 AM, folding up the tent, and pushing the pedals. We don’t miss it quite yet; but we will.
Our final riding day was from Tracy to San Francisco. 50 miles but it felt more like 150. Uphill, against the wind, traffic, all that stuff that make us love to hop on the bike. But we eventually crested the final climb into Castro Valley and had a wonderful view of the Bay Area…
We shouldered our bikes out of the train station and into the San Francisco sun and breeze. It was too neat biking around the city and just letting the PACIFIC breeze and smell wash over us. We eventually crashed at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and just enjoyed the impossibility of going anymore westward.
After a few restful hours, we biked our way across the Golden Gate to have dinner closer to Napa. Andrew’s dear friend Reid and his wife Linda live in Napa and are generously hosting us for a few days. They came to pick us up…
After 8.5 weeks of being on the road, we have racked up a bit more than miles. Friendships, memories, and thicker skin just to name a few. Here are a few stats from our trip that we found interesting…
Total Mileage: 3899
By bike: 3794
By car: 35
By ferry: 48
By train: 22
Total days on the road: 60
Nights camping: 34
Nights as guests in peoples’ homes: 20
Nights in a motel: 6
Rest days: 10
Jars of peanut butter consumed (mostly by Andrew): 18 Crunchy, 1 Creamy
Cans of chicken/tuna (mostly by Anna): 63
Number of styrofoam cups used: 4 for Andrew, 2 for Anna
Books read: 4 for Andrew, 3 for Anna
Number of punctures: 2 for Andrew, 0 for Anna
New tires: 1 for Anna
Heaviest bike weight: 105 pounds for Andrew, 80 pounds for Anna (168 mile stretch in Nevada with no services)
Longest Day: Ely, Nevada to Tonopah, Nevada (135 miles)
Shortest Day: Cleveland, Ohio to Oberlin, Ohio (35 miles)
Highest Pass: Guanella Pass in Georgetown, Colorado (11,669 feet)
Windiest: Kearney, Nebraska (steady 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph) (We only went 30 miles in six hours…)
The following are rather subjective…
Andrew’s staple food: Oatmeal and peanut butter
Anna’s staple food: Dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate
Favorite Diner: The Cross Country Cafe (Groveland, California)
Favorite Restaurant: Mia and Grace Bistro Cafe for Anna (Muskegon, Michigan), Amicas for Andrew (Salida, Colorado)
Scariest moment: 17 miles of riding in the pitch black with heavy traffic and no shoulder to Wellington, Utah for Anna. 20 miles of highway no shoulder riding in Iowa for Andrew.
Most challenging moment: Guanella Pass for Anna. Getting Anna out of grocery stores for Andrew.
Coldest: Camping in Fennville, Michigan for Anna. The stretch from Fennville, Michigan to Muskegon, Michigan for Andrew.
Hottest: Stoneham, Colorado for Anna (95 degrees). Border, Nevada for Andrew (112 degrees)
Hungriest: Coincides with scariest moment for Anna. Every grocery store for Andrew.
Fullest: Post diner in middle of Illinois for Anna (almost lost it all…). The all-you-can-eat buffet dinner at the Sedgwick Inn for Andrew in Sedgwick, Colorado.
We have so many so many people to thank…
Preride: Bob and Sue Schuh: Inspiration from their 1984 trip across the country.
Rochester Community Bikes: Hooking Anna up with a bike.
Mello Velo Bicycle Shop: Giving Andrew space to put his bike together.
Mitch Tiegel: Gear and support.
The Brady Faith Center: Very generous gift that paid for a few hotel nights!
Our parents: Permission and support. Love you guys.
Rochester, New York: David Schuh: Hosting us, great conversation, and kicking our butts in wii cycling.
Buffalo, New York: Andrew Dearing and family: Hosting us, ice cream, conversation, and movie night!
Jamestown, New York: Carm and Fran Lunetta: Hosting us, FEEDING us, and showing us a whole lot of love.
Brooklyn Heights, Ohio: Tim Clymer: Hosting us, some great quesadillas and ice cream cake!
Oberlin, Ohio: Hosting us, crashing graduation weekend, great conversation.
Fenneville, Michigan: Laundrymat employee for showing us some love and for some great dining advice.
Muskegon, Michigan: The tourist infomation employee battling to find us the cheapest hotel possible!
Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Corey The Bicycle Fixer Bike Shop: Lots of honeyshots and great route advice.
Eagle/Muckwonago, Wisconsin: Gail and Al: Amazing friendship and connection. Cannot express thanks through short blog post…
Chicago, Illinois: Brian and Alina: Hosting us, showing us an amazing time in Chicago, and some much needed love and care.
Newton, Iowa: Dennis: Tour of racetrack, dinner, then hosting us. Introducing Anna to Buddy Holly!
Casey, Iowa: Allowing us to avoid the rain and crash in the community center.
Omaha, Nebraska: James Flannery: Hosting us, showing us a great time in Omaha, and wonderful connection from home.
Lincoln, Nebraska: Cheruth and Kevin: Hosting us, great conversation, and welcoming us into their home and work. A wonderful experience we won’t forget soon.
Ogalalla, Nebraska: Incredibly friendly library staff.
Sedgwick, Colorado: Fellow bike tourers for company and ice cream sandwiches!
Stoneham, Colorado: Restaurant staff letting us set up camp in their back yard.
Fort Collings, Colorado: Chairs and Alan: Welcoming us to their home and buying us groceries (the instant coffee was a LIFE SAVER)
Ron: Spontaneous hosting, dinner, conversation.
Boulder, Colorado: Ron’s friend letting us camp in his yard. A great home base to get to know Boulder.
Georgetown, Colorado: Cupcake baker hooking us up with free cupcakes.
Gunnison, Colorado: Anne and Gerald: Letting us set up camp in their yard, showers, and route advice. Inspiration too!
Ridgway, Colorado: Wyndham: Hosting us on a whim and providing us with great conversation and inspiration.
Ourray, Colorado: Aillen and Jane and husbands: Breakfast, conversation, letting us store our bikes at their place while we hiked, and just a lot of love.
Telluride, Colorado: Norm: Hosting us and showing a WONDERFUL 4th of July.
Cynda: hooking up Anna with a wonderful spa experience.
Paradox, Colorado: Teachers at small school letting us fill up our waters and showing us some much needed sympathy!
Price, Utah: Trish and Betty at the local diner: Some love, ice water, and just a great breakfast experience (much needed for our hard day ahead…)
Border, Nevada: Clay, William, and Malcolm: Showing us a heck of a time in Border.
Tonopah, Nevada: Teresa and Fracesca: Picking us up when we were in dire straights. Dinner and just showing us a whole lot of love. Hope your trip to Oregon was great!
Benton, California: Motorcyclists hooking us up with pie, ice cream, and great conversation.
Groveland, California: Staff at Cross Country Diner.
San Francisco, California: Reid and Linda hooking us up with a wonderful finish line!
In two days we are off to Santa Barbara to spend a few days with Anna’s family. Then off to San Diego for a day or two to be with Andrew’s family. Anna is then meeting her parents and they are driving back to Syracuse making a nice family trip out of it. Andrew is biking to Nogales, Mexico to visit friends and then taking a bus back to Syracuse for a family reunion in mid-August.
Thank you everyone for following our trip. You all kept us honest with picture taking, journaling, and just making this trip more memorable. Please stay posted on the goings on at the Brady Faith Center. They are always doing wonderful things and could always use support and participation! This has been an amazing experience and we are happy to have been able to share at least a little bit of it with you all.
Much love, Anna and Andrew
July 22, 2012
After coming out of the bathroom at a gas station in Benton, CA a biker (motorcycle) asked me, “Is that you?” while pointing to my loaded bicycle. I replied with a triumphant yup and he smiled (almost laughing) saying, “I saw those bikes and thought those are probably some badass (…a few more modifiers) , seven foot tall German dudes…a skinny girl and her boyfriend are the last people I expected.”
Not German, but I definitely felt 7 foot tall and then some knowing that Andrew and I made it to California. Did we really just bike across the country?! HECK YES.
After a long, exciting, and eventful expedition through the Nevada’s desert that culminated with a storm and a road side pickup, Andrew and I were very eager for a rest day. After a delightful evening with Theresa and Francesca, we spent the following morning exploring Tonopah, catching up with family, and relaxing. Andrew actually took an afternoon nap. Those who know Andrew and know his never waste a minute tude towards life can appreciate this. I did.
The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, and biked for about 40 miles with the winds at our back until we came across an abandoned town where we stopped for lunch. From there we started our climb that eventually ended at Montgomery Pass (elevation 8500 feet). Montgomery Pass was our bridge between California and Nevada, but instead of a huge “ Welcome to California, all of that long, monotonous climbing up the pass had paid off, you rock Anna and Andrew” sign, we were met by some heavy head winds. Go Figure. We eventually made it to a gas station in Benton, CA. We left our bikes outside while we freshened up inside the gas station. We had dinner outside and spent some time chatting with our biker friend and his friends. Really nice people who offered us some great encouragement about the roads ahead of us. “If you can bike through California, you can bike through anything” was the last nugget of wisdom that they left us.
Important wisdom of the road: When people say that “it’s all down hill from here” understand that it’s never ALL down hill from anywhere.
Yosemite! At 6:30am we hit the Whoa Nellie Deli [pay due credit to Rick’s collegue in photo] at the base of Tioga Pass for breakfast. Awesome breakfast and great spirits we were ready to bike our final pass. Twelve mile climb. Intense, but you know what? No trepidation for this girl, in fact, the climb felt awesome! That climb was a testament to our progress throughout the trip. Both of us feel much stronger and I no longer tread the passes because I am confident about my physical abilities.
It was time to put my money where my mouth was at because after our twelve mile climb we had another seventy miles of biking up and down through Yosemite National Park and on through to Groveland, CA. I mean we had A LOT of big hills, and ninety miles of up and down up and down can really get to ya, BUT we made it! “We always do,” says Andrew.
Once we got to Groveland, Andrew knew that only a hug could suffice in that moment…and then some food (he knows me well). We had dinner at a cool local restaurant called the Iron Gate and then polished off two pints of Ben and Jerry’s before hitting the sack.
The next morning we woke up and had the best breakfast to date at the best diner to date, Cross Country Cafe. I can still taste the homemade bisquits and gravy and fluffy blueberry pancakes as I type up this entry.
Their outstanding service and warm hospitality kept me in great spirits all morning as we made our way to Oakdale, CA for lunch and finished off in Tracy for the day.
Much love, Anna
July 14, 2012
Anna and I arrived into Nevada a couple of days ago. While I am sure there is plenty of neat things to do in Nevada, we have been eager to make our way through the state. We’ve been warned on many an occasion of the heat, lack of services, and mononity of the state by several bike tourers. Our family has also shared their concern too; which is nice!
So Anna and I decided to begin our riding early. Real early. We have been rising at about 130 AM. Having a quick snack, and then pounding out the miles in the dark until about 1130 AM. Any riding after that is very difficult given the heat. Our first night riding experience was a trip. We had one head light and one tail light. I rode in front with the head light and Anna tagged close behind with the tail light. We have since bought more lights and have gotten used to riding in the dark… Not too much fun though.
We have entered Nevada riding route 6, and we’ll leave Nevada riding route 6. However, route 6 placed a close second in Life’s Magazines Loneliest Road in America challenge. There was a stretch between Ely and Tonopah, 168 miles, of no services. Nada. Anna and I looked at the weather and it looked promising so we decided to try all of it in a day…
Anna and I are spending the day here in Tonopah and then crossing the border to California tomorrow. We are swinging through Yosemite and then headed to San Fransisco for a bit. Then the plan is to bike down the coast to Santa Barbra.
My Mom just completed the Alzheimer Association Memory Ride. A bike ride for a cure to end alzheimer. So happy for her and it sounds like she had a blast!
Thank you so much to Trish and her daughter Francesca. I sincerely hope that the rest of your trip is wonderful. You are both shining inspirations. Also, two other people who helped us out like crazy and showed us a wonderful time in Lincoln, Nebraska was Cheruth and her husband Kevin. They were the goat farmers who hosted us. As I look back on our trip, our time at Shadow Brook Farm was one of my fondest memories. If you feel so inclined, please contribute to their Kickstarter. But quick! Only nine days to go! They are doing great things and it would be wonderful to see them take their farm to the next step!
Much love, Andrew
July 10, 2012
We arrived at Moab, the heart of Red Rock Canyon County. The city is surrounded by breathtaking sites and several national parks…
Canyonlands: 337,598 acres
Arches: 76,960 acres
Dead Horse: 5,300 acres
Normally people would take Jeep tours or group excurssions or maybe drive through the scenic byways. Andrew and I opted to use our trusty mode of transportation; the bicycle… Epic Fail. We decided to tour Arches… We biked 13 miles up and down to Delicate Arches, are supposedly beautiful hike. However, we realized that we did not have enough water. Had lunch. Turned around. And biked bak to the visitor’s center. We kicked it there for an hour, enjoying the air condiditoning of the lobby.
Before we took off from Moab we met some wonderful people… As usual.
We then biked our way to a campsite down the road. We had a quick dinner and a gas sation and planned on sitting tight until dark and setting up our tent behind the gas station. No go. An employee at teh gas station was more than on to us and asked us every so nicely, “It is getting dark, do you guys have a place to stay tonight?” Instead of telling him, “yes, right behind your store,” we chickened out and hit the road. Luckyily we didn’t have to go too far…
Back to our dilemma… One day left, there was no reasonable way that Andrew and I could see the two other parks (and the majority of Arches that we missed). So we decided on the next best thing….
After some brief instruction and a corny video, Andrew and I found ourselves at 10,000 feet overlooking 300,000 acres of land. Within 20 minutes we were able to see the two other parks and most of Arches, and even Moab Valley (albeit from very, very far away).
We woke up, jumped out of a plane, and then carried on West. We had a hot thirty mile stretch of highway riding (no other option) to Green River where we took an extended lunch break/nap before pedaling another 60 miles… There have been tough parts on this trip, whether it be the endless hills of Iowa, or the wind of Nebraska, or the passes of Colorado, but those 60 miles took the cake. We began the slog at 430PM and did not pull into our planned destination until 1130PM. Yikes. I never thought that the neon green and yellow Subway light would be the equivalent to the light at the end of the tunnel, but believe when I tell you, I was never more excited to see those lights in my life-period.
This morning we took off from Wellington, Utah after a really really nice sleep in a truck stop parking lot. Yea, we were tired. We made our way to Price and stopped at a really cute diner with the slogan, “Where the locals eat.” And they eat there for good reason.
It’s been one heck of a trip, definitely more testing in the past couple of days, but really loving and looking forward to all the miles to come. Well, kind of. I’m not super stoked about the Nevada Desert, BUT we’ll keep you posted as things progress. Who knows, maybe Nevada will surprise us; it wouldn’t be the first time on this trip.
July 6, 2012
After 14 simply great days, Anna and I left the Rockies and the great state of Colorado and crossed into Utah. However, before we called it quits in Colorado, we enjoyed a great 4th of July and a picturesque final day in the Centennial State.
Telluride is a cute little ski town that absolutely blows up during the 4th and ski season. However, the rest of the year I guess it is on the quiet side. I guess we showed up at the right time.
Leaving Telluride was tough. The conversations and friendship we developed with Norm made it real hard to pedal up and out of the cute town… Thank you Norm for making our 4th something special. When we did finally find the rythm of riding again we were rewarded with a (for the most part) beautiful day of riding to Paradox, Colorado, our final stop in Colorado.
We woke up outside of the Paradox Community Center (they graciously let us camp there and use their water) and headed for Utah…
Anna and I are in Moab now. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day in Arches National Park and then carry on across the state. We’ve already picked up extra water bottles, refilled on sunscreen, and bought enough trail mix to kill a horse. It is going to be fun…
I chatted with Kevin, the director at The Brady Faith Center. He told me a quick story about a woman who had not ridden a bike in twenty years. She showed up to Pedal To Possibilities with a friend and was crying out of fear of riding the 8 miles. But she took it slow and people stuck with her. When she arrived back to Brady after an accident free ride, she was crying with happiness. I miss you all dearly and sincerly hope that the 4th of July BBQ was a blast. Look forward to hearing from you all soon.
Much love, Andrew
July 4, 2012
After spending a delightful evening in Salida, CO, Andrew and I picked up a few items at the grocery store the next morning and made our way to a gas station about 10 miles west where we had breakfast. We really value gas stations with tables; it beats sitting on stoops or against the store walls. Sometimes we have the luxury of sitting on a bench, but a bench doesn’t beat a table. All of that to say: tables rock.
At breakfast I had to mentally prepare myself for the upcoming pass in lieu of my experience with the first pass. The Guenella Pass was a twelve mile assent. This is no place to lament about physical and mental burn out, so in short it was a demoralizing pass… but we made it! Nonetheless, anytime Andrew tells me we have another pass coming up (normally means biking uphill for a long time), I have to fight back feelings of trepidation. Mentally prepared, we set out to Monarch Pass. Although difficult, I felt much better climbing up this pass and even better once we finally made it up to the summit. From the summit we maybe had to pedal a total of five times during an 18 mile stretch of downhill into the town of Sergeants where we stopped for lunch. Get this. We had lunch inside a small convenience store/café and the guy working there went to the same school as Andrew, not only that, but they were in the same first grade class!
Lunch was exciting. Twenty more miles and we were in Gunnison. Those were a monotonous 20 miles, so I was stoked when we ran into another tourist in the village. Bryan is biking from California to Maine. He just graduated college and heading off to Rwanda in September as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. We invited him to have dinner together and afterwards we went out for ice cream. At the parlor we met a man who competed and recently finished in the Tour the Divide race; he biked from Canada to New Mexico in 18 days. Crazy! Anyway, he and his wife invited the three of us to pitch our tents in their yard. We gladly accepted their generous offer. Along with a hot shower, they gave us really helpful bike route advice. Many thanks!
We were up real early the next morning because we wanted to get to Ridgeway, which is about 95 miles from Gunnison. It was a very scenic route to Ridgway; breathtaking really. We camped at the Orvis Hot Springs, and man oh man did we enjoy ourselves. It was a really nice way to cap off a long day of riding.
The next morning we biked a short miles to Ouray where we wanted to have breakfast and do a short hike in this scenic little town. I had a particular diner in mind, so when we got there I asked a woman if she could direct us to the diner. She told me where it was, but insisted that we come over to her house for breakfast. Awesome, right?? We accepted her offer and had an experience that no diner could beat. Really grateful for her gracious offer and delicious breakfast! Fueled and in good spirits, Andrew and I went on a delightful 4 mile perimeter hike around Ouray before heading back to Ridgeway where we stayed with a guy who we met at the hot springs a day earlier.
From Ridgeway we had a long climb to Telluride, but we made it to this beautiful town and really looking forward to spending the fourth of July here.
We’ll update ya’ll once we make it to Utah.
June 29, 2012
After a few days kicking it in the Front Range (the Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and any other area in East of the Rockies area), we dove/crawled/inched our way up and into the Rockies. But we certainly enjoyed our time at a only mile high altitude…
As we departed Alan and Charis’ house in Fort Collins, the temperature had already reached 95. Anna and I opted to spend the afternoon in Fort Collins and then put in about twenty miles when it cooled down. But we ended up staying another night. I am glad we did…
Anna and I left Fort Collins for Boulder the following morning mighty early to beat the heat. Ron had called a friend in Boulder who let us set up camp in his yard. He lived a stones throw from University of Colorado Boulder and Pearl Street, one of the neatest streets in Colorado.
That night one could see the smoke from one of the dozens of fires that have found the dry lands of Colorado. It looked a bit like a volcano and it covered the city in smoke. However, when we woke up the next morning it was crystal clear but Anna and I could see fires burning on the hillsides as we pedaled out at 430 AM.
Now, the following day was a real gut-check. We had three different passes. Number one was the Guanella Pass at just under 12,000 feet. It hit us right out of the gate and didn’t let up until 12 miles later….
The next two passes were easier. The Kenosha Pass which weighs in at 9,997 feet dropped us into a beautiful valley.
Finally, we ended the day with the Red Hill Pass. At 9,993 feet it was comparable to Kenosha. Upon reaching the top Anna was prompted to shout, “I am a Red Hill Warrior!” That you are Anna.We finished up the day cruising into Fairplay, Colorado.
I am writing this from the wonderful library in Salida, Colorado in the Arkansas River Valley, which is unfortunate because today was all downhill… Thank you all so very much for reading. I would especially like to say hello to everyone at the Samaritan Center, guests, staff, and volunteers. I miss you all dearly.
We will update you soon as we make out way to the Four Corners, Grand Canyon, and beyond…
Much love, Andrew
June 25, 2012
Andrew and I wished farewell to Nebraska and crossed into Colorado. State number nine. However before we headed into The Centennial State, Nebraska gifted us with a bit more fun.
We woke up at Ogallala beach to our invisible nemeses (the wind), fierce and rowdy, reminding us of everything that we had to look forward to that day. Getting out of the campsite was tough, and although the winds didn’t turn in our favor, the day definitely did when we met six (!) other tourists on our way to Sedgwick, Colorado. As we were pulling out of Brule, small town right before the Colorado state line, we spotted a bike tourist and enthusiastically stopped to visit.
Andy is traveling with his friend, Patrick, from San Fransisco to NYC. They started walking , but then decided that bikes were more efficient. Good life choice. As the four of us were chatting, four other riders pulled up. Rachel, Jessica, Alyssa, and Sean actually camped in Ogallala the same night as us but fate had its own agenda. The quartet started in Chicago and is biking to San Fransisco. We continued to ride westward with the quartet until Julesberg, had lunch, and parted ways briefly…
Andrew and I continued to Sedgwick. Sedgwick is a dusty little farm town that has a population of no more than 100 people out of which we probably only saw 15. There are two operating facilities: the Sedgwick Inn and the Sedgwick bar. The Sedgwick Inn was recommended to us by another tourist who was coming from Colorado. He told us that it’s really random, but really great and really cheap. He wasn’t kidding! It’s literally a furnished (in an old Victorian style may I add) oasis in the midst of a bunch of run down buildings. We had a fabulous stay.
After a delightful breakfast in the morning, we continued westward. On our way we spontaneously met up with the quartet that stayed the preceding night in Julesberg. Colorado isn’t big enough for us bike tourists! It was really neat how that worked out. We biked together until Sterling and then said our goodbyes; they’re off to Denver while we made our way to Fort Collins.
Where as Iowa and Nebraska serenaded the two of us with winds, Colorado gifted us with heat. VERY HOT.
The next morning we were off to Fort Collins, Colorado. En route we got our first glimpse of the Rockies: we were stoked!
We made it to Fort Collins where we are staying with Andrew’s relatives. Awesome family that has graciously opened up their home to us. They have two wonderful little boys, Gregory and William, who have been a joy for us, and no doubt a joy and a blessing for their parents, Chairs and Allen. We had an awesome and relaxing evening and I even got to enjoy Star Wars for the first time. So glad to share such a profound experience with my two new little friends. Precious.
Tomorrow we are off to Boulder and beyond. Thanks for reading and take care all.
Much love, Anna
June 21, 2012
WHAT a state. Nebraska presented Anna and I with everything a bike tourer would need. Few climbs, great scenery, good food, and beautiful people – period. We spent a nice rest day in Omaha with my buddy James. James is getting ready to teach high school at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A heck of a guy, James is going to be a wonderful model for his students. On our rest day Anna and I meandered around Omaha visiting the city’s farmer’s market (more on that soon) and taking advantage of the College World Series.
At the Omaha Farmers Market we swung by a goat cheese stand. A sucker for free samples, we were on the prowl. Anna, a big cheese fan, eyed a really neat looking stand put together by the Shadow Brook Farm in Lincoln, Nebraska. As Anna tested the cheese we chatted with Cheruth and she kindly offered us a tour of the farm and a bed and shower for the following night. We were all there.
Leaving Shadow Brook was tough. No, that is an understatement. It was very tough. Kevin and Cheruth have created an incredible thing. Please, if you are a cheese fan, a milk fan, or just appreciate people who REALLY hooked up Anna and I, please support Shadow Brook. They have big plans for their farm in the near future and we will be sure to keep you all posted about their progress.
Anna and I usually take breakfast and lunch at gas stations and convenience stores. Our loaded bikes usually get a few questions but here in Nebraska we get a whole lot more than questions…
What one starts to value while traveling across the country on a bike changes drastically from the first hundred miles to the preceding thousands. We have found the direction of the wind is either our best friend or worst enemy. We value roads with wide shoulders, big trucks heading in the same direction as us (their wind pushes us a bit), shaded park benches, lonely laundry mats, and friendly libraries.
Anna and I were considering riding to Wyoming and then cutting down into Colorado but I think we are opting to head south into Colorado from Ogallala, Nebraska. Ma, Dad, Petr, and Irina, you will all be happy to hear that we heeded the advice of farmers and opted to avoid the fires that I guess are doing some mighty damage in the Fort Collins, Colorado area. And from the words of a farmer in Hersey, Nebraska, “There is nothing in Cheyenne but tumbleweed, jackrabbits, and fires.” I am sure there is more, but nevertheless, vamos a Colorado!
Much love, Andrew
June 16, 2012
Weather: Devil’s wind.
Based on our latest entries, it would be easy to deduce that biking cross country is a jolly occasion comprised of good food, boat rides, big cities, and incredible hospitality. While all of that is very true, it would be a gross fallacy if we let you think that sunny skies and good people is the extent of our cross country experience. Iowa has been a state of ups and downs; typographically, physically and emotionally.
We left Wheatland, but didn’t get far because I realized that I forgot my cell phone, turned around, escape from the headwinds. After retrieving my phone we turned westward, towards the stubborn and unceasing winds. Stopped to chat with a man who was running from coast to coast with short shorts and a baby carriage, at least that’s what it looked like from the distance. We stopped to exchange a little bit about our experiences and offer any kind of wisdom that we had gleaned from our coastal treks. It’s fun to track what becomes “topical” when traveling: road shoulders (or lack thereof) and head winds dominated the conversation.
What followed was probably the lowest part of this trip for me. Andrew mentioned that water towers became beacons of hope for us, well at that point mail boxes started to look like water towers because I wanted so badly to see anything other than the hills and the corn fields that consumed my field of sight. And the winds. That day were biking against 30 mph winds gusts, which was both mentally and physically exhausting. The particular stretch from Wheatland to Tipton was only 25 miles, but it felt like all 100 miles that we biked the day earlier. Needless to say I was very happy when we finally made it to Tipton.
After lunch in Tipton, we were headed to Morse, and based on what we saw in some of the other towns that we passed Andrew stopped to make sure that they had a grocery store or restaurant or just “life” in that town.. The woman kindly fought back a chuckle and told Andrew that they have one VFW that serves a meal once a week so we should bike to the next town over. We did and we made it to West Branch (Herbert Hoover’s stomping grounds).
Next morning we biked to Iowa City. With the winds at our backs, it was like we were on a whole different trip. Winds really do make a huge difference.
All hills to Newton, but what else is new? Love you, Iowa. The people of Newton made up for the uphill struggle. Turns out we were only a mile or so away from the Iowa Speedway where they were testing cars for the big Indie Car race next weekend. We pulled up and were met by two really nice security guards: Dennis and Steve. After telling them a little about our trip, Dennis offered to give us a VIP tour of the track. Cool, huh? We thought so!
Newton’s Law: what goes up must come down (hah, really it’s quite funny in light of our experience). After a wonderful night in Newton, we had another miserable ride to Casey, Iowa: hills, winds, and to spice things up a bit, a four mile stretch of gravel roads. BUT..we made it!
Thunderstorm, winds, and hills aside we finally crossed over into Nebraska. Arrivederci, hill country and hello flatland Nebraska!
We’re staying with a friend of Andrew’s, James. They went to school together in Le Moyne. James is taking classes at Creighton University and was still able to find time to graciously accommodate the both of us. Much thanks, James! We are taking a rest day before continuing our trek westward. Andale!
Again, many thanks to everyone that we have encountered thus far. Talk to you soon.