July 5, 2006
I packed up and left the church, and then went to the grocery store and had myself a hard core breakfast – a loaf of wheat bread and half a gallon of orange juice. If I were a super ultra serious bicycle man, I guess I’d be eating breakfast like that every day, rather than Little Debbies and soda.
There was a light tailwind out of the east today, so the miles went by easily. Every now and then I’d come upon huge fields of sunflowers. I stopped at mid-day in a town called Nickerson, where I stocked up on drinks and snacks for an empty 40 mile stretch that was ahead.
I wasn’t very far out of Nickerson when I got a flat tire – in the rear wheel, as always. A tiny pointy thorn-type thing had worked its way through the tire. So I had that patched and was pumping it up when I busted open another leak in the tube – this one at the base of the valve. So that tube had to be scrapped.
In the middle of this I met a westbound couple. They’re originally from Greenville, PA. I forgot to take their picture, just like I forgot to get one of Troy and Melissa the other day, but I did get a nice shot of me on the side of the road. I assure them that I have everything under control, so they move on, enjoying the tailwind.
I install a new tube, and have it pumped up and ready to go. Then I noticed something funny on one of the spokes. I have two broken spokes! Ugh. I don’t know how I possibly could have been riding on two broken spokes without noticing, but there it was, plain to see. I’m carrying spare spokes, and am confident that I can handle replacing them, but I encountered a problem in that I can’t remove the freewheel cartridge without some better tools, like a big wrench.
Soon a guy pulled up on an ATV who had a farm just up the road. “I have a shop with some tools, I’ll come back with my truck and bring you up.” His name is Jeff, and they have a large farm where they mostly raise cattle. His neighbor Mike used to do a lot of cycling, and before long Mike’s over there too, with his bicycle tool box.
I guess it’s out of pure luck that he has the correct tool to slide in the hub of the freewheel and release it. What are the chances that I break down in the middle of Kansas, I mean really the middle of nowhere, but right on the doorsteps of Jeff and Mike, and within a mile of a specific bicycle tool! Mike used to do road racing in Europe, and I suppose you could say his claim to fame is that he once beat Greg LeMond in some race. He was there at the finish on the day LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France in ’86. There was all this press everywhere of course, and he said to LeMond, “Hey, remember I beat you back on “so and so?” and LeMond said, “Yeah, Mike, but I just won The Tour.” Then all the French press swarmed Mike after they saw that he knew Greg.
Wow, so after what could have been potential disaster, sidelining me to an out of the way bike shop, I was back on the road by 5pm! I had first stopped with the original flat tire at about 2pm. Thanks again guys!
I was still 40 miles or so from Larned, the next town, but they were an easy 40 miles, and I was in town before nine. The road was straight and the terrain was flat – I’d compare the look of the road to a ruler placed on a table.
I checked in at the police station to camp at the park, and then went to the grocery store to pick up some mac n cheese for dinner. The town park here has some good quality aluminum picnic tables, but the mosquitoes are horrendous. So horrendous, in fact, that I wore my full rain gear and wool socks while I ate my dinner, to keep them off of my skin. So I set up my tent, and the picnic tables will be vacant tonight. Life is good.