Why am I doing this?


credits to Justin Bond of Star Talent Events for the audio.


Thanks for stopping in! This summer, I'll be biking 2500 miles from San Francisco to Gibson City, IL to raise $4000 for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the Ford County Youth Soccer Club. My route map.

Why?
There are so many reasons. As a youngster growing up in central Illinois, playing soccer, as rare as it was for the area, was an activity that really shaped me into the person I am today. Not only combining the importance of fitness and teamwork, but also leadership and discipline. I have always wanted to have the opportunity to give back to this organization (FCYSC), and I feel that this is my chance.

Living just outside of Gibson City causes every child to be an avid cyclist to survive that stretch of Route 9 to make it into town. As I've progressed into my current career as an urban planner, I realize how much of an impact cycling can make in certain parts of the United States, in reducing our dependence on vehicles, increasing our health, among other benefits. Atlanta is the place that re-energized my spirit for transportation planning and I hope to be able to return some gratitude to the ABC, a cause that I still feel has an uphill battle in that town.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at supawanich@gmail.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

The End.

So about 3 months and a week after its conception, I'd say the trip is now officially complete. Jean Noellsch was so kind to take this final jumping pose in front of my destination back home in Gibson City. Since I've been back, I think the city has really done well for itself and I've realized how it is thriving. This in itself gives me a great sense of pride as along my trip, I saw so many towns that were on their last legs.

So here it is.... the bike and the trailer in its entirety. 146 pounds and at the cost of a couple of tanks of gas.... these little guys are on their way back to Oakland, CA (hopefully in one piece)

Of course the primary purpose of the ride was to raise funds for the ABC and the FCYSC, but also, it was to be able to see one of my longtime friends Amy get married. They had a beautiful ceremony in the fields outside of Forrest, IL. Right afterwards, (literally 5 minutes, they walked over to the gun range to show their prowess at sharpshooting clay piegons.

Catherine flew in the night before to join me. Naturally, she was so supportive of me through this whole trip and I owe plenty to her for her patience and keeping me going through much of the trip! Here I am introducing her to corn.

Yesterday, I flew out of the fields of Illinois from Bloomington's airport around 10AM, went the absolute wrong direction for about 2 hours (to Atlanta), then caught my second flight westward towards San Francisco.

I've never really had many contemplative thoughts on an airplane before, but it is strange looking out the window for a total of 8 hours and think to myself... wow, I was down there someplace, experiencing all of the people, cultures, and landscapes of what there is... and most of the people around me may not even know its down there. When I first left Bloomington, I could see Funk's Grove and the roads that I took that led me eventually to Heyworth. It was pretty awesome to see it from the air, and again imagining myself down there at that intersection taking pictures with the signs before heading down an infinite country road eastward, which from the air looked like a simple stroll.

Much of the rest of the flight was uneventful. Unfortunately, there was cloudcover and rain for much of the flight. Which again, made me so very thankful that the weather I had was good and that I didn't get stuck under rainy conditions. I arrived back at SFO to be greeted by Michelle and Chris, two good friends from school that had been using my car while I was gone. Surprisingly, it was raining a bit in San Francisco and the East Bay.... which of course is unheard of for most of the year. But finally, I arrived back at the Convent (the name of my old place), and got settled in my room. This adventure is over, but as the song says "every new beginning is another beginning's end."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On my way back to the bay area on a plane, bike is on the train. Done.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All trip photos now online!


So by reading this blog, you have been given access to a limited number of photos that have been pre-screened by me for quality and for images that instill that the trip is wonderful, happy, and fun. However, there are plenty of other photos (and video) that truly reflect the ride in its entirety. Those are all now available online on my flickr page here.

I hope that you enjoy these and please share them responsibly! (meaning, please don't embarrass me too much). These of course include, the sequence of dud jump photos that led up to the jumping photos that I often posted.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fundraising Totals

Greetings from Gibson. Huge thank you to both Justin from Star Talent Events and Torri and Tommy from TNT Signs and Designs for their generous contribution to today's reception. I'm happy to say that this evening at Railside, we were able to raise an additional $1150 through donations and t-shirt sales! These funds will be going directly towards the FCYSC!

Also, a big thank you to everyone that was able to make it out today. This brings the grand fundraising total to approximately $5700. In other news, t-shirts will be ordered tonight and should be ready by Friday. Information about distribution will be available at that time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gibson City - A Welcome Sight - Day 42

Berkeley, CA - Gibson City, IL
Total Trip Mileage : 3,100 Miles
Total Elevation Climb : 96,000 feet
Total Days on Road : 42

Greetings from the Gibson City, IL, the place where I grew up and spent the better part of my life so far. I arrived this morning under great weather and clear skies with my good high school friend and soccer teammate Ben Kaeding who made the journey from Fisher to Sangamon Ave. But before getting into the celebratory and fluffy details of arrival, I will entertain you with tales of riding through East Central Illinois by bicycle, traveling at 15 miles per hour. Well, that statement is about as exciting as it sounds and there aren't that many stories.

However, the last two days have been exciting for me at least. Starting from my home in Berkeley, I had imagined in my mind at least once a day how great it would to be back in the
Midwest, riding on lonely country roads, surrounded by corn. Well, that dream has slowly become a realilty over the past few days. From Heyworth to Fisher via Route 136 was a whopping 33 miles. But since I couldn't take 136, that number gets rounded up to a nice even 44 miles, which I stetched out as long as I could. I got o
ut from Heyworth a bit late and had the timing just right so I could visit LeRoy for lunch. (you know it's a slow day if you're planning out your day around going to LeRoy for lunch). But I got there a
round 12:15 and hit up the McDonalds. I hadn't been to a McDonalds in at least a few years and I had been craving some chicken nuggets and fries ( a childhood favorite.... along with dairy queen of course). Did you know, that chicken nuggets now come with 10 nuggets and not 9 like they used to? This was the first shockwave that it is true, about portions becoming bigger at fast food outlets. I guess time has been passing me by a little too fast. Or maybe they had heard that this poor starving jobless kid on a bike was passing through town... I imagine the former is probably true.

Well after turning a few heads and downing my 9 nuggets and 1 extra in Leroy, it was off on another overland adventure to Fisher. I took mainly back roads which in my opinion have way more character and provide me a little sanity because of the few cars that go by.

I was pleasantly surprised by a red truck that drove passed me and gave me a friendly wave... a feat that in my book is already above and beyond that of any good cycling samaritan. But THEN, he came back (with his dog), with a cold gatorade and powerbars (first, i didn't know that farmers ate powerbars). How awesome was that? I was very appericiative and told the gentleman thank you. He told me he was also a cyclist and it looked like I was pretty thirsity.. (I know he was just being nice, but I did wonder if I looked THAT bad that someone needed to offer me some water, maybe it is time for this trip to be over)

After that run-in, I started seeing familar things, the windmills to the west of gibson, those enormous white tanks near Fisher, News-Gazette mailboxes, ahhh home. So eventually, I made it to Fisher and made camp there at the fairgrounds. I think of the many places that I camped, Fisher was actually the most hospitable. Maybe I gave the aire of being a local despite my skin-tight clothing. So after trying to fit in with the local middle schoolers on their bikes, I made the rounds in town, visiting all of the local attractions such as the water tower, the caseys, and the ingolds grocery store (twice). I would have visited the stop light, but such wonders of rural life are limited to big towns (like Gibson City).

It was a great evening though. I was about to scrub off in a typical city-park-under-the-faucet bath, but then the local youth soccer kids started a practice which kind of killed that plan. But it was around that time when Ben showed up to say hello, then my parents (after a 10 hour drive from Atlanta). So it was a great reunion right there in Fisher, IL, at the site where Ben and I and my parents were years ago playing soccer against the Fisher Bunnies. As an aside, the Bunnies seems like an unfortunate name for a team mascot. The only mascot in this area that may be less-ferocious than a bunny would be the Hoopston Cornjerkers . In a ring match between those two, I'm not even sure who would win. The bunny might start eating the cornjerker and then we'd be in real trouble. However, if you're ever in Fisher, go to the fairgrounds and you will see a depiction of the most aggressive looking bunny you'd ever seen on the bottom of their watertower.

Later in the evening, I was paid a visit by another good high school friend Justin Bond. By that time of the evening, it was probably well past the social prime of Fisher, so we decided our next best option, the Rantoul Wal-Mart (i am being sarcastic btw). After a nice pleasant trip to Wally's World, it was time to retire. I went back to my little estate on the Fisher Fairgrounds and called it a night.

So onto the grand finale of this whole story. I woke up this morning around 7am in Fisher, IL. A feat that I never thought I would do in my life (waking up in a tent in Fisher, not riding across the country)
videoI made my typical oatmeal and started packing my things. My dad actually came by a little bit later and helped me get my things going. As an added bonus, Ben Kaeding would be riding back to Gibson that morning with me. Ben rolled in around 8:30am and we got our day started that way. Ben was prepared for a big day, I offered him a pair of bike shorts to substitute for the pair that he had handcrafted himself (I won't go into details, but it was pretty hilarious). But we laughed at the fact that back in middle school, when traveling such a distance between Gibson and Sibley was a necessity, this would be no big thing. But we are a few years older these days...
The ride this morning was great and we probably couldn't have gotten any better weather. The ride was a short one and we cruised into Ford County after about 45 minutes and took a well deserved break. The big spectacle in the morning would be that a Police/Firetruck escort would be waiting for us outside of town. (wow. awesome.) So it was quite a bit more than I was expecting in terms of a welcome, but it was an awesome and pretty unforgettable.

While I was riding though, I was thinking to myself, those people driving on 47 are not going to be happy about this, but at the same time, it felt pretty good to be cruising down the middle of the highway without a worry to traffic.


video

Once arriving to town, things moved pretty quickly. I had the opportunity to say hello to a handful of people who had come out to greet us but it wasn't long before I was in the WGCY Studio having the opportunity to chat with Frank, Gary (who I had been talking with via cell phone for weeks) and my high school teacher Mr Tompkins. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day and alot of fun to see everyone again and have a chance to answer questions and chat about the ride. But again, as I've continued to say, I really am indebted to those who have been incredible supporters of the ride and the fundraising effort to make this all possible.



So where do things go from here? This definately won't be the last post because I am known for always forgetting to say things... so there will at least be one or two more. However, they future posts will likely be quite a bit more boring. Additionally, I would love to keep any readers updated on my adventures here in the near future, but for some reason I feel that "suparunsacommunitymeeting" or "supahelpscatherineplanwedding" won't really draw much of a following. Actually, now that I think about it. I do plan on making a quick post on cycling as well as what i'll be doing back in SF... but that may come in a few days

Also, the fundraising effort isn't quite over yet. We've raised nearly $5000 in total and we'll be having a reception on Monday at Railside Golf Club in Gibson City at 4:30pm in hopes of raising a few extra dollars (however, feel free to come by and say hello regardless!) - big thank you to Justin Bond for helping organize that. In addition! After speaking with Tommy of TNT Signs and Designs of Paxton, he said he would be donating all of the proceeds from t-shirt sales 100% to the fundraising effort! Thanks Torri and Tommy!

That's all for now. I'm a little sad that it's over, but also glad to be home. Thank you everyone for such a warm welcome. Have a great Labor Day weekend!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Camping in fisher, il, this is pretty fantastic

Fundraising Totals!

So FINALLY, paypal has gotten it's act together and I have some updates on fundraising totals (based on what has been submitted via the website)... and the leaderboard stands as follows:

Ford County Youth Soccer Club - $2764.00
Atlanta Bike Campaign - $1954.00

So.. The FCYSC has charged ahead in terms of funds raised. However, it's not over yet!

Arrival Details... to Gibson City

So after speaking with some people back in Gibson, it looks like I'll be arriving around 10AM and leaving Fisher sometime around 8:30am. I'm not exactly sure where I'll be staying, but if you would like to get in touch with me, feel free to contact me on my cell at 678-612-2327! I'll be rolling out of Heyworth around 11am this morning. Sorry for all of the scheduling changes!

Update: I'll be camping near the fairgrounds (orange round watertower)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Almost Done... Day 40

ARRIVAL UPDATE: So there has been a slight turn of events. Based on some things that could be going on in Gibson on Saturday, I've changed plans to arrive on Saturday (time TBA). Sorry for the change!

After 40 days out on the road, I've finally made it to recognizable parts of Illinois. It was a pretty comfortable ride today around 75 miles from Havana to Heyworth. If you look at a map, you'll notice that US 136 runs directly between the two places (and I mean DIRECTLY), but unfortunately for me, busy roads with lots of trucks aren't a fun place to ride a bike with a big yellow bag behind it. So, it was mainly back country roads for me. For most of this trip, it's been funny because people will try to tell you the best way to go from point A to point B. Granted, their being nice and their intensions are good, but I don't know how many times people just tell me to jump on interstate whatever and head straight there. I think people forget that I'm on a bike and don't envision themselves on their huffy cruising down the highway.

But anyway, today was again, pretty uneventful. I saw some rather pretty country in and around Havana and I stopped for a quick lunch in Delevan, IL. After all that was said and done, I hopped on old Route 66 near McLean, IL to make the final run to my final stop in Heyworth. As a side note, I wanted to get your opinion on this. I was thinking it would be a sweet coffee table book to have ....drum roll... a photo book of post offices around the United States.... what do you think? Something about having a consistent theme of the post office with the different architecture styles of post offices around the country.... i think it would be a hit.. maybe. Once I get back to Berkeley, I'll be sure to post all of the pictures of post offices that I took on the trip (I think I took about 30-40 of yes, post offices)


Now that I've made it all the way here, it's really bizarre being back via my bike. I'm now running into towns that I haven't visited since high school, and even then it was by school bus or by car. Once I made it to Heyworth, I was reunited with my high school friend Matt and his fiance Shawna. They have an awesome new house here in town and I may be their first guest, quite an honor!

For dinner, we ventured up to Bloomington for a dinner with some old high school friends. It was great to catch up with them and see how they were doing (with their newly born children might I add!)

Tomorrow, I'll be riding my final day of any serious length... to Fisher, IL, where I played soccer as a younger guy in high school. I think it'll be around 50 miles or so, but it's a bit sad for the trip to be near its end. I think the strangest part will be riding into Gibson on Saturday (by the way, I'm arriving on Saturday now), and then trying to figure out what to do/where to go next. Most of this trip has been mentally fueled by this concept of getting there. There being Gibson City of course. But when I arrive, I imagine I'll feel at a bit of a loss with what to do with myself.

Once I get to town, I'll have about a week so I am thinking about taking advantage of the opportunity to do some biking around Ford County. As weird as that sounds, I think it'll be pretty nice to get some pictures and just revisit some places near where I grew up.

By the way, in case what you're wondering what I look like with way less hair than a few days ago, heres a photo with my sister and her husband Sam.... They headed back to West Layfayette this morning after a great trip through Western Illinois and Missouri! Thanks to them both and for their support (and awesome support shirts). I will say however, having a bit less hair has helped the ventilation in my helmet!

So as another aside, people often ask... what do you think about when you're riding? That's a good question. Some days, I really don't think about much... if you can imagine those animations of men's brains where it's literally a blank slate. Well there you have it. Yet, I think cycling is pretty mind-consuming. You have plenty to contend with, thinking about how fast you're going, keeping your balance, avoiding traffic, trying to look cool in spandex... that's alot to think about. There have been plenty of days when hours go by and miles melt away and I have nothing mentally to show for it. However, after being on the bike for so many days, I think I've gotten a bit better and multi-tasking. So I often have little mental debates (with myself of course) on a number of thought-provoking issues such as the health care debate, gay marriage, or what cows think about when I pass them and they stare at me. This is what keeps me occupied for most of the day. Actually, I thought it would be good for me to keep mental notes of some of this stuff, so I actually bought a little voice recorder when in Montrose, CO so I could keep notes (it's hard to write when you have two hands on the handlebars)... However, like many people, I cringe at the sound of my own voice.. so I've yet to listen to the notes, maybe I'll do that when I arrive to Gibson and don't have much else to do.

Ok, those are my random thoughts for the evening. Hope all is well and ride safely.
Change of plans: may arrive to gibson on saturday, stay tuned

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Havana, Cuba, and Little America & Tshirts




First! T-shirts will be made once I get back to Gibson, if you happen to be interested in them, please be sure to let us know! The design and link to the order form can be found on this previous blog post.

So today's ride was a bit shorter from Galesburg, IL to Havana, IL ~ 63 Miles. It was a nice ride via some country roads and some unpredicted gravel roads. A pretty quick day relatively speaking and I was in Havana around 3pm. The roads were pretty narrow, but there is nothing like the good fun in having a truck drive past you at 60mph and getting sucked into it's wake. (this isn't scary as it sounds, when it drives past you, it kinda gives you a good pull).



video


But the trip today was filled with plenty of small towns, some of which had fantastic names such as Little America (which in fact was very little), Cuba, IL (I waited out lunch so I could go visit Cuba in hopes that some enterpreneural spirit would be selling Cuban sandwiches there. Unfortuntaely, there were no Cuban sandwiches. But there was a BP selling my favorite... peanut butter crackers.

So eventually after Cuba, I eventually landed in Havana (I couldn't find Pyongyang, IL), I got in a bit early so I thought it would be nice to go around and explore this little town which is about the same size as Gibson City. Nice little town with a bustling downtown and a riverfront park.

So I've been needing a haircut for about the past 3 weeks (of this 5 week trip) and I found my opportunity today downtown when I saw the local barber pole. I walked in and explained my situation and told the guy what I usually got. I proceeded to let me know "Oh yeah, don't worry buddy, I know exactly what you mean" Hah, famous last words that my former hair heard.

At any rate, I think I could pass for a military cadet, but I guess it's easier to lose a few ounces of hair than it is to try to lose any weight off of my trailer/bike. You know it's bad when your hear someone say "don't worry, it will grow back fast".

So tomorrow will be a shorter day again from Havana to Heyworth. I'll probably avoid US 136 due to traffic and that the back roads are typically just more pleasant. I'll be staying with my old high school friends Matt and Shawna who just purchased their first house in Heyworth! Also, looking forward to seeing some old high school friends for dinner tonight.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

OQUAWKA! - first night in Illinois too

So I'm a little sleepy tonight, so I imagine this post won't be incredibly long. Which is fitting since my day wasn't too incredibly interesting. However, before going into any serious details about today's ride, here are just some asides and initial reflections on the trip. It's almost over. So sad.

I would say that my journey is pretty much broken up in my mind as the 1) California/Nevada - getting the body in shape, serious heat, and long stretches of nothing 2) Utah - physical pain, dry air, and beautiful canyon landscapes 3) Colorado - low oxygen levels, green hillsides and mountain peaks, nice roads and interesting meetings 4) Eastern CO, Kansas, Missouri - flat but scenic, life moves slower, people are generally nice or genuinely scared of people in spandex, small towns with lots of character, 5) Illinois - feels like home and recognizing familiar
landmarks.

So far, I've actually hit 8 states so far, lost 5 pounds, changed 5 tires, eaten at least 100 peanut butter crackers, burned one billion calories, ridden 2800 miles, and climbed about 90,000 feet of elevation. I should make that into some type of graphic.

So the last two days have been spectacular because Fern and Sam have been so nice to carry my trailer so I've been riding about 50 pounds lighter. So while I'm huffing through the bluffs of Western Illinois, my belongings have been getting a beautiful tour of Illinois, the Quad Cities, and other interesting things in the Mississippi River watershed.

Today as I said was fairly standard. I had a 98 mile ride today that started across the Mississippi River from Keokuk and crossed into Illinois. Some interesting highlights include seeing the origins of Illinois Route 9, which is the same road that I live on back in Gibson City (if you were to travel down that road for about 150 miles). I didn't exactly have many towns of any substantial size during the ride today, so my food choices were pretty limited. My meals between 8am and 5pm consisted of 2 packs of peanut M&Ms (2 for 1 deal at the gas station), a pack of crackers, some almonds, 2 bananas, 1 apple, leftover trail mix, red bull and water, oh yes and a nutrigrain bar. Not exactly the meal of champions, but it did hold me over until a wonderful dinner.

There were some very pretty sights along the way, including this covered bridge. (read the old school script over the entrance)

Here I am entering the town of Oquawka, which in my opinion has been the BEST town name by far on my whole trip. If the town was called Owauka, it would be kinda funny to me, but then they through in the Q to make it even that much more fun. Apologies if Oquawka means something very important and honorable, which I'm sure it does. But I still think it's a fun name to say for a town. I'm a bit envious. I wonder if the city council of Oquawka has to make formal statements on letterhead... I think it would be hard to take seriously.... " The people of Oquawka feel that..."

So this trip through Western Illinois has allowed me to explore plenty of small towns and places that I'd heard of but never had the opportuntiy to visit. For example, Monmouth College!
And I never would have gotten the chance to visit these small horses (insert proper name for these guys here) .
But the day ultimately ended in Galesburg. Nice little town which is host of the world largest rail yard (I haven't seen it yet... must not be THAT large). Tomorrow, I'll be headed south and east edging closer to Gibson. I'm hoping to make it to Havana (which can be found by going through Cuba, IL). The ride should take me about half the day as it's around 65 miles from here.

We're here at the Holiday Inn Express here in Galesburg, which might as well be a little slice of heaven. Hot tub and enormous continental breakfast. I should do dishes here just so I can stay a few more days.

Hope things are going well for you all and big thanks again to all of my friends and family for your help and support!

Paul

Monday, August 31, 2009

Keokuk, IA & Ride Status Updates!

Good evening everyone! Today was a pretty monumental day. Not only did the bike make it's way into the destination state of Illinois, but it got a little excited and decided to knock out another state as well: Iowa. So this evening, I'm writing to you from the Mississippi River town of Keokuk, IA, my first time in the Hawkeye state. I'll tell you a bit more about the day, but first, a quick ride update.

So my legs, my bike, and the weather above have been really nice to me and I've been able to make some good progress. So I am actually planning on moving up my arrival date from Monday (9/7) to Sunday (9/6). ALSO, what I am thinking right now is that I'd like to invite anyone who wants to ride to join me on my last day ride into Gibson City. To make it enticing, I'm thinking about spending my last night in Fisher, IL (maybe on the soccer field for nostalgia reasons), then making it a short 10 mile ride into Gibson on Sunday morning. Just a thought to toss around. But I definitely think I can make it home by earlier than Monday. So for those of you hopeful or seasoned cyclists out there, feel free to take a Sunday stroll with me back to Gibson from just Bunny territory. If you're interested or have further suggestions, please let me know!

Here is my proposed schedule for the next few days, which is, as always, subject to change.
Tuesday: Galesburg, IL
Wednesday: Havana, IL
Thursday: TBA
Friday: Heyworth, IL
Saturday: Fisher, IL

Today's Summary: Louisiana, MO -> Keokuk, IA (via Illinois) ~ 93 Miles

So we (me, Fern, and Sam) were staying at the River's Edge Motel in Louisana, MO. I think the story of the Supawanich reunion in Missouri (Fern and Sam live in Boston, and me being from San Francisco) struck the heart of the woman who checked us into our room, so we were awarded with the riverfront room facing the Mississippi River. The room greeted us with this beautiful shot this morning when the sun was coming up. However, this picture omits the railroad tracks which also run along the river, just out of sight, that carries coal trains up an down the river at least once every 2 hours.... even at night... with whistles blaring. Well, the view was at least very nice.
The ride this morning through Missouri up to Hannibal (home of Mark Twain) was pretty brutal. Missouri hills look like Utah's but with trees and funny signs on bridges telling me that they won't collapse (read previous post). So it was up and down all morning and my altimeter looked like an earthquake meter had hit it.

Aside: even though rolling hills are beautiful, they are the bane for cyclists. Nothing is worse than throwing your whole body into pulling you up a steep hill, only to lose that altitude as another massive hill looms in front of you.

But once I rolled into Hannibal, it was time to check out some of the sights and historical places associated with Mark Twain.

So I must say. I imagine for some how visiting Mark Twain's boyhood home would probably pretty cool. But unfortunately, I don't think I ever read Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer or any other of Mr. Twain's books. So visiting didn't really have the biggest effect on me. But, maybe someday, I'll at least look at the pictures that I took and tingle inside just a bit. The bigger excitement for the day still layahead.

Illinois! Finally! After 5 weeks I finally made it back to the state of my roots. It's great to be back. As soon as I crossed over to IL, the roads flattened out, the winds came to my back, and the birds started singing again. Well the latter two things didn't happen, but I was pretty jazzed about being back. Also, this picture was taken on I-72. Yes, they let bikes on the interstate here! Just to cross the river at least. But you better believe that I was living up the moment and crusing along in the fast lane at a whopping 22 miles per hour.

So after a brief lunch stop in Quincy (site of one of the Lincoln-Douglass debates btw), I made my way north to try to make it to Keokuk because Illinois was getting boring. Actually, it's because I've never been to Iowa. I think I have this strange facination with people from Iowa. My sister put it like this: maybe it's because we think of them has the a little-quirky, but super geniunly nice people that resemble Canadians in the US. I just think I have this impression that they're the super rationale, practical, and progressive Midwesterners. So I wanted to meet some by visiting. However, by staying in Keokuk, it's probably not a fair representation since it's only a 1mile from illinois and about 5 miles from Missouri.... oh well. I tried.

So back to the story. I have this impression that Illinois country roads form a grid and are all paved. Well around Gibson City, they pretty much were. But out here in River country, things are a bit different. I thought I'd take a little shortcut, and the road went to paved, badly paved, gravel, and then huge gravel (impassible by road bike). My map said that I'd find freedom about 1.4 miles ahead, so at that point, the bike and I went on a little walk through the fields.

I'd like to refer to it as "cross-training" and not "getting lost". I did have an opportunity to make a few phone calls and be passed by an uninterested cable repair man that didn't seem to be bothered by the kid in spandex walking his bike across a bean field.


So after that little escapade.... It wouldn't be long before I made it into land of my curosity. Here I am entering Keokuk. As I was taking this picture, there were a few teens rolling their eyes and pointing. Hmm, not making a very good impression on these people so far.
But anyway, here I am. Iowa has been nice (as far as I can tell) so far. But I won't be here long. After I bankrupt the Holiday Inn Express Breakfast Buffet tomorrow morning, I'll be riding back to the Land of Lincoln and heading up through Nauvoo towards Galesburg (site of the country's largest rail yard)

So quick recap: I'll be getting to Gibson on Sunday morning and I hope you'll join me for the ride. It's short! 10 miles or so from Fisher back to Gibson. (for those from out of town, flights and amtrak are just a hop away from Fisher)

Looking forward to seeing you all and am also sad that this ride is nearing its end! Hope all is well back at home (where ever that may be). Finally, a huge thank you goes out to my sister Fern and her husband Sam for helping me out today with the trailer and keeping me well fed and supported! It's been great to have company and I hope they're not too bored with the schedule.

ride safely,
paul
Crossing the mississippi river into illinois

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thanks Missouri, But I've Moved On.

So I'm here at the River's Edge motel in Louisiana, MO (remember how I mentioned that Missouri seemed to not be able to think of creative names for their cities??)

And I was joined by Fern (my sister) and her husband Sam! Unfortunately, the boys couldn't make the trip and are back with the grandparents in West Layfayette, IN. However! They surprised me with these AWESOME shirts! It's hard to see from here... but the logos say "Team Supawanich - Pit Crew". They're pretty amazing, I'm very humbled. So I'm here with both Fern and Sam and went out to a nice dinner here in Lousiana and took a quick tour of the town. They'll both be with me for the next few days as we journey up the Mississippi River.

I'm pretty excited about this part of the trip. Not only are we close to Illinois, but this is the part of Illinois that I'd always kinda read about.. and looked at on maps, but I'd never been here.

Here are the shirts btw.


quick recap from yesterday:

So it turns out that the flat tire back in Washington, MO was a bit more trouble so I ended up spending at least a few hours there in town. That wasn't such a bad thing, it seemed like a nice town and the people there were really helpful. I went over to a local bike shop called Revelolution Cycle where the guys there were great and helped me get back on the road. But, by that time, it was close to 2pm and hadn't had lunch yet. So.... of course it about time to seek out some good local eats. Luckily for me, the huge double decker British school bus parked next door serving sandwiches seemed like a good bet, and it was.

So as much as I wanted to take my time through those last 40 miles of the Katy Trail, I was on a tight schedule. But I can tell you that there is quite a bit of Lewis and Clark and Daniel Boone history in that section, so if you do ever pass through that portion of Missouri, be sure to check it out. But all of that history was irrelevant because I had to bust it to St Charles so I could make it to the Cardinals game. Skyler would be picking me up near St Charles so we could get some dinner and head to the game. Big thanks to Shaun from GC for hooking us up with some tickets to the game!


After the game, I actually was able to catch Amy (wedding in two weeks) and Jenna (staying at their place with Skyler) at Amy's bachleorette party... I don't have any photos... not because it was anything improper, but just because we dropped in for a moment to say hello. No really. Regardless, getting into St. Charles on Sat was perfect timing to catch the game and say hello to all of the Gibson folks!
So this morning, I began heading northward along the Mississippi. So St. Louis has been one of the biggest cities I'd traveled to since.. maybe Pueblo, CO? Maybe even Sacramento, CA. And there is a pretty good reason for that. Big cities are great, even if you're on your bike. It's the suburbs that are the problem. Trying to ride your bike amongst Wal Marts, SUVs, curb cuts, and plenty of people that aren't used to seeing a road bike, trailer, and a cross-country tourer is not fun. Really not fun. That ordeal was then followed by about 30 miles of miserable country highway with no shoulder and plenty of fast moving traffic. yuck. But I made it through after cursing about the Missouri DOT for at least half of that.
However, the day redeemed itself after I got to around Clarksville, MO when a bike lane appeared and the Mississippi River appeared off to the right. Awesome! I was prety excited about seeing the Mississippi and the jewel of my journey, the state of Illinois just beyond it's edges.
Here are some shots from day:

the sign says "welcome to floodplain industrial park" - cute sign and a cute ideal... but somehow doesn't strike me as a very inviting sign for people to buy into your industrial park.
apparently MODOT thought it would be a good investment to buy signs to assure people that bridges with these signs are actually safe to drive on. Which leads me to believe the bridges without signs are "drive-at-your-own-risk?", maybe they should have instead spent that money on fixing bridges instead of buying signs with comforting slogans... also, have you seen the state of the bridge in the photo?? it doesn't even look that good in person.

Hello mississippi river!

As for tomorrow... heading northward towards Hannibal, then onto Illinois and north towards Iowa! Back to GC in about a week!

At the mississippi river locks at Clarksville
Phone fell out me bag on downhill, its still alive

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crossing Missouri and more

Hey everyone, sorry about the lack of posts in the past few days. I didn't realize central Missouri towns maxed out on population around 500 people and there are not too many public libraries with internet access around this part of the world. However, I did want to say that my time in Missouri has been great. I've met some of the nicest people on my trip and some that well... weren't as excited to see me. I've had a few awesome evenings and nice people to stay with near. So here's a quick recap of what's been going on.

Oh also... I'm off schedule as you may have realized. No particular reason aside from the fact that I'm getting a bit lazy and that I've wanted to explore around this part of the world a bit more as I'm not sure exactly when I'll be back to Washington,MO for a wander around. I still plan on being in Gibson on Sept 7th with maybe a swing through Iowa and perhaps Galesburg, IL.

Thursday (Clinton -> Boonville, MO) ~ 82 miles
So by the way, the people in Clinton, MO were SO nice to me and I hope that they're reading this. Not only did I get a chance to showoff their new downtown wi-fi, I was riding around town after dinner and had a couple (who were friend's of the Noellsch's back in Gibson City) seek me out and actually tracked me down. We chatted for a while, I believe their names were Larry and Bobbi? Then after that, it was getting a bit late and I headed back to my campsite (which was at the community fairgrounds) and was getting cleaned up, just in time to have another visitor. A woman (who I've forgotten her name...sorry!) brought her family over to check on me to see if everything was ok. This was the same woman who I'd met earlier in the day at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce. Awesome. Thanks Clinton, MO!


So anyway, back to the chase. I started my ride to Boonville on the Katy Trail. The Katy is an old rail line that streches across Missouri. It's great because it cuts through those insane hills that Missouri has (and doesn't advertise). The grades are capped around 4% and makes for a nice easy ride through the coutnryside. So I thought it would be a good idea to try the road for a little bit mid-day (I can average around 16-17 on pavement vs 12-13 on the gravel trail).... but of course I was scolded by my actions with some serious hills that knocked me out.... I was back on the trail shortly.

The trail is great for a number of reasons.... you can pretty much zone out and not worry about traffic and although it's not advised... the helmet was off to allow my head to feel real sunshine again which was wonderful. I passed through a few other notable towns including Sedalia, MO (home of the Missouri State Fair). Nice little town with a very cool downtown for it's size.

That evening, I spent the night in Boonville, MO (named after Daniel Boone) a very prominent figure here in Missouri. The trail itself has lots of history on it, including history of the towns that it passes as well as lots about the Lewis and Clark expeditions westward. I've been taking my time a bit more through here just to soak in some of the information. By the time I got to Boonville, it was pouring. Nothing like finishing off the day soaking wet with trail dust caked to your entire body. Yum. With the help of the Noellsch Family (who seems to know 1 of 10 people in the state of Missouri), they were able to set me up with the McVicker family of Boonville. They lived in a very pretty old farmhouse just a few miles out of town. I stayed there and was fed an awesome dinner (and breakfast... with cereal for which I was longing for).

Friday (Boonville -> Hermann, MO) 103 Miles
So I left Boonville again and can say that Friday wasn't terribly interesting, well at least not to write about. There are often days when I have so many things that I'm thinking... oh, I can't wait to write about this! Friday was not one of those days. The first 50 miles or so were uneventful and under a thick mist which pretty much soaked everything that I tirelessly dried the day before. Oh well.

But, I was going to be able to visit Jefferson City today! alright! Well that's what I thought. The Katy Trail dumps you off at North Jefferson City which is just on the north side of the Missouri River. Unfortunately, the only way into town is to take the highway bridge (pretty much like an interstate...) but with no shoulder. So I tried it. Went down the onramp and everything, until the 80 mile per hour traffic was literally inches away because the shoulder had disappared... thanks MODOT. So now I can say that I've biked up a highway onramp in the wrong direction. check.

Also, that side of the highway was a big void of any types of services. Luckily, I found a small golf course about a mile away that served food, and I ate plenty. Here's a shot of Jefferson City from atop the bridge.

However, my evening way much more exciting. I eventually made it to Hermann , MO , which is in the middle of the Missouri wine country that I did not know existed. I parked up next to these folks , Eugene and Patti from Troy, IL. My first encounters with Illinoians! Alright!

They were so nice and hospitable. We chatted until the evening about his love of music, their kids, and their awesome new camper. They even let me grab a quick shower inside (it was a very nice camper). Eugene had all kinds of great tidbits of knowledge so it was quite the education for me. They were staying in the area to do some wine tasting before eventually heading back to Illinois.Saturday (Hermann -> St. Charles) ~ 60 miles

So my day has been good so far, right up to the point where I entered Washington, MO and I was greeted by this screw.
So that's my trailer tire... which now has two green slime patches holding it together. It should be good , but let's hope it holds up until Gibson! I'll be headed to St. Charles today to be reunited with some Gibson folks! Exciting! I'll be meeting up with Skyler and Jenna tonight which will be awesome. I even hear that I may have a chance to catch the Cardinals game! What a way to end the week.

As for the next few days... the plan isn't quite set. I'll be meeting up with my sister Fern and her husband Sam tomorrow evening somewhere along the Mississippi and I'll be with them for a few days. Looking forward to spending some time with them and also seeing the sights along the Great River Road.

I'll leave you with this video of cows bathing along the Katy Trail... because I realize it's very relevant to this post.



Ride safely and have a great weekend.
Paul

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cruising the Katy trail in the rain

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crossing I-70

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Missouri Media Blitz


So it's been fun 24 hours since my last post. I've made it into Clinton, Missouri after about a 75 mile ride from Nevada this morning. My time in Nevada was great! I was able to stay with a lady named Wanda, who took me in for the night and fed me a fantastic dinner and filling breakfast. Follow this one if you can... Wanda was the mother of my high school friend's dad's college roomate. Regardless, she was super hospitable and made my evening in Nevada quite memorable. She was telling me all kinds of stories from her 82 years in Southwest Missouri. Here's a picture of Wanda right after she did a few laps around the block on the bike, she didn't even break a sweat. Ok she didn't really ride the bike, but she did joke about it.

So anyway, I woke up this morning around 6:30 and eventually hit the road around 8:00am. As I was pulling out of Nevada, I witnessed a car that had some keys fall off of the top. I picked up the keys and contemplated a chase to give them back... but obviously after 31 days on the bike, you realize that you're not faster than cars. So I searched around for the PD and turned thoses things in.

Today's ride was pretty uneventful. No one told me Missouri was so darn hilly... seriously, I might as well been back in Colorado. But it was pretty no doubt. I was passing through the area just to the west of Lake of the Ozarks and the scenery was quite nice. I stopped and took a few pictures, including this one.

Also, I stopped along the way to read a history sign and also saw a guy working on his camper. I offered to help him out, which he declined. But all of the sudden I found myself agreeing to watching his dog while he went to town to get a part for the truck. Wait a minute, how far is town? how long was I going to be standing there waiting for him? What's the dogs name? All questions I should have asked beforehand....

Well make a long story short, he was gone for only 20 minutes or so... while I debated leaving, I stuck it out because the beagle was too cute to leave alone.

Another thing, I love the Midwest because people call it Pop and they sell Dr Pepper in droves.... I have a weakness for that stuff and luckily it doesn't exist in great numbers out west like it does here. Here's a small photo of heaven... DP for 50 cents.

So I rollled into Clinton around 3:30 and decided that I would stop in the Tourist Center for a few maps and a hello. Boy did I get a greeting. They were very hospitable and put me to work right away. Apparently, they've been waiting for a cyclist to pull through for a while so they could get a photo opp showcasing their new free downtown wi-fi (wait a minute.... how come I'm paying $1 for the internet at the library....). So after some discussion, we went out to the town square (biggest in MO btw), to get the photo opp.

Here I am (and other local Clinton-ens) enjoying the new wi-fi on my internet enabled phone... (which isn't actualy mine...)

Also, when I was in Nevada, Wanda had called the local paper, so I actually was interviewed while there as well. (Check the Nevada Daily Mail in the next few days for my breakout article in Missouri). So at this pace, I'll have to figure out how to be in the news tomorrow as well... for some reason I'm thinking that I would have to do something illegal to keep this pace up...

Anyways, I'll be at the fairgrounds tonight camping under the pavillion. It's supposed to rain, so I'm hoping it'll cool things down a bit before I hit the Katy Trail tomrrow!

Ride safely,
Paul

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hello Missouri - updated!

mmmm .... biking through Kansas.

So actually, I'm taking a short break in Fort Scott, KS on my way to Nevada (pronouced nah-vay-da), MO. Tonight, I'll be staying at a friend's parent's-friend's mother from Gibson City, thank you to Phil Noellsch for helping me out with the contact!

The day has started off pretty well, it's getting a bit hot out there, but admittedly, it's still much cooler here in eastern Kansas than normal. But again, it's probably getting into the lower 90s today. So last night, I camped up in a motel in Iola, KS (birthplace of General Funston if you didn't already know, another world first in accordance to my blog post yesterday). It was nice to be able to leave my stuff behind and take a stroll around town. I did in fact check out the actual birthhome of General Funston and brushed up on some of my American History while at it. Also, on my innocent little walk around town, I managed to find another Dairy Queen, where I purchased yet another Oreo Blizzard...mmm so good.


[quick flashback! - here are some of those photos of the world's first signs of Kansas., there were more, but I forgot to take photos... the thirld one points out that Bronson, KS is the site of the world's first horseshoe throwing contest in 1909, there is no word if there was a second.


[back to the original story]


After that, it was back to the motel for some Family Guy and some rest. I woke this morning a bit later than normal and packed up to head out. Now, I'm offically off of the marked route according to the American Cycling Association, so it's been interesting to see what the roads would be like and what other gems I would find. So I headed east on US Hwy 54 through a small town called "Gas" and another small town which claimed another world first, the first horseshoe throwing contest in 1909... who knew? I sure didn't.

I arrived in Ft Scott around noon, just in time for lunch. After a very brief visit to historic fort scott, I came looking for this libary, and also stumbled across Holly's Hot Dog stand. Holly had just moved back from Sacramento, CA and in addition to a job at the hospital, she also decided to open a hot dog stand, which is decidedly less stressful and more social. She treated me to two hot dogs and a drink which really hit the spot. While on lunch break, I also had a chance to chat with a few other locals from Ft Scott, Joanna, the county clerk chatted with me and threw out some other historical facts about the area. Did you know, that Ft Scott's National Cemetary came before Arlington? yep, I didn't. So anyway, my lunch experience today once again reinforced that people here in the midwest are great and It's been great to be back. Big thank you to Holly and her father Bob!

Also, just as a side note, I forgot how big the bugs are here. Yes, California has bugs, but california bugs would be like bringing your smart car from Berkeley and parking it next to the horse hauler f250s from Kansas. Bugs here are big. I think i may have welts from them smashing into me along the highway. Yesterday, a dragonfly hit me square in the face and it felt as if someone threw a tennis ball (slightly less round and fuzzy) at my face.

[update] - So hey! I'm in Missouri now. things seem to be slighlty cheaper and people seem to be slightly more taken back by the asian guy on a bike with the bright neon vest. Here's me trying to do something slightly more interesting with the Missouri sign... sometimes you just don't win.


Also, I seem to think that they have trouble with memorable events here... so they differ to other states for city names., or there is a giant wormhole-like portal to the rest of the United States here in Missouri.

So anyway, I hope you all have a great afternoon and looking forward to hearing how things are going.

Paul
Oh yes, P.S. a little city planning history... So I've strangely found that many of the small towns here in eastern KS / western MO have big squares in the middle of them with the shops around them. Much like the Law of the Indies planned cities in the Spanish-influenced west. I can't exactly figure out the origin of these, unless it was some undocumented planning of the old frontier forts. Pretty interesting though. Except, I was pretty saddened to see that even here in Nevada, MO, they've used much of that civic space for vehicle parking.... ugh.