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.

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, 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,
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.

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,

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.

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.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ReDeveloping a weakness for dairy queen

We're (Almost) Not in Kansas Anymore...

Oops, forgot the camera cord back in the room so no picture posts today... there wasn't anything too out of the ordinary besides the dragonfly that appeared to be the size of a small crow and the cows wading for fun. So welcome back! It's 4 weeks and 1 day into the trip and things are going well. I'm camped up in a cheap motel here in Iola, KS and am checking out the local digs such as the library and the senior center. The ride today was pretty easy going, 86 miles, partially into the wind, but it wasn't too bad overall. Still passing plenty of Kansas oil wells, cattle farms, and narrow-shouldered roads.

Apparently, if you're a town in Kansas, you feel the need to be the best at something. Very American. It's kinda like how if you win the NBA, you're the world champion, strange. So since we're here in the heartland, I guess it's magnified. Already in Kansas, i've passed towns that have boasted to have the largest st. patrick's day parade in the world, the the largest watershed basin in the world, the world's capital of prairie chickens, and today the world's capital of hay, and then there was that town Greensburg, KS (that got devestated by the tornado last year) that boasted the world's largest hand dug well. All very important, but all very strange that they're advertised on the sign. I guess when your largest tourism generator is college basketball, you need to be creative.

So back to riding. The pavement here in Kansas has been pertty good aside from that there is typically a 6" shoulder beyond the white line. Luckily, Kansasians seem to be good at giving cyclists plenty of space. I haven't had too much trouble as far as crazy drivers. Once in Colorado, some guy yelled something at me. Today, some guy in the opposing lane tried to lob something at me (I'm not exactly sure what it was or if it even came close), but two incidents in 2200 miles seems to be a pretty good track record.

In other news, I broke out the GPS and it indicated to me, as the crow flies, that I'm less than 500 miles from Gibson City! How cool is that. Well I think it's pretty cool, even though I'm sure by as the road drives, it's a bit more distant.

Ok, so I think that's it for now. Time to scour through town to see what type of nourishment options I have. The Chinese Garden across the street from the motel seems filling... but not appetizing.

Ok, that's it for now. happy monday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camping at a gas station, nice kittens though!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Newton, KS ... REST DAY! woohoo

So yesterday I rode about 105 miles from Larned, KS into Newton, KS. A welcome sight because it would be where I would be taking my first day off the bike since Carson City, NV. Woohoo, AND Catherine would be flying into Wichita to greet me once I got to town.

But first, a quick summary of the day in Larned, I did want to say my
previous day in Larned was pretty fantastic. I got to town and smashed a foot long Subway sub as soon as I got to town (around 4pm). After cycling all day, it
's amazing how you can devour nearly anything and have it feel like you just had a handful of popcorn. Larned was a great little town with really nice people. I st
opped by city hall to register for my campsite. The park on the southwest of town was the nicest that i'd stayed in so far. However, the city pool was closed since school was in session. So my bath would have to be a sponge bath under the water faucet.

hopefully they're not being corrected in the same classrooms...

Here's a quick tour around my campsite:

So yesterday was the long haul to Newton, KS. I got rolling out of Larned around 730am and loaded up on food because it would be about 55 miles until the next town. It was a nice ride and passed through a few wildlife refuges which were quite pretty filled with all kinds of birds, frogs, and cattle wading in ponds. After a quick lunch break in Nickerson, KS, I moved onward to wrap up the day in Newton. I got in around 5pm, just in time to meet Catherine, who had just gotten into town.

With the rental car, we actually went back up to Hesston, KS to meet up with my riding friends for the past few days, Judy and Jerry, who were staying at an RV park there. We invited them to dinner and brought them back to Newton with us for a stellar german buffet, which was a fantastic way to put some calories back on.
After a great filling dinner, it was time to hit up the local Dairy Queen for a DQ Blizzard (my first in years...) and yes, it was awesome.
Today (Saturday, Aug 22nd) - was a rest day in Newton/Wichta, KS ... we're staying at a Days Inn where I took full advantage of their continental breakfast. Not too exciting, but I spent the day in Wichta picking up a few supplies here and there. i'd been running out of camping fuel, and finding a proper air pressure guage for presta tire valves is pretty hard out in the plaines.

Cat and I spent the time walking around downtown Newton, which actually is a pretty impressive town for the 10,000 some people that live here. Oh yes, I took a much needed trip to the Laundromat today too. Probably the most important thing i did actually.

Tomorrow, I'll be back on the road. I realize that I've trekking a bit off schedule, but as of now, I should be able to make it back to Gibson by Sept 7th, depending on weather. But even with that, I can alter the path through Illinois to make it there on time.

Cat will be leaving mid-day tomorrow which will be quite sad. But I'll see her again back in Gibson for Amy's wedding. After she leaves, I'm planning on taking a short day and trying to make it to El Dorado, KS to camp for the evening.

Hope all is well for all of you, and ride safely.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome to Kansas!

So I made it into Kansas yesterday and it looked remarkably like eastern Colorado. However, the roads improved and more people seemed to wave. ahh the midwest. It's been a fun time so far. After a quick stop in Tribune, KS, I blew past my original goal city (Scott City) and made it onward to a small town called Dighton, KS. Great little town. I rolled in around 5:30pm and made camp at the city park. I was joined by Jerry and his wife Judy, of whom I spent some time with the other day. They have been so so nice to me. Not only did they feed me a great dinner last night, they also brought some blueberry pie and ice cream! They'll only be on the road for another week or so before heading back to Petersburg, IL

So about last night. We met this older retired gentleman who lived across from the park who was sitting outside enjoying the night air. We chatted for a while and asked him if he knew where we might be able to find a shower in town. After some discussion, we determined that heading over to the truck stop to check it out. Mr Hubner (the retired gentleman) decided to give us a ride. So we cruised around town (Mr Hubner, Jerry and I) in his 1970 chevy pickup, going about 5 mph, over to the truck stop, which ended up being about 500 yards away. Then once we figured out that the showers were locked up, our next bet was the town motel, which again, we were offered a ride, which we did not refuse of course, but again the motel was another 700 yards away.

But a nice shower was a great way to end the day. Yesterday was a big one, longest of the trip so far at 127 miles. And it was my 21st day straight on the bike. Yes, I'll be ready for a break very soon!

So I pitched my tent in the city park and it seemed like everything was perfect for a great night's rest. I fell asleep around 10pm and was just on the brink of sleep when I woke up to a sound, (you know when you're half asleep, your judgement wasn't the best).... but it sounded like something smoldering (burning)... so I got up and jumped out of my tent in a hectic flash... well it wasn't really ALL that bad.... but it was the park sprinklers... which proceeded to soak my tent as soon as I jumped out. So I was partially relieved my tent wasn't on fire, but partially annoyed that now I was having an unannounced rain shower. Also the winds that night were really strong, I remember waking up a time or two with my tent at a 45 degree angle. Oh well.

So today, it's off to Larned, KS. The winds are favorable again but I am hoping for another 100 mile ride today. I'm taking a quick little break in Ness City, KS to use the computer, but will jump back on the bike here in a moment. Trying to make it to Newton, KS by tomorrow (Which is still quite a distance). But Catherine will greet me there and we'll be able to hang out and I'll finally be able to take a day off on Saturday!Best to you all and hope you're having a pleasant Thursday so far.

Ride safely.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

126 Miles today, in Dighton ,KS

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Last day in Colorado - day 20something

So last night I spent an eventful evening in Conastoga Park in Ordway, CO. Ordway was definately welcoming to touring cyclists and they even let me take a shower in their high school locker room. (see photo below...) how come all high school locker rooms look the same? It was pretty hilarious getting the grand tour of the school, but the principal was very nice and hospitible.
So after a wonderful shower and a trip to the library, it was time to settle into my new home at the park pavillion. I was staying at the pavillion because it was supposed to storm pretty hard that evening and it seemed like a pretty defensible fortress from the high schoolers who seemed to be a bit troublesome. Every time I woke up, I really felt that I was camping at Gibson City's North Park... which is a hilarious proposition when I think about it. I saw lots of heat lightning that evening, but the storm that was supposed to be never really came.

The next morning I woke up around 730 and gathered my things. I hit the road for Eads, CO (about 60 miles away) around 830 and had a slight tailwind at my back. It was pretty cloudy which made for great cycling weather. If you were ever wondering where old railcars go to die, don't ask any longer, they come to Eastern Colorado. I passed at least 20 miles of abandoned rail cars.
Later on the ride, I was passed by a couple of nice guys who pulled over to give me some of their harvest. Which was really awesome. They provided me with a canteloup (sp?) and some tomatoes, which I managed to secure to my bike rather craftily in my opinion.
So here's me after 23 days on a bike. I look pretty much the same and I think I weigh at least close to the same. You can't tell, but this is from on top of one of those abandoned rail cars. Talk about a disappointing shot from above.
Around 11:30, I pulled along side this gentleman, Jerry from Petersburg, IL. I rode alongside him for a few miles before stopping for lunch. He and his wife Judy had been riding from Oregon and they treated me to a great lunch and some stories from their ride so far. After lunch, Jerry and I chatted for the remaining 20 some miles into Eads, where we'll both be staying tonight.

Unfortunately, it looks like rain here in Eads. I'll be sure to update tomorrow once I make it to Kansas! Long ride tomorrow, 100+ miles.

Monday, August 17, 2009

small towns... oh they're the best.

So today I rolled out of Pueblo a bit late and again into a not so fun headwind, but i put the headphones on and that made the ride all that much better. Nothing makes you feel more American than riding through farmland jamming out to John Mellencamp.

This post will have to be quick, but I just got to Ordley, CO and the town has been SO great to me already! I now have a little permit to camp in the local park, they let cyclists go shower in the high school (oh the memories)...(I have a 4:30 appt with the principal for my shower..which is why this needs to be fast) and their local library has a guestbook for all of the passers by! Fantastic. So I'm pretty excited to be here. However, I hear some pretty serious storms may be rolling through tonight, so I'm hoping to find some good shelter in the park pavillion. We'll see how it turns out. I'll be sure to take photos.

Also, the supaonabike story made it into the News-Gazette! (Thank you to Jean Noellsch for the article). Click here for the link

Hope all is well elsewhere. Until again. Ride happy.

Welcome to the Flats - Pueblo, CO

Well here I am in Pueblo, the hilly portion of the trip ended yesterday and I am relieved to be done with it! Yesterday was pretty rough, I had headwinds for most of the day and the journey from Salida, CO to Pueblo was around 102 miles and had about 3000 feet of climbing. I think I was mentally checked out of climbing days since I went over Monarch the day before yesterday. However, I wanted to push through the day and start of today (Monday) on flat ground. The trip from here on out becomes more interesting. For the first portion of the trip, I had cycling maps which lead the way and provided me stop by stop information about what towns had to offer. Now, It's me and the little GPS and my eastward compass leading the way. I'm less worried. From here on out, I'm more likely to find towns, people, water, (the essentials) much more often. Also, there are about 50 different ways to get from point A to point B from here on out, whereas cutting the wrong way through the mountains could lead to sheer misery.

I got into Pueblo pretty late last night and was riding with my lights on as I got in after dark. I found a cheap (but rather shabby motel) right off of I-25. Catherine did a little searching for me and found me the great deal. I grabbed a footlong sub for dinner and retired around 11pm. I was debating whether or not if I should take a rest day here in Pueblo. But after my morning so far, I think I'll be leaving town here shortly. Not a whole lot going on and I haven't been overly impressed with what I've seen so far. I'd rather push for another town on the route that looks a bit smaller. I'm thinking I'm going to break up my next ride (to Eads, CO) which was slated to be 128 miles, and perhaps ride today to Ordway which is about half-way there.

Here's the sunset from last night showing those pesky mountains behind me. Unfortunately, when I took this picture, I was still about 8 miles from town.

Alright! Welcome to Pueblo!

So from here on out, weather, storms, and wind will become the prevailing factors. I'll be checking the forecast reguarily and hoping for the best for the upcoming weeks!

On another unrelated to biking-but related to transportation note... apparently Chicago is expanding its el system! hooray for transportation planners.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Video Updates!

It's been a while since I've done any video updates... so here are a few from the road!

Crossing the Blue Mesa Lake

Canyon ride between Montrose, CO and Gunnison, CO

Then it rained:


I don't know where this guy came from, I passed him pretty much in the middle of the Utah desert.

Day 21 - On Top of the World - Salida, CO (now with photos!)

[note... I added the photos and video a bit late... sorry if they are sporadically placed!]
Greetings friends, I hope you are all doing well this weekend! Since my last posting (I believe it was in Dolores, CO?) I've covered some serious ground and have broken some records for my ride. A funny coincidence happened. A high school friend (Beth Wurmnest) just happened to be in Montrose, CO as I would be passing through, and her mom back in Sibley, IL put us in contact. It was perfect timing as she was only in town until today, but I was able to stop in and hang out with her on Thursday evening/Friday morning.

But getting there was a bit of an ordeal. Montrose, CO was about 120 miles (over two mountain passes) from Dolores... Well I'd never tried to go that far (with or without a trailer, or with or without elevation) in my life, but hey, I thought I'd give it a go. I got out of my campsite around 7AM and was on the road. Surprisingly, the first mountain pass was over 10,000, but it felt relatively painless since the roads here in CO are far more gradual
than anywhere else I'd been. Also, I think I'd been mentally preparing myself for a marathon day since the night before. I made it over the 1st pass then back down for lunch. I didn't actually have a chance to stop for lunch until around 2:30PM. After a quick stop in Sawpit, I headed back up to Dallas Divide for the 2nd pass which I summited around 5PM, all in all, I was able to make it into Montrose by roughly 7pm. Whew. Beth treated me to a great dinner and I got to hang out with her co-workers too!

The next day was from Montrose to Gunnison (all of these little cities have been awesome btw, would love to come back and hang out). On my way out of town, I stopped by Cascade Cycles in Montrose to get a top-off on air for the tires. I got chatting with Alan, the store owner, and found out that he had spent a good portion of his life in Rantoul, IL (about 20 minutes from Gibson City). Furthermore, he was a land-use planner out in California for a while too. So after a late start, I got moving for Gunnison. It was a beautiful ride aside for the 25 minutes of which I got poured on (in the middle of a canyon btw). It was a bit percarious with traffic, but things turned out ok. After the sun came back out, I rode by the Blue Mesa Resivoir (beautiful) then drifted into Gunnison, which is a cool little town which is the home of Crested Butte (ski resort). I stayed in a small motel run by a Polish guy from Chicago and went over to the Flying Burrito for dinner where I had the opportunity to debate politics with one lady, then talk to another couple's adventures in Ecuador.

Today, was another 65 miler from Gunnison to Salida, CO. The big deal for today was that I'd be climbing over the infamous Monarch Pass (11,300'). So as far as I'm concerned, once I get pass that, the Rocky's are toast. Well during the climb today, I definately could feel the altitude and had to take a few extra breaks, but again, the grade wasn't too steep and I made it to the top around 1:30. The BEST part was the descent back down to 8000' (Salida). I didn't have to pedal one bit for about 22 miles as it was downhill and I had the grace of a 20 mph tailwind rollling into town.

So I just got to Salida and it again seems like an awesome little outdoors town. I'm staying in a hostel (Simple Lodge). My host John seems like a nice guy. I'll be hanging out here in the Library until my stomach tells me otherwise.

(late insertion) - I can't remember the guy's name, but this guy owns this tiny little bike shop here in Salida. I stopped by just in time for their evening get-together where he and his fellow friends offered me a beer and some of their evening bbq! The folks in this town love their bikes!

Also, I looked at the calendar. I want to say the date that I'm shooting to arrive in GC is September 7th.

Hope to chat again soon,