Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 26: Pittsburg, KS to Toronto, KS (97.5 Miles)

We met a father and his two sons at the Chinese buffet last night, they're traveling from Washington and had some funny stories to share. One of these stories involves a crazy old lady coming to them the day before their trip (she had heard about their Trans-Am-plan on the television) and asked them to carry the ashes of her daughter. Not knowing what to say and/or do, they reluctantly agreed to her macabre request and she plopped down the gigantic bag of ashes (an extra 10 pounds for the trip.) The father had a terrific sense of humor and joked that they lost some from a tear in the bag and they had to use campfire ashes as a replacement. Well, I'm assuming he was joking? He continued to tell us that he wanted to do this trip all his life and then his first son was born... then he vowed to do it once he was of age to join him... then his second son was born... He's seventeen.

Knowing we had a big day ahead of us, we tried to get started early... but you know how that goes. As began to feel our momentum, Cal noticed a strange feeling in his strokes. We found that he had broke a chain link and Dowds replaced the bugger in no time. We got back on the road and finished our 35 mile trip to breakfast in no time. It's great traveling in flat country (well, we're still riding in the Flint Hills) with a larger group of people. My new friends are not only great people to hang out with, but they're fantastic cyclists. We normally average 20mph in a group and take turns drafting/leading. There are times where I feel like we're in a marathon race... against what though? Time? Kansas? Obesity? (At least 75% I've seen in Kansas have tipped in the scale of morbid obesity... maybe because there's only Pizza Huts and Sonic Drive Inns in every town.)

As the day wore on and the miles began to awaken more pains from my left knee cap, I decided to fall back from the group and set my slower pace into Toronto. The heat really started to bare down on me as I rode towards the campsite. In my sweaty delirium, I attempted to contact the guys via a cheap Wal-mart walkie-talkie, but could not raise them. I turned into the campsite and reserved us a spot of land. I subsequently ate an non-fulfilling dinner provided by the local concession stand, showered amongst spider webs, and set up my tent...

As I was trying to get a signal on my cellphone, a mini-van drove towards me with a smiling bearded man staring at me. He arrived with a note from my friends, saying they decided to push on to Eureka to find a motel and they couldn't contact me on the radio. I thanked the man and zipped up my tent with a sense of loneliness. Callum finally reached me on my cell to apologize about the lack of communication (Chris had left his cellphone in a motel about 120 miles away) and I told him not to sweat it. I had paid for the site (8 bucks) and the thought of breaking down my tent and riding an extra 25 miles was not alluring in the least. Now I'm just waiting for the hot Kansas sun to set, so that I may get some sleep and reserve some energy for another long ride through eastern Kansas. There's no place like home... there's no place like home...

Oh, I should also mention that I have been listening to many podcasts during these boring/flat spots... most of which consists of Filmspotting, Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, The Smodcast, The Moth, 60 Minutes, and several NPR programs. Not the least of which is "All Songs Considered" that featured a song that's been stuck in my head for days. It's entitled "The Gardner," performed by a Swede called Kristian Matsson (aka "The Tallest Man On Earth"). Quite the lovely song. Here's a youtube link.


Momma said...

Hi Blake! Sounds like your knee could use a rest. Maybe on Wed. when you take a break from riding you could look for a C.V.S. or other pharmacy and pick up an elastic brace or something. My prayers are with you and your riding companions. I can't believe it will be 4 weeks since you left. Miss you!! Love, Momma

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