So it's been an eventful few days since my last post. I stayed in Great Bend on Monday, July 26 so I could get a new tire. When I got to the Golden Belt Bicycle Shop, he did not have any tires in my size (26x1.5). About 5 minutes behind me, another customer asked for the same tire size. The owner was a little embarrassed. He said that he sells about 4 a year and here he had two requests on the same day. He did adjust my rear derailleur that was acting a little slow on the downshifts.
Well, no biggie. I rode on because I was confident I could get two days of riding out of the tire. Off of HWY 156, I stopped by an education center for the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge and learned a lot about migrating birds. Jumped on HWY 4 and had a very nice, if not hot ride through corn and hay fields and tiny little towns. I did find two great towns on Tuesday-- Marquette (pop ~682), with it's fun downtown and home of the Kansas Motorcycle Museum and Lindsborg (pop 3,300), nicknamed little Sweden it had a brick lined streets, a definite Scandinavian flair and is home of the Bethany College Swedes. Lindsborg is where I camped for the night.
On Wednesday, I had a goal of 115 miles to Harveyville where my friend and North Henderson Art teacher Liz Runkle (and the creator of Baron and Cliff) was doing an art residency. I was riding by 6:00AM and doing great. Took a little break for breakfast in Gypsum. Made it to Hope, where a guy named Holly, feeling bad for me in the heat, bought my slushy. The day was going great-- I was making awesome time, my legs felt fresh and I got a free slushy!
From Hope, it's 8 miles to Herington. Halfway there, I heard a hiss as the air emptied out of my rear tire. In the hot sun, on the side of the road, I fixed the flat. But I was screwed. I didn't carry an extra tire, just tubes and patch kit. As I examined the tire, I saw the cause of the flat-- I had actually worn a hole through the tire. I used some duct tape to try to protect the tube and rode to Herington. Things seemed well until I heard a loud pop. The tire did not make it. No sense in trying to repair it, it would just flat again and I had over 50 miles left to go.
So I call Liz, who drives to Herington and we creatively fit Bella, BOB and everything else in the tiny Toyota Yaris. We go back to Harveyville and Liz shows me the set up. It's an old school that was converted into a sort of refuge for artists to come and work. Liz was housed in an old science room and I got sleep in a history room. Nicole cooked us dinner. It was great, just really hot and humid. We even found a room that had a scale model of Harveyville. What do you do with that? Well, have sock monkeys attack, of course!
Thursday Liz and I rode up to Topeka. We got a new tire for Heang, Liz got paper to work on her prints and we picked up weedeater string for Nicole. Being enticed by air conditioning, we made the decision to watch Inception. I thought it was a really good movie. After wasting more time in A/C in Barnes and Noble, we headed back to Harveyville for dinner.
Today was a pretty good day. I covered 111 miles. Had nice legs and no wind. Breakfast in Burlingame was nice. Baldwin City was a good break from the sun and I had a gyro. I got lots of little breaks just to cool off. Once I got into Olathe and the Kansas City suburbs, things got more difficult. I had to dodge traffic, re-route because of construction and put up with urban drivers. I can't remember anyone shouting anything at me on the entire trip. In a 15 mile span, there were about 6. All teens trying to be smart and who thought they were hilarious. I rallied my way to Lee's Summit, Missouri and found a hotel since there were no campgrounds nearby. I asked if they had a special rate for someone riding across the country and the guy says sure. I got a good deal.