Day 34 - Yuma to Benkelman of all places ( 115km). Welcome to Nebraska.
Tip of the day: don' t eat at a Mexican place if no Mexicans work there, I only noticed just after ordering and new I was stuffed, but what do you do you have to pay anyway and I need the calories....so I just shoved it down.
At the 75km point I'd had enough of fighting the wind all day and my knees had really had enough, so when I spotted a nice camping spot in the trees near the road I thought " that's my place for the night", but just as I pulled of the road I looked at my water bottle and saw I only had 1/2 a litre left DOH...Because the towns are closer together now I've become less obsessed with water....mistake....So, what do you do, just back on the bike and suffer a thirsty sore 2.5 hour ride to Benkelman of all places. Its funny that its still almost 25 degrees most days here, because in a month there'll be 6ft of snow on the ground.
After not being allowed to sleep at the city park last night I thought I'd better ask around in Benkelman if it is allowed there, the sheriffs office was closed so I went to the next best thing in a town of 300 people, The Bar!I decided to sit in the smoking area as that's where all the action usually is. My question of " are there any women in town or is this just a gay bar " went down well with the local country boys, and instead of getting beaten up I got offered a couch for the night instead of sleeping in the park ( and no it wasn't a gay bar!!!!) Dave, TJ and their 2 builders are doing up an apartment block and sleeping in one of the apartments, so I crashed there with the 4 of them and helped them drink some beer while they did a live music show, it was all kind of weird but also fun in a way, this sort of thing usually only happens when your travelling alone.
Day 35 - Benkelman to McCook (85km).
After a short nights sleep and an early start it was just pumping out the km's into the wind to get to McCook, I guess all that Doctor beer helped my knees, they were not so bad for a change, once in town I got a crappy room in a motel.
Day 36 - McCook to Holdrege (120km).
A very sore start, with my knees crying for a rest day, I was pretty much planning on pushing on a couple of days then taking a big rest.
Today was just another long boring day with rolling hills, and yet another puncture, I did meet a cyclist going the other way though, and he said its great here the hills are starting again, which pretty much means its going to get even more boring for me:).
Once I hit town I headed for my warmshowers address. I thought it would be nice to use warmshowers again to be able to talk to some other cyclists again, the last couple of days where pretty lonely on the road with only 4-5 cars an hour going past (most of them did wave though which is nice).
Tim and Bev were not home but they'd left a note " Tim will be home at around 7, your room is there, there's cold beer in the fridge", That'll work:)
So I had a shower and went into the garage to hunt for some beer, got distracted for 10 minutes by their bikes, then found the fridge.But it wasn't a normal beer fridge it was an Aladdin's cave of home brew and good beers, So that's me sorted!!!! And unlike the home brew my dad made years ago, this stuff is nice.
Day 37 - Rest day in Holdrege.
Once again I've found great hosts and they are letting me stay for a rest day with the intention of helping Tim get rid of some of his beer collection this afternoon during the big football game Nebraska vs........somebody, like I care:). So tomorrow on to Hastings and who knows after that. 3000km down, 3000km and a bit to go, Hopefully the wind will start blowing the right way some time soon, I've pretty much had a light headwind for 2 weeks now.
So while Tim and Bev where out this morning winning a triathlon, I got my website and photo's up to date, enjoy!!
Day 38 - Holdrege to Hastings (98km). The night of a thousand bites.
A rest day and Tim's beer got me sorted out again for a few days, I hardly have any knee problems at the moment. I had a great day with Tim and Bev, thanks guys.Just maybe you'll see me again one day;)
The wind was supposed to be a south easterly but was more like an easterly storm!!!, damn wind when am I going to get those westerly's I was promised!! The scenery was once again corn,corn,corn with the occasional silo and water tower to break up the horizon.
According to my map the campsite just after Hastings had "primitive" facilities, so I thought great a nice quiet campsite without kids. But it really was primitive, the water fountain had been removed and there where no toilets. I didn't see the point of cycling back to town to get a motel so I just knocked on some ones door, asked for some water and enjoyed the campsite for myself and a thousand mosquito. I knew it was time to get into my tent when I saw about 30 of them flying around my feet( guess they don't have a sense of smell). In the morning I found about 20 bites on my shoulder and another 20 around my body....itchy times ahead.
Day 39 - Hastings - Crete (120km). Scared for my life!!
For the first time during this trip I really was scared for my life. The day started rainy and the road was producing alot of spray, I knew that whenever a truck went past I was invisible in his spray to the next truck/ car. A few days ago I lost my mirror so I cant see behind me, which can get tricky on these roads, and to make matters worse this road had a rumble strip in the middle of the road as well as on the hard shoulder, so every time I heard the rumble I didn't know if it was a truck giving me room or someone sleeping. All in all a damn scary hour until the rain stopped.....
The city park in Crete was ok and even had a free warmshower, and more free mosquito's. So it was an early night for me.
I really wasn't sure what to do after Crete weather to head east onto the smaller Highway 2 or stay on the larger highway 34. But after this mornings experience I decided I'd be staying on the 34 because of the larger shoulder it usually has and the fact that once off the 34 the towns would become even smaller and fewer, and I already find them small enough.
Day 40 - Crete to Lincoln (45km) Crazy blind truck drivers.
Only a short run up to Lincoln in preparation for my rest day. This short run became a run the gauntlet run along a county road with no shoulder, it was also quite busy with trucks because it connects Crete to the motorway. So it was a case of watching the trucks, diving into the grass or getting forced off the road by trucks that wouldn't give me room. So the decision is definite I'm staying on the larger roads for now, those county roads are lethal...
Day 41 - Rest day in Lincoln.
Chilling out, eating lots and probably a trip to the cinema later ( I want to see inglorious basterds, it looks great).
Day 42- Lincoln to Plattsmouth (100km).
The rest day was nice, they had nice beer at the microbrewery in town. The film wasn't as good as I'd expected, too much story and not enough scalps.
The road once again was too busy but there was a hard shoulder but too many trucks. But then I stumbled on a cycle path that seemed to go in a similar direction so I took my chances and got off the main road. The path turned out to be a converted railway line, which was nice. However the fun only last an hour then the path stopped, then I was in the middle of nowhere and had to zigzag back to the main road along dirt roads for about 2 hours, it was good fun but cost me alot of time. After that the roads just got smaller and busier with trucks.
I had planned on cycling further but due to my detour I'd had enough once I got to Plattsmouth. Unfortunately the only accommodation in town is a $100 B+B, so I opted to ask around to try and sleep in the park (I'm really starting to feel like some kind of homeless person now, having to ask if I'm allowed to sleep in the park). At the local bike shop a guy called Lee who is a part time fireman phoned around all the town officials (about 5 of them) and got me permission to sleep in the park (no toilets). After that the police woke me up at 9pm and drove past about 3 times in the night shining their headlights onto my tent, bastards!. So at 8am I was on the road again, strange though a town of 7000 and only 1 B+B and no motels or campsites.
Day 42 - Plattsmouth to.......
This morning It all went wrong, and my tight schedule has just become very tight. This morning I've spent 2 hours cycling along a road with almost no shoulder, and with trucks screaming past at 100km/h within 1 meter of me, with a nasty little side wind. So needless to say I'm not happy, one of the aims of this trip is not to get flattened by a truck, so my plan to follow the 34 for the next couple of weeks is out the window, together with my chances of getting to the other coast in time......
So now I'm in a library somewhere (don't even know what its called here) and I'm trying to find a way across the state on converted railway lines. I've found a route for most of the next week, but it means a big detour south then east to St Louis along the Katy trail.
I'm not too happy about this but it's slightly more important to stay alive than to make it to the other coast, but this is a real downer on my day, and also means by the end of tomorrow I'll be 30km away from where I was 4 days ago.....DOH. But safety first right.....stay tuned....
I made it to Coin along a converted railway line, which was nice and quiet and truck free, but all the same hard work on a grit path.
Day 43 - Coin to Maryville (80km).
Yesterday really was the lowest point of my trip so far, a lesser person would of just sat down, cried and gave up, which I felt like doing, but I'm a little too stubborn for that, and my moto for this trip has been to stay flexible and that has worked so far so I have to keep it up. I was lucky to run into a library in Malvern within minutes of leaving the 34, so I was able to get a plan b sorted out within an hour.
Plan B. Head south until I find a road suitable to head east again, if I don't find one by the time I get to the Katy trail I'll take that across to St Louis, then who knows.
Day 43 started with a rainy night, and rainy start which made the last part of the Railtrack down to the state border quite hard going in that boggy gravel. After that I just zig-zagged down through little roads, gravel roads and tracks, all hard going with those " rolling hills" which are pretty steep on those country roads.
I stopped at a little cafe " we still do old fashion good portions for a good price" in Burlington junction, where a lady gave me the standard thousands questions, and while I was eating said " I'm sorry but your not getting out of here without a hug". Which was funny, but then when I was ready to leave she paid for my lunch....nice one, guess thats worth a hug, so now I'm not only a homeless bum I'm also a gigalo:)
Once close to Maryville the road(71) improved and I had a proper shoulder again, I was also able to get a mirror there, so at least I can see the truck before It flattens me now:).
Day 44 - Marryville to Hamilton ( 140km). Down but not out.
The weather forecast said strong SW wind moving to a NW later in the afternoon. So I waited until 11am to leave, plodded nice and gentle into the wind for 4 hours trying to save my energy, Then bingo just after my lunch at 4pm the wind was a strong westerly, just as I moved onto the 36 and started heading east. So I did a nice 3 hour sprint to get to a nice distance. Hamilton is the birth place of J.C. Penny, and I can understand why he/she doesn't live there anymore:)
I couldn't find a hotel and it was getting dark, I did however find a RV trailer park (complete with trailer trash) only 50m from the main road:(, they where not set up for tent tourists so had no toilets, but the guy let me camp for $7 and let me use his bathroom for a nice shower (his bathroom wasn't any nicer than some of those city parks though).
Day 45 - Hamilton to Macon ( 140km). Finally justice.....The storm I needed.
Yup a gale forced NW wind, So I did a 6 hour sprint to Macon, I would of liked to push it for another hour or two, but I knew at after Macon there's no big towns for 100km, and I really wanted a motel, and my cloths are due a spin in one of those machines that make them smell nice again :) hand wash just doesn't work that well when your cycling in the same shirt/ socks everyday.
So 3800km down about another 2000-2500 to go and a maximum of 30 days (using up my reserve week) to do it, despite my detour and the various other problems along the way, its still possible to make it if I get alot of help from the wind, but it will be damn close. Lets just hope I don't need to make too many more detours to get onto safer roads, I guess that's the risk you take if you want to avoid the tourist route. The forcast for this week...? Light NW tomorrow then I'm in the shit again from Wednesday onwards....Easterlys are back in town....bugger.
Day 46 - Macon to Hannibal (108km). Bmx racer.
So I left town expecting the good shoulder and wind to continue, wrong, just outside of town was the start of 80km of roadworks with two lanes closed so all the traffic from both directions was on one road (so no room for a good looking cyclist). The first 20km wasn't too bad because the new road was almost completed so I just rode on that and had a whole road to myself.
After that the fun started, changing lanes, partially completed roads, machines, work parties (they where all Mexican though so couldn't tell me to go away:)), dirt roads, rocks, broken up old road etc,etc. So I spent 60km cycling as if I was on a bmx track, which was kind of good fun and a nice change from watching corn fields but not the quickest 60km I've ever done.
So now I'm in Hannibal, home town of Mark Twain, and dozens of tourist shops, museums and other crap, I even stayed at he Mark Twain campground. I got chatting to a guy last night at the campsite, and I mentioned that I wasn't pleased that the campsite was so far from town because I was too tired to cycle back to get some beer.......So once again I got pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the American people, he offered to go get me some beer while he was in town later, but then later he invited me to dinner with him and his wife in town. Just to make the evening complete Jim and Linda paid for dinner too, Thanks guys...
Day 47 - Rest day in Hannibal.
After six days in a row with an average of over 100km a day, my legs told me this morning it was time for a rest day, so here I am, time to play tourist I guess, and I need a new book so why not a classic while I'm in the authors home town. According to google/maps its a little over 2000km to go, so who knows it could still me an open game, shame the wind has changed and the rest of the week will be rain:(, I have been really lucky so far though, only 3 half days of rain in 7 weeks, but autumn is coming....
Day 48 - Hannibal to Pittfield (60km).
Thanks to the weather channel I could see exactly what time I could make a dash for it between the two weather fronts, arriving just in time after 4 hours of headwind, just before the storm started (they forcasted golfball sized hale which never came). A motel seemed a good idea due to the storm but there wasn't much choice, and what there was wasn't very nice;), so I did the only thin you can do in a town like Pittsfield, hunted the bar down. After a few hours of talking to farmers and a WWII veteran (96years old) it was time for bed.
Day 49 - Sick day in Pittsfield.
Note to self: don't play drinking games with farmers and take their nasty cocktails...........that was a hangover that fell into my top 3 in the last 10 years, that's impressive but not very pleasant.
Day 50 - Pittsfield to Kincaid lake ( 135km).
A nice run and found a nice place to camp just outside of town at the lake, once again got woke up by the police patrol in the middle of the night. I've been thinking about sending my water filter home for a couple of weeks now, pleased I didn't though, once again to proved invaluable (well saved a $55 motel anyway). If I hadn't had it with my I would of had to end in town and not at the lake.
Day 51 - Kincaid lake to Charlston (120km).
The last couple of days have been great cycling, nice quiet country roads that are in great condition, and a couple of days tailwind. Today also was beautiful weather , so at lunch time I took a long break and put my tent up to dry off, because I knew I'd be in a motel tonight. Just another day of wind please and I'll have caught up the time I lost being pathetic in Pittsfield.
Day 52 - Charlston to Rockville ( 110km).
Just another beautiful autumn day cycling through the corn fields. Its interesting to see that the further east I go the closer the towns get to each other, the roads become more narrow and the people wider..
Day 53 - Rockville to Crawfordsville ( 67km).
Into my forth time zone now, my first day in Indiana started with the pitter patter of rain on my tent, so I went back to sleep for an hour or two, by which time it was a downpour. So packed up my wet tent and got on with it, one of those day where I really couldn't be bothered and the wind and rain where working against me. I'd been wondering for a couple of days how to get around Indianapolis, but pretty much all roads lead there. My solution to a few problems that day came at the junction of the 231 which headed north, So I thought do I a) battle on for another 2 hours into the wind to do the 30km east, to the next town(motel) or b), head north and cycle 30km to the next town in 1 hour, and then the next day head east above Indianapolis, so the rest as the say is history and it was another short day for me. But I'm trying to get a move on because I'm meeting some friends in Ohio at the weekend.
Day 54 - Crawfordsville to Pendelton (105km).
Day 55 - Pendelton to Greenville (115km).
Guess autumn is here, just had two more days cycling in rain, funny really 50% of the rain of this whole trip so far had been in Indiana.