Monday, October 8, 2012

The Good and the Bad of NEBRASKA


I have now pedalled over 2000km and crossed yet another border, entering the state of KANSAS. While doing so, I realized I crossed an entire state without once updating my blog on the ongoings of my journey.So, here we go.

NEBRASKA was the state that has reminded me most of home. Full of feedlots, cattleliners and cornfields (not to mention snow!). But it has also been the state that has seem to agree with me the least of all so far, with many minor setbacks and mishaps along the way.

 a brief summary of the entertaining and inspiring things that have happened in the last little while for those whoe don't want to be bored by the minor details of my travels:

CACTUS-BUMB (30/09)- A few days before I entered Nebraska, as the sun set and I looked for a place to lay my head, I came across a field with an open gate. Upon entering said gate, I realized that the field was absolutely riddled with cactuses. However, the sun was setting and I needed to get off the road so I continued on, paying very close attention to the path of my precious tires.... maybe too close attention to the path of the tires and not enough to that of my feet. Next thing I know I am on the ground with a bumb full of cactus spines.oops. At least I saved the tires AND had finished riding for the day so didn't have to immediatley sit on my pin cushoin bottom!!

THE ATTACK OF THE SPRINKLERS(03/10)- Upon reaching BRIDGEPORT, NE; I went to the local police station to ask a few questions,including where I could put up a tent. They informed me of a little park close by where I shouldn't be bothered. They failed however to mention the sunken sprinklers....but me, (being the smart cookie that I am), noticed that the grass was very green except in one spot. Therefor, I concluded that the sprinklers must not reach this spot. WRONG... it meens this spot is soo close to the sprinklers that they shoot water OVER it; meening that the water will be at very high pressure when hitting your tent, causing it to go straight through.And you will have to get up at 3AM, Brave the sprinklers to move your tent. NICE ONE!

Having covered over 80miles the day before (from Lingle,WY to Bridgeport, NE). I decided I could take it easy in the morning. So, after having a coffee, updating the blog, and talking to the local newspaper; it was around 1PM by the time I finally got on the road. All went well for the first 1/2 hr or so, with a bit of a tailwind helping to push me along at a nice, solid 30 km/hr. Then it picked up... now my speed was around 45km/hr on flat ground, and everyonce and the wind kept shifting to the side. This shift not only caused me to swerve to the edge of the road into loose gravel; but also regularily sent tumbleweeds fliying across the road, getting caught in my wheels, in between my arms, and on more than one occassion hit me in the side of the face. There was also a massive cloud of dirt that was lowereing the visibility...After close to 20 miles I decided to give it a rest for the day, determining it was no longer safe to ride in these conditions on a busy road.

THE RETURN OF THE SPRINKLERS (04/10)- After being treated to a rest (curtosy of the weather) and a meal( curtosy of a lovely lady I met..more later). I again retired into my tent in this new town's park. Having learned a little I did not go for any brown patch, and even hid my tent slightly behind a tree in attempts to avoid the wrath of the sprinklers. And at first I thought I had won... I DID get hit by the sprinklers, but I was far enough away that it was just a light spray that caused no leakage and the pattering sound even helped lull me off to sleep. However, when I woke in the morning I would immediately be aware that the sprinklers had in fact conquered again!.... The spray that landed on my tent had froze over night, causing my tent to be covered in ice, and the zippers to freeze shut. I had to spend quite a few minutes in the morning thawing the zippers with my breathe and warmth from my hands in order to even be able to get out of my tent, and once out of the tent I had to spend considerably MORE time brushing the ice off of my tent so that it wouldn't be soaking wet when I go to use it again...You win again sprinklers!

THREE FLATS IN ONE DAY.... AND SNOW (05/10)- Even after being stuck in my tent a little longer than anticipated on that icy morning; I managed to get a fairly early start and by 4PM had pedalled 72miles and made it into OGALLALA ( I know this particular distance only based on road signs as my the sensor on my odometer did't work in the cold and therefor didn't start recording until about 11AM). I don't mind sleeping in a tent in the cold. I am NOT however, a fan of sleeping in a wet tent in the cold. For this reason I chose to get a motel for the night. The very nice manager of Paradise Motel in Ogallala gave me the room for $30. So, for a cheap price I had a warm place to stay for the night. Whe I woke in the morning, not only was it snowing, but I also noticed that I had not only one but two completely flat tires....and the "self sealing innertubes did not seem to work AT ALL.

no shoulders and mud..hard to ride
 I finally got the problem fixed and the innertubes changed (which I will explain a little later), and set off in the snow around noon. But after about an hour and a half of half riding and half pushing my bike to avoid traffic on the terrible roads with no shoulders... my front tire was flat AGAIN. I continued on, pumping up the tire every half hour or so for a while. But one time, after pumping my tire and sitting down for a snack for it to be flat before I even got started again. I got up stamped my feet and kicked my bike in frustration when a lovely truck driver pulled over and gave me a ride off the terrible roads, and then helped me to pump my inner tubes full of tire sealant so I wouldn't continue to go through them at a crazy rate of 3 a day!!... hope it works!!


the begining of a snowy day
When I woke on the morning of the 7th, first it there was freezing rain and my front tire had not held the air and was YET AGAIN completely flat. Taking this as a sign for the day I stayed in the warmth of sleeping bag in High Plains Campground which the lovely owners had let me stay free of charge. By lunch time, it did not seem like the weather was going to get any better, having turned from freezing rain to large snowflakes and wind. By now, even the warmth of my sleeping bag was not doing the trick in keeping me warm. So I packed up my stuff and headed to the closest motel. After one day in the hotel avoiding the bad weather, I woke up to a bad stomach bug. Not wanting to go too far from the bathroom I spent yet another day stationary, in bed. Hoping that by the time I wake tomorrow I will feel better and the weather will be decent to get me back on the road and that little bit closer to my goal tomorrow

It is days like these when I need every one's help and support the most. Sometimes when nothing is going right and I am continually having set backs it becomes hard to remember why I am doing this and how important it is that I continue on my journey. But it is that comments, donations, general support, and the kind hearts of strangers that remind me that what I am doing IS worthwhile and that no matter the setbacks; the payout of seeing a completed and fully functional LEARNING CENTER will be worth every bit of snow, flat tire and any other inconvenience I may come across along the way.

So please, keep spreading the word, donating and doing everything you can to support my VERY worth while cause.

AND NOW, some of the things that heart warming things that keep me going;

 After pedalling over 100km through eastern Wyoming (which was much more hilly than I had anticipated!). I was sat at a gas station, deciding what to do for a place to stay for the night when a man introduced himself as a landlocked rescue diver and asked if I needed any help. After a little apprehention about entering the house of an older man I had never met, our shared love for diving prevailed and very soon we were no longer strangers but friends with a shared passion for the ocean. Not only did he offer me a place to have a shower, and a bed in his spare room for the night. He also took me out for a ride on his boat, shared diving and travel stories and showed me some of the treasures brought up from Japanese war ships in his diving days. Thank you Tom Harnish, your kindness is greatly appreciated and maybe we will meet again one day and go diving!

A FREE MEAL AND GOOD COMPANY(03/10)- Whilst stranded in the small town of BROADWATER, NE. With not much else to do in this small town I spent most of my afternoon in the small library where I met a very nice lady ( who I feel terrible to admit that I don't remember her name). She was kind enough to take me out for dinner at a local restaurant with her and her grand daughter Amber. Thank you so much for a warm meal with great company!

The morning I woke up to 2 flat tires and snow, while I was out getting a coffee, the manager of the PARADISE MOTEL (who also gave me a discounted rate on the room) had got ahold of a mechanic (who again I feel terrible but don't remember his name) who came to pick up me and my bike to take to the shop to change the innertubes free of charge!.. thank you to the hotel manager, the wonderful mechanic (I want to say his name is Scott??) and the shop in OGALLALA that were so kind to help me out.

After giving up on the tent in the snowy weather and deciding it would be ok to splurge on a hotel for the night to avoid the cold, I went across the road to the FREE BREAKFAST INN, where I learned splurging was not going to be necessary. The wonderful man who runs the place gave me a free nights stay, and... upon finding out that I was ill the next day and would be unable to ride again, gave me yet another night free of charge. THANK-YOU sooo much for your kindness, the money saved for these two nights stay will feed me for a week.

I am most surely missing some people that are deserving of my gratitude, but it is not because I am not grateful. I thank EVERYONE who has helped and supported me in ANYWAY on this journey.


o ya, i slept in a junkyard and still like dry noodles...good for the road!



1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Steph! I hope your health improves and you have a great week of riding this week!