Friday, November 09, 2012

Leaving Blogger

Blogger's Android app is moronic, so I am moving to WordPress. This will stay as an archive, but my new posts about my trip to South America will reside at

Moving to a new site

Blogger's android app is useless so I'm moving to a new site as soon as possible. I will post the new link here when I get it set up.

A fine day - Marion Lake to Wichita

Somehow this captures Kansas scenery

100 km/62 mi

The last couple of days I had woken up to screaming winds, and I expected to again. This time I was looking forward to it: before those screaming winds would be crosswinds, but today they would be a glorious tailwind! But when I woke up, all was silent... Ah well, at least I didn't have a headwind, right?

I knew I didn't have to fuss with finding lodging because I'd be staying at my dad's, so I took my sweet time getting ready. I didn't leave until 10! That was pushing it a bit. On my way out, I discovered a working water spigot—wonder of wonders! Most of them are shut off at these campsites because of the chance of freezing, so I was a happy fellow: I could load up for the day without having to go miles out of my way.

I headed to Peabody in search of a late breakfast (muesli just ain't enough I've found). It was a nice little town. I headed to Pop's Diner. Not a warm reception when I came in, but my hair must have been pointing in all directions and I am pretty garish in my blue coat.

I had biscuits and gravy (yum) and then left. A group of people piling out of a minivan asked me about my trip and sounded impressed. They wished me luck, but warned me about the coming storm.

There's a name I haven't seen in a while. Thankfully...
Not a whole lot to say about the rest of the day: I kept a pretty good pace of about 12 mph most of the day until I ran into a slight headwind near the end of the ride. Getting into Wichita was no problem; I just followed Greenwich from K196 all the way in. 196 itself was a bit hairy: huge semis going way over the speed limit, with a fair shoulder completely covered by deep rumble strips (and thus unrideable). A couple of semis with wide loads forced me off the road a couple of times, something new to me (though I guess I'll have more experience with that as time goes on).

Now here I am in Wichita. I thought I'd be able to rest, but I have so much to do before I leave again on Monday!

I made a good decision for once! - Council Grove Lake to Marion Lake

107 km/66mi

I started the day thinking I might just stay in Council Grove. It was a free site, I wasn't in that big a hurry. And the wind was just as miserable as the day before.

I contemplated for about an hour. I hated the idea of dealing with the powerful wind that dominated the day before. But every time I thought about it, I thought "I want to ride". Not because I was in a hurry, not because I'd feel like a wimp. I just really like the feeling of sitting on the monstrous thing, moving along through headwind and through tailwind.

So I finally gave in to these cruel urges and decided to keep moving.

I'd planned to head to McPherson Lake, east of McPherson. This meant more jockeying with gravel, so I really wanted a different option.

When I got to Herrington after miles of fighting the exact same crosswind from the day before, I had to make a choice. I could go east or south. East was more slogging, but possibly less gravel when I went south later. Going south now meant a beautiful, beautiful tailwind that could push my wide load even up hills! But that would mean suffering through gravel as well as crosswind if I turned east to McPherson park.

I say "if" because I had begun to think of continuing south to a city. I didn't know the conditions on the road to the park, and I was just plain sick of the wind. Why not use the wind to my advantage and head south to a city? It might mean shelling out for a motel, that's why not! But I began to really entertain the idea, and when I got to the turnoff for the park and realized I had another 30 miles to go, I decided to go south.

The most likely candidate was Marion, a fair-size city with a lake, so flew along with the wind that way.

Just at the turnoff for Marion, I caught sight of a couple of fellow travelers. Their kit was very different from mine, and I felt a bit overdressed. They were walking their bikes into the wind, one with barely any equipment on her bike, the guy I first spoke to with a trailer and a pet carrier. They looked pretty rough and, while not unfriendly didn't offer much information about themselves. The guy told me the girl had had a lot of difficulties at a homeless center in Wichita; they were headed from Wichita to Massachusetts by the most direct route. In the pet carrier were a couple of kittens, they said. Their names were Storm (the guy) and Raven (the girl). I didn't ask.

I showed them my map and then wished them luck.

Marion had a nice big city park so I asked about camping there at the city office, but found a brochure for the lake, and now here I am, camping in my third free site! Best, it looks like tomorrow will not only have a tailwind most of the way, but my trip will be considerably shorter.

Marion Lake fall foliage

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tough day - Pomona Lake to Council Grove Lake

Donkeys know how to hide

119 km/ 74 mi Today started out well enough. It was cold and cloudy, but I felt more confident on the bike because I'd moved some items around in the front panniers and it seemed easier to keep control of the bike.

Maybe I got cocky.

I felt good on the gravel roads outside of Pamona lake park. Slow, but comfortable. I slogged my way nearly to pavement, when suddenly the gravel got very squirrelly: just a big pile of rocks, very little hard land. Unfortunately I was going downhill.

Whoa! WHAM! My head slammed against the ground (in a helmet, thankfully). I got up and checked the bike, then myself. A holder for one of my rear panniers had snapped—not the end of the world, I have a couple more. I ripped a nice hole in my new Gore tex rain jacket near the elbow. Bummer, I'll patch it up when I get to Wichita. I had a few scrapes but nothing serious, and I did a few of those tests they go through when someone hits their head on TV and I seemed ok. But I found out later I'd lost my tiger eye glass bracelet from Kamakura. I had a feeling it was too fragile for this trip, but it was a shame to lose it.

Gravel battle scars

The rest of the day was a long and very hard slog. I finally reached pavement and vowed never to let Open Street Map lead me through gravel again (though I had to ride on gravel to get to the campsite). But the going was rough all day because of a crosswind that was almost as bad as a headwind. It took 8 hours to go 60 miles.

Dinner after a long day

Goodbye! - Lawrence to Pomona

Well's Overlook
75 km/47 mi Today was a good start. I rode with a few friends to Well's Overlook (nearly blowing a gasket on the way up the hill), then met a few more friends there. We ate bagels while we talked about my trip. People slowly said goodbye one after one, then Billy and I rode a bit more together. We parted ways near Clinton dam.

Last goodbye for a while

I felt good but sluggish, but the day was pretty good. I didn't think about much; now that I'm on the road it's a little easier to let go of all the "duties": for now I can't do much more than ride!
I spent a fair portion of the day on gravel. It wasn't too bad. But I was definitely slow: I'd ridden my bike with most of my stuff before, but I've added a large bag with food and odds and ends, and I think that bag itself weighs as much as all my other bags combined. I might have to reconsider some of the odds and ends when I get to Wichita.

Pamona's 110 mile park is nice enough. No one's here: it's Sunday and getting COLD! The sun's just gone down and the temperature's dropping. I'm lake-side, which may make things cooler. It'll be good practice for later, on the high plateaus of Arizona. It's just now 6, and even with the time change it's a bit early, but I may curl up in my sleeping bag here in a bit.

In 110 Mile Park
Update: Just as I was about to zip into my sleeping bag, a rumbling mini van turned in to the camp ground. My first thought was that it was a ranger, then a camper, but then I heard a familiar voice: "Jesse, is that you?" Barbara from work and her husband Harold had come out to meet me! They weren't able to come to Well's Overlook, so they came searching for me at Pomona Lake. They didn't say how long it took, but I'm guessing they were at it for a while. Barbara brought me some homemade bread. What a great person! It was a real pleasure to see them both, and a great surprise.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Official announcement and map

So, most people know I'm leaving November 4th, headed from here to California and then on my way south as far as I can go. For those who don't, well, now you know.
Here's a map of my plan.

The route (very roughly). Probably won't head to SF, but it's still an option.