At this point I’m making decent progress across Kansas and I’ve been staying with some wonderful hosts. After I left Pittsburg I rode to Chanute (pronounced Sha-Noo). Even though I had a decent rest the day before, my muscles were still feeling fatigued. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue on and pull another century, or stay the night I n Chanute. I spent about an hour sitting outside of the public library looking at my map and my calendar, trying to make sure that I would have enough days between now and next Friday so that I would have to ride 100 miles. (I’ve made the decision to go to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year, so I had to figure out the timing for everything!) Anyway, as I was perusing over my things, a friendly lady approached me and asked me what I was doing and if I needed anything. I explained to her that I’m in the process of riding across the country and that I was trying to find a place to sleep, whether it be free camping, preferably, or a hotel. After further conversation I learn that her name is Shelly; she said that she wishes she could let me stay at her house, but there wasn’t much room for a guest. Instead, she gave me her business card and instructed me to call just in case something came up while I was in town. (I must say, I receive local emergency contact info quite frequently and it’s always comforting knowing that someone is willing to help if I really need it!) A minute or two later she comes back, still a little concerned about where I’ll stay that night. I said that I have a tent and if she and her husband were willing to let me pitch it in their yard, then I would be perfectly content with that arrangement! They agreed and before I knew it I was sitting in their AC and enjoying a glass of cold water. They invited me to dine with them – I accepted and it was pretty delicious! We spent the rest of the evening trading stories and getting to know one another. When it was time for me to go to bed I was pleasantly surprised that I had a bed to sleep in! One of her charming sons was kind enough to give up his room for the evening. The next morning we had Sunday breakfast together and afterward I needed to hit the road before the heat settled in for the day.
One thing about riding through Kansas is that it takes a little more planning. The towns are much further apart and there really aren’t many service stations in between. For example, I rode 38 miles today without any place to refill water bottles. By the time I entered city limits all bottles were nearly empty; I was definitely sipping on a ration schedule for the last 10 miles. Yesterday I was good on liquids, but didn’t have enough food. At miles 30 I was getting pretty hungry and the service stations that were on the ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) maps didn’t exist anymore. 😦 However, sometimes a little oasis will be sitting in the middle of nowhere. Yesterday I found an all you can eat buffet that was basically in the middle of nowhere and not on my ACA maps. Since I had been riding for 30 miles with out any snacks I went in and ate a ton! The quality wasn’t anything to write home about, but I was at a point where I didn’t care.
Ever since I parted ways with Tyler last week, he has been sending me texts with little tip-offs of places to eat or places to stay the night. Yesterday I received a text telling me to go to the public pool in Eureka (my destination for the night) and ask for Becky. I arrive at the pool and Becky knew who I was before I even realized that I was actually talking to Becky! She is was we cyclists on the trans-am call a “trail angel.” She care so much about the well being of the weary traveler. She gives you directions to her house and when you get there you are to make yourself at home. And she means it. Anything and everything is available for you to use, just as if you were in your own home. There is no asking when it comes to getting a snack or using the internet – obviously one is to respect her and children’s private space. When I got to Becky’s “castle” (the house is old and has one of those cool tower looking things) I walked in and immediately startled one of her daughters! I felt so bad for scaring the shit out of her! But she said that it was fine and that she is used to the random cyclists that show up periodically.
I had a lot of fun interacting Becky’s kids – even though it was for moments or minutes it was nice to be in the company of other females of varying ages of youth. (She does have a son! I just didn’t get to meet him until I was nearly ready to lave this morning.) That evening, Becky and I ended up staying up way too late chatting about anything and everything. She really is my “Kansas Mom”, as she likes to put it. I wish I had an extra day to spare so that I could get to know her and her family even better. But I figure that when she decides to travel the world if she ever needs a place to stay, then my home will be just as open, and we could catch up then.
Well, I’m going to head to bed.