Monday, July 20, 2009

Bike Trouble and Nice People in Kansas

by Bob Eberlein

[Note: This is Bob's bike riding log last week from Burdett, Kansas, some 1700 miles from home. For his previous log see "Lost in gravel (but never in China) ." More coming soon. – Xujun]

Last night in LeHigh I found a cornfield bordered by trees and set up camp for the night. I put the tent on the bare dirt bordering the field. Hard, but smooth.

Hidden in the corn fields (photo by Bob Eberlein)

I woke up early on the hard ground, not such a restful sleep. I guess I am too used to soft beds. Still, I am up and on the road a little after 6. It is pretty cold and I am wearing both a sweatshirt and tights. Sunday morning is truly delightful; the drivers are all moving slowly and being very considerate. I almost come to think that all of Kansas is like this, though I should know better. I continue along route 56 to McPherson to stop for second breakfast.

I first go to McDonalds intending to wash up and try breakfast there – something I don’t think I have ever done. I wash up and there is a big line – apparently everyone converges on McDonald’s at about 8 on Sunday mornings. Go figure. I check my email – great signal, and give up breakfast because there is still a line. I ride on till I find a Kwik Mart and buy a quart of milk and a couple of donuts, my usual fair. MacPhearson is a strangely affluent town. I sit down next to the elementary school which is beautiful with a lovely park next to the river beside it. A police car, that looks just like those in Boston, drives by and nods at me.

So strange. I think this must be oil money since after heading out of town there are a number of gas and oil fields. Not real big, but big enough for the town to do well I guess.

I continue west on 56. The wind is blowing out of the South Southeast. Almost 180 degrees opposite what I had yesterday. While I travel west I have a reasonably tail wind. Of course whenever a truck goes by in either direction I am nearly knocked off the road. I stop for an early lunch in Lyon. It is warm so I drink lots and lots as usual.

I make reasonable time to Great Bend. The terrain continues to be open prairie with small hills. The road curves around a little big, but is generally pretty straight. Great Bend is a good sized place and I settle down for a late lunch, again drinking lots but only eating a regular cheeseburger. Actually I ordered a double cheeseburger but that was what I got (and what I paid for). There is still no AT&T signal so I use the computer to call Xujun and chat with her.

After lunch I go roughly south for 20 miles to Larned and it is very slow going. My tail wind has turned into a nasty head wind when I turned south. I slog it out to Larned then turn straight west on 156 and again have a tail wind. My goal for the day, I decide, is Burdett, some 22 miles away.

The first 10 of that go smoothly, then my rear tire starts rubbing on the fender or the stays. I can’t figure out which. I stop to look at it and everything seems fine. Then I try to ride and again have problems. The bearings in the rear wheel are worn, have been from the start of this trip. That makes the rear wheel (and front wheel and crank) a little bit wobbly. This has been an annoyance till now but not caused any real problem. There seems to have been some failure back there however, perhaps the bearings have come out of their race, and the tire goes thwap against something every third revolution. It is worse when I don’t peddle.

I do make it to Burdett finally, but there is no store or gas station in the town. I ride into town and see an older couple on their porch. I ask them if I can fill my water bottles and if they know of anyone who might have a rear 10 speed wheel they might want to sell. They show me to the sink for the water and ask me to come and sit down while they phone a few friends. We are looking for a guy named, I think, Ell, but he is no where to be found and does not have a phone.

The woman takes me for a drive around town to see if we can locate this character, but no luck. She also calls her son to see if there are any bikes that have been left near his business – apparently they take these to a prison where the prisoners rebuild them then they give them to kids. No luck there all the bikes are gown.

I am astounded by the efforts they have gone to in order to help a stranger. I thank them profusely and waddle out of town. I find a spot between the road and some railway tracks – hidden from the road but not the tracks, and settle in for the night. I will figure out the wheel tomorrow.

127 Miles today.


Anonymous said...

this is good. keep in posting. I will come and read every day.

Xujun Eberlein said...

You bet. :-)