No Name Tour: Day 15 – Pacelining to the Moon

Today we left the Warmshowers house and headed into Newton to partake of a breakfast buffet. Our hosts met us there and I ate lots of fruit on top of pancakes and other goodies.

We, Corey, Mark, and me, bid farewell to our hosts and headed west into an unexpectedly strong headwind. After 5 miles we turned north and had little relief.

After waving at the town of Hesston we headed due west for 23 miles to Medora. Corey stopped to photograph all the things, Mark jetted out into the distance, I held the middle.

When Corey didn’t catch up to me, I texted him to make sure he was okay. (He was.)

When he was done with his artistic pursuits, he rode his ass off to catch up to me. Exhausted, he caught my wheel and I pulled him along for a few miles.

We then traded leads until we caught up to Mark who was standing on the side of the road admiring his awesomeness.

Actually he was still suffering from SBS and was determined to get to Hutchinson to buy a new saddle and new shorts.

Our original destination was Nickerson, Kansas, but the entire town is literally under water.

The three of us pacelined into the wind going much faster than we would have individually.

We pulled into the town of Buhler where Danke Schoen was blaring from loudspeakers. (I made that up.)

We had lunch at a cafe. It was a relief to get out of the wind. There I met Sweet T, a TransAm rider who works at an REI in Fairfax, Virginia.

Another 10 miles of windy pacelining brought us to Hutchinson. We went to Harley’s Bike Shop where I, also suffering from SBS, bought new bike shorts. We picked up the key to a free bike hostel in a nearby church. Then Mark and I returned to the bike shop. Mark bought a new saddle (his third saddle of the trip) and new bike shorts. I bought a pair of socks because the Warmshowers laundry ate one of my socks last night.

Later Corey, Mark, and I went to the Cosmosphere, a local museum about the space age. We checked out an Atlas (Gemini) and a Redstone (Mercury) rockets and a Saturn 5 thruster outside. Inside we toured the fascinating exhibit about the Nazi’s V1 and V2 rockets. (Made doubly interesting for me having visited the Churchill War Rooms in London in January). There was also a full size replica of the Space Shuttle Endeavor and an SR-71 Blackbird (a super fast, high flying spy plane).

Then we all watched the movie Apollo 11 on a screen on the inside of a dome. It’s an excellent recap of the mission for all you kiddies who weren’t alive when it happened.

After going to the moon we went out for beer and pizza at Salt City Brewery. We ended the night at the grocery store for more snacks and provisions for tomorrow’s ride.

Tomorrow we will be improvising a route because sections of the TransAm are under water. We are headed to Larned, about 60 miles to the west.

Earlier today I searched the weather for Nevada. My concern has been for sweltering heat. It’s actually cold there.

Another concern is that getting across the Rockies may be undoable because of unusually high spring snowfalls.

Time will tell.

Miles today: 46.5

Total miles: 949.5

No Name Tour: Day 4 – Headwinds Are a State of Mind

After yesterday afternoon’s massive feed, I fell into a food coma in my hotel room. Laundry was accomplished. Nats best Cubs on the telly. I slept for 8 hours.

Just what I needed.

The hotel breakfast was decent: cereal, OJ, coffee, yogurt, fruit (including 2 apples for the road), and toast.

As I left the hotel the wind nearly blew me over. Once I got on Route the wind was in my face. I was determined not to fight it. So I plodded along at 8 miles per hour. During the day, the wind intensified and my speed crept downward.

No worries. The temps were cooperating, staying in the high 60s and low 70s.

I decided to just forget about how long the day would take. I stopped from time to time to check out the sites.

It turns out that a business in Santa Monica (the western end of Route 66) makes huge fiberglass statues as advertisements. Most of them look like Paul Bunyan carrying an axe or whatever matches the business being promoted. Mufflers were popular. A hot dog business in Illinois had one made with a giant hot dog. It’s named the Paul Bunyon statue because of restaurant trademark conflicts. It now stands next to the road in Atlanta, Illinois.

Paul’s a whole lot bigger (and my head is much smaller) than he looks in this picture.

I was plodding along thinking the bike gods that the road was mostly level.

I stopped in the town of Elkhart and had a light lunch at an Amish cafe. I was happy to get out of the wind for an hour.

The wind picked up even more when I saw Stephen and Bernd coming my way. Steve is from New York and Bernd is from Germany. We had a nice chat. They were loving their tailwind. Steve said they rode more than 80 miles yesterday and “didn’t break a sweat.” He also said that the winds were so strong in Arizona that he was literally blown off the road into a ditch.

Steve and Bernd happy to riding the wind

Isn’t bike touring fun?

I rode into Springfield expecting to camp but the campground looked boggy so I headed into town in search of a hotel.

Along the way I saw some signs for Lincoln’s tomb so I checked it out.

It turns out that 3 of his 4 sons (Robert is buried in Arlington) and his wife are also buried here. This surprised me because Willie was buried in DC (the basis for the book Lincoln in the Bardo).

I know my history fanatic friend Jessica is going ape over these pictures but there’s more! Lincoln’s tomb is just up the hill from the graves of the Korndog (sic) King and Mr. Accordion!

I’ll bet that made Jessica spit her cerveza.

After checking out an inexpensive Howard Johnson’s they looked like a perfect spot for meth sales, I ride into downtown and grabbed a room at the Wyndham. I’m on the 28th floor and I can hear the wind howling outside. I have an amazing view of Springfield and let me tell you it’s totally not worth the picture. (I grew up in Albany and I’d feel the same way about the view there do don’t give me any grief y’all).

In spite of the headwinds I logged 52.5 miles today making the tour total 225 miles.

Tomorrow I check out Lincoln’s house before riding headwinds outta town.

No Name Tour: Day 3 – Getting My Ass Kicked on Route 66

At the motel last night I watched the Nats play the Cubs on TV. I fell sound asleep in the 4th inning (or thereabouts) and woke up at 1:30. I stayed up for a few hours then faded away until 6:30.

I ate a pathetic motel breakfast again (cereal, OJ, coffee) and headed out into a stiff headwind that never relented.

I just put my head down and did my best. 8 miles per hour.

The route occasionally had a path next to it. The path was made from half the old roadway. It was nice and had Burma Shave signs.

Don’t pass on hills or curves

If the cops don’t get you

Morticians will

Burma Shave

I crawled along until Normal. Normal strikes me as a strange name for a town. It practically begs you to suspect the place is full of weirdos.

Normal gave way to bike paths through Bloomington. I wonder if the locals call it Abnormal.

I became hopelessly lost about the same time as I started bonking. I was not a happy camper.

With help from the google I escaped Bloomington but managed to bypass all kinds of restaurants and food stores.

I ended up at a crappy gas station shop and made do with a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich and two Gatorades.

Here I discovered it was 83 degrees outside. So had heat to augment the lovely headwinds.

I have to say that this was one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. I did 88 miles into a headwind last summer but that was downhill with cool temperatures. (And the views along the Blackfoot River in Montana were awesome. The Illinois prairie not so much.)

Back on the trail I decided to end the day at McLean. They had a Super 8 with a diner across the street. I got there as yet another nasty thunderstorm was approaching.

At the diner I ordered breakfast. There was enough food for three people. Oink.

I noticed a few morbidly obese people in their yards along the road today. There were several more at the diner. Depressing.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for more fun with heat and headwinds. At least the hotel has a much more ample breakfast set up that I will attack with Kennedy-esque vigah.

41.5 miles today. Total so far 212.5.

Any Day Tour: Day 15 – Headwinds are us

The city park in Wenona was a pleasant place to spend the night. I don’t don’t have a chance to eat dinner which is probably not a good idea after riding 92 miles.

In the morning I had breakfast at The Broadway. Like most small town places it doubles as a bar and a restaurant. As I was chowing down on pancakes and eggs and sausages at the bar, a bearded burly man sat down next to me and ordered a Bud. The barkeeper asked he wanted a shot with it.


The early ride out of town presented me with stronger headwinds than yesterday and more hills. Ugh.

The novelty of corn and soy fields and funny birds (I am told they are killdeer) has worn off. It was just a slog up a slight grade into the wind. As the day wore on the heat, humidity, and wind speed increased.

I came upon a field of pots.

They were mums. So orderly.

Just before the town of Henry and the bridge across the Illinois River, I come to my first big downhill in days. Man, I’m going to rip down this baby. Just before I started to pedal I noticed way down at the bottom on the other side of the road two cyclists. I decided to wait for them to come up so we could chat. This would allow me the rando trick of preserving the energy from the descent.

They waved at me to come down. So I did. They were Neil and Phyl, tandem cyclists heading from Colorado to Maine. We had a long chat about many things including struggling with our unwieldy bikes in windy conditions.

Having stopped at the bottom Neil decide to walk the tandem up the hill. Phyl and I talked some more trading info on the roads ahead. I was soon to discover that her info was biased by the fact that they’d been riding with tailwinds and downhill.

They were very nice people and I’m going to look up their journal on

After crossing the river on a narrow bridge with a big truck behind me, I rolled into Henry and bought food and sunscreen. What I’ve been using has apparently been prepared with Crisco because my skin is fried.

The winds picked up, the terrain cane more and more challenging. I didn’t have any pop in my legs. There was nothing to do but hope the time passed.

In Bradford, I found a restaurant/bar. The owners were sitting outside next to a Big Green Egg grill. They were done serving lunch but offered to cook he something. I had a burger (about 1/3rd of an inch thick) with their homemade chips. Lord, did it taste good. I also drank beaucoups glasses of ice waster.

Back in the road I felt revived. But the headwinds and the hills continued to beat me down. After the town of Osceola, I encountered a road closure sign.

I decided to take the chance that my bike and I could get through. I guessed right. There was a way to scramble around the construction pushing The Mule through a path the construction equipment had made. The crew of two were finishing up for the day. We chatted for a while then they went home and I went back to business. A few windy and hilly miles later I rolled into Kewanee. The Google showed me how to get to a hotel. There’s a Motel 6 across the street. Some kids hanging around in the parking lot said there was another bike guy in the hotel. It was sold out so I came here next door.

Tomorrow I am considering going off route. Instead of going due west to Muscatine Iowa then north to Oxford Junction, I might go northeast to Davenport then on to Oxford Junction. This would shave a day from the schedule and possibly avoid some hills.

Today’s mileage was 62.5

Total so far is 1,092.5.

Any Road Tour: Day 13 – Headwinds and camping fail

I was awoken by geese and the sound of gurgling river water. A breeze was making the trees sing along. Not a bad way to start the day.

About a mile from camp I rode by the buffalo farm (in Buffalo Indiana no less). The buffalo were grazing but too far from the road to take a decent picture. (Brittany, I swear I am not making this up.)

I stopped at the corner store for coffee and a cookie. The coffee was weak and the cookie was stale.

I hit the road to learn that the breeze was a headwind. And it stayed a headwind all day. Of course as the day wore one it turned into a 20 mile per hour beast with gusts well above that. The wind made it impossible to ride above 10 miles per hour. And the gusts moved The Mule all over the road. Both my legs and my arms were getting a serious workout.

The winds were much worse when I was riding past open farmland. The corn was to early to offer me any sort of wings break. )I wonder how it grows straight up and down with all this wind). Each farm had a stand of trees to block the wind so I’d get a few seconds of rest before the next blast. (Several times during the day I stopped. The wind actually blew The Mule and me back a step when I tried to start again.)

Other then the wind it was an absolutely beautiful day.

I crossed into Illinois after noon. There was no welcome sign. They must have known I was coming.

Most of my riding was done with my head down to try to cheat the wind. I’d look up and see corn or soy or hay, realize I was still in a nightmare headwind, then put my head back down.

Weeks ago I planned this to be an easy 58 mile day to take advantage of the free camping in the park of the town of Iroquois. The park is beautiful but camping is no longer allowed.

My choices were ride another 20+ miles into the headwind for free camping in another town en route or ride 6 miles off route to Watseka and grab a hotel room. Watseka won without a fight. I simply could not handle another 20 miles of this headwind.

At a lunch stop I learned that there is a cross country cyclist ahead of me. I wonder if I’ll catch him.

Watseka is within eyesight of a massive wind farm. Those turbines were getting quite a workout today.

I spotted this house today, in Watseka. A painted lady with a wrap around porch and a tower. Perfect.

Finally Watseka has what all badass midwestern towns have, a humongous grain elevator.

The desk clerk at the hotel is from New Delhi. She was a nurse back home but her credentials did not transfer to the U. S. I told her about my blood clots and she knew all about DVTs and pulmonary embolisms.

So today I rode 67.5 miles, about 10 miles farther than planned. They were honest miles. Good miles.

This morning, tomorrow’s forecast was for similar winds but it has been revised to winds that will not crush your soul.

938 miles in the bag. I try not to think about how much farther I have to go.

Errandonnee No. 4 – Humpday Headwinds


So Little Nellie and I rode to work again. Big surprise, no?

We rode into a strong headwind the entire way. The winds got even worse north of the airport. Maybe it was the psychological effect of seeing white caps on the river. At least I won the battle of the TRUMP, the Teddy Roosevelt Uber Mulch Pit.

There is a pretty nice bike parking room in my office building. I park Little Nellie on the floor but soon the spring peepers will be here to steal my floor space. Little Nellie will go up on one of the 18 hanging racks we have.

My hard ride to work will be rewarded with a stop at the WABA happy hour tonight in Del Ray. One should never pass up a beer and a tailwind.

Category: Work

Miles: 29 1/2

Observation: Headwinds make you think about nothing but the task at hand. They may be physically exhausting but they bring on a sort of riding meditation: this is the present moment and the present moment sucks.