Today’s mileage: 48.4
Total mileage: 1,441.5
Well, today was eventful.
Last night we slept at the Marshfield fairgrounds under a pavilion. It was one of my favorite camping spots thus far. It was really secluded and it was nice to not have to worry about other people. There was another biker camped out under one of the other pavilions, so it’s always comforting knowing there are other bikers around doing the same thing you’re doing.
This morning, we headed straight for McDonalds. It was glorious having a good meal for breakfast. Well, good compared to the gas station food that we normally have for breakfast.
As we were eating, a biker racing in the TransAm bike race stopped in to grab food too.
This morning was actually cold and rainy. I had to wear my long leggings and my rain jacket. We went from one extreme to another!
The landscape kept teasing us today. Around one corner would be long, flat straightaways (like Kansas), and then around the next corner would be insane hills, one after another.
The pictures don’t do the hills justice- they were massive. What you can’t see in the picture is how far down the hills go at the bottom. Cars and trucks disappear for a few seconds until they pop over the top.
These hills weren’t anything like climbing in the Appalachians, but they were hard in their own way. They were relentless. You would go down one going almost 40 mph and barely make it a quarter of the way up the next one. All. Day. Long. They were destroying our legs.
Later in the morning, we ran into the other biker staying with us at the fairgrounds last night. His name was Matt. We talked to him for a bit before he continued on. He is riding the TransAm from east to west, just like us.
As the day went on, we started seeing racer after racer. By the end of the day, we would see 9 racers! Some of them were super friendly and stopped to talk, some cheered for us and we cheered for them as we rode past one another in opposite directions. The racers are riding from west to east.
We didn’t get much further down the road, when a familiar face popped around me as I was coming over the top of a hill. It was Dex! We camped with him back in Central KY!
We talked to Dex for a few minutes and then he took off. Not a mile later…
“Aspen, my chain just broke.”
“My chain broke.”
My heart sunk, as I had never fixed a chain before. I haven’t even looked into how to fix a chain. I had the tool and the parts to fix one, but I had no clue how to use them. I knew if that were to ever happen, I could just pull up a YouTube video and it would show me how.
Well, we had no service.
We sat down and started looking at it. I got out the parts and the multitool that Craig gave me. We started messing with it and got covered in bike grease pretty quickly. Before long, it looked like I dipped both of my hands in black paint.
We messed with it for a little while unsuccessfully, and then a lady pulled over to see if we needed a ride to the bike shop that was an hour away.
Nobody has time for that!
I thought of my students at Sharpe and how one of our focuses, as teachers, is to help our students learn to be problem solvers. I always love watching them try to solve problems at school; in their groups discussing all the possibilities, throwing ideas at one another, watching their brains work. I knew it was my turn to solve a problem…the we-have-a-broken-chain-out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-without-phone-service problem.
I used Masherra’s Verizon go phone and it had signal! I called my dad to tell him what was going on and he told me what tool I needed, and then I called Craig and he walked me through everything that I needed to do. 😊Then, I went for it. There was no way I was going to waste the rest of the day riding to a bike shop to have them fix something that I could totally fix myself.
I mean…I think I can fix it.
5 minutes after I got off the phone with Craig, the chain was repaired. I used the tool Craig told me to use and it helped me pop the link right out. When we got it out, Mash and I both squealed. We put the new link on and, low and behold, her chain was all good and we were ready to ride! Thanking my dad, Craig, and my little Green Devils who helped us fix it!
The rest of the day, the terrain continued to fool us. One minute, it would be as flat as Kansas…the next, it would be massive hills.
The chain delay had our schedule thrown off quite a bit. We stopped for lunch around 4:30. We studied our elevation chart while eating lunch and talking to some locals.
I wondered if they noticed how dirty my hands were when we arrived. 😂💁🏼♀️
A local man told us we had about 30 more miles of these rolling hills, and then we would be to the prairie!
We arrived at the hostel and Dex and Matt were both staying there too! And then a female TransAm racer from Poland arrived to get some rest. She is only the 2nd female we have seen- all others have been men.
We talked to the host for a while and she even gave us TransAm medallions!! I love little trinkets like that to help me remember my trip. We also signed the log book.
By tomorrow evening, we will hopefully be crossing into Kansas!! Here’s to flat terrain and tailwinds (pllleeeaaasseee let there be tailwinds).