Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Getting blown in Kansas

The wind here is about what I expected. One day it was 30 mph with major gusts and it took us 6 hours to go 60 miles, the very next day we covered 105 miles in the same time with a light, but nice tailwind. The land and views here are vast. It's horizon lines all around. Seeing so far makes you feel small, but being around a lot of nothing makes you feel like a big deal. It's a little weird.

The people here are really nice. Even the folks who give an unfriendly honk as they pass still give us half a lane. Most people that pass give the whole lane and everyone, I mean everyone, waves. We were let through a construction site today that would have meant a 10+ mile detour, but the workers were nice enough to let us by. Part of the road had been washed out, so we had to cross over a big sink hole on two narrow boards. As we unloaded and carried the bikes across a worker came over and told us about his bike trip across Kansas this year and that he hoped to do the TransAm route now that he's retired. We've met a lot of people on this trip who talk about touring experience that you wouldn't even figure rode a bike. They're always the most excited and the most fun to talk to.

We've finally gotten to the point in our tour that where we've been is a bigger deal than where we're going. Through Colorado the reaction was always, "You're riding where?" Now that we're more than half way we get a lot more, "You started where?" Either way most people are just amazed. When I think about living on a bike for 7 weeks and covering 2500 miles I'm kind of amazed. Touring is great!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Montana good, Wyoming bad, finally to Colorado

It's been a while since the last blog entry. With the days getting shorter and us traveling through some pretty remote land, we haven't had much internet time.

Montana was great. We had some hot days and some strong winds, but overall it's a sweet state. Some of the highlights were the big sky, Jackson, an 8 mile climb up a 6% grade, and a top speed of just over 50 mph on a loaded touring bike. Jackson was a lot of fun. It's this little town with a population of 38. There's this little lodge, bar/restaurant, and hotel all in one. We had a few drinks, took a nice soak, and stayed in our second hotel room of the trip (wasn't much more money and included a shower and a soak). We talked to the bartender about people we had met that suggested the place. He remembered Audrey, the girl we met way back in Dayville, OR and told us about this Swiss couple who ordered a funny drink of Sprite and beer. We later met this couple in Yellowstone.

In Montana I developed a way to determine wind direction and speed fairly accurately. It involves when you see roadkill verses when you smell it. If it hangs with you a while, it's a tailwind. If you smell it before you see it, it's a headwind. Working with that you just look to see what side of the street it's on to get the angle right. It works well and as Juliette pointed out, it can also work with farts.

Wyoming wasn't nearly as nice to us as Montana. The highlights there were Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Nic and Allison's hospitality, and leaving Wyoming. We were met with cold rains, thunderstorms on 9,000+ foot passes, snow, 90+ degree days, stong winds, and nights so cold the condesation on our tents froze. Yellowstone was pretty cool, except for the crowds. The last time I was there I was 10, so it was nice to compare the park to my memory, especially Old Faithful, or so I hoped. Unfortunately, we missed Old Faithful. It was raining so we took a lunch break under cover. We knew we had about an hour until the next show, so we took our time. We made it back to see a little drizzle as it wound down... oops. Overall I think the park was cooler this time. After spending about 6-7 days there we realized we wanted to get to Colorado ASAP. We covered 270 miles in 4 days. It hurt, but felt good all at the same time.

Colorado has been a little nicer. We've still had some wind and some thunderstorms, but it's been a lot warmer. Yesterday we made it to Silverthorne, CO, just after we broke the 2000 mile mark on the trip, where my sister, Meghan, and her boyfriend, Mike, picked us up for a side trip to Denver. They're putting us up for a couple nights before we head over the biggest pass on the whole trip, Hoosier Pass at 11,500 feet.

The trip is still going really well. We seem to have a pretty good rhythm and the days run a little smoother. We're defintely getting stronger and more comfortable on the bikes. A 6 hour day isn't as daunting as it used to be. We're about halfway there in miles and a little farther than that in time. The mountains of the West are almost behind us, soon we'll be hitting the Plains and hopefully getting some winds in our favor.