Wednesday, July 20, 2011

7/19 Fireman's Carry

Chanute to Pittsburg, Kansas

Matty and Johnny have split off for a few days to visit with Matty's grandma. They rode a long hard day today to meet up with Matt's dad. Chris and I are splitting up that challenging 137 mile ride into two days.

Woke up late today, compared to recent days and were on the road by 7. Not too bad of a ride. We are starting to get into some rolling hills which is an absolute god send compared to the brain-aching monotony of the flats we have been riding since we entered Kansas.

Received our package from Brigit, which was, undoubtedly, the strangest and most delightful combination of food and goodies. The octopus pins adorn every part of our gear and I ate half a jar of nutella after dinner. Big ups, Porteus. You are a champion. Also, thank you to everyone who signed the lovely card. Really made us smile.

It is sad that most of the spectacular wildlife I have seen in the last few weeks has been a posthumous exhibit. An armadillo, a snake, a coyote. Thankfully, the massive turtle I saw this in the middle of the road this afternoon was still alive, though maybe not for long, and proved it by hokey-pokeying one leg in and out of his shell.

We arrived in Pittsburg with no H at 1:00pm. Snagged some Icees and spent a solid half an hour looking for the post office. This was followed by at least another hour of spreading out all of our gear onto the grass of said post office like a last minute yard sale.

"Need 'em."
"Toss 'em."
"I can't believe I haven't eaten that yet."
"Never need it again."
"What is his tennis racket doing in here?"

We sent home 28 pounds. With four shipments home, this comes to a total of 64 pounds shed. This is embarrassing. What were we thinking the day we left? "I have all the strength of a Nepalese sherpa and I will certainly need all of these shoes."?

I am down to one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, the tent, two shirts, one spoon, shampoo, conditioner, feather earrings (so light!) a large bag of granola, some tuna, and the one pound book my dear mother sent me. (A cyclist named Jeremey, whom I met in Utah said to me, "You must travel with one ridiculous/luxurious item. Always." And so, the dude abides.)

Went to the local library to see what the Priceline Negotiator had to say about motel rates in Pittsburg. We would rather not do it, but sleeping outside remains dangerously hot.

I had an idea. I had heard from other bicycle tourists that calling the fire department was always a good idea. Sometimes they would offer you a bed, sometimes they would find a place for you to stay.

"HI! Ummm. My friend and I are.... traveling across America on our bicycles. And we need...a place to stay. We were..."

"What? You're what? Haha. Ok. You said it's you and your son? Hold on", muffled voices laugh, but in the kind of way that makes me believe this is about to work out. "Yeah, Chief says it's ok if there's just two of you. Come on over."

"Come over? Like come over now?"


"He's not my son". CLICK.

And that, dear reader, is how we ended up with free showers, a free bed, free pasta dinner, a state of the art weight room and a dimly lit lounge with man sized leather recliners. Booyah.

These men- they might be pod people. They are all devilshily handsome with enormous biceps. They cook. They clean. The work out. They save old ladies who have fallen and broken their femur. And now, they are hosting two sunburned, greasy weirdos on bikes and insisting we eat all of their food. Kansas makes some special folks.

It is odd and supremely comforting to be indoors. As I stand inside my fireman's dorm in pillowy, freshly laundered socks, I peer out the window for a bit and daze off. The population here is unusually high for our route's standards: 19,000. Cars are zooming through the intersection below, silently like a swarm of bees inside a glass jar. I am out of the heat for one more night. It is amazing how my priorities have changed.


  1. I'm glad you've made peace with KS, but now, welcome to MO. I hope there's a bike lane on the bridge over the Big Muddy?

  2. Very creative thinking Lauren. Glad that day had a happy ending.
    PS Don't feel bad if you have to overload the book.