Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Which Way Do We Go?
This is a constant question we ask ourselves. There are so many different roads to take, but do we take the more direct, more heavily traveled route? Or do we take the back roads? Most people think the obvious answer is the back roads, but let me tell you that sometimes those back roads are more dangerous than the interstate. If it's a narrow road with no shoulders and a moderate amount of traffic, usually they are cruising and not willing to give much room to us cyclists.
The toughest time to find good roads is when we're coming into a city. But riding into a city with someone who knows his way around was a relaxing, and beautiful, way to begin our little retreat in Tulsa. We were very ready for a break after a 500 mile week and had luckily found Mike and Marilyn Schooling, who wanted to do nothing more than make our stay in Tulsa as comfortable as possible. We finally got to experience some biscuits and gravy, had a great sushi dinner (in Oklahoma none the less), and felt like part of the fam for the two nights we were there, although there was a point where we were a little nervous we might get stuck in Tulsa for a few days.
Oh yeah... that would have been tough if we had to stay there for a few more days... haha.
On Friday we were at Superleggera, a new bicycle shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and while they were cleaning out the grit that gets all over the place after riding 1,700 miles, a piece of the bike snapped. The exact piece is called the rear dérailleur hanger. Its tiny, inexpensive, and breakable. It had gotten knocked slightly out of place while riding and when they tried putting it back into place, it was too weak and snapped. Usually this is an easy fix, but Chad, the owner of the shop, explained that they had already called every bike shop within a 200 mile radius to no avail. Because it was President's Day weekend and the supplier had already closed for the weekend, we were looking at the earliest leave date of Wednesday.
Mike was quietly coming to terms with the fact that we would be hanging in Tulsa for a few extra days while I looked at my bike, hanging on the rack at the store, out of commission. Until that moment, I hadn't realized how attached I was to my bike. We had been through a lot already, and that bike was the only way I'd be making it to all 50 states. Adam may be my partner on this trip, but my bike has become a piece of me. We have traveled almost 2,000 miles as a team and it took me until it broke to give it the proper appreciation.
As it happened, we were able the track down the needed piece on someone's Cannondale tandem bike... And they were in Tulsa! How lucky were we that they were willing to disassemble their own bike and give me that piece so my bike could work again and we could be on our way. During the four hours it took to find the piece, get it, then install it, we were happily entertained by the keg they had with free Marshal Brewery beer. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night. And we had a guest appearance from Robert of We-Cycle in Phoenix. So good to see him even if we were a little preoccupied with broken bike parts.
Just as we had gotten a ride into Tulsa, Mike and Marilyn gave us a nice push out. They rode about 25 miles with us through mostly back roads to a cute little restaurant and it was there that we said our goodbyes and were once again on our own. Mike and Marilyn did give us a nice parting gift, though. These are guardian bells and are thought to keep evil bike demons away and keep our bikes healthy. They've been working well so far!
Mike gave us some great route ideas, and while we traveled on towards Kansas, we were comfortable on the road, and even rode past Mickey Mantle's hometown baseball field! We even got to feel a little fame when two people that day came up to us and asked if we were the couple on T.V. Mike had set us up with two T.V. interviews while we were in Tulsa and they worked! Check out our interview with NewsOn6 and Channel 8!
That night we found a great, secluded place to camp. We've really enjoyed getting off the main road and taking back roads. The only house around had a cute little dog who came to play with us for a little bit. It was a little skittish at first, but Adam lured it in with a piece of jerky and Rosanna, as we named her, became our best friend. I'm actually surprised Adam gave up any of his jerky. He has been spoiled rotten with homemade jerky from friends we've met along the way, to some of the best jerky you can buy! Rich, a friend from the bluegrass fest in Blythe, CA, sent some turkey jerky that even I liked!!
We woke up the next day to the best possible scenario. Warm weather and a southern wind! Those 20-30 mph gusts pushed us all the way into Kansas. It was one of our favorite days of riding, just enjoying the warm air and the push into state #6. If you ever travel into Kansas through route 69-A, look out for Toto. I'm serious. He's just wandering around right on the state line going in and out of Kansas. Tried getting a picture of him but he would run off then come back as soon as the camera was put away. Sneaky dog.
We spent one rainy night (the first rainy night of the trip) camping in Kansas and headed to Missouri the next day. We rode through back roads for most of the day and fell in love with the scenery. Large farms with cows and horses everywhere! We took it slow and took lots of pictures.
When we had to get onto more highly traveled roads, the shoulders were wide and the hills were so gradual we felt like we were flying. We flew all the way into Anderson, Missouri where we met up with Alicia and Jeff Brady. The Brady's are the parents of Kate Murr who recently bike rode across the country with her husband and two toddlers, 2 & 4 at the time. You can check out their website at www.murrbike.com. She contacted us willing to give us a place to stay in her hometown but when we told her our route wouldn't take us there, she told us about Anderson, right in our path!
It was here that we had one of the best meals of the trip! Pork Chops, baked potatoes, broccoli and cheese, biscuits and salad with blueberries, avocado, and dried cranberries. Sometimes I think we should have a sign on us that reads: Will Bike for Food. To top it all off, Alicia made a cherry pie that was so good we couldn't help but go for seconds.
The next morning, Jeff took us to his log cabin that he built on a river about 15 miles away from their house. In a way, it reminded us of the place we were engaged. I'm pretty sure this was our dream home.
After the tour of the cabin, it was time for us to make our way into Fayetteville, Arkansas where we planned on getting a motel and actually going out for our first date night of the trip! To get to Fayetteville, the choices were grim: busy interstate, an alternate, semi-parallel road with no shoulder and tons of businesses, or a 15 mile out-of-the-way ride down a busy back road with trucks spilling chicken guts onto the side of the road. We chose the busy alternate road that we got so frustrated on that we left, chose another busy alternate from that one, then finally made it to a beautiful, country road that took us into town, close to the bike path. All in all, it probably added on a good ten miles, but really, what's ten miles on a 12,000 mile trip?
Since there were no campsites around and we wanted to have a night alone, we stayed at a Days Inn. Date night at Pesto Cafe, the Italian restaurant up the road, was incredible. We wowed the waitress by finishing all of our food, including the three refills of bread she brought out for us.
Now we sit in our hotel room deciding upon the next leg of the trip. Should we take the road more traveled and visit cities and towns along the way? Or should we go with the path less pedaled and get lost in Ozark National Forest. I'm guessing we already know the answer.