TRIP 2005

Update #13 - April 18th
Readlyn, Iowa - 4219 miles (6750 KM)

Today is the first rest day that I've been able to take since Easter Sunday back in Pampa, TX. I had ridden 1172.5 miles (1876.0 KM) since March 27th. My body really needs a few days off the road. This morning, I woke up a little confused at where I was. My bio-clock hasn't adjusted to Daylight Savings Time very well and I'm still on the Eastern Time Zone in my head.

I'm staying with a Lutheran minister friend of mine and his family. I met Pastor Dave about seven years ago when I was riding through Wisconsin. He contacted me last year and told me that I should come to his new church. I was here back in early June of 2004. I had ridden 10,000.9 miles (16,001.4 KM ) since last being here in Readlyn.

The ride from Seward, Nebraska went okay. I've been basically following an East by Northeast path. From Seward, I had stops in David City, Schuyler, and Blair, Nebraska; and Harlan, Sac City, Humboldt, Hampton, Iowa. I did have a somewhat bad day between Schuyler and Blair, Nebraska. I had several front flat tires. The first hole was in a ribbed area so I couldn't patch it. There was a problem with the spare tube. I've been carrying a Presta valve tube with me since October of last year. Most often I use Schraeder valve tires. I didn't think that I could get the Presta valve tube inflated with the pump that I had on the bike but I was able to. The tube lasted for a couple of days until I was able to find some Schraeder valve tubes.

Along the way, I've met some nice people but there were a few people who didn't care for what I'm doing. In David City, OK, I stopped early in the day since there was a thunderstorm getting ready to come through the area. I felt that it was good for me to stop in town since I heard more static from lightning than music on my radio. I connected with the catholic priest. He offered to get me a room at the local motel through the Ministerial association. At the motel, the guy in the next room to mine really latched on to what I was doing. He got me supper, gave me some food to take along, a $50 bill, and an invitation to come and visit with him and his wife in Southern Michigan.

A couple of days ago, I ended the day in Humboldt, Iowa. Being that it was a Saturday night, I stopped at the sheriff's office to see if somebody there knew how I could connect with a local minister. The deputy sheriff that I talked to told me that he didn't know a local minister and also told me that it was illegal to camp out in the park. The options he gave me were for me to head out of town either to Fort Dodge or Goldfield. Both of them were about fifteen miles away and there was no way that I could make it to either of them before dark. It was already close to 7 p.m.

I wasn't sure where the police station was, it it was even open, and I didn't know if I would get the same answer from a police officer anyway. I thought that this was going to be a repeat of what had happened in Jena, LA when the chief of police ran me out of town. It turned out that the local churches did have a Ministerial Association but I didn't find this out until after church Sunday morning.

The only option I felt open for me was to see if I could personally connect with a local minister. I was able to connect with the assistant pastor of the Methodist church. After the assistant pastor called the head pastor,I was given permission to camp out in the youth room of the church. The assistant pastor also offered to take me grocery shopping and he also slipped me a "Green Handshake". I got invited to take part in the 8:30 a.m. service.

After the 8:30 a.m. service, I stayed on for the coffee hour and then got on the road around 10 a.m. I pushed on to Hampton. I got into Hampton around 6:00 p.m. There didn't seem to be a church that was going to have an evening service. The sheriff office was closed. I thought that it would be best to head out to Dumont about 12 miles to the East.

On the east edge of Hampton, I came across the Faith Baptist church. There was a SUV in the parking lot. Thinking that there might be an evening service there, I pulled in. The only thing that was going to happen was a youth meeting. I met the youth minister. I was invited to join them and was given the chance to talk to the teens. There was a small group but it was a good time for them and for me. This was the 24th church group I talked to this year. The youth minister offered me the chance to stay with him and his family for the night. I got off the things I needed for the night and the bike was locked in the church for the night since the youth minister lived about 10 miles away from the church. I would be taken back to the church in the morning.

I'll be here in Readlyn for a couple of days. The thing that I really need to do here in town is to have the frame of the recumbent checked out by a welder. There are some stress cracks in the rear fork below the seat. If I don't have the cracks checked out soon and welded, I might have a broken frame in around 1200 miles or four weeks down the road.

I'm a little frustrated with the frame. This is the third frame that I've had on the recumbent. The last frame had about 15,600 miles on it before it gave out near Suffolk, VA back in early March of last year. It was lucky for me that I was able to walk the recumbent to a welding shop about a mile away from where the frame broke. I've got about 14,500 miles on this frame. Total miles on the recumbent is 48,240 (77,184.4 KM). This new frame had been strengthened a little bit by a little more brazing before it was painted.

I'm sold on Lightning recumbents for now and I think that it is a good design for the money but I think that there is a critical design flaw in the frame. The tubing used in the construction of the rear fork is too thin. I've been making sure that I do not go over the weight limit of the frame.

Also, I have been corresponding with the Lightning company back in California via email ever since I first noticed the evidence of these stress cracks but there are not that helpful. The very first evidence of more stress cracks in this frame appeared less than three hundred miles down the road from where the recumbent had been rebuilt in Massachusetts in April of last year.

I thought that the company would make arrangements with me to have another frame sent to me at a bike shop along the way like the last time. There is supposed to be a 5 year warranty on the frame. I guess the warranty is for five years of "recreational riding" instead of five years of long-distance touring. Instead, the company wants me to send just the frame to them and they would send me a check for $400. I think that the check for $400 is their attempt to just get rid of me as a customer.

This wouldn't work since I need a complete bike or recumbent to stay on the road. Because of some health issues, I cannot go back to "upright" bicycles. I'll have to try and keep this recumbent going until I can connect with other recumbent manufacturers who might want to help me out. I'm hoping to find a welder in the Readlyn area who could weld some metal plates for braces on each side of the rear fork stays and this should strengthen the fork. The repair should increase the weight of the frame by less than a pound.

After some obligations in the Midwest, I might be making a loop northward through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to ride along the Northern border of the U.S. and then ride through the Dakotas then. This would possibly be in either June or July.

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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