TRIP 2006

Update #18 - July 06th
Algona, Iowa
3818 miles ( 6109 KM) since March 27th,
4309 miles ( 6895 KM) since Jan 01st

The ride from Aurora, Nebraska to Algona, Iowa went okay but I was still troubled with bike problems. Another rear spoke broke a couple of days after the wheel had been fixed in North Platte, Nebraska. It happened in Western Iowa and there wasn't any towns big enough along the way that had a bike shop. All I could do was to put electrical tape on it and pray that another spoke wouldn't break. This spoke had been the sixth one to break.

I had to get the rear wheel rebuilt in Des Moines. My host, Doug, for a few days in the Woodward, Iowa was a recumbent rider and he made arrangements with a gentleman who was a wheel builder and had his shop in the basement of his home in Des Moines about 30 miles away. We loaded the recumbent on the recumbent carrier on the back of Doug's car and took it to the bike shop in Des Moines.

The rear wheel was in a sad shape. The bike mechanics (I loose this term loosely) at the bike shop in Hutchinson, Kansas where I had gotten the new rear wheel around Memorial Day hadn't taken the time to adjust the cones on the wheel. The left cone was so tight that the friction of the ball bearings rubbing against the cone had boiled all of the grease out of the bearing race and had also cooked the ball bearings. Instead of shiny silver, the ball bearings were dark brown. The inside of the left cone was also pitted and cracked. The hub would have failed on me if I had tried to ride the recumbent several hundred more miles. Ernie, the guy in Des Moines, told me that it would be best for me to have all of the spokes replaced with ones that were stainless steel and the rim should be replaced with a stronger one. He offered to use one that was actually for a tandem bicycle.

It was way time for me to get a new chain and a rear cluster. Usually, you can get between 5,000 and 8,000 miles on a chain before it is stretched out too much to stay on the chain rings. The chain that I had on the recumbent was the original one and so it had almost 13,500 miles on it. There was well over 1/2 inch (one chain link) of stretch in the chain and this was not good. It took 2 1/3 bike chains to get the length of the chain on the recumbent.

The rear cluster has to be replaced the same time as the chain since it will not mesh right. Ernie opted to put on 8 chain rings from a 9 ring cluster. He didn't put on the smallest 11 tooth ring so my highest gear is 12 tooth. Instead, he gave me an extra high tooth ring. This would give me an extra climbing gear ring. Ernie donated the labor and most of the cost of the parts and Doug paid for the rest. It still came to $190 of parts. I had tried to pay at least $35 for the parts but Ernie gave me the money back and Doug didn't take it either. New tires had been also been put on so I'm back to running 1.5 inch wide tires and the pressure is 100 psi. I had been using tires with just 65 psi.

I guess the worst thing that happened other than having problems with motorists was getting stranded about halfway between Seward and Lincoln, Nebraska. My front tire had gone flat from some thorns. I put on five patches on the tube. Somehow, I had lost my new spare tube for the front tire and my bike pump wasn't working right. It wasn't grabbing onto the valve stem tightly so I couldn't get any air pressure over 30 psi.

I tried for almost 2 hours trying to get the tire inflated. Nobody really offered to give me a ride into Lincoln when I tried to hitch a ride. Finally somebody who was on the way to Seward stopped and he offered to stop at the sheriff office to tell them that I was stranded. It was around 40 minutes later when a deputy sheriff came. After a few minutes of discussion, he offered to go back to Seward and come with a truck to pick me up. When he came back with the truck instead of taking me back to Seward to the Wal-Mart there so that I can get a new inner tube, he offered to take me to the Wal-Mart in NW Lincoln. Before leaving me at the Wal-Mart, the deputy surprised me by giving me enough money so that I could get a new bike tire pump. I had the old pump for at least three years. I had also bought two inner tubes (one for a spare) and a new patch kit.

From Aurora, Nebraska, it was a five day ride to Woodward, IA. Along the way, I spent the night in two donated motel rooms (Seward, Nebraska and Stuart, Iowa) and I stayed in two churches (the First Christian Church in Ashland, Nebraska and the Christian Church in Oakland, Iowa). I was quite familiar with the Oakland Christian Church since I had spoken at there twice. The last one being around four years ago.

I had four nights with my host family in Woodward, Iowa. The Sunday before the 4th of July, there was a special day in the park. The three local churches came together for a open-air service in the park under a big tent. I was given the chance to speak for a few minutes before the service.

I had hoped to be off the road for July 4th but I was back on the road around noontime on the 4th. Doug's wife had to have some medical tests on the 5th and her aged mother had been taken to the hospital for some kind of emergency. I rode about 40 miles in the afternoon and arrived in the small town of Boxholm (population 200) around 7 p.m. I tried to contact somebody with one of the two churches but nobody was in town to give me permission to stay in one of the churches for the night. One of the people that I was able to talk to knew the town mayor who gave me permission to camp out in the park shelter. The shelter was enclosed and there was electricity and water. Instead of trying to get comfortable sleeping on the concrete floor and I didn't know whether I was going to be visited by any creatures in the nice, I slept on top of one of the picnic tables.

Yesterday, I rode from Boxholm to Algona. I followed U.S. 169 through Ft. Dodge and Humboldt. Traffic in Iowa has been terrible. There are no paved shoulders here in Iowa. There is a wide stone shoulder for farm equipment. Between Harcourt and Fort Dodge, I had to ride my rear mirror constantly and get off the pavement quickly to avoid all of the traffic. I had to pull off the road about every half mile or mile. This was especially true after getting through a section of road repair. Every ten minutes or so, a long convoy of cars and trucks came barrelling up behind me. It was sad to learn that over last weekend a cyclist who was traveling cross country was struck and killed as he was cycling east along U.S. 30 near Marshalltown, IA. He was traveling from some place Back East to Colorado. I'm grateful to the L-RD Almighty that I hadn't been hit more than the times that I had been hit by cars and the mishaps were not that serious.

I'll be here in Algona over the weekend. They are having their Founder's Day Celebration. My host here in Algona, Diane (who is a member of Warm Showers), contacted me several months ago via email because she wanted to get some advice on how to travel like I do by bicycle. She wants to do something similar to volunteer along the way overseas. Diane will be trying to set up a speaking arrangement or two with some of the local churches. This afternoon, she took me to the local newspaper office to get interviewed.

I've decided that it's best for me to head out of Iowa. I've got around 30 miles to travel to the Minnesota state line. I was originally planning to head SE back through Iowa to the Quad Cities area stopping along the way to visit with some friends but I think that it would be best for my safety to cut the Iowa crossing short. Instead, I'm going to visit with some friends in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. After that, I've got my mind made up to ride NE across Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then take the Mackinaw Bridge down to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It's been at least four years since I've ridden through any parts of Michigan (at least 8 years since I've been in the UP of Michigan). This would have me not riding through Illinois and Indiana on my way to New York.

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change. The next update should be posted between July 13th and July 20th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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