Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 55 - Companions in distress

A couple of days ago, a few miles outside of town, a man on a mountain bike with a small cloth bundle bungie-corded to the rack was stopped alongside the road. He seemed distressed, and his wet red head looked like it had been boiled, but when I asked, he said he was OK, so I rode on.

The next morning I saw him again and he asked if he could draft behind me, since it was hot and the next town was 58 miles away. He explained that the day before he'd run out of water and he was worried that today he wouldn't be able to complete 58 miles on the 2 water bottles he carried.

So we rode toward the next town together. He'd ridden from Denver and didn't have a destination. He had a lot of stories about bike rides he'd taken all over the US, and an archaic way of speaking: "Let's stop and visit some with those fellas."

His bicycling stories sounded true, but he seemed so ill-prepared for today's trip that I only half believed them.

After 12 miles, he'd drank 1 1/2 of his 2 bottles and we'd had to stop twice so he could rest. On his 3rd break request, I gave him a bottle of Gatorade and told him I was going to keep going alone.

I continued for an hour then found him ahead of me, filling his bottles from a tap in the yard of a church. A farmer had picked him up from where I'd left him and given him a lift. He told me that this spot marked the end of his trip and I haven't seen him since.

Soon after, two cyclists waved me down. They were two brothers from W. Virginia who'd driven out to Kansas to do half the TransAm route. They were on the road only a couple of days and one of them had broken a spoke. They had no tools, and no knowledge of bike repair.

I replaced their broken spoke with one of my spares, but it was too long so I couldn't true the wheel. Luckily the town they were headed toward, 30 miles away, had a bike shop. The semi-repaired wheel was wobbly but usable, and hopefully it carried them there safely.

All this farting around caused considerable delay and I did not arrive at the town until about 7. The only lodging there turned out to be in an exotic animal park, and I fell asleep amid zeebra and ostriches!

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