Gunning the engine

It felt good to save a few bucks by camping out last night in a park. Camping itself never fails to suck in some way or another but staying in a motel every night is only an option for the rich. And I still have a few nights out in the tent to make up for the $150 bill at the bike shop in Pittsburg - the price I pay for having working shifters.

The winds calmed down today and allowed me to bike more or less without hassle. In fact, starting out in the morning there was a slight tailwind that allowed me to get from Bronson to Iola some twenty miles away in a little over an hour. The same wind then became a crosswind when I headed north for much of the rest of the way but not enough to affect me much. By noon I had a record 40 miles under my belt and enjoyed a quick lunch in a town called Le Roy. Chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes seems to be a staple item around here so I go along with the flow and eat it wherever offered. Being a smidge over 98% lard, it's the kind of food that makes the other customers in this and every other area restaurant look like they've been pumped full of air and are about to float away. But for me, heh, for once I'm burning more calories than I'm eating so I can relish the unhealthy stuff guilt free.

After lunch I was still in a great riding mood and decided to go for the gold and set out for a state park another forty miles north. I was willing to go a second night of camping for the cause, especially given the fact that this park had shower facilities. Well, going for the gold sounded nice in principle. In practice my butt has lost a layer of skin that won't heal and my knees are sore to the point where I wonder if it's just sore or the next stage after just sore. To add insult to injury I finally arrived at Eisenhower state park only to discover that the shower was some semi-open air deal and the water heater was broken. With the wind howling around and the cold water spraying into every direction I was understandably more than just a little upset. I'd like to formally submit this shower to the Guinness Book of Records as the briefest undertaken by a human, oh I'd say eleven seconds flat. But wait, that's not all, the park also lacked a soda or junk food machine. It was one of those classic moments we all have when we wish we could go back in time and reconsider a lousy decision. Luckily the night camp host found me to collect the bill for the night's stay ($8.50, a rip off) and I was at least able to buy a couple of Cokes from her.

There wasn't much else to add to today's ride. The countryside continues to offer a mixture of cow pasture and crop fields. The people continue to be friendly, helpful and encouraging. The roads continue to be mostly shouldered and relatively flat. And I continue to ride on a northwest route.

Day 36