Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spokes & Wind

This post is for August 19. There was no internet or cell phone coverage yesterday.

I left at sunrise this morning for two reasons. I wanted to see Carhenge in the early light and I wanted to have as many miles in as possible before the wind became strong. Oh well. The ten miles biking straight east went very well. By the time I turned south the wind was increasing and for some reason the peddling was an effort. This continued for 15 miles to Carhenge, which is interesting if you just view to central sculpture. Unfortunately the site is cluttered with other car based art which in my opinion distracts from the sight.

While there, I discovered the second cause for the slow biking which was loose spokes on my rear wheel. This is a major problem to have in western Nebraska. Alliance, Nebraska is two miles from Carhenge so I biked in. I stopped at a gas station convenience store and asked the men drinking coffee if there was a bike shop in town. Nope they said. One man said he takes his bike to Scott’s Bluff which is 60 miles to the west. Then another man suggested Bernie’s Supply, took out his cell phone and called. Arrangements were made and I was sent to ask for Dennis G. The sign says “Bernie’s Supply since 1881. If we don’t have it you don’t need it.” Dennis began tightening my spokes when he discovered a broken spoke nipple, which he installed. Then he trued the wheel and wouldn’t charge me. Thanks Dennis.

Dennis said he’s helped other transcontinental bicyclists over the years. One young man needed a bike part from Scott’s Bluff, so he sent him along with his wife, who was already going there. Then the man asked if he knew anyone for whom he could work so he sent him to a friend whose house needed painting. The young man stayed for two months. A couple years ago a man and his son from Amsterdam were looking for a place to pitch their tent. Alliance has a 10p.m. curfew so Dennis put them in his back yard where they stayed for two days. They repaid the favor last year by showing them around Amsterdam when Dennis and his wife were on a European vacation.

After the repair I still had 60 miles to go. By then the wind was strong from the south. Fortunately it wasn’t from the east and the sand hills are rolling. Most of the distance had a wide shoulder. Part of it was very bumpy but there was a 10 mile stretch that was smooth and contained quite a few grasshoppers. The little ones were quick, but the big ones were slow to react, possibly because they were hunkered down against the wind. They were very good for steering practice. Crunch, crunch.

Unfortunately, I discovered the new spoke nipple was the wrong size and the spoke worked loose again. I called Marty my bike mechanic in Pella. He said as long as the wheel is reasonably true, which it is thanks to Dennis, I could keep going and should be able to make it to Des Moines where there’s a good bike shop. I’ll keep you informed.

My bike computer said 89 miles today while the maps said 84. I’m beginning to think the computer’s not accurately calibrated and gives me a couple extra miles a day. This is flattering but not helpful. I’ll monitor it closely tomorrow and then decide whether to recalibrate it. The current setting is standard for a 700 x 25c tire, but that may need to be adjusted.

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