I was not writing for the past few days. However, the last few days have been pretty good. I've been averaging over 60 miles a day and the stays have been great.
At El Dorado, I stayed at a motel. At Chanute, I had an awesome WS host who had a big beautiful house and three really fun dogs! Pittsburg was also a motel and at Ash Grove, I stayed at a really nice house next to the City Park. They have an entire house there that they reserved for cyclists! It's got AC, showers and a kitchen. The guy in charge of the place - Mike was really nice too. Today, I am camping at the city park. I was a little apprehensive when I found out that there were no showers or even a sink here (all they have are flush toilets), but this place is really beautiful. The city parks all through Kansas and Missouri are just so pretty! Most of them, especially in Kansas even had pools and showers that were all free! Really nice.
Two days back, I decided to take a small shortcut. I was going off route since I had stopped at El Dorado, which is not actually part of the route. While finding my way back to the main route, Google Maps suggested a county road which would save me about 3 miles compared to the highway. What it failed to mention, however, was that the entire 6 mile stretch was a gravel road! I took it, without realising that fact. When I hit the gravel, it was clear that this was a mistake. My heavy touring bike was not suited to such loose gravel. For some reason, I pushed on, hoping that my wheels would hold together and I wouldn't slip and fall. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn't just turn back and take the paved highway! Somehow, my tires withstood the ordeal and held together until I got back to the highway on the other side.
I thought I had gotten through without any damage, but didn't realise that I had broken two spokes on the back wheel! It took me until lunch the next day to find out when I noticed a slight wobble on the back wheel. Luckily, I had prepared for this. I had two FiberFix kevlar spokes that I had packed for exactly such an emergency and now I had a need for them both! Good call, Vivek!
I had no idea how to put them on though, or even how to remove a spoke for that matter! Luckily, I was with Gary and Christian, and Gary helped me with removing the spoke and figuring out how to install the FiberFix. We also met a couple from Bulgaria going the other way, and they stopped and took a look at it too.
So with the temporary fix, I pushed on to Ash Grove. I mentioned to Mike (the guy maintaining the house there) how I had broken the two spokes and stuff and to my pleasant surprise, he offered to drive me down to Springfield the next morning so I could get it fixed at the bike shop there.
So early in the morning today, we loaded the bike onto his car and he drove me to Sunshine Bikes in Springfield. Eric, the mechanic at the shop, did a great job of fixing the spokes and checking up my bike and didn't charge a dime for the effort! Thanks Sunshine Bikes! I've been receiving so much awesome support from many unknown people. It really makes you look at people in a new way!
So once that was fixed, I rode to Marshville, where I met a Punjabi gentleman managing a gas station. He was very excited by what I was doing and had a lot of questions for me. Once I answered all of them, he told me there was a temple in Springfield and that I was welcome to stay the night there. What an awesome experience that would be! I was tempted, but I really wanted to get to Hartville today. He even offered to drive me to Hartville! Of course, I politely decline the offer. So the nice man settled on letting me have whatever I wanted from his shop, all for free. I picked up some peanuts and candy bars and got back on my way.
The last few days have been very humid and fairly hilly too. The hills are short and steep, and tire you out quickly. I've heard that the rest of the trip is more of the same. But I don't have a whole lot left to cover now!