77.91 miles (Total: 2105.44) Avg Speed: 11.4mph Max Speed: 19.5mph
Now happy with his new front tyre, Joe is horrified to find his other tyre is now showing signs of bulge. Its a stronger walled tyre however and doesn’t look terrible so should last him to Pueblo. We leave our shoes outside the motel rooms because they smell rancid. Joe’s sorry start to the morning worsens when he finds one of his shoes is missing. A local guy tells him a dog that wanders round the motel probably took it. Cycling shoes are not cheap and he is not a happy chappy. We walk through some streets aimlessly to try find it without luck. He will have to ride in his sandals on his spd pedals, not ideal.
After eventually setting off we make steady progress through the endless wheat fields that have started to make the ride taxing mentally. Kansas is an endless stretch of crops and farmland, it can become a boring slog so I’ve started to rock more tuneage to provide a soundtrack to the scenery.
At a gas stop we come across Jerry, an old hippie riding from California to Illinois. Some kids in the last town snapped and broke his gears and cables. The guy was stuck in his lowest gear, didn’t seem like he had much money and was many many miles away from a bike shop. This is finally our chance to repay the cycling gods for the help we have had.
Me an Joe assess the situation, we can’t simply fix the gear by replacing his cable. The only option is to remove his front deraillier which will allow him to manually put his chain on to whatever crank he wants. This essentially gives him 3 options for gears. He tries it out and its a big improvement, he will be fine on his middle chainring right through Kansas. I give him my bike multi-tool, I can use Joe’s till we get to the next cycle store. He replies “Serious! Far-out man.”
We continue on knowing Terry is waiting for us in the next town from which we will push on to Sheridan Lake in Colorado. Just as we feel pleased about being able to help somebody else my rear wheel goes “Piiing!”. Another broke spoke, not again. Its rear driveside again, which means I need a wrench, lock-ring, and chain-whip. I considered picking these up when I broke my last one, but there is a reason nobody carries the tools, they are expensive, big and heavy. Added to that the fact the cassette which is the part that needs removing actually tightens slightly on every crank, so to remove one from a touring bike that has covered thousands of miles is tough by the roadside even with those tools.
The wheel remains fairly true and we make it to meet Terry without further problems. He tells us on arrival that he has had two flats today and is now out of spare tubes and riding on a patched one. Its as if our bikes no they are within 2 days of a full service in Pueblo, we will be limping or hitching our way at this rate.
We have another 30 miles to Sheridan Lake and I press on cautiously whilst Joe goes over the physics again of missing one spoke. We make it 15 miles without further issues and see the Colorado state sign, its a huge moment. Colorado signifies the start of the West for me and apart from passing through Denver airport I have never been. We are all excited about the states to come after hauling through the east and mid-west.
Right then it happened, “Ping!”. Another, two spokes down put a hole in Joe’s theories. I feared they may begin to drop like flies. Out of options, all I can do is ride the bike. The 15 miles to Sheridan Lake is like walking on wafer thin ice, to make matters worse, the roads in eastern Colorado have cracks every few feet which you can’t help but hit. I’m taking it very slowly and eventually we crawl into town just at sunset to find the pastor and his wife who invite us into the church to sleep for the night. They advise us to sleep in the nursery area as it has double padded floors and offer us full use of the kitchen and food.
I find a method online to replace spokes without removing the cassette, it involves bending an S-shape into the end of the spoke after cutting the head off. It seems good, in the morning I will take one of my spares over to the auto repair shop and see what they can do. For some reason despite our individual problems everybody is happy and laughing. Joe openly admits he wanted to encounter problems, it would be too easy otherwise!