May 8, 2001

5/8/01 Rough River Dam State Park

55.1 miles

Another early start, with the sun having difficulty cutting through the clouds. We rode in silence through farm land just waking up after last night's much needed rain. You'd be amazed that the only sound you hear is the wind whistling through your helmet. Seems the only things awake are the birds, cows, and horses. Even the dogs only roused long after we had passed them.

Very cool house

The road and surrounding farm land reminded me more of Kansas/Missouri. It was fairly flat with long straight roads. We flew along as my legs felt great today.

Today was the first since the trip started that I didn't use the "granny" gear. That's the smallest gear up front, a gear I never used at home. But with pulling the trailer up these hills, I thought I'd never get out of that gear. We did have one very steep hill today, but I pushed the bike up instead of riding. Mike said we averaged over 11 mph for the entire day.

Rescued another box turtle today...a little more gracefully than yesterday. Our other surprise was a pair of mules. They were huge! I had to circle back just to get a picture.

Today was a great day for riding! Temperatures in the 70's, mostly sunny, with a light breeze. This is what we should have been riding through in the last two weeks instead of this heat wave.

Mike said, "Always eat where the truckers eat." So we had breakfast at Cleo's at a truck stop. Good idea, because they had an AYCE breakfast bar. For lunch, we stopped at "Boogies's Restaurant" between McDaniels and Axtel. The owner, Rita, was our waitress, cook, and busboy. She told us several stories of past cyclists. A nice place to spend some time out of the afternoon sun. And tonight, I'm meeting Ann Sullivan, a thruhiker friend's cousin who wanted to meet me as I rode through. So Mike and I have rumbling stomachs as we wait for the Lodge Restaurant to open.

I almost forgot -- we passed the 1000-mile mark yesterday. Really, lots of changes as we ride west. We're seeing more Methodist and Catholic churches in addition to the ever-present Baptist. The U.S. flag is replacing the Confederate flag. We must be in dry counties because we haven't seen many liquor stores, but we probably pass a dozen businesses a day with tanning beds. Pasture land is giving way to more cultivated tracts. And a lot more people are waving back at us on the road, as well as giving us plenty of room as they pass.

The moment Ann arrived, she was a burst of excitement. While we talked, a close friend of hers had arrived to also meet someone at the lodge. Debbie Drane is the county librarian and had been working on getting authors to visit the schools in Breckenridge County. So when children's author and playwright, Paul Zendel, made his appearance, all five of us had dinner.

Ann had graciously offered to feed us two "hungry" cyclists. We had never met before and had only talked on the telephone this morning. Again, the unselfish kindness of strangers I've found on this trip is amazing. I hope that someday I can return that kindness to someone else.

Conversation went all around the table, everything from local color to international flavor. It was a fun evening and I'm thankful to Ann, and glad I got to meet Debbie and Paul.

Ann, our 'road angel'

Another big milestone today was the entering of the Central Time Zone. In fact, we're camped a couple hundred yards from the Eastern Time Zone across the river. I thought that would give me an extra hour of sleep tomorrow, but with 75 miles ahead of us, we should take every advantage by getting another early start.