Each year my extended family gets together for a reunion. This year the reunion would be in a suburb of Tulsa. My longest tour prior to this was when I rode from Russellville to Tulsa and it was for that year’s reunion. The idea of showing up grew with each day. When I finally decided to take a long break to restore the legs it made sense to do so with the family.
When I left Pierce I started looking for a way to get to Tulsa. The closest rental car company was in Norfolk, but I had passed it. The next closest was in North Platte, which was 230 miles southwest. That would take a minimum of 5 days to reach. I called the Enterprise there and asked if they would really pick me up. They said yes, as long as I was within 20 miles. That was no good. The Enterprise in Norfolk said they would pick me up within a 5 mile radius. I then looked for a other rental companies. I found a U-Haul rental in Valentine, which was a 3 days ride from me. The bike would easily fit in the back and I would still have room to setup my bed each night. I once thought about living in a truck like that. Maybe one day I will. It was impulsive, but I called and made the reservation. I had to speak to three people before finding someone that knew anything. That was not a good sign. Afterwards, I did the math and it was only $80 for the four days, but it would be another $1300 for mileage. They did not mention that on the phone. I quickly called back to cancel.
After speaking with a friend about my options, it was clear that the only thing to would be to go back to Norfolk. I had to make it look like I was making forward progress and I would get too bored if I just sat somewhere so I continued West and would loop back. I had a reasonable explanation for hitting Neligh. It was not just reasonable, I needed to go there for food and the movie theatre did not hurt. It put me within 40 miles of Norfolk.
I got around that morning and went by the RV park to take a shower. This time it cost me a dollar. The further North the more expensive showers are. I went back to Mamas’ & Nanas’ for another round of waffles and fries. I could tell this was the local hangout for the 60+ crowd. There were two tables filling up as I waited for my food. The grandpas all sat at one and the grandmas another. Of course the grandmas and I talked. They liked what I was doing, one even took me by the arm to introduce me to her husband. Before leaving, I asked the group how they would feel if it were their grandkid cycling cross country. That gave them a little different perspective. They thought me showing up at the reunion would be a fun surprise.
The ride to Norfolk was slow. Usually I try to maintain a constant, high RPM, low crank resistance pace. This day I pedaled a few strokes, coasted, and repeated. My legs really did need a long rest. When I started the day, my odometer read 974 miles. Once I hit 1000, I was only 7 miles from Norfolk and lunch.
After lunch I found a small park and a tree to hang from. My rental would be ready at 5 pm, so I sat there until then. I may have dozed off a couple times. When I stop to rest I change out of my cycling clothes and into my running shorts and sandals. I do this to let my riding shorts dry and to prevent saddle sores.
I reserved a compact car from Enterprise. Actually, I ordered the smallest car they had that would fit a bicycle. When I got there, the lady waiting said they had a pickup, minivan, and a grand cherokee. None of these were compact cars, but I could easily sleep in the back of all of them. The girl helping me turned out to be a bit of an adventurer like me. She helped me stuff the bike in the car and then we talked a while. If I end up writing from Europe next summer you can blame her. She also reminded me that I have been neglecting the rest of my body. My legs and stabilizing muscles have been getting a good workout, but only in one range of motion. I had planned to do yoga each day along with some strength exercises. I had planned to do a lot of things. This, I will start doing. I am glad to have met her. I hope she gets to go on her adventure. If she reaches out, I may have to go with her. Oh, and I got the 300!
I’ll skip the boring 8 hour drive. I finished two audiobooks by the time I pulled into the hotel parking lot at 1:30. I would have slept in the back of my Dad’s truck had it been unlocked. I searched around for some trees and decided to just lay the car seat down. It was only 4 hours until breakfast. I got little sleep that night. At 6 I got up and went inside. I just walked into the breakfast room, grabbed some food and sat down. I also, freshened up in the bathroom. It crossed my mind to do this as I am traveling, wander into a hotel for breakfast. Waiting for my parents to come down gave me time to update the blog. At 8 I almost gave up and layed down for a nap. I was all about to lie down when they finally walked in. I could see their eyes get a bit misty as we sat and talked. I was afraid my Mom would figure it out from the few clues that I left, but she didn’t. It was a good surprise. They said they recognized my jersey immediately.
Later, my Mom sprung the surpise on my aunt and grandma. My grandma I think was in disbelief and for a moment she looked like she was going to swat me. After showering and laundry we went for lunch. I spotted a Cici’s on the way in the night before. I may have endulged too much. I got a veggie pizza and a broccoli buffalo pizza, and ate every piece.
I took the bike to the shop for its 1000 mile check-up and spent the rest of the day napping and watching movies. I will spend the rest of the weekend resting and working on my gear. My next update won’t be until after the weekend when I return to Nebraska to continue on.