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.
Thanks for the surprise. It was great to have Jesse at the reunion with us. Nabil and Sara were in on the planning and they picked up my Mom and she got to see Jesse as well. Maybe we can join him on the trail somewhere along the way.