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  • Writer's pictureJoe.Cannon

Days 33 & 34: …Amber Waves of Grain…

Cranked out some miles on Day 33–and caught up to Bruce and Dave and met their sag, Quincy. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Forgot to take pictures there. Early dinner so they could go watch the Avs game—I am not much of a hockey fan myself and only checked the score the next morning. Avs won in OT and up 3-1 now!


These two days of riding were different. Day 33 was a long day riding as I knocked out 96 miles. Day 34 was my “rolling rest day.” I fin that on trips like this, I prefer to do an easier ride at an easier pace instead of taking a full day off. I rode 64 miles on Day 34, arriving early enough to have a bike shop check out my derailleur.


Over the last few days, I finished last two books in the Three-Body Problem trilogy by Cixin Liu: The Dark Forest and Death’s End. They were great. Liu is very creative when speculating about possible futures and that is what I love most about sci-fi.


In this post I share my two riding days and Relive Videos. My topic is wheat—winter wheat to be specific. I conclude with some photos and stories.


Riding


Day 33: 96 miles, 1972 elevation (3 wheeees).

I thought I would have to retire the wheeees until Kentucky, but grading generously, I had three today. They were not as long or as steep as those out west, but I enjoyed “Wheeee!” again. When you climb a long hill there is a usually a reward (wheeee) on the other side. At least the extra work has a payback. When you go into the wind, there is no such payback.


The day started before daybreak. I rode the first 30 miles off the TransAmerica Trail because I stayed a few miles off the Trail and took the shortest route to the next town. I learned that you are better off sticking to the official Trail as much as possible. I felt less safe the first 5 miles as there was less shoulder and drivers were not expecting bike riders. I faced a moderate headwind early and a stiffer one later, but overall it was not the worst wind day. And while roads were wet at times, it never rained on me.



Day 34: 65 miles, 1059 elevation

Today was my rolling recovery day. I tried to take it easy while riding just 65 miles. The weather was good for riding—overcast and temps never got above the low 80s while I was riding (done by noon today). Light for me, probably one of the less interesting videos.



Amber waves of grain

Perhaps the most iconic American anthem is “America the Beautiful.” I feel this trip is giving me new appreciation for the words and meaning of that tune. Ray Charles sings one of the great renditions of the song. Listen below.


One of the lines in that song is “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain.” I now truly understand what is meant by ”amber waves of grain.” You can really see them here. Even better when the wind blows across a field of wheat.


Kansas is known for its wheat—though I have seen just as many cornfields. They mostly grow “winter wheat” here in Kansas. I have seen them harvesting the wheat (see video below) and was curious why they harvested in June (so early) and did some reading. Winter wheat is planted in September-October and harvested in June. I am usually a low-carb, keto kind of eater. EXCEPT when I am burning 3-5,000 calories a day biking. Some of you will be happy to know that I have been eating plenty of pizza, bread, donuts, and more…


Stories and pictures


Day 33 had some interesting happenings, while Day 34 had fewer. Let me share those with some captioned photos.


I have mentioned before that I like to put some miles down before I get breakfast. My preference is to get half or more of the day’s miles in before stopping for something to eat. After Bruce suggested I check out Cake Batter Batter in Eureka, about 33 miles into my 90+ day, I thought I would break my usual plan. I am glad I did. Deanna, the owner, immediately recognized my jersey and said Bruce and Dave had already been in for breakfast that morning. She was so friendly and nice—twice offering to fill my water bottles.…


Rolling into the town of Eureka, I was not impressed. Sorry Eureka. Most of the small towns I have been riding through look to be struggling economically. They lack a vibrancy. Eureka was not as bad as some, but it did not appeal to me.


Then I found Cake Batter Batter and it looked very cool.



And the breakfast sandwich was gigantic. The coffee was excellent, too—that is a creamer in the background, not a mini coffee cup.


Also, on Day 33, the TransAmerica Trail overlapped with the Race Across America (RAAM), “The World’s Toughest Bike Race.” Some of my friends in Fort Collins won the team portion of this race about 20 years ago. This ride is 3000+ miles long and riders are totally supported by their crews (unlike the TransAm race which requires riders to be completely on their own). RAAM appears to be more professional than the TransAm race, which I have written about before. In RAAM there are teams of 2-, 4-, and 8- people who race in a relay fashion. There are also solo riders. Teams might finish in 7-9 days and individuals 9-12 Days. While The TransAm ride does the whole TransAmerica Trail, while this one starts in Southern California and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland. I think they only overlap with our ride for about 20 miles.


Unfortunately, I did not see any RAAM riders but I met two Today, two RAAM race officials. They me riding and pulled over up ahead. I guess they thought I might be a racer (those aero bars). I told them, I was not but we chatted for a bit before they had to get back to work. I hoped one of the teams would pass me (the individual riders were well ahead by now) but they told me one team was miles ahead of me and one was far enough back that I would not see them. These folks follow the riders, provide support and monitor the race overall.


At the turn toward Toronto (the one in Kansas, not Canada), I saw a sign for Lizard Lips Grill and Deli. Needing some Gatorade, I stopped in. I was glad I did.


In spite of how it looks from the outside, the proprietor (I will call him Earl), was a friendly man In his 80s. He told me he “just had surgery a couple of days ago and so I am moving kind of slow.”


Earl offered me a companion for my ride, “So you have someone to talk to.” I now keep Earl (I named my lizard after him) in my bike cockpit and talk to him when I am bored.


I rode my bike to a side washed out bridge (I actually approached from the other side). I looked over and talked to the buys below. They were little help. When I mentioned my friend went around through the cornfield, one said, “If you want to trespass…”


I thought about it and walked my bike along the corn field. But there were also several deep ditches and some trees I had to make my way through. With my fully loaded bike, this was not fun. But it beat riding an extra 10 miles with 5 miles on dirt.


The road was off to the left in the picture below. So I had to carry my bike through the ditch, then through about 25 feet of fairly dense forest. Happy there was no poison ivy. I probably should have listened to Earl.


After the bridge, traffic was even lighter.


I wanted to get to Pittsburg early on Day 34 so I could visit another bike shop. My derailleur was clicking and needed adjustment. I have SRAMS AXS electronic derailleur, and I am not good at adjusting it. I am also not much of a bike mechanic. So I went to Southwind Cycle and Outdoor where KD took a look at it. I called him the day before and because he had never worked on one of these before, he did some research. Then, he worked his way through it. It took him a while and he was interrupted by another customer. But KD was persistent, he fixed it, put on a new chain, and things work! Thanks KD.


While I was at the bike shop, I met my third TransAm racer. Italian racer Salvatore Bonfiglio, arrived at the store after WALKING 20 km (~12 miles) to the bike shop after his wheel broke. I asked him why he didn’t just flag down a car for a ride and I think he said that would be against the race rules (his English was better than my Italian, but not by a lot). Because this race is unsupported, I don’t believe he could accept a ride. Fortunately Southwinds fixed his bike and he is back in the race.


I have another entry in the grain elevator photos: They Are Big When You Get Close!


I needed this rolling recovery day. The next few days will bring some hard riding through “The Ozarks.”



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Wynn Washle
Wynn Washle
28 jun. 2022

Glad you have a companion in Earl. Talk to him all you want, but I want to know if you hear him speaking back to you!

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Rob Hesselmann
Rob Hesselmann
26 jun. 2022

Joe


Your journey, or should I say journeys, as you are obviously working through multiple quests, I find fascinating!!

To dream a dream is something we all do; making it happen is much less common. It is admirable that you have focused so intensely on your goal, and are now living that dream.

To be able to share in your journey, your fears, hopes, and triumphs is inspiring to me, and I suspect many others. What a fantastic role model you are for your children, and extended family!

Thank you for sharing all this with us.

I have been curious about what you eat each day to sustain your energy, but not feel bloated and tired. Your post about pizza…

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Joe.Cannon
Joe.Cannon
27 jun. 2022
Reageren op

Thanks for the kind words and question Rob. I will answer that in a blog post soon.

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Ally Cannon
Ally Cannon
24 jun. 2022

Awesome dad!! Love the pics. So proud of you 🤩🤩🤩

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paulbeiser
24 jun. 2022

Go Earl! :-). Pretty cool you are able to find all of these cool places (coffee, food, bike, etc) along the way and get to meet people. Hopefully the Ozarks are less windy!

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Kelly Cannon
Kelly Cannon
24 jun. 2022

Action packed couple of days! I love the lizard :)

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