"Exercise? I thought you said extra fries!"
Chauncey (Josh S) laughed far too hard and suggested the phrase on a billboard outside a burger joint in Davenport should be the title of today's blog. He thinks he's soooo funny. This is why we don't let him near the computer.
Day three greeted us with more smoke in the air. The team debated whether conditions had improved from the day before or if we were just getting acclimated. My plan is to be like the frog in hot water - if the increase in temperature, as well as in this case smoke, is gradual enough the frog won't notice. "That's not true, you know," said Jimmy, perhaps a little disappointed in my analogy. "Eventually the frog is going to be like, 'enough of this,' and will get out. Assuming you've provided the frog with the means of escape." "Hmm, maybe that's what went wrong with my experiments..." I joked. Nobody laughed. I blame Chauncey, his terrible humor must be contagious.
We gathered our things and left the airbnb, the cycling team proudly wearing their new Iron Goat t-shirts. It was nice to have the same home base for three nights, but it's time to move on. We settled into the routine from the 2016 trip: the team scrambles to get everything together, I do a bunch of interviews, and then goodbyes and well-wishes from those seeing us off. This time at the starting line we were greeted by Jeannie and Skip Salvini, the parents of my good friend Kenny (KennySalvini.com). I've said it before and I'll say it again: this trip wouldn't be possible without the support of so many friends and family.
We rolled through golden fields of wheat, Chauncey singing "amber waves of grain" every once in a while. He promised to sing the next line when we got to the purple mountains. We had mixed feelings about this. It was quite bucolic, and the traffic on hwy 2 wasn't too busy. The drivers were all very friendly and encouraging, something I've grown to expect on this trip. At a stop on a small side road, a man got out of his truck and walked towards us. "I saw you guys on the news last night, I hoped I would see you today." He said that he had lost sons to Muscular Dystrophy, and was familiar to the challenges of the wheelchair life. He emotionally wished us well, and we were all humbled by the fact that what we are doing is so much bigger than us.
Almost abruptly, the farms disappeared and the terrain turned rocky, with sage brush dotting the landscape. The trees way off in the hazy distance almost looked like the skyscrapers of a bustling metropolis. Little marshy ponds offered some excellent birding opportunities, but we had no time to stop. We need to finish the day before the sun gets too low and starts blinding us as we head west.
We ate a quick lunch at an abandoned antique mall. This part of the country is a little unfamiliar with different dietary practices, and the restaurant insisted that Dr. B, a vegan, would want cheese and mayo on his sandwich. Jimmy, who tries to keep his dairy intake low, also had cheese issues. Chauncey ate all the cheese because he grew up in Wisconsin.
Back on the road, the heat was starting to rev up to what we were expecting on this trip. I am unable to sweat, so the team started the misting regimen which basically consisted of spraying me with a squirt bottle every chance they got. The sun dried off my soaked shirt between mist applications as the landscape turned back to farmland, this time less golden and more brown.
We made it to Hesseltine Rd in great time and good spirits, with another 23 miles on the new Lithium battery. Again there was power remaining, so I'm feeling more confident about getting up and over the cascades (although I'm not looking forward to hearing Chauncey sing "purple mountain majesty" like a broken record). The people in the town of Wilbur are incredibly nice and accommodating (the cheese thing aside), exemplified by the greeting we got from the hotel:
There isn't a brewery in this area, so we ate at a diner and then repaired back to our rooms and dug into the cooler for a few cans of deliciousness. Don't get me wrong, I want to make an impact and advocate change in how we think about mobility, but sitting here with good friends cracking jokes between sips after a long ride, this is what life is about.
We are over 100 miles into our trip, yet there are many challenges that remain. There's a big fire near the Coulee Dam that could affect our route on Day 4. Stay tuned, and keep on rollin!