Minneapolis, Kansas

A couple of days ago I met up with Farmer Mike. He lives, and farms in Modale, Iowa, thirty or forty miles outside of Omaha. He’d replied to a post I made on crazyguyonabike.com.

He’s a farmer/cyclist, probably a pretty rare combination. In his shop, he’s got six bikes, a carbon fiber Look, carbon fiber Felt, a couple of Long Haul Truckers, and a couple of Marin hybrids. He’s done a bunch of touring all over Iowa. I stayed at his farm and he rode with me through Omaha the next day. We stopped at a bike shop and they gave me a route to a state park I wanted to camp in between Omaha and Lincoln.

I was glad for the warm place to stay and farmer Mike is a real nice guy, but the route they told me to take was a nightmare. Worst riding I’ve ever done. On the shoulder of US 50 south of Omaha. Super busy, lots and lots of truck traffic. Big ass tandem semis blowing by me at 70 mph. It sucked.

Iowa was real nice to bike through. I found one of those Iowa DOT bike maps, which shows all the bike trails, and lists roads by whether or not they have a shoulder, and how much average daily traffic they carry. The maps are free, tax dollars well spent, in my opinion. That map made picking my route easy. Plus, pretty much all the drivers I encountered in Iowa gave me as much room as possible. I didn’t get buzzed once. Lots of people waved at me too.

They didn’t give me as much room in Nebraska. They seem to give me enough room so that they probably won’t scratch their cars, but not enough room considering they’ve got another persons life on the line.

A couple of days ago I passed a farm house and a dog came running out. He ran up to me, smelled my heel as I kept riding, then got in the grass off the shoulder and just started to run out in front of me. Every now and then he’d look back to make sure I was still coming along. I had a couple of real long downhills, almost a mile, and this dog ran over 20 mph for a long time.

I only managed to lose him on a steep downhill that got me up to 35 mph, but he caught me on the next climb. For the first couple of miles, I thought it was funny, and I’d call out to the dog and encourage him. As the miles went on, I wondered how he’d find his way back. Then I got within a mile or so of the state park and I realized this dog wasn’t going home, he thought he was mine.

I got to the park, went inside and told the staff about the stray dog. Meanwhile, he had parked himself next to my bike, panting like mad. Frickin’ dog had just run 6 miles at an average of 16 mph or so. I got a number off the tag on the collar, park staff called it, and half an hour later it’s owner picked him up at my camp site. I was starting to wonder how I’d feed this dog if he decided to follow me all the way to Mexico. He probably would have too. That dog just loved to run.

I’m in Marysville, Kansas. Heading towards Minneapolis, Kansas. Most states have those bicycle maps, I’ve discovered, and will send them out for free. I’ve got KS, NM, and AZ bicycle maps waiting for me at the Minneapolis post office. Got about 100 miles to get there.

I’m 645 miles in now, and the terrain is just starting to look different. Up until this morning, it looked pretty much exactly to same between there and Hutchinson, MN. I started to notice a drawl when in peoples speech around Omaha though.

I may try to hook up with Adventure Cyclists southern tier route in Texas or New Mexico. I have some time to think about it.

I really want to get to warmer weather. I may head straight south after Minneapolis.

    • Vy Thorng
    • November 5th, 2010

    Hi Jj,

    This is all amazing stuff you are up to. the posts are really insightful and highly detailed, I feel like I’m retracing your steps in my head. Good coverage on the miles and the people you’re meeting sound like cool folk. I’m glad you are finding your stride while doing this. Maybe when I’m done with school i’ll try to meet up with you somewhere down there and hang for a bit. Glad your having fun, you are inspiring me. later on down the grit road dude! \/”’\/

    • Laura
    • November 5th, 2010

    Love your story about the dog. I think you are an animal magnet…remember our family trip to Greece where you had every stray dog and cat in the city following you around? This dog was no dummy (well…maybe he was)

    I love reading your updates. Keep them coming.

    PS Grace is practicing her fast bike riding so she can ride with Uncle John.

    • Jim Holzman
    • November 10th, 2010

    I finally got on your Gritroad site… Fear is to be expected, pull fear close. Look it in the eye. Smile and say, I know you… fear becomes your most willing and trusted friend. Hold it close , don’t let it stray too far. Soon fear will ride in front clearing your way. My prayers are with you… never look back, Jim PS Mexico: No capital punishment and guns are illegal, except for the drug wars… Mexico is kind and peaceful , I know I have 23 years here.JLH

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