Today has been a good day, and a fun day of cycling. I’ve found some steep hills in this part of Kansas though. Tonight I am staying at Olathe Fire Station 5, and this has been a special station because of a couple family connections. The station captain, Scott, is actually a long time family friend from Michigan. He and my dad worked together on fire departments in both Michigan and Kansas, and he really helped out with this leg of the trip. He gave me a big hug when I finished at the station and got off the bike. Also, when I arrived to the firehouse there was a giant American flag flowing over the apparatus bay, held up by one of the aerial ladders. Talk about cool.
I’ve really enjoyed spending the night at the station, and the captain and I got to talk a lot about his experiences in the fire service, and how he first started off riding along on calls with my dad back in Kalamazoo. There were some great stories to share. It has been a very fun evening. Tomorrow will be a lower mileage day, and we plan to get some BBQ in downtown Kansas City, MO. I hope to get into the next fire station early to rest. One week from now I will be in Madison. That is hard to believe. The time has just been flying.
So out of the Snowy Range Mountain pass I said goodbye to the family I met in Denver, and told them to honk at me on the way down the mountain. Things started off OK, but soon the rain started coming down in sheets. Without any rain or cold weather gear, I was an icicle. The windchill from descending down the mountain was brutal, and after a bit I pulled off the road to take shelter under a tree. Lucky for me Josh, Nick and Hallie were right behind me, and I was pretty relieved when I saw their SUV with the kayaks on top pull over. The asked if I’d like to hop in the car to avoid the rain, and I gladly accepted. We spent probably 30 minutes just talking and sharing stories, and after warming up slightly (the car thermometer read somewhere in the 40s) I decided to head off again. I didn’t last too long. Their car passed me, and with it raining just as hard as before they asked me if I’d like to stop again. We talked it over for a while, and Josh offerred to drive me closer to Laramie. I’m glad he did. If they didn’t help, there was no way I was going to get to Laramie that night. There was hail and rain, and it just wasn’t safe. We drove through a portion of the plains, and they dropped me off just outside of town where I rode the rest of the way in. Thank you Josh, Nick and Hallie for saving the day in Wyoming. Seriously, thank you so much.
I made it alright to Laramie fire station 1, and the crew there had dinner ready to go. I think they have been the goofiest bunch of firefighters I had met on the trip (at least until Colorado Springs, they were pretty goofy and fun too), and when we took a photo, everyone did all these different poses and faces, and it was just goofy. They were an awesome group though and treated me great. That night I actually got to spend the night at one of the officer’s homes, and that worked out really well. Gus picked me up from the station, and I got to meet his family and new baby boy. I thought it was really nice of him to open up his house and allow me to stay, and I had a great time learning talking with them and learning more about Wyoming. It sounds like their state has some great programs with the university and helping students attend college, and I found it all pretty interesting.
The next morning I had my first flat of the trip, luckily it occurred just on the other side of town. The University of Wyoming campus is very pretty and green, and after passing through it I tried to get the tube fixed at a mechanic’s shop, but we had no luck. It was raining that day too, and when I called Gus he drove over in a matter of minutes to help out. He took me to the local bike shop (which had been rated one of the best in the country), and thanks to a local connection with Gus’s sister the flat tire was taken care of, and I actually also decided to throw a new tire onto the front wheel. The exisiting tires probably had about 5000 miles on them, and they were pretty shredded. I think it was that I-80 interstate that did em in. After the bike fix-up I had a good ride to Cheyenne, and the firefighters there were awesome.
I’ll finish some more of the blog tomorrow. Thank you for all the messages and texts, I appreciate everyone’s support. I’m coming closer to the midwest, so I hope to see a lot of you in person soon!