Bike Trip- Missouri to New Hampshire “Bench Test”

If you are a busy individual read only the bolded text.

On Thursday I was looking up how much an Amtrak ticket from Missouri to New Hampshire would cost to visit my friends.  138 dollars. One way.  36 hours.  Quickly, I plugged the route into Google maps and noticed that the trip was only 1300 miles.  I decided that 138 dollars was quite a ridiculous.  Then I noticed that Google maps had a bike mode…

I needed to know if I had the juice to bike 100 miles a day for 13 days.  Bear in mind that I do not even own a bike and the longest bike trip was to 4.5 miles to a lake with the water-ski people and 4.5 miles back (9 miles).

What I needed was some sort of small scale experiment.  I asked my bud Hogan Sills, biking aficionado, if he could get me a bike from one of the Purdue bike club people.   He agreed to vouch for me.  Friday rolls around and Hogan tells me that someone wants let me borrow a bike.  I show up at the Bike Haus to clam my bike.  I learned that Hogan did not vouch for me.  I gathered that the bike people were told something like this, “ya… this guy wants to ride 100 miles tomorrow, he’s really out of shape and either quit after 30 miles or destroy your bike.”

I received “the pink bike” which at first inspection seemed nicer than anything I expected to get.  I prepared a back pack full of trail mix and water and set out at the crack of 8:30am Saturday morning.

I got lost on campus, missed the first turn, and ended up at the Purdue airport.  I back tracked to IN-26.  My butt hurts already.  At this point it started to rain.  I could have easily made it back to my place to get a rain jacket.  I figured that the rain would stop soon.  My first mistake.

At 11:30am it finally stopped raining, my cotton button-up shirt and synthetic blue pants were soaked.  At this point two people had asked me if I “needed a ride someplace.”  My sunglasses were broken from a previous rock climbing trip and needed to be duct taped to my face.  The rain adversely affected the duct tape and my glasses kept falling off.  I take a break, eat a soggy bagel and press on to Independence, IN.

In Independence I see this really neat car… motorcycle… thing.  It was like a VW Bug rear ended a motorcycle with cartoon physics and they melded together.  Here’s a picture.

The owner of this unique transportation device saw me standing in his front lawn taking pictures of his stuff.  He shouted, “What are you doin’!  From behind his screen door.  We ended up talking for a half hour about his Kawasaki-bug.  The conversation ended abruptly when he walked back inside.  I guess that meant I was supposed to get off of his lawn.

Not too far past Independence, IN I get to a poorly paved road called Possum Hollow.  It is apparently reserved for slow disabled children.  All fast disabled children must play somewhere else. On in the slow disabled child area there lives a vicious dog that bit me in the pants.  I did have an alluring strip of shiny silver duct tape on my ankle though so I was asking for it.  Being a very slow bikesman I did not attempt to outrun the dog.  I got off my bike and yelled at it.  It was undeterred.  Next, I did not punch it but instead I kind of fist pushed it in the face.  It then left be alone.  I thought about trying to get a picture of it but then came to my senses.

I get off of the badly paved road and out of the disabled slow children area and onto a nice paved road.  I immediately get a flat tire.  I checked my severely zoomed out Google maps printout and figured that Independence and Attica were the 2 closest places that would have bike tires.  I chose Attica, IN.  Attica was at least 7 miles away.

Along the way I realized that I did not really need a new tire, I just needed something to keep the rims off the ground.  I collected rubber straps off the side of the road that I hoped I could secure to the rims to form a makeshift tire if Attica did not pan out.

I finally make it to Attica after 2 0r 3 hours of walking.

I see some off-brand big box store called a Pamida and push my bike through the automatic doors and park it in the sporting goods section.  I realized that all of the bike products in the store were not made to be compatible with the pink bike.  I guess that the pink bike must have been made in Europe or some other weird country.  The bike tires, bike pumps, and fix-a-flat kits were all incompatible with my stupid pink bike.

 

First, I need a way to inflate the tire.  After much trial and error I found that wrapping tape around the tire nozzle and pressure fitting it to the standard mountain bike pump was the best way to get at least some air into the tire.  Next, I needed to fix the hole.  I found a mountain bike patch kit that was made to handle maybe half the psi’s that the pink bike requires to keep the rims off the ground.  I tried two patches and they both blew off immediately.  I got a grill cleaning tool from the Home and Garden section to abrade the rubber and create a better surface for the patch to adhere to.  It worked.  The tire held air!

I then learned that it is almost impossible to get the tube and tire back on the wheel after you take them off.  There must be some trick to it that I don’t know about.  A pair of pliers and screw driver from the hardware section and about 20 min of struggling got the tire back on.  I walked the bike to the checkout aisle and told the lady that I broke a screwdriver and used a patch kit.  She charged me 5 dollars.  Now it is 3:30pm and I am 30 miles from Purdue.

The tire holds for maybe 20 miles before it blows out again.  It is only 5:00pm and I figure that I can walk the rest of the way back to Purdue along IN-26 before 9:00pm.

At 7:30pm John the Landscaper asked if I was going to Purdue.  I wrote down his license plate number and had a text to 9-11 ready to go… just in case.  He turned out to be cool and dropped me off at Wiley Dining Court.

Then I ate at Jimmy Johns and went to a party.  I got tired and left at 12:30am.  The next day I felt a little sore but not too bad.

I learned that is certainly physically possible for me to ride 100 miles a day.  It is possible to ride from Missouri to New Hampshire in 13 days.  If I get lucky and no one hires me I will definitely attempt this journey in May.