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Awesome People


chombo's luggage tag

chombo's luggage tag

no privacy in los marcostan

no privacy in los marcostan

Zack, Adam and Johnny won the most improved team award..and got some sweet wheels.

Zack, Adam and Johnny won the most improved team award..and got some sweet wheels.

The RVA polo guys.. (richmond, virginia)

The RVA polo guys.. (richmond, virginia)Â I love these guys!!

my awesome teammates and jill from madison, hiding from the photo

my awesome teammates and jill from madison, hiding from the photo

me and bro

me and bro

a solid weekend of laughing..  nearly peed my pants laughing a few times

a solid weekend of laughing.. nearly peed my pants laughing a few times

packing up the polo bikes and saying goodbye to our nyc friends.  sad to see them go.

packing up the polo bikes and saying goodbye to our nyc friends. sad to see them go.

This weekend, I woke up more sore than on any other day during the trip. My knees hurt to bend and my ankle hurt to walk on. Jumping right back on a brakeless fixed gear bike weighing 1/5 the weight of my fully loaded touring bike and sprinting back & forth all day long in the rain didn’t come with as much ease as I might’ve expected it to, having powered nearly three thousand miles by this point. Quinn & my polo bikes were stored by friends in New York, and shipped out here for the tournament. They’re both fixed gear bikes. A good number of the people reading this blog know what that means, but for the rest of you – our moms’ friends, the ladies at Curves, maybe a few lurkers who haven’t left comments – it means that the bike only has one gear, no brakes, and doesn’t coast. To slow down and stop, you pedal slower or lock up your legs to completely stop the rear wheel from turning. It works an entirely extra set of leg muscles than riding a “normal” bike because stopping the bike requires applying resistance to the pedals’ constant forward motion. Sure, Quinn and I have worked the crap out of all the other muscles, but the fixed gear muscles had been more or less dormant for the past two months. Then we go and hurl ourselves into round-robin competition using them. I personally hurt a lot Sunday morning. It probably didn’t help that I fell on my knees & ankle once or twice – and the half-bottle of vodka I shared with my teammates before the last match of the day probably didn’t improve my coordination either.

More photo’s on Quinn’s flickr account

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These idiots also showed up. If you haven’t watched their videos, you don’t understand bike polo.

My team’s Saturday win/loss ratio suffered. 1-6-2, I believe. One of the two ties was 0-0 with a Chicago team. Disappoinment all around. The other tie, we TRIED to lose 0-5 like most of the rest of our matches, but Ch0mb0 kept scoring goals! WTF!? Our one win came against Quinn’s team, “Ladies”, made up of herself, Birdie from Madison, and Amandaconda from Tampa/Seattle.

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Photo from Minneapolis’s Kat.

Quinn’s brother, Jarrett, by the way, is on my team. No mercy. Another good lesson we learned is that we tend to play better sober and maskless. We did much better on Sunday. Yet another valuable lesson learned is that we’re great dancers. Watch this video! Here’s a caveat – you have to lay down or turn your entire computer sideways to watch it, and imagine there’s music playing. It’s got a fantastic ending.

People come out of the woodwork for these things, especially the well-sponsored and hyped events. Sven, Kat, Dustin, and Sue I met in Minneapolis; Ben Hunter, Johnny Hunter, Birdie, Jill, Pierre (from France as of a few months back) and Sam from Madison; Jason from Baltimore; Jarrett, Ch0mb0, Doug, Paul, Bad Zach, Good Zach, Red Chris, Johnny Midwest, Adam Ackbar and Cecily from New York; Amandaconda from Tampa/Seattle; Sea Bass & Leon from Seattle; Lucky from St. Louis; Alexis from Ottawa who’s Canadian teammates backed out at the last minute and left him with Sea Bass & Leon (they came in 2nd place); Rory, Gentleman James, and Pieter from East Vancouver; Gus, Jav & Nick from Boston; Nick, Ben, and Ian from Richmond; Ben, Dumptruck, Joe, Tucker and Brian from Chicago; all those kids from Portland whose names I forgot. There are names I’ve unintentionally omitted, and for that I apologize. And too many names from Milwaukee to recall – except for Jake and Kremin, who orchestrated the entire event with near flawlessness. Well done, in spite of the disagreeable weather and less-than-expected attendance, guys.

This is a good time to express our gratitude to Ben’s Cycle/Milwaukee Bicycle Company. One of the two main sponsors of the event, they also accepted the shipment of our bikes from New York, and had no apparent qualms with us loitering in the back of their shop for hours unpacking and assembling them. COG Magazine, the other major sponsor, made it possible to coordinate 22 teams into a two-day round robin/double elimination tournament on three handmade courts.

Before competition even began, Tucker from Chicago cracked two of his teeth in half after an errant mallet swing collided with his face. International polo medic Johnny Midwest leapt onto the scene of the carnage with aplomb, and Jarrett somehow found the teeth fragments on the surface of the refashioned tennis courts. Tucker fortunately lives a mere hour’s drive away, and his nearby family came to shuttle him to some emergency dental work. Polo can be a dangerous sport. As if it doesn’t take enough coordination to maneuver a bicycle while weilding a mallet and trying to hit a ball through a goal, you have to do this while five other cyclists swerve, twist and sprint, trying to do the same thing. Crashes are inevitable, and there are few rules prohibiting defensively rough play. Bike Polo is a contact sport.

Even the spectators are often at risk. Andy’s Mom, for instance, took a mallet to the face from Jarrett. Andy has given me free license to exaggerate the retelling of this event, but it’s good enough in real life to not have to.

Andy’s family lives across Lake Michigan. They ferried to Milwaukee for the weekend to meet twoarmparty and observe the polo. Tournaments, unfortunately, are all-day events, and they never got to take us out for some one-on-one dinner time. On Sunday, they came with sandwiches for the day and cookies for the trip. Quinn & I took a break from the crowds to hang with the family. As Jarrett walked up to play a game of pickup on the adjacent court, Quinn introduced him as her brother. At this exact moment, Jarrett was hurling his mallet onto the court. He missed. Instead, as it left his hand, it caught on a part of the plywood wall and redirected itself towards Andy’s Mom’s face, Jarrett’s hand extended in an expectant handshake. WHAM!!! In slow motion, this moment is spectacular. Andy’s Mom staggers back. Jarrett’s handshake turns into two hands covering his face in horror and humiliation. Quinn is mortified. Andy is in shock. I can’t believe that just happened. Bystanders shake their heads humorously, wondering how Jarrett can make this ok. He really can’t. Andy’s Mother was fine. No cuts, no scrapes, no shattered teeth or broken glasses. Jarrett only got that one chance to make that first impression, but he went as far away as he could afterwards to play his game. Well done, Gigante. Gigante smash!

Sunday’s weather was far more forgiving than the cold, intermittently rainy Saturday. As teams got eliminated from the bracket, more kegs were tapped and more courts were opened for pickup. The sun brought out more babies & dogs than I’ve seen at any other tournament. Our friend Roxanne brought out her baby, Mabel, who’s one of the most adorable babies the midwest has ever seen. And that’s saying a lot, since it seems an apparent requirement to have a baby out here. Like they give you one for signing a lease.


That’s Nan, Ben Hunter’s daughter. She’s teaching me how I can become a fairy. (Photo by Gus).

We stayed with Roxanne & Mabel Monday night after packing our bikes back up and saying goodbye to our friends. It was far more comfortable than my Sunday night slumber party at Kremin’s, sleeping next to Nick from Boston, who accurately warned me that he snores loud. While a party went on around us and he snored, I struggled to sleep on a dusty matress with no pillow or blanket. It was raining too hard for me to go back to the hotel, and my phone had died (more than just the battery) so I had no way of getting back into the room at this hour anyway.

I wandered downtown Milwaukee in the morning and found some girls handing out free Stone Creek Coffee in honor of Bike To Work Week. I gave them our blog and explained Bike Polo to them. We saw them again the next day in front of the Stone Creek coffeeshop on our way out of town. It was a good time taking some exhausting rest days in Milwaukee. We reconnected with people we’d met along the way, and saw some of our best friends for the first time in months. One of them in particular was impressed with how good we’re starting to look. I think he has a crush on me now…which is actually kinda disturbing. But flattering of course. Everyone was happy to see us and tell us how much they enjoy following us on this blog. We’ll see you soon guys. Thanks for a great weekend.

Before we hurl ourselves into the madness & mayhem that is a major underground cycling event, we need to reflect on the much more bucolic past few days. By the time the chaos, camaraderie and competition of COG’s big tournament in Milwaukee wears down, we’ll forget that we spent two days touring rural Wisconsin, climbing up and down forest roads, the rumble of an approaching car’s engine such a rarity that we had the luxury of the whole street to ourselves. We’ll forget the absence of all noise but the wind rustling through the leaves and whirling by our ears. We may not forget the constant struggle of battling yet another hill, but we might forget how awesome some of these roads were:

Stanek Road! Parties everywhere!

Stanek Road! Parties everywhere!

Oh, it’s true. Pausing at this street sign, a dog chased us down, then promptly lost interest when it realized we weren’t moving anymore. It’s owner came out & asked us if we were lost. “No, we’re just taking pictures of the street sign,” because of the whole last name thing”. “Oh, are you related to any of the Stanek’s? Dan & Bill? They live right over there.” As far as I know, I’m not, but I’m going to wait for my Grandmother’s deference on that one. Hi, Grandma!

Jonny confessed that there were less challenging ways to bring us into Madison “but I figured it’d be easier to keep you here for an extra day if I tortured you a bit first.” Jonny’s a methodical kind of guy. He had at least two advantages over the bulk of our previous hosts: 1) he keeps up to date with our blog and knows the generosity we’ve already been shown, and 2) he’s competitive about it. He wanted to make sure he planned a tour that rivaled everything we’ve encountered so far. And he’d be the one to do it. In addition to the underground food collective, he organizes an annual Bike The Barns ride & fundraiser, which tours local farms and raises money for low-income families to afford CSA packages. Also, since Jonny was in charge, he took most of these photos.

The Wisconsin River

The Wisconsin River

somewhere in wisconsin, near a barn

somewhere in wisconsin, near a barn

Our first stop, which was supposed to be lunch, happened at a clandestine restaurant tucked away into the hills. They only take reservations for Fridays & Saturdays, but Jonny works with them a lot, and coordinated a late lunch / early dinner for us. All of the produce is grown & harvested within the 16 acres of their property.

Lightyears restaurant and farm

Lightyears restaurant and farm

They had a lot of chickens & ducks there

They had a lot of chickens & ducks there

We kept going. Jonny took another wrong turn, turning our 60 mile day into a 78 mile day. I’d like to think this was completely a mistake, but then again, he wanted to make sure we stuck around in Madison for a while, so I’m not sure. We ended up at Caitlin & Andy’s place – a beautiful renovated barn at the top of yet another hill. Andy makes gruyere cheese. Caitlin makes paintings.

We got there sweaty. Jonny snapped photos. He thought I looked hilarious.

my future combover

My future combover

it took some time, but we convinced andy to keep going with us instead of staying with the cows

it took some time, but we convinced andy to keep going with us instead of staying with the cows

but i mean seriously, this cow was adorable

but i mean seriously, this cow was adorable

i left my waterbottles at the house and had to backtrack 4 miles to get them. Jonny took this as I finally showed back up.

i left my waterbottles at the house in the morning and had to backtrack 4 miles to get them. Jonny took this as I finally showed back up.

Andy the cheesemonger wakes up early in the morning to make Upland Cheese Company’s award winning gruyere. By the time we got to his dairy, he was well into the process of separating the curds from the whey. For his tour, we had to don some stylish hairnets & booties

new style!

new style!

Andy gave an amazing tour

Andy gave an amazing tour

cheese. young.

cheese. young.

cheese, older

cheese, older

one of america's best cheeses is made here

one of america's best cheeses is made here

One thing we have just about no documentation of is rhubarb. Ever since staying with Arone’s mom in Spicer, Minnesota, we seem to have had rhubarb in some form for every meal. Apparently it’s in season. We knew just about nothing about rhubarb before this trip. Like what it looked like. Here you go. DON’T EAT THE LEAF! That part’s poisonous. Most rhubarb isn’t this huge. This is Jonny’s friend Lee’s photo.

Meeting up with Jonny Hunter in Wisconsin was one of the most anticipated parts of our trip. The week leading up to the COG tournament in Milwaukee is what we based our entire schedule around. Jonny was going to meet us two days out of his home in the capital city of Madison, and take us on a riding tour of some of the local farms.

Jonny Hunter and his brother Ben are menaces in two places: polo courts and kitchens. Ben can fly and score goals while doing it. Jonny’s got some kind of sixth sense. Both of them run The Underground Food Collective. While Quinn, Andy and I were already biking, they came to New York to cook a few more spectacular dinners. Back in the fall of 2008, I attended their five-course (or more?) Pre-Industrial Pig dinner. It was a brilliantly assembled, attended, and delicious event. Not only was Johnny going to show us how to get into our second big city this week, he was going to make sure we ate well along the way.

Before we met him though, we had to get there. Minneapolis is a big city. And there’s another city, St. Paul, right next to it. We foolishly didn’t ask for another guide out of the city, and foolishly followed the vague directions of the founder of Black Label at the Hard Times Cafe. I’m sure that the Gateway Trail he recommended we take is a spectacular ride, but you kinda gotta know how to get there in the first place. We didn’t. And instead of being out of the urban area in the morning, we didn’t make it to Wisconsin until the early afternoon. There was still 170 miles between us and Johnny Hunter. The good news was that it was along some of the most gorgeous parts of the country, following the Mississippi River. The bad news was that there was a 15-20mph headwind. The other bad news was of course that there was still 170 miles to go.

The Mississippi lopes and roams, backed up into lakes miles wide at times, its enormity fed by rivers already massive – tributaries that snake hundreds of miles away up the mountains this side of the Continental Divide. Route 35 hugs its banks for most of it’s length in Wisconsin. Motorcyclists roam up and down in packs, dropping off in groups to explore the roads up to more scenic vistas along the tree lined bluffs.

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After 97 miles, stormclouds starting to threaten us and we paused in the town of Nelson, with hopes of finding a fine place to pitch a tent. The railroad that had paralleled us and the river went through the town like it had for all of the small, lovely towns along route 35. The locals recommended we camp in the town of Alma, 9 miles away, but after our obvious conviction towards not riding anymore, formed a consensus that the city park behind Beth’s Diner was probably a fine place to spend the night. We moved some picnic tables from under an overhang, pitched our tent, stashed our bikes away from any rain, and walked into Beth’s Diner for a dinner that could not possibly satisfy our appetites.

Last night's campsite

Last night's campsite

In true twoarmparty fashion, as soon as the doors closed behind us, the skies opened up and drenched the town.

The rain let up quickly, and we devoured our meals with similar haste. Sleep set in easily on our wind battered and grumpy bodies. Hours later, because commerce never stops, our dreams were shaken by the rumble of approaching locomotives. The movement of miles of freight was announced by a blast of the engine’s massive whistle, rendering slumber impossible, but waking us to a resounding echo from the mountains behind us. It was immensely disrupting, but strangely beautiful.

The next day’s trip was much further than the 97 miles we had just tacked on. It was supposedly less hilly (until the very end of our ride), and if the weather wasn’t lying to us, we were going to have some tailwinds. Both assumptions ended up being true. We even found a shortcut that Jonny hadn’t pointed out. Wisconsin, like Minnesota, has done a fantastic job turning old railroad tracks into bike trails. We followed this flat, straight trail for 12 miles into La Crosse. Quinn took a video, thankfully, to give you an idea of what it’s like. It might make you queasy, but…train bridges! Woods! Mississippi marshland! No cars whatsoever! Possibility of alligators on the trail! It was pretty.

We followed route 35 until Ferryville, where we were to pick up route C, headed away from the river and uphill all the way for the next 15 miles. This was at mile 107. We knew dinner was waiting for us with Johnny in Star Valley, but since the burgers at the biker joint were only $4, it only made sense to inhale one before climbing.

Maybe it’s because we psyched ourselves out, or maybe it’s because we’re just getting stronger, but that last 15 mile climb was no sweat. Maybe those burgers had something extra special in them that made them taste so great. Whichever way, we beat Jonny to his friend Josh’s house. Josh, a farmer, rolled out, and let us make ourselves comfortable in his house while he went out to plant some seeds. By the time he got back, Jonny was still on his way. So Josh took us on a tour of the farm. Quinn is the only one of us who has any knowledge of the fields at all, but we still learned a ton of stuff that city kids don’t know just from listening to him for 45 minutes. And we saw a bald eagle. Check.

A Bald Eagle. These things are beautiful. It opened it's beak and went "America!"

A Bald Eagle. These things are beautiful. It opened it's beak and went "America!"

What had taken Jonny so long is that he was trying to get his bike together. He has the luxury of owning one of the last bikes every produced by Johnny Cycles. All of his components though, were hastily borrowed from friends. While he cooked dinner, Josh’s brother Noah gave us a tour of the farm equipment. He had no idea how to give a tour, but it was OK, because we had no idea what we were looking at. He ended up giving us a spectacular explanation of some of the 100+ pieces of equipment they use to manage their farm.

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By the time we finished eating, it was nearly 11, and we’d added 220 miles to our total. It was time to pass out. The next morning, just like any other day, we got ready to ride.

Josh, Jonny, QAK

Josh, Johnny, QAK

The whole point of the previous photo was to have us in front of a tractor, but it turned out that you couldn't see the tractor at all. This one is from the 40's.

The whole point of the previous photo was to have us in front of a tractor, but it turned out that you couldn't see the tractor at all. This one is from the 40's.

Like I said when I mentioned how we got lost *leaving* Minneapolis – when you’re biking in a big city, get yourself a detailed map. Our map for the way in was Bjorn. And Bjorn is an example of why Twitter is not as useless as I thought it was going to be when I signed up.

Minneapolis was the first city we were coming across since Portland. There are buildings there over 10 stories tall! A bunch of ‘em! And there’s a metropolitan area of the Twin Cities that takes up a huge chunk of the state. According to our host, Katie Behrens (an ex-courier from Philadelphia), Minnesota is a traditionally democratic state in the middle of red country. They even voted for Mondale back in 1984, when no one voted for Mondale. I tweeted a plea for someone to ride us into this metropolis. Within an hour, Rick Reinhart called me up (always lookin’ out, Rick) and said he knew someone who could guide us in by motorcycle but not until 6pm. A bit too late for us. Within the next few hours, I got calls from some Minneapolis Bike Polo heads who hooked us up with Bjorn, who gave us directions and met us in the fancy suburb of Wayzata. Getting there was some of our first extended times on dedicated bike trails, and Minnesota & Wisconsin are full of ‘em. The rail system here was sprawling at one point, and with the advent of other methods of freight, a lot of these tracks were left abandoned. Many of them have been converted to a web of bike trails.

Our rest day in the city took root at Katie’s place. Bjorn from Portland (a completely different Bjorn) was in town for a wedding, so we all met up, barhopped, and ended up at a place called “Dusty’s Dagos”. It took me a minute to get comfortable saying that. Turns out a “Dago” is a delicious sandwich that we’d be remiss if we didn’t try. Unfortunately, Andy and I had *just * had burgers before we were told this. Fortunately, we can eat just about whatever we want, so we ordered Dagos. And you know what? They were amazing. Molten explosions of sausage patty with greasy sauteed veggies and greasy grease bomb. Good thing we work all this horrible food off within a day.

We got a few more examples of “Minnesota Nice” when we were there. The owner of Grumpy’s, our first bar hop, approached our table and pointed out the buffet he’d cooked up a few tables over. Our insatiable appetites must’ve been slightly satiated by the pot pie Katie had just cooked for us though, and we ignored the buffet until all that was left was banana chips and mango salsa. Still delicious. Then on Sunday morning as we were caffienating ourselves & trying to figure out how to get out of town, a stranger came up with some suggestions. After his advice, he said “would you be terribly offended if I gave you guys $20 for a decent breakfast?” We kinda stared blankly…not offended, but not entirely comfortable taking handouts like that. “Tell you what. I’ll just leave the $20 on the table, and if you want to do something else with it, feel free.” I asked the baristas who that guy was, and as far as they knew, he was just a regular.

It’s important to note that we went bowling again.

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Andy must’ve been thinking about his form since South Dakota, because he was throwing rocks out there. But not as many as the boy on the teenage date in the next lane. He started his game with 5 strikes in a row! He had a 143 in the 6th frame! And his date wasn’t too bad either. She may have been showing a bit too much skin through her torn black jeans than her mother would’ve approved of, but she probably left the house with a tank top on underneath. Katie could’ve sworn she saw the same boy a few days ago on his bmx, riding down the street with the same girl on the pegs in the back, drinking a huge Slurpee.

Before we left, we made sure to watch Revenge of the Nerds and have a pizza party. Words cannot describe this.

Oh, I also played polo. Minneapolis’s court was huge! I played on my touring bike until I started knocking things loose, then realized that was a horrible idea. Sven loaned me his bike (too big, freewheel) for a few matches. It was good to know I’ve still got the polo legs, since it’s only a few short days until the COG tournament in Milwaukee.

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Makin it quick…  yesterday we rode about 75 miles to Springfield, MN…  we were sick of the headwinds that keeps following us, so we decided to stop halfway to Spicer and camp for the night.  We went to the library to check the weather and then got some dinner at the Outlaw Bar and Grill where we met a wonderful woman, Brittany (also our waitress) and her fiance.  They helped us find a place to sleep, told us about the cheap campsite but also pointed us towards a local named Gary who let us sleep in his backyard.  He wasnt living in the house, but he owned the property and it was across from a gas station so we had a bathroom and a nice, FREE private place to camp.  This morning we got on the road bright and early (riding by 7:30) in hopes of staying out of the mid day headwinds and getting to SPICER, MN at a reasonable hour.  So, here we are, on another beautiful lake (Green lake) in Minnesota.  The state of 10,0000000000 (okay, just 10, 000) lakes. with my very good friend Arone’s mom, Sue.  Arone is a mechanic at Bike Works in NYC.  Sue is fantastic, she just put the lasagna in the oven, had THREE showers for us to monopolize and a washing machine that’s been running since we arrived.  She has put us up for the night and we all get our own room.  Sweet!  no snoring to listen to.  Thanks Arone for having such an awesome mom!  and thanks, Sue for putting us up for the night and being so generous!

So after a big dinner, Sue took us for a Dairy Queen, then drinks at the local bar, and then..to top it all off, we relaxed in her hot tub, looking out on the lake and up at the stars.  It was perfect.

We had planned to take two days to get to Minneapolis and then after doing more research, we realized its only about 95-100 miles from here.  This could easily be done in one day, but we decided to take the morning to relax in Spicer and head out around noon for two short, easy 50 mile days.  Sue rides as well and so she’s going to join us for a bit this afternoon.  The second time that someone has joined us now!  Awesome.

Thank you again, Sue and Arone for having such and awesome mom!

Ken and Sue out on her dock on Green Lake

Ken and Sue out on her dock on Green Lake

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Rick Reinhart used to get in the kind of trouble kids used to get into, and would always be there when we did things we had no intention of telling our Mom’s about. We’re not talking bad trouble here, just stupid little kid trouble. He was fun. Half way through High School, he transferred to a different school and more or less disappeared for a decade. He was much younger than me (by a year, which is a HUGE ratio of your life when you’re ten years old), so was always much tighter with the 6th graders than the 7th graders. A few years back, he resurfaced (as far as we’re concerned) got married, moved out west, continued being an outdoorsy-type kid, and just recenly had a baby. (Congratulations!) His wife’s parents live in Spirit Lake, Iowa, on the shores of Lake Okoboji. That is the extremely short biography of Rick Reinhart.

When I sent out a “hey I’m doing this trip, does anyone know anyone that lives along this line that goes through the middle of nowhere” note, Rick was the only person who wrote back “yeah…actually I do”.

When we left Sioux Falls, the winds were punching us in the face again. It was the third straight day of riding into the winds, and we had roughly 85 miles of it. Then we took a detour, to take us off the highly traveled route 9 which has no shoulder. It added 10 miles or so, but was worth it, according to everyone who knew anything about the ride. Then we got a bit turned around near the town of Ashton, adding a couple more miles on. What started out as an 85 mile day ended up being closer to 110 miles. Into the winds. And Quinn’s knee was hurting. It was rough.

No one believed me when I said there was a lake in the middle of Iowa when all we could see was farmlands and all we could smell were cows. I promised them it was there, but I apologized that it was further away then I planned. Once we saw the ring of trees and the glimmer of water, we knew we were close, and they knew I wasn’t a liar. Once we rolled into the neighborhood of Ann & Rick Barry and pulled up to their home, we knew we were going to have a great night. We would’ve had to endure a LOT more brutality for it to be not worth it to get to Lake Okoboji. The Barry’s live 15 feet from the water and put us up in the spare house their parents used to live in. Yeah. Spare HOUSE. Their son Sean and his wife Caroline were there for the weekend, and their friends Tim & Max came over for the night too. Sean made a brilliant enchilada casserole, and Ann told us we were welcome to spend the next day there.

There was only one crappy reason not to take another rest day here and a whole bunch of reasons in favor of it. The one crappy reason was that we had to keep going. But, if you refer back to point A: Quintessential Awesomeness, you’ll remember that we’re way ahead of schedule, so an extra rest day completely fit into our schedule. As it turns out, that rest day fell on Memorial Day, and the Barry’s were planning a huge barbecue.

We’ve got to give a lot of credit to Ann & Rick. Originally, I had told them we were going to get to Spirit Lake five days later. Then we got ourselves way ahead of schedule and couldn’t waste too much time in South Dakota (although we’d love to…fantastic state) because Quinn’s Dad was already on his way to Sioux Falls. I apologize for only having a few short days notice on our new arrival date, but Ann got things together in the spare house in spectacular fashion. Sitting here by the lake, being with this wonderful family, celebrating this holiday has been one of the most relaxing rest days yet. Thank you again. The lake, out of nowhere in Iowa, is a gorgeous oasis that almost no-one knows about and is difficult to get to unless you live within driving distance. Rick drove us all across the lake in his boat to party on the other side. We drank Templeton Rye (allegedly one of Al Capone’s faves) and danced at the Grass Gardens. It was like going out on a Saturday night with your best friends from home except that your best friends live on an lake and drive motorboats.

Rick Reinhart, thanks for pulling through. Of all the people I know, I knew you’d be the one to know someone in the middle of the country. Your inlaws and all of their friends are wonderful people.

Oh, and a big shout out to Annie’s fourth grade class! We hope you enjoy our stories & photos. Have a great summer!

It’s recommended common sense to take a day off every once in a while when you’re traveling by bike, pushing your mental & physical endurance for days in a row. We here at twoarmparty have easily strained mental endurances, and our physical endurances (while we might claim otherwise) need the rest. It’s like cabbage soup for the legs or Cotton Swabs for the soul or whatever they call it. We prefer to take our rest days where we’ve got abundantly generous warmshowers contacts or one of Quinn’s parents to put us up for the night and treat us all like we’re their own kids. Either that, or we sit in motel rooms during May snow squalls and watch Will Smith movie marathons. Either way, gratuitous action flicks are a highly relaxing part of our rest days. In Pierre, where we stayed with Sol across the street from the Capitol Building, shot clay pigeons, went kayaking, and ate dinner with the sister of the governor, we saw “Wolverine”. It’s only fair that Andy write more about Pierre since he’s the one who capsized the kayak attempting some kind of “maneuver”. Saturday night in Sioux Falls, Mr. Shamlian flew out and treated us to “Terminator 4″ among a bevy of other generosities. (Thank you, Quinn’s Dad!). I personally preferred Terminator to Wolverine, but I’ll spare you my unneccessary and unqualified review becuase, you know, that’s not what this blog is about. There seems to be a trend to our methods of mental stress relief though. From now on, we’re only going to see movies starring men that are half metal and cameos by completely computer generated famous actors. What I liked more about Terminator is that when the robot with the human heart (and soul!) escaped through the woods on a motorcycle, he fell off when he ran over something. Reality! Not like it really matters when our primary objective is staring slackjawed at things exploding for two hours, shoveling popcorn, twizzlers, raisinets and cherry Coke into our mouths. That’s roughin’ it.

Sioux Falls seemed disappointing until we finally made our way out of Malltopia. I’m pretty sure there’s more than one Applebee’s here, and something like 5 different mall complexes. There may only be three or four freestanding Starbucks, but there’s likely one in the Home Depot, Barnes & Noble and Sam’s Club. It took a little advice from a highly generous and effective massage therapist for us to find a real restaurant in the real downtown of Sioux Falls. Main Street was being freshly cobblestoned, and live music piped from several of the spots across the street from the flashing marquee of the State Theater.

Oh wait, did I say Massage Therapist? That’s Carol Mellema. We met her in line at the coffeeshop in Rapid City (on the other side of the state) on Monday morning after coming out of the Black Hills. She was quick to realize we were on a long distance bike trek, (it’s pretty obvious) and instantly chatted us up about it. “I did that when I was 17! When are you going to be in Sioux Falls? Stay at my place.” It wasn’t quite so much of an offer as it was a demand. I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and wasn’t quite on the ball, so I just sort of stared at her as slackjawed as the kid who served us popcorn for Terminator. We’d already had plans to meet Quinn’s dad in Sioux Falls, so I had to turn her down on her offer. “Well I’m a massage therapist. When you’re in Sioux Falls, look me up – I’ll give you free massages!”

I looked at her like she was crazy, probably, but that’s the way everyone always looks at us unless they’ve done something like this before. Thirty-some years ago, Carol took off from New York City on bikes with two guys when they were teenagers. She ran out of money near Sioux Falls, and stayed here for the rest of her life. She’s got six kids, two grandkids, used to be a schoolteacher, and has a growing massage practice. She doesn’t have a website yet, but that’s only because I haven’t gotten back to New York to build it for her yet. She even massaged the kink out of Quinn’s Dad’s hamstring. We left, piles of jello, and spooned ourselves back into the rental car to further live off the land at the 14 theater multiplex. If you’re in Sioux Falls, look up “Massage Thyme” and tell Carol that twoarmparty sent you.

I really want Ken to write about this, but I just wanted to write quickly from my perspective and put up some photos from today.

we left sioux falls yesterday..a beautiful day, feeling great after resting and headed into Iowa.  We were given directions to stay off one of the more major roads and so we took them, extending our trip 5 or 10 miles but making for a nicer ride.  it was beautiful.. so many pig farms, beautiful trees.  so nice.  well, my left knee has been bothering me for some reason and i felt great until about noon when it started to hurt.  i took 4 advil and it didnt help.  by 2pm, i was in so much pain.  no stopping tho, i mean not more than a few minutes here and there.  we had a long way to go, so i just used my right leg a lot and tried not to think about it.

well, it turned out not to be an 85 or 95 mile ride – no fault of anyones, it was just longer than expected.  but it was 109 miles INTO the wind, with my knee in so much pain.  my god, pretty or not, it was a looong day.  and we were headed for a lake.  a lake, in iowa… ummmm all we’ve seen are farms.  Ken, are you sure there’s a lake??  okay, i believed him, but could barely see straight by the time we got a mile from our destination and actually saw the trees surrounding the lake.  we arrive and the wonderful people that we stay with have an entire house for us to stay in!  holy crap.  and they’ve cooked us dinner and have a fully stocked fridge with beer.  i felt much better about the long day now.

they took us across the lake,  to the bars where we all stayed out till 2am, dancing and well, drinking more with the locals.   the next day we slept in the latest yet on this trip and had an awesome day on the lake.  i fell asleep on the dock. andy went out kayaking and later in the day, more of the family came and we ate enough food for 12 people.  thank you!!!

ken will write about who this amazing family is and how he knows them..

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a good life out here.

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this was the house that we had to ourselves

this was the house that we had to ourselves

ahem... distracting

ahem... distracting

Caroline, Sean's wife, joined us for the first 20 miles of our ride into Minnesota.

Caroline, Sean's wife, joined us for the first 20 miles of our ride into Minnesota.

first of all – we haven’t forgotten about our rest day in Pierre.  It was spectular.  So much so  – Andy stillll isnt finished writing about it becuase there is so much to tell.  That will be coming soon.  In the meantime, I’ll do some updating.

After leaving Mitchell, hungover and moving slow, we made our way to Sioux Falls.  It was a really long day into the wind.  We had no help from mother nature and were fighting it the whole way at about 12 mph.  Ugh.  My dad flew in from Syracuse to meet us in South Dakota.  He put us up in a great hotel with a pool and hot tub and lots of free breakfast to take for our trip.  He was getting in around 5pm, so we were really trying to get there when he did, and we nearly made it.. about 45 minutes late.  We arrived, soaking wet (or at least I was because it was too warm for rain gear) and covered in mud from all the cars driving by and ken riding in front of me.  Again, mostly me here, i dont think the guys were that muddy, and I was trying to keep my distance too.   We were greeted by my dad and soon a hot shower.  It was perfect. 

It turns out that Sioux Falls has beautiful neighborhoods, awesome giant trees and a very cute downtown area.  BUT, the rest of it is (i mean this in the best way possible)horrible, disgusting urban sprawl.  Everywhere you look, walmart, target, bestbuy, restaurant chain after restaurant chain and lots of creepy windowless casinos.  We had to search out the healthy good food..

My dad was not only nice enough to fly out to South Dakota and put us up in a hotel, but he also took us to eat a number of times, bought us bike stuff, and to see Terminator 4.  (So bad!  They all looked really good, but so damn cheesy, come on!)  It was a great rest day.

Going back to rapid city, in a little cafe…. we met the most wonderful woman that at the age of 17 had done this same trip.  But from east to west.  And she ran out of money in sioux falls and that’s where she’s been since.  (she also toured with two guys)  Well, this amazing woman, Carol, came over to us and started asking us about our trip and insisted that we stay with her in Sioux Falls where she lives.  We were all set with my Dad, so instead she insisted that we visit her and get free massages!  oh. my. god.  yes.  Carol was a kindergarten/first grade (one of those) teacher for 18 years and then decided to become a yoga teacher and a masseuse.  …and a damn good one!  We went to her house in a cute Sioux Falls neighborhood and took time out of her Saturday with family…she absolutely insisted.  So generous.  She even talked my dad into letting her work on his pulled hamstring.  Carol, Thank you so much!  best massage e v e  r.

It was a perfect rest day, another one.  So awesome of my dad to fly out to the middle of nowhere to hang out and talk for a day.  He even had to get up at 3am to catch a super early flight sunday morning.  He took such good care of us.  Thanks Dad!

This trip has tought me many things, but some of the main ones are… people are great!  So much more great than you’d ever expect (esp in nyc).  and so are family… I really miss them and really, really appreciate the visits from my parents.

 

Off to Spirit Lake, IOWA

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