Sunday, June 12, 2011

My New, Old Man Crush

I woke up and was pleasantly surprised with another headwind. I was getting super frustrated with the headwinds, since the wind is supposed to be coming from the West and it hasn't been. I cranked out the first 15 miles to Hiawatha, KS. After that, it got really flat. It didn't matter since I had a headwind, so I averaged about 9 milesperhour.

Then I met Don. Don is my new favorite old guy. He is what I imagine Chip and I would be if we were combined and 40 years older. He is about my size, so a small guy. "A small piece of leather, but well put together."- Charnise Mangle's dad. He has this crazy gleam in his eye that says, "I am about to go on an adventure. And nothing is going to stop me." He had a mischievous little smile that didn't want to tell me everything he has done, but he did after I asked him. It was because I was so excited. Don is from Springfield, Illinois. When Don was 59 or so, he was diagnosed with cancer and then promptly beat it in the next two years. I don't know much about this, because we didn't talk about it much.

When Don turned 61, he retired. Fifteen days after he retired, he went to his wife and said, "Honey, I am leaving tonight to go and hike the Appalachian Trail." Her response was, "OK, see you tomorrow dear." Don then went to the store, bought a lot of stuff, got on a plane, and hiked the AT in 4 and a half months. If you know anything about the AT, you know this is an unreasonable fast pace. Most people do it in 6 months. He got home, and his wife said, "Wow, you really did it." That was all she said.

Next adventure for Don was a cross country bike tour from California to Virginia Beach. His wife went on this one with him. Don then did the West Coast bike tour. Don decided that he wanted to start running marathons, so he tried a couple during this period of biking. He realized that he loved them, so he continued to run them. He ran one every month for 4 years. Don has run 56 marathons, one in every state, and 4 different countries. Don, in the middle of that, paddled the Mississippi River in a canoe from the top to the bottom with his wife. He also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on the West coast solo.

When I was talking to Don, he was on his third bike tour, doing the Lewis and Clark Trail. Don does about 85 miles a day. He has half the gear I have. He wears cargo shorts and a t-shirt and tennis shoes and a floppy cargo hat to ride in.

Don is now 67. He has done all of this in 6 and a half years. I talked to Don for over 30 minutes on the side of the road. He also used to be a screen printer (Graphic Comm anybody?). I thought my trip was a crazy one, Don is the most ridiculous human I have met on this trip.

My day got better at this point.

I found Dairy Barn, and got the best strawberry malt I have possibly ever had. It was a restaurant in a barn. And super good.

I crossed the Missouri River.

I entered Missouri.

I hate the roads in St. Josephs, MO.

I got a free bike tube from the owner of the bike shop in St. Joe's. Thanks Shaun, from Forces of Nature Cycling.

I slept in a ditch that night.

The highlight of my day was Don.


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