We said our goodbyes to the amazing people of the National Speleological Society and hit the road once again, with no agenda other than having an amazing cross-country biking experience. AND THEN IT HAPPENED–we heard about Tour De Fat.
Tour De Fat can best be described as “a bombastic bash of beer, bicycling, and, you know, like, bros being bros.” Ok, that last part was just for more B sounds. Gotta love alliteration, right?
Repetitive B-sounding words aside, we knew that we had to get to Denver, Colorado for the event, and we had to get there by September 9th. We had to cross over the incredibly steep and repetitive hills of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. We had tdo brave the searingly hot and brutally windy plains of Kansas, and we had to test our mental and physical fortitude climbing for miles and miles up into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. And we had to do that last part without warm clothes!
I won’t describe in detail everything that happened, but here is a decent list of interesting or notable things that we experienced on our 1,100 mile, 25 day push to make it to Tour De Fat in Denver. Just to be clear, we had to average 55 miles a day, and could only take three days off in order to get there by September 9th, one day before Tour De Fat.
We barely escaped the worst thunderstorm of our trip. The weather was calling for 60 mph winds, hail, and tornadoes in some areas. Luckily, the storm only clipped us, giving us nature’s equivalent of hearing a gunshot only a few feet away.
The most exciting thing about our time in Illinois was a) going through the town where “Popeye” originated, and b) we BARELY missed “The Gathering of the Juggalos.” If you have no idea what the gathering of the Juggalos is, watch this video. If you don’t want to watch the video, I 100% UNDERSTAND.
Missouri’s Ozark mountains are really just as bad as the Appalachians. Maybe worse. They may not have the size or girth of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but boy do they have stamina, and they will hit you in all the right spots. Get it? It’s like sex.
I have amazing family! They were there for us every step of this stretch of our journey, providing everything from haircuts and late-night taco dinners to back yard trailers to sleep in and paying for our dinner. Considering there are about 70 people on my mom’s side of my family, I guess it was pretty good odds that my cousin would randomly walk into the same bar we were in and have no idea we were there and then take us to a college party where we drank Natty Light and we felt really old but still had a great time.
You will meet awesome people on the TransAm. Michelle and I met up with Sarah Luttio in Girard, Kansas, and later met up with Alex Favacho in Hutchinson, Kansas. Sarah was making her way west to warmer land, and Alex was doing the Western Express, another common route from the ACA. Sarah, an early-20s vagabond from Minnesota and Alex, an early 20s hippie-type from Santa Barbara were our loyal and entertaining companions on our journey. Alex carried with him a full-sized guitar, a Stetson hat, and a love of all things positive in life. Sarah carried with her a trailer filled with what seemed like her entire life, a peculiar way of doing just about everything, and was actually growing plants in pockets she hand-sewed onto her trailer.
We gave the nickname “Blooper” to Sarah, after spending enough time with her to realize that “oops” and “awww crap…I broke (insert ANYTHING here)” was a common sentence in her vernacular. She didn’t like her nickname. She ended up coming with us all the way to Astoria, but more on that later. Alex was harder to give a nickname. We tried to give him the nickname “Supertramp,” since he resembled Chris McAndless on whom the book “Into the Wild” is based. It never stuck.
The four of us made our way west and had a great time while doing it. We woke up together and camped together. The bonds we formed during these weeks were something you can’t really explain. Actually I can explain in this gibberish word. “Brunkle.” It was really brunkle.
You will go a long time without seeing a black person. You shouldn’t be surprised by this. Especially if you’re from Kansas. Or rural Missouri. Or rural Kentucky. Or rural Colorado. Or anywhere in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, or most of Oregon. Wow, our bicycling route was racist…
Your friends will totally take care of you when you’re sick. And by “take care of you” I mean play Farkle and drink beer while you lay in bed, miserable and alone. (But seriously, thanks Heather and Duke!)
Drinking and karaoke=fun! Our last night with Alex proved to be a hootenanny, complete with singing, toasting to our time together, and waking up to the park’s sprinklers slowly turning our way to douse us with water.
Always bring a warm piece of clothing for emergencies! In a three day span, we went from 107 degrees and sunny in southeastern Colorado to 45 degrees and rainy in the Rocky Mountains. Luckily, we had a few articles of long clothing stuffed in the bottom of our bags and were able to layer them on. There’s nothing quite like wearing every single piece of clothing you have with you and STILL freezing your butt off. It made it really hard to ride after our butts froze off, by the way.
The most interesting place we slept was inside a barrel-shaped sauna in Fairplay, Colorado. It was 40 degrees and rainy, we had no place to sleep, and the door was unlocked. Oh and P.S., don’t tell anyone, because we’re probably wanted for trespassing. Seriously, don’t tell anyone.
Helping to build an Earthship is both fun AND informational! Read about it here!
Going downhill for 75 miles is fun, and going downhill into Denver for Tour De Fat (on time!) is even MORE fun! We accomplished our goal of reaching Denver for the Tour De Fat, and we had a blast while doing it. Our friends Kelli, Manuel and their daughter Riah all came along to the festival and there we drank great beer, rode some crazy bikes in their bike pit, and took a short ride around downtown Denver with 6,000+ other cyclists in the mood to celebrate bicycling and good times.
It’s all uphill from here…