Midwest Meanderings

By Matt “Parmigingo” Schiff

In the last two weeks there has been no bigger news than the injury to Sara’s ankle and the loss of her as a rider for the next couple of months. While one could expect our biggest danger to be passing cars or even the people or animals we run into, sometimes it’s the unexpected fluke accident that gets you. As for her rejoining us, she’s determined to get back on her bike, whoop this little setback, and even find enjoyment in doing something totally out of the ordinary as she waits for her ankle to heal. http://www.bike49.org/2010/09/you-cant-bike-with-a-broken-ankle/

The last two weeks has also been another nonstop stretch of racking up the miles. While we’ve had some easier 30 mile days and favorable winds, we’ve also had those light headwinds that keep us from going more than 12 mph the whole day. I guess it’s in these stretches of riding that my mind narrows and I look only at the small tasks ahead of me. Usually it’s no further into the future than the next grocery store, a lunch spot, or where we’ll pitch our tent for the night. The whole enormity of the trip shrinks which puts the daily riding out of context. Then we rest and I look back at the past and ahead to the future and realize the significance of the ground we’ve just covered, plot it on a map, collect my thoughts, and realize we weren’t riding through endless cornfields and soybeans for no apparent reason. The rest days really put it all in perspective.

As for rest, we’ve just spent a good long weekend in the St. Paul area, presenting to some classes on Friday (a record breaking 525 kids) and meeting with relatives of Tommy and Aaron. With their mom having about 100 first cousins there was no shortage of people to meet over the weekend with two great get-togethers. Tommy and Aaron were kept busy figuring out who was who and how everybody fit into the family tree. With all of the great food, I think it is safe to say that we now have a few extra winter pounds to keep us warm. Thanks Julie & Jeff, Jeanne, and Nancy & Antonio for opening your homes to us and making sure we had many good home-cooked meals before heading out on the road again. Also, thanks to all of the cousins who made the trek to come meet the weird California cousins who like to ride bikes.

Lastly, as someone just brought to my attention, there’s only one photograph we’ve uploaded from Iowa. Hearing that, I promptly had to change the situation and uploaded a few forgotten pictures of water towers and grain elevators. There are plenty of things to remember about Iowa, such as a 14 year old explaining the economics of growing soybeans and corn, asking questions and finding out why water towers and grain elevators are used, and meeting some of the locals of Heartly, IA. It was here where we asked for a vegetarian pizza and got the answer, “This here’s Iowa, we eat meat” but also the place where we were treated to free organic smoothies and coffee from Mae B coffee shop (http://www.maebjunk.com/). It was a good reminder of what we’ve been hoping to find out about our country – that there is diversity in every town and you can find great people just about anywhere.

On to the U.P.

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