Small talk about the weather

By Matt Schiff

In the last month we’ve transitioned from the West to the Midwest.

Riding along through northern Nebraska we probably could have pretty well guessed as to where the 100th meridian lay. Aside from geographically dividing the country, the 100th meridian is a good divider between the arid and semi-arid West and the more humid eastern half of the United States. Within the span of 100 miles we said goodbye to the hot and dry West and entered the currently muggy Midwest. We left the wide open, grassy plains and farmland used for growing wheat, and entered back into the land of mosquitoes, growing corn, and towards more densely populated country. While the feature of our travels used to be the scenery, lately we’ve been looking forward to visiting small towns and meeting more people. But there are certainly more interesting things to report on than just the weather and geographical changes.

We’ve also changed our camping strategy in the last few weeks. While we used to camp mostly on public Forest Service and BLM lands, we’ve now begun to camp in city parks. My idea of a city park has never been a place where you can camp freely without the worry of being run out when the sun goes down. Quite possibly you wouldn’t even want to be in the park after dark if you are concerned with your own safety. The small towns we’ve come across from eastern Montana all the way into Iowa have been different. I never expected people to actually be welcoming us to stay the night. Many people have told us, “that’s what they’re there for,” and the waves we get as residents roll by only seems to add evidence to the fact that most people are okay with it. I’m not sure when our luck will run out and this form of accommodation will change, but for now, we look for a small town on the map to stop at, find the park, and pitch our tents.

Looking forward, we’ve been trying to get ahead of our schedule since the start of the trip. We knew from the beginning that November in the northeast would be cold and since we conservatively planned for 250 miles per week, there was the good possibility of getting ahead of schedule. While we’ve consistently been riding more than projected – almost 300 miles a week instead of 250 – we’ve only recently begun to see those gains show up in our schedule. Somewhere between Google maps and the real world we’ve had to ride more than we thought. Dang! Riding through Iowa and Nebraska we have to thank some favorable winds and pancake flat terrain for riding a new weekly record of just over 400 miles. As of now, we’re about a week ahead of schedule – just where we want to be.

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