August 5, Day 34 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
A rest day felt good, but perhaps not good enough. We spent a full day catching up on fundraising, the blog, and bicycle maintenance, while giving our legs, butts, and hands a break. After all, they deserved it. They carried us over 300 miles in the past four days.
As we were about to depart after doing some more bicycle maintenance, some fourth-graders came over to us asking for help. One of them had gotten himself into a pickle. He was carrying a cloth shopping bag with one bottle of water in it, and the bag and bottle had gotten swept into the front brake assembly on his bicycle. The boys were asking us to rescue them, because they simply didn’t know what to do.
I had never seen anything quite like this before. The water bottle was stuck fast against the rim and brake pad. It seemed the best remedy was to release some of the water from the bottle to relieve some of the pressure against the rim. I reached into the bag, unscrewed the cap, and let some water out. Almost immediately, the bottle came free, and the bag came with it. What remained was to deal with the consequences of the larger problem. The brake had become misaligned and one of its pads was rubbing against the rim. That issue was delegated to a neighbor, who no doubt knew more about how to fix it than I did.
I thought about that incident as Debbie and I headed down I-90. It reminded me of interactions that we have with youth on TheHopeLine. First, youth come to us because they’re stuck, and they don’t know what to do about it. They’re in over their heads. When you find yourself in that position, you’re usually ready to ask for and accept help.
Secondly, oftentimes the client needs to release emotion, frustration, and anxiety before collateral issues can be addressed. Once the solution is jump-started, you can assign the clean up to someone more skilled than you are.
The boy was very grateful. We handed him a card and invited him to follow our trip across country on his computer. He was excited, and it made our day.
My thoughts of this encounter were rudely interrupted by squishiness in my back tire. Seven miles down the Interstate, I had sustained my second flat tire of the trip. It was the rear tire, which is more difficult to fix. The repair job cost us an hour, which would come into play later in the day.
After lunch at Subway in Moorcroft, the forecasted thundershowers were rearing their ugly heads from the southwest. Lightning danced on the horizon as motorcyclists, who were also on standby, joined us in contemplating our next steps. Debbie and I were to head southeast, and the sky in that direction looked good. We decided to go for it.
Three miles down the road, darkness began to close in from the southwest. The wind was blowing toward the northeast, with the storm threatening to intercept us. If we cycled fast enough, toward the light, we might just avoid the storm.
Debbie and I put in perhaps our fastest 20 miles yet. However, we were losing the battle. At one juncture, a loud clap of thunder struck the ground seemingly a few hundred yards to our left. It got our attention. Soon, we felt large drops of water smack us from the west. As we sped toward cover in Upton, a frenzied pronghorn joined us from just off the shoulder, as if racing us. In its confusion, it immediately reversed course. However, it had already given us a delectable treat.
When we pulled into a convenience store in Upton, the attendant engaged us with knowledge of the area. Among her information was that a cougar or a mountain lion may have been pursuing that pronghorn, or it may just have wanted to compete with us. She described how pronghorns will sometimes race one another on the highway. When you’re as fast as a pronghorn, I suppose you need to hone your skill to keep in shape.
We tried to wait out the storm, but its intensity simply grew. We were done for the day. Fortunately, a motel a quarter mile away had vacancy, so we checked in for the night. Supper at a nearby diner was satisfying. A local man, retired from special services in the US military, entertained us with stories—and then bought us dessert…a sweet way to end our rain-shortened day.