Dighton to Tribune - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

June 12, 2014

Dighton to Tribune

Class, sheer class...
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DO YOU EVER have one of those moments when you think you're considering serious options but someone else obviously thinks you look tired, confused and good to take home and mother?

Well, that happened to us this afternoon. We were weighing mighty matters like whether to buy a postage stamp now or later when a grey-haired woman stopped her pick-up at the crossroads and shouted: "How d'ya fancy staying at a house out in the country? Could take ya there right now."

She pointed at the empty space behind her cab and added: "All you need is to load your bikes and we could be right there."

We felt sorry to turn her down, on the grounds that we hadn't yet made enough progress, and she looked disappointed.

Little house on the prairie
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"Shame," she said. "I usually reckon on picking up someone when I'm down in town. Just like meetin' people and hearing their stories."

It's moments like that that I'm thinking of when I try to explain why I like cycling in America and when I say, yet again, that the people you meet in small-town America are a world away from the Americans on TV, on the news and in politics.

We had a good day today. The wind that had got itself into a bother after the tornado panted along behind our left shoulder and we span through still more of the open spaces and dry fields of Kansas. And today we met our first riders heading the other way, first a laughing Californian called Zane, then a lean and hungry-looking man with his taciturn son, then a bike mechanic escaped from his work bench, and finally a happy young couple, Jess and Nicky.

We're camping in the park tonight, between a row of houses and a long abandoned railway line. We checked first, as protocol demands, at the local police station. It offers, with its many other services, free gospel tracts. Nobody is taking any notice of us, other than a man who pulled up and shouted: "Your tents get hot in summer?"

"Why?"

"Cos I wanna buy a tent that don't get hot in summer," this in a tone that suggested I was stupid for missing the obvious.

They've seen too many cyclists for us to be a novelty, although for the last few days people have been telling us the number of riders has been declining. Tomorrow, we will be gone before anyone is up. The man inside Karen's computer says the wind is going to swing into our faces and we plan to rise with the dawn.

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Trestle bridges beneath the railway, but the trains no longer run
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What tales abandoned homes could tell. Karen's guess is that this one dates from when land was given free or at minimal cost to populate the prairies
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America almost welcomes me
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Time zones: a novelty for Europeans, whose countries don't have them
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Today's ride: 118 km (73 miles)
Total: 3,287 km (2,041 miles)

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