Yesterday was one of those days where initially we thought it was going to be a bit of a nightmare, but actually turned out to be an absolute gem of a day! We woke to a very cold, cloudy morning. Just as we were setting off I discovered that I had broken yet another spoke on my back wheel. We did fiddle around and try to fix it ourselves, alas, we really didn't have the right tools or experience to successfully repair it. Having been told by a bike mechanic in Knoxville, that riding on even one broken spoke is not a good idea, and can cause much further damage if not repaired sharpish. We searched for the nearest bike shop, but that was still 60 miles away. There was nothing for it but to go for it and hope for the best. Our aim for the day was 70 miles however we decide we would get to Leitchfield (60 miles away), where the bike shop was, and decide what to do from there in terms of where we would stay for the night and have supper. 30 miles away from Leitchfield. I called ahead and spoke to the owner of the bike shop 'Rick'. I explained the problem and he kindly agreed to stay on past the closing rime of 5pm so he could help me with my spoke. (I must add, during this hectic day, we actually passed the 1000 mile mark). The day really started getting better as soon as we arrived at the bike shop. Rick swiftly repaired the spoke, whilst giving us a little lesson on how to repair it and what to do if it broke again. I addition he kitted us out with the necessary tools so we could fix it properly ourselves. Rick then had to shoot off to join a group 25 of x-America cyclists(going from west to east), who were being hosted but the local ‘Lions club for dinner’. Rick kindly invited us along to join them for the ‘all you can eat’ at pizza hut. We had a great dinner mingling with the fellow cyclists, and sharing some of our experiences. They were staying very close by so we were quickly offered lodgings with them for the night. So what a result from having a busted wheel in the morning, to having a free dinner, a free nights sleep, free beer and top banter with the other cyclists thrown in for good measure.
Although we got lots of benefits by having the broken spoke, we did not cover our scheduled 70 miles for the previous day, so today we set out with the ambitious intention of riding 95 miles to Evansville. We set out very early (up at 6:30, away by 8:10). Before 11 we had covered over 30 miles. Just after the 30 mile point, I broke another spoke! It was at that moment that it became quite a big concern. To break 1 spoke, fine. To break two spokes, unlucky. To break 3 spokes, especially all within the space of 5 days......there is something fundamentally wrong. Despite this we continued to Owensboro, where, after being given a free lunch at ‘Bob Evans’ and a $40 free gift card, we visited yet another bike shop. As the avid readers of the blog might recall, a couple of days ago i got my chain very stuck behind the cassette. It has become apparent that actually damaged 2 or 3 spokes, just by bending them. This in turn put a whole load of unnatural strain on the other spokes. Basically i need to replace all the spokes in my wheel, and have the whole wheel ‘made true’ again. This i will do in St Louis in 3 days time. The mechanic patched the wheel up best he could so it will hopefully survive the 200 miles to St Louis. This as you can imagine is very frustrating, not only because of the trouble, but it will also cost me roughly $80 to fix. Then again, on the other hand, at least it is something fixable, and not something that will cause too much disruption to our trip. We polished off the remaining 45 miles in the afternoon, with a fair amount of ease, meanwhile crossing into another sate, Indiana. Tonight we have treated ourselves to a motel, after a few fairly stressful days. We originally planned to have a rest day here in Evansville, but we will probably press on so we can have more time in St Louis.