So after rolling out of Boulder in style we really had no idea where we were going, and also no idea how to use the fancy bluetooth headsets we had got for the trip. In the mad dash to get everything ready we had done little to figure out how to properly use all the gear. We eventually figured it out enough to talk to each other and it was awesome to not be stuck in your own head for the entire ride.
The further east we rode the windier it became, and by the time we crossed into Nebraska it was a solid 25-30 mph crosswind across the highway. Our heavy bikes did decently well in the wind, however it still took a lot of attention to not get blown out of our lane. We ended up at Lake Ogallala at a pretty nice little camping spot.
Nice spot on Lake Ogallala
It was still howling wind, but we got the hammocks up, cooked dinner, and changed out James' front tire. I have had a lot of trouble with changing tires in the past, but I think my previous failures allowed us to pop the tire on with minimal struggle.
Next morning we rode out pretty early and headed east. The goal was to drive east until we found a decent place to sleep at the end of the day. It was once again brutally windy all day, but more or less uneventful until the evening when the sky turned grey and it began to lightly rain. We found a nice campsite in Stuart, Iowa next to a river and called it a night. We haphazardly set up a tarp beneath the tent to keep us dry from the rain. It was lightly drizzling and we didn't think it would change much. However right after we fell asleep it proceeded to pour rain for the rest of the night, and we awoke in a puddle. James had set up his hammock with a nice rain fly over top and was more or less dry. The tarp turned out to be a bad idea as it had just trapped all the water on top of it and pooled it directly into the tent. After a few swear words we packed everything up that was completely soaked and started on our way. The weather didn't get better at all for the next 450 miles and it poured rain with string winds all the way to Michigan. We had some sketchy traffic near Chicago where a 18 wheeler somehow jack knifed in the middle of the freeway and 5 minutes later had a close call with some deer. It was a long and wet day, but we made it to Kelly's (James girlfriend) lakehouse on the shore of lake Michigan, and it was all worth it. We had a dry place to hang up all our stuff, and a dry place to sleep. We felt spoiled, but weren't going to turn down the opportunity.
Crashing on the floor in Michigan
The next morning we discovered the wifi worked in the house, and we were able to finish up some things that hadn't been done in Boulder. We obtained our dangerous goods document to ship the bikes, and I sent in my application for european insurance. Turned out to be a bit of a mission to find a printer, but it all worked out. We stopped for lunch at Nani's Cafe near New Buffalo and had a chicago style hot dog that was absolutely delicious. After a long morning we had a late start to the day, and aimed to camp somewhere across the border in Canada. It threatened to rain all day, but never really did and it felt incredible to ride dry roads with intermittent patches of sun. The border crossing was uneventful, and once across we were motivated to push for my cousins house in Oakville. We stopped for a late dinner and coffee at a Thai restuarant in London before making the final push. The roads across the border were super smooth, and perfectly straight. I could have fallen asleep and woke up an hour later, and still be on the road. We ended up cruising into Anne Marie's (my cousin) place around 12:30. My mom had flown out as well to see us off from Canada, and they were waiting on the porch. They had been following us with the SPOT tracker, and saw us pull into the neighborhood so they knew when to come out and look for us. It was pretty cool that they could live update on where we were.
We had a few days in Oakville to finish up preparations and get everything ready to send off to Europe. We exploded all of our stuff on Anne Marie's front lawn. It is incredible how much stuff we can fit in our cases.
Front lawn explosion in Oakville
We spent the better part of the day reorganizing and trying to find the best system of packing everything. We also did some bike maintanence that we quickly realized was not the best idea. Oil doesn't come out of asphalt very well, and oil stains aren't welcome in a nice suburban neighborhood. We never really had that problem at our townhouse in Boulder. We spent the better part of the last day there scrubbing the shit out of the pavement, and pouring every concoction of chemicals we could think of on the oil marks. I think we still left our mark (we are very sorry Anne Marie!), but she assured us it was alright. Most of my Mom's family lives in the Niagra region so we had a little party on Sunday to see the family before we were on the way. It was a beautiful day and we had a delicous bbq. The only thing left to do was get our bikes on the plane to Brussels!
Some oil stains and good looking men/bikes