It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
After a hearty breakfast in the heart of Des Moines, we bid adieu to our splendid host, Bill, and set off to brave the wicked winds of the West. Our ride was off to a lovely start as we zoomed on bike trails that were smooth as butter and surrounded by verdant forest. We were cruising along the Raccoon River Valley trail when Jamie discovered that he had broken yet another spoke. Having used our very last replacement the night prior, and being many miles away from a bike store, we were stuck up creek without a paddle. Enter Brian, our savior. In a very fortuitous series of events, we got a ride with this kind gentleman who not only happened to have a pick up truck and some time on his hands, but had biked across the country himself!!
Bri-guy brought us and our bikes to his fave bike shop (shout out to Bike World – haaaaaaay!!). We thought we were going in for a mere spoke replacement, yet two hours later we emerged with new wheels, new tires, and new brake pads. In classic Mer-Jamie style, we had been neglecting to fix these things for many a week, so it took the wisdom (and assertiveness) of the bike shop pros to finally make it happen.
We jetted out once again, feeling so fresh and so fly with our new setups, though it did take some time to get used to the fact that our brakes were actually working. All was going swimmingly until Mere had a space out moment and went CRASH BOOM BANG into a fence. She was wearing her newly purchased hi-vis (high visibility) vest, but clearly the fence was not. She escaped with only a few minor flesh wounds and soon enough we were on our way again. We made our way through small town Iowa, enjoying the views and the nicely paved roads. This changed 16 miles away from our destination for the night, when we were once again met with our arch enemy- gravel. Nonetheless, we continued to enjoy ourselves as we conquered hill after hill, taking in the beautiful, expansive sky as it began to blush pink with sunset.
It was a measly 5 miles from the finish line, that the tables turned and one of the hills conquered Meredith. Indeed, ol’ Mere went careening down a hill at warp speed only to be met by a nasty patch of loose gravel at the end, this time acquiring a not so minor flesh wound. What could have been a perilous situation (stuck, bleeding, deep in the countryside with night setting in), turned out miraculously well, thanks to a few key players. Penny, our Warmshowers host who we planned to stay with that night, fetched us and our bikes and brought us to her home where a delicious feast awaited us. An hour or so later, Paul and Annette Smith, rolled in and brought us straight to the ER in Omaha.
The first hospital decided Mere’s gruesome wound was out of their league, so they sent her across town sporting some fresh new scrubs. Our grand tour of Omaha’s hospitals came to an end at Nebraska Medical Center, where a kind young doctor spent 30 minutes collecting bits of gravel and dirt from inside Mere’s thigh before sealing the deal with NINETEEN stitches. As Mere’s grandmother said, “nineteen! They’re old enough to vote!” If stitches could vote, you can bet these babies would be voting for Hill-dawg. #Hurtingforhillary.
We were finally released from the hospital at the dark hour of 4 am. We returned home for a steak dinner (breakfast? brinner?) to help compensate for all the iron Mere lost that day. The sun was beginning to rise when these weary little soldiers finally laid down to rest.
You will all be pleased to know that, two days later, Mere is healing up nicely and looking forward to her gnarly battle scar. Though the majority of her time in Omahaha has been spent in the supine position, this dangerous duo has managed to get out on occasion and see some of the sights. The Joslyn Art Museum was a highlight, particularly Andrew Moore’s exhibit, the Dirt Meridian. His photos highlight life along the 100th meridian, which intersects the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These glorious pics of life at the gateway to the Western frontier made us a little sad to not be biking through and seeing it for ourselves. However, we have vowed to one day come back and fill in the gap between Omaha and Denver (which we will be traveling via train tonight). West to East this time- tail wind baby!!!
Now we are off to enjoy another crisp Nebraskan day.
Love trumps hate,
Meredith, Jamie, (Mike, Ben, and Nina in spirit)