Pedal On, through Iowa and Kansas: The Continued Adventures of Francisco Monlina
As I write this, Cisco is looking ahead to rolling into Pueblo, Colorado. If you're unfamiliar, check out the Google Maps satellite image. It's a bit deceiving, but Pueblo looks like it's sitting in the middle of a mountain. Cisco has got some difficult pedaling ahead.
The trip sounds like it's been one of many emotions so far. I got a frantic call a few weeks back, when, in Iowa, his famed Bianchi had sustained some major damage that had gotten to Cisco's mental state as well. Exhaustion and the sometimes lonely road can do that to a person. With the help and support of his family and some well-versed local bike mechanics, he was able to get both himself and the bike back on track.
One of my favorite stories so far involves a very small town called Iroquois, Illinois. While using the Adventure Cycling Association's maps, Cisco found that in Iroquois, traveling cyclists are welcome to stay in the Mayor's office for the night. It is air conditioned and comfortable, and offers a shower (something we at home probably take for granted). Cisco called to let them know he was coming, and when he rolled into the city (even though it was later in the evening), the mayor was there, sitting in the park, waiting for him.
He was handed the key to the mayor's office, where he found a book full of entries from other touring cyclists who had taken advantage of Iroquois' generosity. Letters of thanks, and postcards from down the road gave him some extra motivation and energy. That same night, he had some repairs to do on the bolts to his rack. After ordering food at the local bar, the bartender sent him to her house, where her husband fixed his rack, replacing the bolts with ones much stronger and more durable. Then they made him dinner...insisted he stay there...made him breakfast...gave him $20 and sent him on his way.
People. Are. Awesome.
He has encountered quite a few other touring cyclists, many of which have joined him for a few miles here and there. He's been riding and camping with friendly cyclists in Kansas for the past few days, but they will soon part ways as Cisco heads deeper into Colorado.
The latest in Cisco's gear news is that he will soon be switching to a trailer and ditching the panniers. He says that the weight of the panniers continues to be an issue and a trailer will likely be much more manageable with the mountains in his future.
Keep thinking of our friend out there on the road, sending good vibes and energy! Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like Cisco's phone number to send him messages of encouragement.