After breakfast at Cracker Barrel (their hasbrown casserole is more addictive than crack cocaine) I loaded the bike and headed out to what would have been my stop on a third day of riding, Logansport.

I’d checked my online banking balance before leaving and noticed that the hotel I was staying at had charged me for two nights.  I assumed since I was using a debit card they’d dinged me for some sort of dumbass “security deposit,” so I went to the front desk to inquire.

“No, sir, we have you down for two nights,” the front desk manager explained.  I had to go through the whole story of getting there a night early, only staying for one night, etc., etc.  They promised to credit the card back.  In the meantime, of course, I’d be denied use of those funds until my bank decided to free them up again.

This was going to be a much shorter day than the previous as I was only going about 60 miles.

It seems like there’s a tradition with me on long bicycle rides, though.  Somewhere within the first 5 miles of the second day’s jaunt, I’m going to get a flat tire on the back.  Sure enough, less than four miles after I started, I felt that horrible sluggish feeling I know all too well.

In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that bad.  I unloaded all the panniers, took off the headlight and the odometer, flipped the bike upside down, and undid the quick release to remove the tire.  Actually removing the tire itself from the rim was the hardest part of the job.  Those tires were on there tight.

I was sitting in a nice grassy patch on some bank’s front lawn.  The temperature was in the mid 70s, I’m guessing.  All in all, if you’re going to break down, this was about as good a place as any to do so.

What I discovered when changing the tire was that I was getting pretty low on inner tubes and CO2 cartridges.  I was down to just one of each.  Remembering the “four flat day” of last year, I knew I’d better stock up as soon as I could.

Which turned out to be in Kokomo.

Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take you . . .

As soon as I got into town I searched Google for a nearby bicycle shop.  The one it directed me to wasn’t there any longer.  It was now a general fitness equipment store.  I must have looked pretty confused as a security guard for the place caught my eye and asked if he could help.

“Yeah, I’m looking for XYZ bicycle shop.”

“Well, this is ABC Fitness Store.”

“I can see that.  Do you know if they carry bicycle supplies?”

“Not much.  Tell you what.  Where you want to go is the Schwinn store.”  He proceeded to give me directions. I thanked him for his time and took off in the direction he’d indicated.

Sure enough, less than a mile away, nestled in an industrial section, was a stand-alone building with a big Schwinn Bicycle sign out front.  It struck me as an odd place to put a bicycle store.  In the front window their “open” sign was lit, so I took it as an invitation to go inside.

The day had turned pretty warm and the store was air conditioned.  I dawdled.  After a few minutes, a guy named Mike came over to see what he could do for me:

You’re going through Gary, huh?  Might I suggest the handlebar mounted Glock?

I told him about my trip to Chicago.  When I mentioned going through Gary, he, like the cop in Richmond, winced and suggested I might be better off finding another route.  He was diplomatic about it.

We chatted about long rides.  RAGBRAI had just ended the week prior.  He said he’d never been, but that was mainly because he worked in a bicycle store.  Summertime was prime time.  If he’d taken a week off during prime time to go ride a bicycle himself, he’d come back to find someone else had been given his job.  (Things are tough all over, aren’t they?)

I’d told him about how tough it was to get my tire off that morning.  He showed me a couple of tricks that I prayed I wouldn’t have to use anytime soon.

I spent about $30 buying spare tubes, CO2 cartridges, and some new tire removal tools.  My mental calculator was adding up all the money I was putting out on this trip.  In thinking about going cross-country in two years, the little warning bells were saying, “Dude, you’re not going to be able to afford this.”

I finally caught up with US 35 again (feckless bitch, she) and pointed my faithful steel steed northward.  At the first intersection this caught my eye:

How would you like your steak?  Scattered, covered, and smothered?

That didn’t look like any Waffle House sign I’d ever seen.  The restaurant itself obviously was from an alternate universe.  Because, like the sign, it didn’t look like any Waffle House I’d ever been in:

The alternate universe Waffle House where the cooks look like Spock with a beard.  (It’s a Trekkie joke.)

Had it been breakfast, I might have been tempted to scoot across the busy 8 lane highway and check it out.  Instead, I made a mental note that the next time I’m in Kokomo, I should stop by.

My inability to read my electronic maps headed its ugly rear again.  As I was getting close to Logansport, I turned way too early and found myself on US 24.  That cost me about four extra miles of riding.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but, at 12 miles per hour, a mile takes 5 minutes to ride.  Four miles is an additional 20 minutes of riding time.  Make too many of those mistakes in a day, and you’ve managed to get nowhere.  Just imagine the frustration of being in a hot, uncomfortable car, with no air conditioning, moving at a snail’s pace, realizing you’ve just missed your turn, and now you’ve got another 20 minutes to sit in a traffic jam.  That’s the feeling I got when I realized I had made a mistake.

Near as I can tell, there wasn’t a single port in the whole town.  Logan got robbed.

I got to my new hotel, the Logansport Inn, pretty late.  It seemed I’d taken my very sweet time getting there even though it was only 63 miles total.  (Including the 4 mile screw-up on US 24.)  I explained to the manager that my reservation was for the next day, but I was in town a day early.  If we could please cancel the following day’s reservation and make a new one for today, I’d be most appreciative.  She told me she was on it.  I thought, “Yeah, the guy at the hotel last night said he was ‘on it,’ too, but that didn’t turn out well.”

I needed to do some laundry as I’d only brought two days worth of clothes, but the hotel didn’t have a guest laundry on-site.  Their on-site restaurant was closing early, too.  So it was back on the bike to buy laundry stuff (more money that I didn’t count on spending, though I should have prepared better) and on dinner.

My body was exhausted.  180 miles in two days.  Yet I couldn’t go to sleep until about 2AM.  At least I had sweet dreams of Waffle House with Spock telling the waitresses their orders were illogical.