St. Joseph, Missouri to Des Moines, Iowa

Depart: St. Joseph, MO

Arrive: Des Moines, IA

Dates: June11th- June 15th

Distance Biked: 225 miles

Leaving St. Jo on Saturday morning, I had a new energy from the days of rest.  The nice cool air also helped, but I knew the ride between here and Des Moines would be the most hilly that I had ridden so far.  Another bonus for the morning, is the privilege to ride out with a group!  I had made contact with the St. Jo Bicycle Club and they had a group ride that started at about the same time I was leaving, so we decided to meet up and ride out together!  It was a welcomed experience because ever since I had started I’d been biking alone, and this gave me a chance to talk to other people while riding!  These small luxuries in life are taken for granted until you decide to bike solo around the eastern U.S…  After about 30 minutes we came up to our first hill, and THIS is where I lost em.

Having not been a big cyclist prior to this 4400 mile ride, I had no idea how much the weight of the front and rear panniers slowed me down.  Riding with these guys made it very clear that the weight DEFINITELY slows me down(or maybe I’m just very slow).  By the time I got to the top of the hill, the group was a good 1/4 mile ahead of me.  Regardless of our short cycling time together,  I appreciated the company for the few miles, and it gave me the support and encouragement I needed to get through the hills ahead.

It was a 64 mile ride from St. Jo to Albany, Missouri where I stayed at a local hotel thanks to the Albany Methodist Church.  The bed and amazing rural location was great in North West Missouri, but the stay was short.  I arrived at about 6pm and was out the next morning at 6am.  I think I’m going to jinx myself by writing this, but I have been extremely lucky as far as weather goes.  There have been numerous threats of thunderstorms producing hail, lightning, and tornados, but so far, I have barely had it sprinkle on me.  This morning yet again brought word of scattered storms forecasted through out the day, so I headed out early, hoping to get to Afton, IA before the storms had a chance to hit me.

I applied layer after layer of sunscreen waiting for some cloud cover to show any sign of potential rain… Only once for about 30 minutes did I get some relief from the sun, and only about 15 seconds of that cloud cover produced a light drizzle.  Luckily for me, the bright sun wasn’t bringing any of that Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas heat with it that I had grown accustom to over these last few weeks.  About 8 hours and a quick 75 miles later, I had arrived to a gorgeous lake  in Afton, IA called Three Mile Lake.  Not only was the park beautiful with its bright green colors, and large flat lake, but the park employees were kind enough to upgrade me from camp site to CABIN!  I got another comfy bed with luxurious A/C!  I made friends with some Nebraska Cornhuskers in the cabin beside me, and after a couple hours of conversation, they headed to the lake for some catfish, and I headed to BED!  Another amazing accomplishment of the night: DALLAS MAVERICKS BECOME NBA CHAMPIONS!  I was slightly bitter for missing the game, but am proud of the ol’ Mavericks for beating the Heat!

NEXT DAY! I keep goin north to Des Moines on a long, looooooong 80 miles which took me about 13 hours…  Hills, Heat, Humidity, and a BIG STORM slowed me down quite a bit on this last stretch to Iowa’s capital.  AGAIN, I lucked out and was next to a beautiful “site seeing opportunity” when the storm blew in.  It was called, “Godfathers Pizza” and was made up of mounds of pizza next to valleys of lettuce and salads.  The aroma of pizza filled my nose as the taste of their buffet filled my tummy.  It was a welcome treat because I hadn’t eaten today, and the storm was a BIG ONE bringing lightning and lots of rain and wind!  After waiting out the storm for 1 1/2 hours I was back on the road. Rolling hill after rolling hill, I was closing into my destination with only about 10 miles remaining when I decided to disregard construction signs.  I quickly realized my mistake when I ended up accidentally going through some mud. Little problem turned big when the mud began to cake between my rear wheel and fender.  It froze up the wheel making it necessary to take it off and scrape all the mud off.  Impatient from the long day, one mistake lead to another, which involved my wheel nearly coming off while I was riding!  After a quick repair,  I continued on and finally arrived at the friend of a friend’s place, where I would be staying for the next couple nights.

I actually was staying about 10 miles north of Des Moines in a town called Ankeny.  I stayed there for 3 nights, mostly working on thank you letters, my route, places to stay, and the Biolume Glo run happening in Denton, TX on July 9th, 2011.  Often times the days “off” are becoming more overwhelming than the days in which I am riding.  As I become more in shape, the riding is starting to be a better day off than the days in the cities.  Soon I will have everything down to a science, and my time off the bike will become more enjoyable and less “work-like”.

“Every good act is charity. A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows.”-Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Moliere)

PLEASE consider donating to Infinity and Beyond.  Our goal isn’t to bike around the world, but to bike for the benefit of the mission.  That mission is to raise money for cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center and to assist less fortunate individuals with the costs of cancer care.

Click here to be directed to a donation page.  All donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law.

Thanks for following along, and for your help and support,

Sam Davenport

Next Blog->Des Moines to Chicago

Wichita, KS to St. Joseph, MO

Depart:Wichita, KS
Arrive:St. Joseph, MO 
Dates- June 4 to June 10
Distance- 268 miles

After a great stay in Wichita, KS with couchsurfer Alisha, it was time to head off towards the next destination, St. Joseph, Missouri.  With record temperatures all over the news and forecast, I knew this was gonna be a tough leg!  Then again, when I first started planning this I knew there would be tough days and there would be easy days.  Facing the tough ones with my gloves on ready to fight is what makes you strong.  So with my cycling shoes on, my sun screen on thick, and my water bottles full and cold(for about 30 minutes), I headed Northeast towards my first stop, Florence, KS.

Hot is an understatement on this first day.  Temperatures reached 100 degrees with no cloud in the sky.  I made it a mere 15 miles before having to retreat to a small convenience store.  I had biked in some heat, but this was absolutely brutal.  I felt light headed, my legs were completely shot, and I still had 42 miles to go.  It was right at noon and I wasn’t feeling great, so I hung out for an hour and a half before starting back up.  Most days I had a southern wind at my back giving me a light cool breeze, but not today.  I’d go 5 or 7 miles before stopping and finding a shaded bush to sit under.  The 67 mile day took me about 10 hours to complete, and up until I finally arrived, I felt like death.

Every time a car would approach I’d consider throwing up the thumb and asking for help, but I somehow kept going.  Minutes and feet felt like hours and miles.  I found myself thinking if this is truly what I wanted to do.  It’s only the beginning of June and the heat isn’t going to stop.  I’d stop and lay myself out on the asphalt, staring up at the sky.  What am I doing…Is my effort really making a difference…why can’t I just go back home… Just ahead I could see a storm.  Lightning, hail, tornados never crossed my mind.  The cool rain was the only thing I could imagine, and it was like dangling a carrot in front of a horse.  It somehow kept me barely going.  I never caught up with it..

I arrived into Florence around 7:30pm.  A local resident had reserved me a bed and breakfast, and also bought me a nice juicy burger at a local joint.  I feel like the whole cafe could see straight through me. It probably wasn’t too tough, I could barely hold my head up, and was chugging water like I had just crawled across the Sahara.  They’d ask me questions, and my exhaustion had me struggling to come up with a response.  At the end of our conversations, I had somehow raised nearly 80 dollars from these friendly people, and it gave me a new found energy.

Now writing about this, I can fully realize, I MADE IT.  Despite how vividly I can remember the pain, and struggle I had experienced that day, I made it to my goal.  My questions of doubt were answered.  If we fight through our struggles and keep going, we are rewarded.  The reward being the knowledge that I still haven’t reached my limit.  I have grown mentally and physically. Had I quit, I would’ve missed out on that mental victory and sense of achievement.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” -Fredrick Douglass

I had passed out around 9pm texting my brother, “I dont know if my legs will be able to go tomorrow.” The next day it was like my legs were shouting, “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT!”  Same temperatures, same wind, same sun, but with a different outlook on my abilities.

The Flint Hills make the legs tired but are a true sight.  With different shades of green, the hills were gorgeous and made losing your self in thought an easy occurrence.  Knowing the struggle that I overcame yesterday, made it easier to face them today.

Questions of success are no longer in my mind and I have a new found focus.  Before I know it, I biked 73 miles through gravel/dirt roads, over bridges and hills, and have arrived in Miller, KS, population 30.  I stayed with 2 very nice people who made me a GREATmeal in their country home.

The bed was comfy and I was up the next day ready to tackle the ride to the capital, Topeka! A hot 46 miles later I was at the capital and getting a fun tour of the capital by my host.  Couch surfing has proven very useful and I definitely enjoyed my short time here.

Quick nights sleep and out the door again on my way to Atchison, KS!  I rode 57 miles to get to Atchison, arriving late in the afternoon to my new host, Kyle Walter’s home.  After a very refreshing shower and a little conversation, me and Kyle went out for dinner with his mom at a local chinese buffet.  OHHHH MAN.. so good, and I ate so much.  We had a great conversation regarding mind set and cancer.  Kyle’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer and underwent alternative treatments, and is now cancer free.  The question at the table was wether or not the treatment or the the aunt’s constant positive outlook was responsible for her recovery.  I am no expert on treatments, but I do know that no matter what obstacle you are faced with in life, the outcome is generally much better if you go into it with confidence and a willingness to fight.

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”- Bill Cosby

Positivity is the most efficient and effective cure to any of life’s problems and the best part of it all?  IT FREE!  You don’t need insurance to cover it, you don’t need to take a loan to pay for it, and you sure don’t need a doctors prescription to receive it.  Every morning you have 2 choices.  Roll out of bed with your head down low, dreading the day to come and the problems that come with it, or you can hop up ready to tackle what comes and grow stronger.

Due to the delayed delivery of a package I was expecting, I stayed another night in Atchison, before heading 25 miles to St. Joseph, MO.  The extra day was great, and Kyle drove me into Kansas City, MO so I could check it out.  It was a good day of motorized exploration that I wouldn’t have gotten to do otherwise.  Thanks Kyle!

Anyways, in St. Joseph I stayed with couch surfer  Jesse Rice and his two room mates who were all 3 VERY nice and great hosts!  While in St. Jo, I visited my usual office of choice, a local coffee shop, got some work done, and did an interview for the local news!  That evening, I went to a local hangout and listened to an awesome 8 piece acoustic band.  It was a great and  much needed time for relaxation.

The riding is getting easier, my legs are getting stronger, and it seems that the amount of people following along is growing!  I have thoroughly enjoyed the riding, and am 100% appreciative of all the support that I am receiving.  I encourage you to donate today so that Infinity and Beyond can fulfill their mission to help fund cancer research and treatment for those who can’t afford it.

Thanks!

Sam Davenport

Next Blog ->St. Jo to Des Moines!

Norman to Wichita

Dates- May 28 to June 3

Distance- 207 miles

Depart-Norman, OK

Arrive-Wichita, KS

 

Sorry about the delay in the blog!  The amount of planning involved in this ride is sometimes overwhelming, but I’m making it!  The ride is going AMAZINGLY so far.  I have already met so many great people, and I am just getting started!  My legs are becoming more in shape, my ability to approach people about the mission is getting way better, and not a single chance of tornados on this ride!

 

Before I begin, let me go ahead a squash a few rumors. Oklahoma.. ISNT FLAT.  Kansas? NO, NOT FLAT EITHER.  I’m not sure where these rumors arose from, possibly the same place as Texans still riding their horses to work and school.   Go ahead and remove those thoughts from your mental hard drive.  There are definitely some flat roads, but I rode along some wonderfully curvaceous landscapes, and my legs were quite upset for lying to them about the possible relief lying up ahead. From my entrance into Oklahoma across the Red River to HWY 15 crossing into Kansas, searching for flat land was like searching for the Holy Grail…

 

Also, I want to let everyone know how I am setting up my free accommodation (the majority of the time)!   I am part of a free online organization called Couch Surfing, www.couchsurfing.org.  It is an amazing network of 1,000’s of people all over the world willing to host travelers on their couch/bed/floor.  I have been apart of this organization for a few years now, and absolutely love it! Unalterable references, monitored conversations, and location verification all contribute towards the safety of it all.  You have the choice of who you stay with, and they have the choice of hosting you, based on references you’ve received and information you have in your profile.   If you love traveling, I highly recommend you check into it.

“The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.” -Robert Cushing

Leaving Norman, I headed north to stay with family of mine in Arcadia, OK, a town NE of Oklahoma City.  The ride was short, about 45 miles, HOT, the roads were pretty good, and I had a short experience of riding on the famous ROUTE 66!  It was kind of exciting to bike on it, but the adrenaline came when noticing the lack of shoulder to bike on, and the bountiful number of semis and cars frequenting it.  Lucky for me, I was only on it for a few miles.

It’s memorial weekend and I lucked out finding out I was going to be treated to steaks tonight at my relative’s house!  I am one of those guys that couldn’t live without meat.  One day I tried to be a vegetarian to see if I could do it.   My friend invited me for fajitas that night.  What was I to do? Not eat it?  HA…I ate the heck out of em, and dismissed the idea of Sam Davenport, a vegetarian. Anyways, I love meat, and the wonderful dinner they provided was greatly appreciated!

The next morning, I headed towards Stillwater, OK, home of Oklahoma State University, to stay with one of my great childhood friends, Ally and her boyfriend Tyler.  The ride was another relatively short one of 43 miles.   Heat and my inability to wake up early are sure to get the best of me on this trip.   One of em has to give.  Heat, “stop being selfish and give up.”  I need my sleep.  I’m going through water like a fish, and “convenience” in “Convenience Store” has never been more true. These stores are like angels, with their air-conditioned goodness and their ability to make empty water bottles full.

It was a short day, and I arrived into Stillwater around 5.  We relaxed and cooled off, eating some yummy bratwursts for dinner before hittin the hay!  The next day I got some work done in a local coffee shop before going to another relatives house in the Stillwater area, for an amazing dinner! As I’m enjoying this amazing dinner, im wondering how on earth I will survive once I leave.  From here on out, I’m not staying with friends and family, but with strangers willing to open their home to me.  No more steaks and family talk.

Here is a short video that was broadcasted on the Oklahoma News.

Past this point, I am truly out on my own, able to rely only on myself and the goodness of others for help on the road.  The adventure, motivation, and outside support holds back the doubt.  What is to come is sure to be a life altering experience, and I just have stay faithful.  As with all big steps in life, there will be ups and downs, but this journey isn’t about me.  I must realize that the journey is bigger than myself.  I am aiming to inspire and encourage others.

I am not an avid bicyclist.  Outside of these long distance bike rides, I have probably biked a total of 300 miles in my entire life.  I am not an extremely athletic individual.  Im undersized and slow.  I am an ordinary every day guy, with a lot of drive and determination.  The ride isn’t about getting through the day, and from point A to B, or about making it 4400 miles.  It’s about the ability for an ordinary individual to do something extraordinary.  I hope that the endurance and drive that I show in these rides, gives you the inspiration to go out and do something outside your boundaries.  I think I am amazed as you are, that I can do these long rides day after day.  The more you attempt to step outside those self-set boundaries, the more you will realize they aren’t really there!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”- Harriet Tubman

Leaving Stillwater towards Ponca City, OK, is where this whole journey becomes unfamiliar.  I am on my way to stay with someone I have never met, in an area I’ve never been.  I no longer have the comfort of close by relatives and friends, but on I go!  Its about 39 miles, another short one, before I arrive at the home of Roger and Carolyn, an older couple, both cancer survivors and now enthusiastic travelers!  They were testaments of the ability to fight and win.  Despite doctors opinions, they overcame cancer in the 90′s and are now couchsurfing, traveling, and remain eager learners.  While I was there, they were planning their trip to Peru this Fall, and told me of their travels to Austria and Turkey.

From Ponca City, the end of Leg 2 was the city of Wichita, KS, 80 miles away.  Despite the heat, the day and the miles flew by.  Something that is still puzzling me, is my body’s ability to one day go through it all with ease, and then the next day struggle so hard to make it even short distances.  Who knows!?  Anyways I fly through the day and arrive in Wichita and meet my host, Alisha.   Alisha is not your ordinary person.  She taught me a lot in the short time I was with her.  I’ve never met a 25 year old who helped out the world in so many ways.  She is an employee at Breakthrough(non-profit dedicated to providing support for individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.), her dog was from the Humane Society, she had homemade recycling bins in her apartment, she is a volunteer for YMCA, she is a member in a youth group forming their own church, and thats just what I can remember… Not only all this, but she is a very humble and extremely down to earth person.  Looking at her and talking to her, you would never know that she had so much going on.  Oh, and the day I left, she ran a 10k.  Awesome person, and I am very glad I got to meet her.

Keeper of the Plains

Every day we subconsciously evaluate ourselves in comparison with others.  When we are in the presence of those who are lazy and making no effort to better their life and those around us, it’s easy to feel satisfied with ourselves.  Better your selves by surrounding yourself with people who want to better themselves.  When your in the presence of people like Alisha, it just makes you want to do more.

“We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

-Sam Davenport

Please consider donating to the cause.  Infinity and Beyond is an organization that is doing extraordinary things to help raise money for cancer research and to help fund cancer treatment for those who can’t afford it.  Without donations, we can’t continue our efforts!  Thanks for the support!

Next Leg- St. Joseph, MO to Des Moines, Iowa

 

 

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