Heroes to Zeros – Pittsburg to Nowhere

Our first day off for nearly 3 weeks. We’ve cycled over the Appalacians and the Ozarks. We wanted a rest. We needed a rest. Hell, we deserved a rest. Mike, Jessica and Tuan peddled off though towards the promised golden flatlands of Kansas after the now obligatory photo shoot and we all reckoned that we’d see each other soon due to Nero or Zero days. Zero days are rest days/days off … i.e. no miles days. Nero days are just short days, for whatever reason … near zero. It’s all TransAm speak, don’t worry.


Camping with the RVs at Pittsburgh, Kansas

We decamped leisurely, airing the sleeping bags and drying the tents and last night’s washing in the early morning sun before checking into a motel about 10 am. Within minutes our room looked like a Chinese laundry … stuff all over the place … clothes hanging, draping or drying on every piece of furniture in the room. And that included the lampshades. Whack up the air-con. Next, put all the gizmos on charge and then shower … again. It’s so darn humid.


A traditional American breakfast at Bob’s Grill. While we were there we were invited to stay in Oklahoma by two of the customers on a fishing trip. Another example of the generosity and hospitality of the people we’ve met on this trip.

It was heaven riding down to the bike shop without panniers … our bikes felt like top notch carbon flying machines. Deep joy. A reassuring ‘nothing needs doing’ diagnosis from yer man and we were off flying again to Bob’s Grill for a late breakfast. I can’t believe what, and how much, I’m putting into my temple of a body … tall stacks with extra maple syrup came after eggs, toast, hash browns and Suzie Q’s (sic), all washed down with endless cups of strong coffee and finally a gallon of root beer.

Susie Qs

The curly fries are known locally as Susie Qs

Stocked up ready for a 10 minute tour of downtown Pittsburg, we pootled down Main St, scanning the buildings and shops … for a late midweek morning it was eerily empty … looking for evidence of it’s former glory days as a centre of a large bituminous coal industry. (The large green city park where we camped was once an open cast strip mine). The grand 1890s Stilwell Hotel and the 1920s Colonial Theater (being renovated) stood out amongst the mostly non-descript turn of the century buildings.


The Stilwell Hotel, Pittsburg, one of the town’s historic buildings.

 Paul assumed his preferred horizontal ‘cool dude’ position as I went into the Egyptian inspired Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium to see if there was a concert  or anything on that evening. Sadly not, only dancing auditions for young girls to be in a forthcoming production of Annie.

We decided that we’d seen most of what downtown Pittsburg had to offer, so tour over we headed home to catch up on the blog, buy fresh fruit and veg (heaven!) and generally crash out … it was our day off! Too many hours on those tablets later, we decided to stretch our legs and venture all the way to the other


A rare moment on tour – Paul crashes out on our rest day

side of the road to Wendy’s for a change of scenery and a drink. Whilst chatting about how all the old downtown bits of towns we’d seen were now rundown and/or empty, we realised the irony of where we were …. sitting in what was probably the reason for Pittsburg’s and the general American town’s demise … the endless, car based, edge of town retail parks. A deliberate post war policy to modernise. We got soaked in a short, sharp thunderstorm on our way back. The intensity of the rain was a foretaste for the next day …

Written by Terry Wooller

1 Comment

  1. A month today since departure date and many miles covered, people met and tales told! Hope the next month brings us sofa cyclists more good reads!

    Keep on pedalling, those Rockies beckon!!!

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