Upon entering Illinois I found my tire tread was peeling off the tire, much like a retreaded car tire does. I swapped out with a spare set and noticed my rear rim was once again cracked. This perplexed me since I dropped a lot of gear and have ridden nicer roads and trails since Ithaca. I also had only gone a couple thousand miles. I decided to ride to Missouri, where I would meet my mom and have her bring a spare bike for me to finish out the last week of the trip without risking too much on the rim. When I left St Louis to meet her, I decided to check out a bike shop that was en route - Wheel Sports.
They were setting up shop as I pulled up and greeted me with warm smiles and much encouragement. We talked about my trip a bit and I informed them of my rim dilemma. I had trouble reaching Trek, so I decided to take care of the rim myself if possible. The shop didn't have a rim for me but called another nearby shop, which had one in stock. The owner, Kim, drove me over to the shop. That shop gave me the rim at cost, saving me about 50% of the cost. We went back to the Wheel Sports shop and got the bike going with the new rim and tuning up everything else. Steve, the manager/mechanic and I hit it off and worked on my bike together and swapped stories of life on bikes and life in general. Before I knew it, I had spent 5 hours in the shop. I needed to get going so I could meet my mom and grandpa in Columbia so we could make Kirksville the next day.
The bike worked great and Steve and Kim were great and very encouraging in my ride. It was yet another Godwink and encouragement to why I am on this trip and to keep my morale strong to finish.
Tomorrow I get to my uncle's place in Omaha, then an aunt's in Lincoln, then home. It should be around 200 miles left. I'm anxious to have the opportunity to have a break where I won't have to get on the road within a couple of days.
I hope to update a couple more times before the end of the trip. I promise to update the map, some photos, and a wind up entry after the trip is over, so keep checking back for a while after the trip is over to find stat updates and a few more surprises.