Here's the story of why I'm riding across america

Hello, I’m Dave Nowlan. I cycled from Encinitas, Calif., to Cape Cod, Mass. from April 22 through May 28, 2012 in an effort to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and to help fund research for a cure. My wife, Claire, and daughter, Julia, both have MS. I broke my back in a sledding accident almost three years ago; I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have recovered without being paralyzed and was able to ride this long cross continent adventure. Click on this link to “my story” for more information and why I continue riding. Here is a link to Information about MS

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 18 Chain Gang

Day 18 began well.  The weather was good, bright and sunny.  I had a north headwind but it was less than yesterday.  We saw more horses in the fields, Oklahoma has the most beautiful horsed I've ever seen.  Still traveling RT 66 and the hills are less challenging than yesterday. 

While riding yesterday afternoon I noticed the bike's drive train felt rough turning the cranks in some of the gears.  There were lots of hills and I was torquing up them.  Today it felt worse so I was wondering if the gears needed adjustment or the chain needed replacement.  When we stopped for lunch I inspected the chain and noticed it had stretched to the point that the chain wasn't fully engaging the chain ring.  I knew the chain needed to be replaced.  I did bring a new chain with us, so I thought the best option was to replace it before the stretched chain wears away the teeth in the cogs and chain ring. 

However the chain on the bike didn't have a maser link that could be removed by hand or with pliers.  I found out later there is a specific chain tool that presses out the pins in the links.  So I put everything back together and continued riding. 

The nearest bike shop was 50 miles away. I thought if I could have a mechanic's shop cut through the old chain, I could install the new chain and put this problem behind me.  The first opportunity was a muffler and radiator shop.  The older gentleman and owner, named Steven Smith, said all he had to cut the chain was a cutting torch.  We both decided this probably wasn't a good idea.  So off I went further down the road.

The next opportunity several miles later was Smith Automotive.  The owner's name was also, Steve Smith.  This Steve Smith offered to cut the chain with his grinding wheel.  This was acceptable, so off came the old chain.  When I installed the new chain it immediately became obvious the new chain was longer than the old one. It would not even operate on the small chain ring.  I thought I must have the wrong replacement chain. I put the bike on the back of he car and off we drove to find a bike shop. 

I spoke with Debbie Johnson, the owner of  Bicycle Specialists in Joplin MO.  She said that replacement chains come with extra links so they will fit several bikes and she could most likely make the new chain fit the bike.  So we drove there.  Tim Cote, the expert mechanic was able to help and the bike is running as smooth as silk..  I bought a chain tool, so now I'll be able to add and remove links, if necessary.  Debbie gave me a good cycling route so I could make up the difference from the time spent with the bike on the car today.  This made for a long day as I rode until sunset.

Tim Cote is not only a expert bike machanic, he is also a musician (drummer) in a band called "Me Like Bees". This is good music, check this link out.

Later in the evening, Claire and I went to a local Bob Evans restaurant where we met two waitresses, Kelsey Britt and Danielle Hext, who were amazed to hear about the cross country journey.  As it turns out, Danielle's father has Multiple Sclerosis.  I asked Danielle to tell her dad I am riding for him.  It was meant to be.

We had a full day with a perfect ending.

Steve Smith of Smith's Automotive

Tim Cote and Debbie Johnson

Kelsey Britt and Danielle Hext


  1. Dave,
    Good luck today. It is amazing to see how far you have ridden already. My family enjoys reading the blog every morning at breakfast.
    - Tim

  2. Keep it up Dave! The amazing journey continues and is a pleasure to keep up with. I'm sure it means alot to folks who have or are close to somebody with MS to meet you and hear your story. They will never forget that moment I'm sure. -Greg

  3. Nice come back on the chain issue. What an adventure - and it looks like you are meeting some great new friends as you continue your adventure. Seems like the two of you are a great time. Thanks for sharing it all!

  4. Mr. Dave,
    What time did you wake up in Missouri time this morning? You are doing a great job! Thank you for all of my postcards, I love reading them and seeing where you are riding through. Keep up the hard work!
    Love, Gavin

  5. Dave and Claire,
    Thanks so much for the daily updates. It is a great way for us to start our day here on Cape Cod and to learn of your adventures. I told Vin that you would probably be in St Louis by Sunday looks like that will truly happen. Be Safe and we love the stories and videos.
    Annie and Kevin

  6. Hi Dave. Glad you worked out the kinks on your chain issue. Better yet, you're prepared in case it comes up again. I see you've made it to Joplin, MO, so you've rode through most of the places called out in the song Route 66. I'd imagine St. Louis is coming right up. Thanks for sharing this amazing adventure through your blog.

  7. Hi Dave and Claire,
    You guys rock! Who's better than Dave, (other than Miss Claire of course)...No body! Keep fighting the good fight. Love, Boomer