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Sunday, May 13, 2007

It was so windy today I saw a chicken lay the same egg twice

That was just one of the many jokes we heard last night at dinner from Dan. This one held special signifigance for us though. I do understand that with rolling grasslands one is liable to experience a sustained wind. Well this morning, we woke up, had a hearty granola and cornbread breakfast and headed out into the world.

The first thing I noticed (well turns out I noticed wrong) was a strong wind headed east (that mean at our backs and a good thing. Dan from the Bed and Breakfast (who has previously studied the Adventure Cycling maps) assured me that at Rush Center we would head South and have the wind in our face. Well, I was standing there experiencing the same wind and I thought he was wrong. On top of all that, he said the wind generally comes from the South in Kansas this time of year, again, I had heard and read that the wind generally goes West to East (besides, what does he know, he only lives and farms here and has done so for the last 30 years) this time of year.

So we planned on filling up with water at Rush Center (more on this later), then turning South. Well Dan, I hate to admit it, but you were right. Not only was the wind in our face but it was blowing something fierce. We had a few small rolling hils ahead of us (as is the norm here in Kansas) but they did not look very daunting after our trek through the mountains.

Let me tell you folks I have yet to experience anything as demoralizing as a strong headwind. At least with a mountain you can see it coming (although as I have said before there is always another hill just around the corner) and prepare for it. You know there is an end to it, and you can see the grade and climb ahead of you (not like the mountain will suddenly change shape on you, if it does, you are a goner anyway).

With the wind a nice beautiful flat (or slightly downhill) ride, becomes an almost insurmountable task. Going downhill today I spent a lot of time in my lowest gear struggling to get up to 4.5 mph. A few times as the wind would increase and really hit me hard I wanted to stop and cry in frustration. We had 19 miles on this South, hilly, and very windy road. I wondered (as I do often now) how other people get through this cross-country ride.

Much to my surprise, by about mile 15 I was getting used to the constant push of the wind. I am not saying I enjoyed it, but if I had to I could have gone on. At this point there was only one limiting factor for me: water.

I have the capacity with my bottles and bladder bag to cary about 1.25 gallons of water on my bike, Heather can carry about .8 gallons on hers. This is normally sufficient for about 35-45 miles. In any given day I drink about 2-2.5 gallons of water (some mixed with Gookinaide or Gatorade). We plan our stops accordingly to fill up our water before we (by we, I mean I) run out. Since we have been out of the mountains I have not been filling the bladder bag (to save weight), and it remains packed inside the BoB. Well, two times now we have run out of water in between towns. The first time was trying to keep up with the ironman and ironwoman (stupid, I know), we flew right through the town where we planned on filling up. The second time was today.

As we pulled into Rush Center, KS we noticed a lot of closed doors. Now keep in mind, this is the kinda town that if you need gas and the store is closed you call Paul at home and he comes down and opens up for you. For us poor cyclists, the entire town was closed on Sunday until 4 pm. We were planning on eating at the Mexican restaurant reccomended by Elaine then filling up our water there. Unfortunately, we were there arround noon and still had a good 30+ miles to go. We did a quick check of water, ate an energy bar for lunch, and headed into the wind. I had to go ahead because my water need is calculated by time not distance. If I stay with Heather, the time increases between water holes for me. So I raced (I use that term loosely here) into the wind towards our agreed upon meeting place. When I got there I still had about 1.5 bottles left of water. I had passed several houses but I was too shy to knock on the door and ask for water. With my remaining bottle (1.5) we still had 14 miles (with a lateral wind, not head wind) to go. I did not know how much Heather had left cause she was a ways back from me. I wanted to have one bottle ready for her if she needed it. I saw a grain elevator about a half mile (back into the headwind) past our turning point and decided to try my luck. I found a hose that worked and was very thankful. The water tasted like old nasty hose but it was wet and drinkable so I was not complaining, much.

By the time Heather rolled over the hill (after 4 independant drivers informed she was still going and doing ok back there) I had some almond butter and jelly sandwiches ready. She still had some water left. I have learned my lesson and tomorrow I will venture forth with a full bladder bag of water in addition to my normal bottles.

We ate and relaxed there on the side of the road. The last 14 miles went better than I thought. 5 miles on the road and we hit the Fort Larned national Historical site, managed by the National park service. They were closed but we biked in anyway. Their water was cool, clean and refreshing.

We made it into Larned, KS with time to spare and 56 miles under our belt. We have a food drop here that I will get tomorrow morning at the post office, while Heather bikes on ahead.

I want to sleep early tonight so we can get an early start tomorrow. So good night for now.



mom and dad said...

Let's hope that chicken doesn't have to lay more than one egg today. Althought this morning it looks pretty windy out there again.
Everything should be pretty green with all the rain folks have had here in the midwest. Will see you soon. Love, m & d

Anonymous said...

I have lots of cold icy water waiting here for you, can't wait to see you. aunt Janice