Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Day 16 Rest Day in Topeka, KS FIRST HALF SUMMARY

I sleep in till 8:00. What a treat. After breakfast I clean my bike chain with Dave’s help, then read the paper. Take a nap, then check the tires, pulling out a piece of wire, then rotate the tires. The package Dorothy sent arrives with Brownies and a note. Another nice treat. Thanks! Ride my bike to Subway as a way to make sure the tires are okay after the rotation, then go to the Whirlpool. The hotel has a water slide, so I go down that a couple of times.

First Half Summary

Half-way there !

I’ve ridden from Costa Mesa, CA to Topeka, KS – 1,696 miles in 15 days.

While not once have I doubted my ability to make it all the way, there have been challenges that have made it an adventure. From mechanical issues that required the coordination of two bike stores and the assistance of a rider from a previous year in New Mexico, to dangerous weather conditions in Kansas, there have been times where the future was uncertain. The terrible tornado in Greensburg, Kansas, was only 25 miles from where we were in Dodge City. The next night, when we were in Great Bend, tornados hit several miles away. We were in tornado shelters in a number of different places in town. Shelters varied significantly, from an interior room at the hotel, to the kitchen next to the pots and knives at a restaurant, to the pillow aisle at Walmart. The next day we rode through strong winds and took shelter several times as storms blew past – in community shelters, barns, convenience stores, and farm houses along the way. One rider had to drop out due to health reasons and another has had two minor crashes, but overall we’ve come through the first half safe and sound.

It has been a pleasant surprise at how friendly and helpful people have been along the way. People stop and ask if we need help when we are changing flat tires (I’ve only had two so far;others had have ten or more), they’ve welcomed us into their homes to take shelter from storms, and given us rides when we’ve needed to get to a bike stores.

While I have always known that there is a wide range of geographies in our country, it is quite something else to actually see it all first hand. From the dry, desolate desert in California, to the Arizona mountains to the arid New Mexico and finally to the green plains of Kansas, there is tremendous diversity. While each is beautiful in its own way, I like the green of Kansas the best so far – more life and, in a way, more like home.

One of the slower riders – not that anyone is a weak rider who can average over 110 miles a day for 15 days, but a relative classification – broke the group into two categories, the studs and the duds. I’m pleased to report that I fall into the stud category, although probably a dudly stud.

I knew I would be eating a lot, but it is still odd to pull into town in mid-afternoon, order a milkshake or two and perhaps a sandwich, eat a big dinner a few hours later, then top it off a bit later with a pint of ice cream or some other desert. Of course this is on top of lunch along the way and frequent eating while on the bike. I know I haven’t gained any weight; hopefully I haven’t lost too much.

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