I left Eureka yesterday and cycled 63 miles of a much more beautiful Kansas. Kansas and I are becoming friends. I saw butterflies almost the size of my palm and rolling green hills. I got some tailwind (finally!) which felt wonderful and I went over 20 mph, a first in over a week.
What are the lessons learned during the hard days? Mother Nature is not a force to fight. The wind has been the biggest challenge of the trip. By far. Typically cyclists traveling east get a tailwind, but not the week I'm in Kansas. Mother Nature switched it up. Lesson? Can't rely on prior stats, data, forecasts. Unpredictable challenges occur. Everyday. The days I have little wind or a tailwind I've come to appreciate. The 110 degree days I had? I've come to appreciate trees along the road for shade, 90 degree weather, the West- where I had water sources to jump into, cool nights. The challenges put everything into perspective.
I had a picnic lunch in Coyville and arrived in Chanute around 2:30. Some of the Wounded Warrior group had arrived at the city park, some were behind me. I set up camp, showered and headed into town. Sat in Giovanni's and ate what I think was the best chicken parm I've ever eaten. The piece of chicken was the size of a frisbee on a pile of spaghetti with authentic meat sauce (see photo). I ate half of it, caught up on my postcard writing and went to see a movie. Grown Ups 2 wasn't the most intellectually stimulating, emotional movie... By I laughed! Best part was sitting in air con for 2 hours. Hopped on my bike and was back at camp by 9:45pm, most of the other cyclists were fast asleep. Many of the cyclists I'm currently with like to get on the road in the morning, a few stay back and get going later. I love my breakfast, so I came back into town (2 miles!!) to find a breakfast spot. And, boy I'm glad I did. Not only because it fuels me and sets me up each morning for a great ride, but when I walked into the bustling (no joke) Grain Bin here in Chanute KS, a ton of local men wanted to chat with me. Mostly a retired group of men. More 'gym' in schools? "Yes, I advocate for more PE in schools." We want more football in schools. "Well, sports is an important component of a school community, but PE, not just sports is important too." One even bought my breakfast! How amazing is that?
I find when you travel with a group there are many positives, but your ride doesn't become just your ride. You could easily get sucked into competition of when you're going to start, what time you finish. That's something you take on yourself (or don't). You find yourself drifting from your routine that has worked for you because you're with a group. Not necessarily a bad thing. It's nice to have company, meet new people, feel supported. I do feel fortunate I'm on my own though. The independence and flexibility I have is something I don't want to take for granted.
The Ozarks are coming up. Everyone says they are harder on your body then the Continental Divide climbs. Ozarks are STEEP. Short hills, but knee crunching ups and downs. Over and over and over. Who's ready for the next challenge? I sure am!
If you want to follow my ride in more detail, follow me on Twitter! I tweet regularly and post more photos. @roadtorhode