Monday, June 29, 2009
Day 23 - Lamar, CO to Garden City, KS
Well, it might be a 105-mile day, but at least it's hot out! Two back-to-back centuries. Yesterday was a grueling 122 miles. So, today's 105 miles, by comparison, is a cake-walk. At least my attitude about it was better. Our day started out with a ride through Lamar. I never took the time to explore it last night. I don't think I missed much. Our route along Hwy. 50 took us again through several small towns. Gerard mentioned the town are spaced every 8 or 10 miles because the steam locomotives could only travel that far before needing water. I see some parallels there to our situation.
We rode through the towns of Granada and Holly and then at mile 33, had our first SAG stop at a Rest Area. Many of us were excited because this SAG stop featured facilities! I made sure to use them. The shade felt good and it was tough to leave as the sun climbed higher in the sky.
A half mile away, we crossed the state line and entered Kansas. The morning's joke was "Don't expect anything different when you enter Kansas." To be sure, eastern Colorado is basically considered western Kansas. Someone joked about giving Kansas back to England. We stopped and took our photos at the state sign and then pressed on through Coolidge, Syracuse, and Lakin. I did enjoy passing a prairie dog colony. The highway fence kept us from getting closer and feeding them. Probably would have been swarmed if we had.
About 30 miles after the state line, we crossed into the Central Time Zone. I stopped for another photo and to note the time. Looks like I just lost an hour. Does that affect my ride time at the end of the day? Do I have to add an hour to the stats? Shortly after the Central Time Zone sign, I noticed the terrain changed from very flat to a series of several rollers. Guess Kansas isn't always as flat as everyone says.
The other thing I noticed in this section is the abundance of grasshoppers. They were all over the road. Sean, my roommate, later commented that it was like "Grasshopper Slalom." I mostly tried to avoid them. I'm sure some of the other riders enjoyed hitting them and hearing that satisfying "crunch" under their tires.
In the town of Lakin, we had our second SAG stop. We were supposed to be at a Dairy Queen, which we were, but it had closed for repairs and now our dream of blizzards and ice cream was dashed. So we rode a block or two to Subway and had lunch. In the span of about 5 minutes, the 6 or 7 of us eating inside each walked outside individually and without fail each of us said exactly the same thing: "Wow! It's hot out here!" It was. Like 100 degrees.
I had been riding with Chris, Leigh, and Gerard. But, Chris had set a goal for himself to get a sub-five hour century (100 miles in under five hours. That's an average speed of 20 mph.) He took off. So Leigh, Gerard and I rode together and then to fight the crosswind or to beat boredom--probably both--we did 10 second pulls. Instead of a lead rider staying at the front of a paceline for a few miles and then dropping back so the second rider can pull, we rotated in a steady circle. As soon as one rider pulled in front, the third rider moved up to the front, then the lead rider dropped back and now the rider in the back began moving to the front. Imagine a clockwise rotation where no one stays in the lead for more than 10 seconds before another rider takes the lead position. It was intense and we were averaging 23-24 miles per hour. After 10 miles, we took a break.
Our final miles into town were no more scenic than any others. We passed road construction, cow feed lots, farmlands, and a Tyson food processing plant. We're in the Heartland. By the way, the Tyson plant is now hiring. Their billboard says "Get Your Career Started Today!" Anyone interested in a career in chicken nugget manufacturing?
When we pulled into the hotel, I was actually presently surprised by Kansas hospitality. I've got to give credit to this Comfort Inn's staff. They had bike racks positioned next to a table with oranges, water bottles on ice, and a hose for our bikes. At the front counter, they had freshly baked cookies, lemonade, and ice tea. Guess that makes up for the lack of scenery.
Tomorrow we have a blessedly short day of riding. Just 51 miles to Dodge City, KS. Dodge City features all kinds of Wild West activities, so I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun when we arrive in town. And, we'll be sleeping in because breakfast isn't until 7 a.m.!
For the two other photos I took today... (kidding, I took a handful more), visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2#100251
For more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Cumulative Miles: 1729
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 724 ft.
Max Elev: 4150 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 5%