After I posted last night, I had dinner and did a little more exploring around Bazine to see what I could see. David had mentioned that a few feet under the topsoil here is a layer of limestone that is uniformly about 8 inches thick. Early settlers found it easy to dig up, and cut down to size so you see limestone fence posts, limestone bricks everywhere (also in nearby Ness City). I even saw an 8″ think stone fence.
I had to make a few minor repairs to the bike – the handlebar tape had started to unravel, and I lost my right shifter cover. Gorilla tape for the bars and med tape for the shifter and I’m good to go. After that I crawled in my tent next to the high school and listened to the faraway dogs bark for about 5 seconds before I konked out.
The alarm immediately notified me that it was already 4:00AM and time to beat the heat again. I got up but missing the gusto of yesterday. The getting-up-at-4:00 AM “honeymoon” was a short one and by Day 2 the “new” was gone out of it. I tried to summon some positivity out of it but really today felt kind of like just putting in miles. I guess there need to be days like this to make you appreciate the wonderful ones, which have been many. The silver lining for me is that I’m approaching another couple of milestones that let me know that I am, in fact, making progress (even if it doesn’t look or feel like it). I’m coming up to the Mountain Time zone border, and the Colorado border (not the same, oddly; one county off).
Kansas has been, and continues to be tough. After big miles and 100º+ temps again yesterday my body was complaining from various places; and the scenery just doesn’t provide much distraction. The Kansans I’ve met here have been very nice, open, curious about me and other cyclists, and very courteous on the road so I have no complaints about them.
I was so tired of the unchanging scenery that I did an experiment – take 4 photos, 15 minutes apart (using a timer) and see what you get. Here, take this a multiply by 7 hours and you have my day. (See my strava route below for the 2 turns I made today.)
The other thing that was difficult today was… Oh crap am I still griping? Well, maybe I’ll just get all my gripes out in one post while I’m in a sour mood. Anyway, today the gusts took a turn and were coming from the southwest, giving me and other westbounders* a lot of trouble. AND the truck traffic seems to have doubled or tripled on Rt 96. The shoulder is good, and I watch my mirror constantly for approaching traffic, but even when the trucks pass on the other side of the road, the air they push or pull can be huge.
*Damn I keep forgetting to get a pic of Howard and Victoria, aka ‘the Australian couple’) a lot more work to do for every mile.
This phenomenon leads to what I’ve come to think of as “Truck suck” and the “Truck duck”. Truck suck is the (beneficial) pull down the road that you get when a big truck goes your way. You’d think it would hit you like a wave in front of the truck but really it hits as the end of the truck goes by and pulls you along. Sometimes it’s kind of great and I can shift up one or two gears with the increase speed I get. Truck duck is what you do to avoid the opposite effect. When a big truck passes the other way you get a blast of air in your face that slows you down, sometimes by a lot. Cattle trucks are particularly bad at this because a) they are very non-aerodynamic and b) they smell like cattle. So I duck low to minimize the impact on my momentum and save some of that hard-won bike speed. Think of it as the cyclists equivalent of diving under an oncoming ocean wave so that it doesn’t push you back to shore. Only in this case the wave is bigger, hot, and often stinks horribly. Welcome to the glamour of cycle-touring!
I see from my notes from this morning that the only other things I wrote down was something profound about how bad my butt hurts today, and that I have found the worst coffee ever, and it is in Ness City KS.
OK, no more griping. I did run into some nice people today.
I’m resting early tonight, splurging on an air conditioned room and I think beer and Mexican food is in my future. So no doubts I’ll be in better spirits tomorrow.