Monday, October 12, 2009

Mother Nature has once again foiled my plans

Hi Gang,

I'm a quitter is hard to swallow so here is a list of my excuses why I had to abandon my plan to ride 500 miles across Kansas in 8 days.

This was my second attempt to ride semi-self contained (carrying clothes and snacks, extra bike parts) which has been foiled by Mother Nature, I think she doesn't like me or? I don't have the strength, stamina and determination to get-r-done anymore. Friday morning I got a late start (same problem I had in June) due to heavy rain 8" in under two days, finally at about 10:30 the rain backed off to a light sprinkle and I was on my way west. However, the temperature was only 45 degrees (10 less then predicted) and the wind was blowing 18+ from the North making for quite a headwind. Add to the low temperature and high wind a gradient elevation climb of 1,400' in 36 miles. The elevation climb doesn't sound like much until you add in the wind and cold factors too. All 36 miles were pedaled, had no chance to coast because of the wind but also because I was constantly cold, never warmed up in 4 1/2 hours. Being cold was unexpected as I had on my winter riding clothes which normally keeps me warm even in the low 20s or teens with no wind. I guess it was the rain and/or sweat which was robbing me of body heat. Anyway after 36 miles I called it quits, there was no way I could make it to the next town or back to the last town where there was a motel before dark. Thus, I had to call Ms. Vickie to come rescue me. Oh yea, I had checked weather forecasts for the areas I was riding into which had changed from projected mid 50s to low 40s (wind chill factor would be in low 30s or high 20s) and possible rain or worse snow showers with continued high head winds predicted for 3-4 days out of the next 6. I reckoned if I felt like I was freezing now and given the towns with motels were spaced about 60 miles apart on my chosen route and I that I was averaging only 7 1/2 mph (thought I would be able to average at least 10-12) there was very little hope of making this a successful trek across Kansas. Oh, and one additional handicap Hwy 54 was repaved and they took out a foot of shoulder leaving 2' or less to ride on with traffic zooming along at 65 mph, I definitely didn't feel safe especially when a semi-truck or motorhome passed me causing a wind sheer which forced me to wobble. A good possibility of wobbling or falling right in front of the next vehicle coming up behind me, no thank you.

So what did I learn? First not to be so ambitious with the length of my riding days, keep to a maximum of 60 miles but preferably down to 50 miles or even less if there is going to be a head wind. Second it is much harder pedaling a bike weighing in excess of 100 lbs. with gear then riding my Ferrari type S-Works bike which weighs a mere 15 lbs. Third, if I'm going to travel self contained, do it all the way with camping gear included. Thus, if can't make it to a town with a motel I can at least pitch a tent to get out of the weather, cook something to eat and snuggle up in a sleeping bag for warmth. Fourth, add a couple extra days to a trek to compensate for bad weather days. Fifth, maybe I should consider doing only fully supported treks where someone is following along in a motorized vehicle carrying all the gear from point to point and there to rescue me if the bike breaks down or the weather turns really foul. Sixth, maybe just maybe in my older years I've finally realized I'm not invincible and really can't do all the crazy things I did in my youth. My new theme song by Toby Keith, "Ain't as good as I once way" surely is true for me. Seventh, age has made me a little wiser (alright don't laugh yourself into hysterics) enabling me to realize my limitations and not as prone to be as reckless and crazy.

Do I plan on taking another trek? Hell yea, I still haven't lost the spirit to keep trying. I will build upon my experiences of bicycle touring so far and continue to read and learn how other folks have dealt with adversities and challenges on the road.

Yep too, I still plan on riding across America from upper Washington State to Key West in 2011. I'm probably going to consider doing it fully supported, so I'll be looking for some folks who would like to take a shift driving a van or RV for me along the route. My original plan was to make the 4,600 mile trek in 90 days now I'm thinking it may take 110-140 days. Anyone interested in riding along or being a driver for part or all the way give me a shout.

Thanks for reading my latest mis-adventure I hope you found it somewhat entertaining and enlightening.