Day 45, to Atchison, KANSAS: Riding is really feeling good again — even easy. And I think I'm getting picky about camping. - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

June 6, 2022

Day 45, to Atchison, KANSAS: Riding is really feeling good again — even easy. And I think I'm getting picky about camping.

I stopped and shot this selfie just before getting on the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge to cross the Missouri River into Kansas. I'm smiling in my cycling kit and giving a thumbs-up. Behind me is a sign that says, "Kansas Welcomes You!" And behind that are the trusses of the bridge. Hello, Kansas!
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Monday stats

Start: SureStay Hotel in Kearney, Mo.

End: Super 8 in Atchison, KANSAS! New state!

The Daily Progress: 62.36 miles

The Ascension: 4,629 feet, according to my GPS, but that can't be right. The map says it should be about 2,900. 

Ice cream flavors: Blackberry cheesecake and chocolate. The cheesecake flavor had lots of graham cracker crust in it. So satisfying.

Lodging expenses: $66 including tip

Food expenses: $28

Monday revelations: Random thoughts from today

Until today, I think I had forgotten that, when the weather and road conditions are good, I can bike 60 or 70 miles in a day, and it's really not a big deal. That sounded like a flex, but it's not. It's a realization: Oh, yeah, I used to do this without any trouble — and I still can!

Paved roads may be faster than unpaved trails, but there is still a whole spectrum of conditions for paved roads. Roads on the wrong end of that spectrum make everything much less efficient.

I've been learning over the past few days that it's easier to enjoy the ride if I force myself to stop and get off the bike for a few minutes every 10 or 15 miles. I had been pushing myself to just keep going until I reached bigger milestones such as every 20 or 25 miles, but that's too long to stay in the saddle.

I took a nap today! And I think it was the first nap I took in the middle of a day's ride. I came across a park with a picnic table in the shade and just lay on the bench and found a way to get comfortable. Wow. Naps are amazing.

Of course, if I had skipped the nap (or the ice cream), I might have made it to my destination before the thunderstorm. 

I realized today that I put too much stock in the weather forecast even when I can see firsthand that conditions may be changing. 

The forecast left me expecting to ride just along the outer edge of a storm. I could see the storm blowing in on the right, but the wind was keeping it to my right. I followed the road right along the storm's edge.
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As the road curved to the right and as the storm started blowing at me instead of past me, I realized I had made a bad call. Trying to ride past a storm without getting caught in it was a fool's errand, no matter what the radar or the forecast showed. Luckily, I found a closed restaurant with a large front porch where I could take shelter as the rain picked up.

I sit on the wooden floor of the restaurant's front porch. Blue's butt is just next to me.
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As I waited for the storm to pass, I assessed the situation for camping tonight, which had been my plan. The forecast called for scattered thunderstorms, but it kept changing. I realized I had thoroughly enjoyed having a bed the last couple of nights, and I was not excited about camping tonight, but I kept telling myself it was probably still possible and it probably wouldn't be that bad. 

I finally told myself: There is no need to camp. You can find a cheap hotel room. Why would I make myself camp when the ground just got a ton of rain dumped on it and there's a decent chance of more storms overnight? I'd been putting pressure on myself to camp if at all possible — but today was the turning point. I will camp when conditions for camping are good. When conditions are less appealing, I shouldn't feel like I'm taking the easy way out by finding indoor accommodations. The budget was set with this mindset in mind, but I hadn't fully internalized it. 

As the host of the Pedalshift podcast likes to say, everyone should "ride your ride," meaning do things your way because there is no "right" way to do a bicycle tour. Camp if you want. Use an e-bike if you want. Cook your own food if you want. Just keep the rubber side down.

Today's ride: 62 miles (100 km)
Total: 1,679 miles (2,702 km)

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Keith AdamsWe seem to have many similar tendencies and mindsets. I wonder whether I too will adapt my thinking as you are doing, as I work my way east.
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2 months ago
Kelly IniguezI agree with you totally - ride the ride that makes you happy! A good night's sleep is everything - where ever that is.
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2 months ago