Day 46, to Holton, Kan.: Rolling fast, but the storms always win - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

June 7, 2022

Day 46, to Holton, Kan.: Rolling fast, but the storms always win

Most of today's ride was along Route 116, a firm, smooth road flanked by farms on either side, as shown here with grass and what I think is young cornstalks lining the fields. Abundant white clouds kept the sun from feeling intense for very long.
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Tuesday stats

Start: The Super 8 in Atchison, Kan.

End: The Super 8 in Holton, Kan.

The Daily Progress: 38.22 miles

The Ascension: 1,752 feet if we trust my GPS, or 1,000 if we trust Google. I'd put more trust in Google.

Ice cream flavors: N/A

Lodging expenses: $68

Food expenses: $31

Other expenses: $2 for laundry

Tuesday ramblings: Loving the roads, living with the storms

Well, here I am — in Kansas. The state has a reputation for being flat and windy. Cross-country cyclists seem to have a raging debate about which direction is the better way to go (eastward or westward) based on the wind in this part of the country. The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that you shouldn't put too much stock in the prevailing winds.

On my first full day in this state, the wind was mild and offered more help than hindrance. Also, this part of the state is not literally flat. It's better than flat! It has gentle rolling hills, which provide the perfect incentive to put in a little extra effort to make it over each hill and then zoom down to the next one.

And the road surface so far has been perfect — paved recently enough to be smooth and free of any cracks, but not so recently that the pavement is soft and dark black.

Put it all together, and conditions were excellent for making good progress — I averaged more than 14 miles per hour today, which is fantastic for me, especially when touring.

But here's the downside: Potentially severe thunderstorms had been in the forecast to come in from the northwest (the direction I'd be heading into) starting at 4 p.m. and lasting all night. I saw this when I woke up and checked the forecast this morning. I saw that it was still true when I left this morning, and it was still the forecast all the way up till I was practically in Holton, the only town with accommodations between my starting point and what would have been my goal for the day, which is Seneca. 

I think I made the prudent decision not to try to make it to Seneca because there seemed to be zero chance that I'd make it  before the storms arrived if they did arrive at 4 (and heck, they could always come sooner!). So I made it a shorter day: I pedalled smoothly and happily to Holton, scarfed down nearly an entire medium veggie lover's pizza and checked in to another Super 8. 

And then I saw that the forecast changed and the thunderstorms would not reach Seneca until 7 p.m. and I could've made it there in plenty of time if I hadn't veered off the official route to get to Holton. Bah. I knew that was a possibility, too — I understand that predicting the exact timing of thunderstorms is like herding cats — and I knew there was no sense in trying to outsmart the thunderstorms. They will always be unpredictable. And so they will always win. The best I can do is to assume there will always arrive earlier than predicted and be more severe then predicted, especially if I ever try to cut it close, as I did yesterday — and they'll turn out to be nothing when I'm rearranging an entire day or week around them.

I will also concede that being better prepared to leave early this morning would have made it possible to make it to Seneca in time today (though I don't know if I'd have taken that risk, because it just doesn't feel like a good plan to be counting on riding 72 miles by 4 p.m., no matter how early you start). But my point is: Starting early clearly creates more options for how the day will go. And I know it will be necessary as the summer heat kicks in. So I'm gonna try it out. I'm aiming to hit the road by 7 tomorrow, which probably doesn't sound especially early to many people, especially when you consider that I had to be at my desk at 6 a.m. just six and a half weeks ago. But hey, I need breakfast and there's a free breakfast at this hotel and it's not served till 6, so leaving at 7 seems perfectly reasonable.

And I've already picked out what I'm gonna wear.

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,717 miles (2,763 km)

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