Hills, Headwinds, Heat and Hospitality - Undaunted Porridge - CycleBlaze

May 26, 2018

Hills, Headwinds, Heat and Hospitality

Day 3

I am leading with this photo of a friendly 3 legged cat we met in Hiawatha. The story goes downhill from here.
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"It's the hottest May on record!”, said the TV Weather Guy Who I Wanted to                   Punch in the Throat

This entry is a bit lengthy, but I want to give you a good picture of the day. Jen and I have ridden and backpacked and climbed,  and this was the most difficult day of activity either of us has ever had. 

We awoke at 0500, eager to make our getaway from the outlaw stealth camp before the sheriff and posse arrived.  We packed in record time, favoring speed over organization. The ride out was cool and quiet, and we encountered almost no traffic going into Atchison. This part of Kansas is really beautiful; rolling hills, farmland, neat and clean properties, and the drivers have been exceptionally courteous and friendly. They have given us a plenty of room and usually wave  So thumbs up to Kansans. 
We ate at McDonalds in Atchison ($16- really???) and started north. The heat was getting brutal and we still were undecided on our destination for the night. Troy was close but no lodging or camping, White Cloud might have camping but it was hard to tell for sure, and I didn't want to get there and find out we have to keep riding in the 100 degree heat. I noticed several camping possibilities while riding into town; shaded areas behind a storage facility, a couple of churches, and the impressive courthouse square downtown. But ultimately I recommended that we deviate off course to Hiawatha. This would get us to a town with a hotel, which is nice after 3 days of riding in the high 90s. We rehydrated with V8 and orange juice at the Fast Lane store in Troy. The girl was very friendly and helpful, so I recommend a stop if you're coming though Troy. 

The decision to move off course to Hiawatha meant riding 40 miles (so we thought) instead of about 30, but we felt like we had left early enough and could deal with the heat. 

Red is bad in this case.
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We knew the temp was going to get into the high 90s, which is terrible riding in any circumstance. We didn't expect the intense head winds and and the difficulty of the terrain. I hated the fucking headwinds- until they stopped. And then the heat was unbearable. Ok headwinds, come back. 

I've read blogs and talked to a lot of cycle travelers about the rollers (up and down hills, one after another) in Appalachia and the Ozarks, and they all say that those ranges are far more difficult than the big mountains out west (Rockies, Cascades) because the western mountains are graded differently. Basically, the western roads switchback and so elevation is consistent most of the time. If you are going up, you are going up. In the south and Midwest, different topography means that roads go over smaller ridges. So you go up and down, up and down. Our elevation gain was 3770 (!) but it was up 60, down 40, up 30, down 50.....

Anyway, I could feel the heat radiating off of the pavement, and sweat was pouring off of me like drool from a Lab's mouth at suppertime. The combination of the decending/ascending terrain, plus headwinds, which semed to change direction according to which direction we were moving. Jen was ahead and riding strong, but she likes heat less than I do and this was brutal on her. We stopped at a couple places and asked to fill our water bottles, and people obliged. We were both plodding along at 2-7 mph uphill and up to the 20s downhill if we pedalled; remember the headwinds?; and it felt like 2 steps forward one step back. 

There is nothing interesting about this picture of brutal, oppressive heat.
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In my heat-stroke dementia I missed a turn which cost us a 1/2 mile backtrack, no big deal in normal circumstances but was  demoralizing today. I decided to try flagging a pickup truck down to ask for a ride into town, because there are pickups all over in rural America, right? Well not today or in our direction. Plenty of small SUVs and sedans. Unbelievable. 

So we began riding down one roller and up the next, and stopping at any shade we saw, even if it was 1/2 mile. Jen stopped at one house about 4 miles out from Hiawatha and knocked on the door to ask if we could fill our bottles. The owner's name was Ray and he invited us in to fill our bottles and asked us to sit with him in his garage to cool down, which we did. We talked to him for a half hour or so, and he is a remarkable, generous guy. He can't drive currently due to some health issues but he gave me his phone number in case we couldn't get lodging in Hiawatha. It is encouraging that people are so wiling to help. We borrowed Willie Weir's advice to initiate kindness. 

We left to face the last few miles to the Sunflower Motel right in town, which still took us almost an hour. Air conditioning at last. Jen will pick up the tale up tomorrow. I'm tired. 

 Miles today 51                                                     Elevation Gain 3770

Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 82 miles (132 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 13
Steve LilleySounds awful. I'm guessing there was no humidity either, right? Yeah right.
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2 years ago
Tom Berberichgood to hear you’re running into some friendly folks.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Steve LilleyYes, but it was only 300%
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Tom BerberichYes it's been great
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonOh, my gosh, folks. Such an unfair way to start out! Hydrate! I’ll open a bottle with Jen’s opener and drink one in your honor.
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2 years ago
Dee ForteYes - this weather here in Missouri/Kansas has been ridiculous. 90+ temps and, like you said, crazy humidity. Sorry you're having such a hard time. Hopefully it will ease up a bit for you as you head west.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonHaha! Yes please use the opener! We will be hopscotching part of the route under the heatwave, so we will be goldeb soon.
I am working on getting caught up on your journal. Hi to Rachael
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2 years ago
Brian WestenhoferI feel like I’ve been there, done that. lol! I had a few of those long hot days riding across the high plains in California, dreaming of an air conditioned room in “just a few more miles”. I look forward to following your adventures. Good luck to y’all. BTW.. not sure what resources you use for finding campsites but I found this one usefull on a few occasions... Www.freecampgrounds.com
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2 years ago
Bruce Lellman I'm sorry the beginning of your trip has been so hot. Remember, water is one thing but electrolytes are even more important. I've nearly died of heat stroke four times and I wouldn't want you guys to go through that even one time. Be careful. There's no rush and have a great time. I'm loving your journal.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Bruce LellmanThanks Bruce. It was uncharted territory for both of us, which I guess is appropriate for a trip based on Lewis & Clark. We are usually very aware of staying fed and hydrated, but in our confusion we neglected to eat after 7am, except for a bit of trail mix. It was a day neither of us want to repeat.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Brian WestenhoferYeah in imagine you had your share of brutal heat and long, unending days. It will only get better from here.
Thanks for following, and for the campground site.
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2 years ago
Marcie RahnSo sorry you hit such awfulness right out of the gates, but hopefully it will all be easier from here on out. Lots of love to you both!
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2 years ago
Heather GuzThat was really neat that Ray helped you out. Humanity for the win!
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1 year ago