Tribune, Dighton, and Larned
Kansas. Has broken. My spirit.
Here are the positive things about Kansas: they have ice cream, they have pools. Other than that, there is no reason anyone should live here.
We have been sleeping in city parks. In most towns, there are no other options. It has become a daily routine to get into the tent sans sleeping bags and sleep for just a couple hours before getting blasted in the face through the mesh window by automatic sprinklers. There is just no way around it. You can plot and plan and cover them all you want. But, the fact of the matter is you are going to get it in the face at six am.
Johnny thinks this is great. No, seriously. He thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. And he doesn't have a tent. Two days ago when we were attacked from every angle, Johnny sprang up and quickly tied down several sprinklers with my bandanas. I was so stunned by the event, I was paralyzed. I sat, soaked in my underwear still in the tent. I can hear Johnny say, "This is my favorite day ever. I absolutely adore this. This is brilliant." When I emerged from the tent, there he was, shampooing himself in a blade of sprinkler spray. Relentlessly positive.
Chris has also been positive in moments of ridiculous trial. Three days in a row, record heat has taken me off the bike, absolutely spinning. He dumps water on my head, gives me a quick hug and we remount. These guys have really pushed me on.
Due to night rides and stupid long days, we have covered 448 miles in four days. It's just not right. No human should have to endure this. When a man who boxes seriously says,"I almost cried. I wanted my mum", and "This is the hardest thing I have ever done". You know it is nothing to sneeze at.
I'm starting to ask myself, 'What is the point?' I am on vacation. I didn't join the military. Today, at mile 80, when I had been riding for 7 1/2 hours, my knee had finally given out, the skin on my legs had started to bubble from the sun, my wrists throbbed from pressure on the handlebars, and my butt... I can't even describe it and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't.
Last year I set a personal best at a 10k. I ran so hard I thought I might throw up or poop my pants. My ears went wahwah, pulsing with blood. I had to use mantras like DIG DEEP and SPEND IT. I gave it, what I thought at the time, was my all. Today was about ten times harder than that. The last thirty miles I attempted to curl my tailbone under to avoid the crotch punishing pain of a Brooks saddle. I rounded my back in a way such that I was barely touching the handlebars. The effect of which makes me look precisely like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I beg you, picture it now: filthy, long sleeved shirt, torn at the elbows, bubbling flesh, tears, blood, snot all about my face, pounding against a headwind in the least aerodynamic position a body can be in.
I can only hope that any part of you that had previously thought, 'Golly, I wish I was out west on a bicycle with Lauren and Chris and not here at my desk in the drudgery of my daily work' has now completely faded. Rather, I hope that you are thinking, 'Holy Christ. I love this air conditioner and this comfortable leather office chair and the food and water that are in the kitchen five feet away.'
On a positive note, we have received some amazing care packages from home. Big ups to Aaron, Jen, Katherine, JT Hibler, Linda Orth, Garth Reynolds and my parents. You guys have absolutely saved us. Highlights would be: Five Hour Energy, baby wipes, hotels on miserably hot days and the tiny perfume.
J, you should know that the package that you sent, eventually came that day. The woman at the post office called the man who drives the UPS truck (whom she knows personally). She convinced him to drive it to us on the road. Something very Cast Away about having a large package hand deliverd to you on a dusty country road.
No bow on this one, folks. I miss my mom. I want to go home. And I have no idea what lesson I am supposed to be learning from Kansas other than don't ride your bike in Kansas.