Thursday, July 14, 2011

7/12/11 and 7/13/11 "There's no place like home" or "F Kansas"

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.


  1. Aw c'mon, you gotta look at the bright side. The Kansas I remember had some of the most humble people I've ever met. The wind was from the west (I guess maybe it turned on you). The towns were much closer together than they were in Utah or Nevada. You could stop at any time and pick a fresh stick of wheat and pick out the grains. Remember that this will all be over soon. I'm a day away from the Pacific and I'm dreading the thought of returning to real life.

  2. Mario: appreciated. However, I trust no one who went from east to west in kansas to speak with authority on the matter. Other dudes we spoke to said they were doing 140 trips through here. The wind does.blow in you favor, mate. But I will so better to appreciate my time on the road. Between barfing and heat stroke.

  3. Be careful with the heat stroke. It's serious.

    I've driven through Kansas and Nebraska a few times and it's fair to say that I loathe the experience. I can't imagine trying to ride through. Honestly, i kept thinking of the flatlands ahead when you were in the rockies. Can you take a few days somewhere to recover and to get your joy back? I hear Lawrence KS is a lot like Athens - liberal, good food, cool people.

    Keep in mind, too, that KS is by far the worst part of the trip. MO and IL and IA are going to be at least rolling hills and occasional shade. There will also be lots of hog farms and feed lots, so add festering poo and clouds of flies to the list of...scenery.

  4. what you're doing is fucking brilliant and I have nothing but respect Lauren!! keep it up!

    can you get some bike short pads on the next stop? when I first found out you were doing this, my first thought was about your bike seat and getting through that. maybe you guys really should take a day off. heat exhaustion and sleep deprivation is no joke and even one day off could help you recoup. better to recoup so you can keep going the rest of the trip instead of crashing and burning early.

  5. Hey, cryptic blog person. Who is "..." we would love to know who is reading.

  6. Rather, I'm thinking "Holy Christ, I love this woman!" I'm concerned for you, sure, but oh-so-proud to know you. That day off idea? A great one. Exhaustion and depression are like Siamese Twins of Evil. As you have written, you're on vacation. Not in the military. A few days off can be so therapeutic.

    Lawrence is kind of out of your way, yes? It was a pretty good place back in 1980. I was in school there for a couple of weeks. Around this time of year, in fact. It was so hot, the road asphalt was actually melting. And there were chiggers in the grass. You don't see them, but boy do they make your ankle itch. I hope that you don't end up with them, given your apparent sun poisoning.

  7. Welcome to Kansas. Welcome to Kansas. Welcome to Kansas. Repeat.

    Meanwhile, pride springs eternal in a father's heart.



  8. Funny how in Kansas, you are saying "There's no place like home"...

  9. I think I just got called a "cryptic blog person?"lol! its Brooke Z... looks like the profile is not available for some reason. Gary told me you were updating here. hope things are better today.