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Courtney & Natalie's Great Adventure On a Quad!!
Click Here for an 11 year old's perspective,
School was out and contemplating BAK was a bit different this year given persistent knee and back problems lingering for the past several months amongst the adult members of our team. All has substantially improved thus the trip was possible. But then the captain endured a nasty single bike crash (last one was in 1981) only 3 weeks prior from which he was still recovering. As the kids grow and mature their social lives are now rather busy with scouts, soccer, softball, volleyball, band, strings, and school functions. Such diversions from cycling have certainly curtailed their training evident by reduced mileage and literal butt time on the saddle. In fact we were going into this year's BAK with each child having the lowest miles ever, less than 200 each to their credit!
LAST MINUTE TRAINING FOR BAK
New challenges add spice to one's life and we were to experience one this year by attempting the entire state crossing on a quad. The BAK itinerary showed we would have some very long days this year with nearly 80 or so miles planned on several of the days.
The 440 mile drive to the Colorado line combined with the preparation takes it out of us so for the first time ever, we made a wise choice and split up the drive between Thursday evening and Friday morning. By doing so we arrived at the CO line during the early afternoon and were able to have the 'early start' ride behind us before the check-in time. Getting stopped by the local sheriff east of Newton the night before for a burned out license plate bulb did not help expedite our trip though! Sheesh.
Friday June 5, 2009
Border to Syracuse
16.2 Miles, 16.6 Average, :58, 26.7 max
Extra miles: 0
The Early Start came with 89 degree temps and variable winds which provided for a very nice start and a great ride to loosen up the legs after all the sitting.
The mixed winds provided for an easy ride and a great way to warm up for the week ahead.
The captain's knee was a cause for worry since it was more troublesome than in the recent past having been exacerbated from squatting and working on projects. The forth coming week would certainly put it to the test.
Saturday June 6, 2009
56.2 Miles, 19.3 Average, 2:54, 39.5 max (20.7 avg before hitting town)
Extra miles: 10.0 miles, 10.4 Average, :52, 22.9 max
Our first day's disorganization showed as we attempted to pack up, eat breakfast and get on the road. We finally made it by 9AM missing the official 8AM start, nothing new for us. For the first time in years we did not have to worry about extra clothes for the kids as in other years when we had BAK openers with 48 degree temps!
Yesterday's early start route was on U.S. 50 highway, the same road we continued on heading east out of Syracuse. The winds were favorable today! Was this BAK? Surely not!!
In fact the winds were VERY favorable as we enjoyed running 27-30 mph on some slight downhill runs. Our average peaked at 21.7 as we passed hoards of riders at the various sags spaced about 10 miles apart.
Our average lowered after wandering around in towns and stopping for a break at a convenience store.
This was our 6th consecutive BAK start and our first for this particular picturesque and scenic highway. There actually were rolling hills on the first full day evident by our top speed of 39.5 mph, another unheard of statistic for the first full day of BAK!
We enjoyed riding on old U.S. 50 to Deerfield but ended up going back to the new highway in search of a convenience store. After leaving we quickly realized we had left the official route as no bikes were in sight. We took a north-south road that should have taken us back to the route and ran across 2 other riders that were a bit lost. Realizing our chosen road angled back into the wind, we opted to return to the new 50 highway and continue east to the town of Holcomb where we rejoined the official route.
As we got closer to Garden City, the traffic predictably increased since it would be one of the larger towns on this year's route.
We located the overnight camping area situated at a junior college. Other riders told us to look for College Street but having come upon one named Campus, we took it on a hunch and it turned out to be right!
JULIE HOLDING THE BIKE DURING THE CHAIN CLEANING TASK
CLEANING MILES OF CHAIN
After over inflating our tires so they would be just right come morning, cleaning our chains, pulling clothes, the computer and other necessities, we loaded and hoisted our packs heading off in search of our motel.
Low and behold we stumbled on a Taco Bell which proved to feed all 4 of us for only $5.89! Our tired body's were pleased that it was only a short jaunt to our lodging from there.
As always, the kids live to swim and learning that our motel pool was closed was not without disappointment. Fortunately they apparently had a reciprocal agreement with another motel across the highway so we literally went through the country type barbed wire fence, hiked through a sandy gully, waited for the busy highway to clear, and hoofed it across in a hurry.
A valiant effort was made to have an early dinner at El Camino, a Mexican restaurant recommendation made by our motel owner. Somewhat ominous clouds appeared on the horizon with drifts of rain visible coming down in the distance. We rode north using low traffic roads in search of the restaurant when the weather changed dramatically. The wind suddenly gusted filling the air with filling the air with moisture and dirt decreasing visibility substantially. It became downright spooky on the quad with the 50 mph wind suddenly hitting us from the side. Despite having my yellow Tour de France cap on backwards it was swept away with Courtney fruitlessly running down the street after it. She was able to retrieve it only after it went in someone's yard and past their evergreen trees causing a lull in the turbulence. We made a U-turn and sought shelter in a liquor store (how convenient) where an employee was obviously very nervous saying over and over that he was abandoning the store if he saw a tornado. Not to be one to fully utilize time, a bit of shopping was done. We took our merchandise back to the motel refrigerator and tried once again to go north given the previous storm edge had blown over. We were turned around again by yet another squall! But by back tracking we were able to use the busy roads and effectively skirt the second squall and eventually made it to the restaurant.
El Camino was okay and ranked about a 7 in our book. A place this good on BAK is enough reason to give thanks!
They did have monster Coors beers for only $3.19 so small towns do sometimes have their advantages. "Time to go to the school" was the sentiment expressed as the bill was paid.
The two girls peddled their wares consisting of bike pins and bike buttons, the new item added this year. Being short on one dollar bills, we made a trip to the auto store a block away to get change. Strangely the Sheriff and Highway Patrol were very visible at the school camping area seemingly worried that the old duffer bikers might get out of control.
The evening drew to a close as darkness was falling and the evening ride meeting got underway. During the ride up the hill to the motel, we made plans to have breakfast at the IHOP located next door come morning.
Sunday June 7, 2009
Garden City to
56.4 Miles, 15.1 Average, 3:43, 34.8 max
Extra miles: 1.0 miles
A bit of rest truly does wonders!. The girls were rather chipper and in a good mood upon awakening despite getting to bed later than our goal. They worked surprisingly well together seemingly putting aside their sibling rivalry b.s. for a short time as they packed and prepared for departure. We beat the 9AM truck cutoff by 30 minutes, arrived at IHOP shortly thereafter and hit the road at 9:31. Sit down breakfasts do take some time.
While entering the IHOP we quickly noted that the flags were blowing in the desired direction. Leaving 45 minutes later, the flags were blowing from the wrong direction! Bummer! Uh oh! OH no! :-( We quickly realized that just about all other riders were early birds by comparison and thus enjoyed a free ride.
The high temperature for the day was predicted to be 95 but it was hard to imagine with the overcast skies and current thermometer readings in the mid 60's.
TAKEN BY OUR WAITRESS BEFORE DEVOURING THE CALORIES
I announced through intercom that the road, KS 156, curved to the right which should provide more tailwind. Somehow the crosswind followed us. The road had yet another bend and the wind followed us again! At some point we were heading straight east and experienced a direct headwind, which is actually better for us given we are punching one hole through the wind. A crosswind on a quad quickly demoralizes all of us as all advantage of being on the long tandem is lost, and we sometimes slow to a crawl.
Natalie eventually got cold and donned a windbreaker. As luck would have it, the photographer came along and stopped waiting for us. She was able to remove it on the fly and Courtney stuffed it in her handlebar bag without incident..... all so we would look good and cool!
TAKEN BY ROGER, THE BAK PHOTOGRAPHER
We stopped at the SAG Hag's rest stop where several photo seekers were present. It was a relief getting off of the bike for a while. The SAG Hag's have a variety of themes and this year's treat at this stop was 'Close Encounters' complete with background music.
The lunch stop today was "free will". Being late and not so swift on the wheels today, we arrived after the ham and cheese sandwiches were consumed, but no problem, the PB&J was very good! The folks attending to everyone's needs were very friendly, appreciative and helpful too.
The school in Jetmore was easily located since the town had a population of only 950 or so. We found our bags across a field and in an alley, a bit different situation than what we had come to know and expect. Thankfully our stash of brewskies survived and remained pretty cold which was somewhat amazing considering they had been in the sun once it finally peeked out.
Our lodging was at the Pawnee Lodge, a new facility with the nice owner promising us breakfast burritos and the works come morning.
We opted for the same clothes as having worn the first day since they were still packed in the backpacks thus saving us the work of changing everything out. It's about impossible to fit it all in and today there was not enough time for swimming plus we have a very big day tomorrow, nearly 80 miles!
The clothes needed to be washed one more time and Natalie inadvertently washed dad's clean clothes rather than the dirty ones! It's the thought that counts you know!
Our dinner at the local pizza place turned into a bit of a fiasco despite getting there at 5:40 while the place nearly empty. No discernable food left the kitchen during the first 45 minutes of our wait. We were told there would be no pizza for 2 hours so we ordered something else. Strangely others that had come in behind us, ordered pizza and received it long before our order reached our table! Checking out from the restaurant was another matter too given the long line comprised of the many parties that received their food ahead of us.
We enjoyed the walk over to the school where Courtney and Natalie had a successful evening selling their bike pins and buttons thus helping out their college funds.
Tomorrow will hopefully come with an earlier start and having breakfast right here at the motel should really help.
Monday June 8, 2009
81.1 Miles, 15.5 Average, 5:14, 30.4 max
Extra miles: 10.0 miles, 10.4 Average, :52, 22.9 max
Awakening at 6:29 AM and rousting everyone out with the intent of hitting the road by 7:30 was the goal. Breakfast at the Pawnee Valley Lodge was awesome and complete with cereal, bananas, fruit and breakfast burritos, the later making Julie's day and mine too for some calories that would sustain us for a few miles.
Our bags were loaded onto the truck when an old friend from 1995 and 1999 PBP's, Tom D., made his presence known. It was great to see him and chat for a bit and we hoped for chance to talk more later in the week.
DR. TOM D. SHOT THIS PHOTO FOR US
We were close to meeting our departure goal and 7:45 was certainly our earliest thus far. The sun was out, the day was bright and it looked like the 52.7 start temp would be short lived. Then it clouded over and with the north and northeast headwind we all felt the chill on our skin. We even stopped and added a jacket to Courtney who generally stays pretty warm these days. Both girls were working hard to generate heat and wanting to stand and power the bike for that purpose several times. The chill was setting in to both kids and after 2 stops for additional clothing they were wearing leg and arm warmers, their wind jackets plus Natalie had a rain jacket on too. Spirits improved and stories of previous BAK bad weather days were passed around making this one look like a walk in the park! Our first stop was primarily to air the tires as we did not over inflate them the day before in the 100 degree heat. The SAG that has only water did have a floor pump with a self contained gauge. It showed only 110 pounds consistent with the suddenly cooler temperatures and the time factor. We normally run 140!
Fort Larned came into view, the real fort, not the town. It was time for a butt break and a captain's knee break. With free admission and a previous failed attempt some years ago to see the late 1800's landmark, we decided to check it out.
A slide show explained the Santa Fe Trail and its connection and importance in history, how the time frame related to the railroad being built and how it all timed with the Civil War and the gold rush days. We all found it to be quite interesting.
IN THE FORT LARNED VISITOR CENTER
THE CENTER OF FORT LARNED
The town of Fort Larned provided a variety of lunch options. Subway was the choice of the day for us.
We were tiring of the headwind that kept our average down to about 15 mph but leaving lunch we enjoyed the short southerly tailwind that provided for a nice warm-up. But we were to turn back east with the road appearing to be slightly uphill for many miles. As deceptive as it is, no doubt due to the curvature of the earth, it was basically a very flat terrain type day.
Oh what a relief it was to turn south for 7 or so miles! The girls really got into it as the tires were now humming and we passed rider after rider including a couple of the faster ones we could not match pace with earlier when going into the wind. Then a real speedy guy and a recumbent came along providing a much desired draft. They pulled us through a headwind stretch making the last miles go by quickly. The captain sacrificed his knee the last few miles but it seems to recover well, thankfully. We rode from Ft. Larned to St. John non stop, about 32 miles, a difficult thing to sit on the bike that long on a flat ride after going such a distance on previous days.
We grabbed our stuff, swapped clothes and headed to our motel which turned out to be 2 miles outside of town. Oh well. It proved to have WiFi and it was clean so life was good.
The place seemed to be overrun with cats which was to the delight of Natalie, the cat lover of the group, or so it seems. I was given step by step updates on how the cat could possibly be messing with our bike. One of the many pictures she took was the potential award winning photo with one perched on a bench!
With a forecast of 40% rain and 60% of no rain, Julie decides to play it safe and retrieve her jacket from the truck. After all it was only 52.7 degrees this morning at the start.
The girls found the riders to be a bit elusive around the school after such a long day on the road so their pin sales efforts were nearly fruitless on this day.
Out of nowhere a man approached calling us by name. He remembered us from the Hilly Hundred when we rode a quad back in 2003! Natalie was only 3 years old then. Hilly Hundred Story in 2003 on a Quad
Everywhere we go it seems more and more people have greater recognition of us, much more so than is possible from this end! Somewhat related but not quite, we do at times seem to be a rolling circus!
Tonight we had to ride the distance to town to get dinner as our motel is way out in the country next to a stock trailer sales place. As we tried to leave, people came running out of their motel rooms wanting pictures and asked us to wait. With a polite and very slow devious U-turn onto the road we obliged. Our hollering about sending a photo to www.precisiontandems.com seemingly fell on deaf ears, as is usually the case when it comes to photo seekers.
Tuesday June 9, 2009
St. John to Halstead
80.20 Miles, 14.4 Average, 5:43, 24.2 max
Extra miles: 3.7 miles, 00.0 Average, :00, 00.0 max
Yesterday's ride wore us down a bit... no surprise there with ~87 miles and spending so much time on the saddle. Weariness was evident in our 7AM late awakening and 8:45 departure. No matter what, it seems to take nearly 2 hours from the time we get up, load up the backpacks, get on the bike, seek out the luggage truck, put our bags onto the truck, and eat breakfast all before rolling down the road. Today was no exception.
Breakfast consisted of quickie shop food, the kind that can kill you, or so we learned after analyzing the labels. Some of the items chosen were certainly fat bombs! We picked up a few extra packs of crackers to carry along just in case.
There was a chill in the air and the kid's wore wind jackets just to make sure they would be comfortable. The sun was peaking through the thin cloud layers which warmed the air quickly. The humidity seemed up too as our bodies glistened with sweat.
It was not long before the girls asked about removing the windbreakers so a stop was made.
Our muscles and joints warmed gradually as our bodies were naturally protesting more today than those previous. And when I say protesting it usually involves anything and everything that touches the bicycle and some specific muscles too.
The wind was blowing and our progress was slow, at least slow compared to what we are accustomed. The prospect of a headwind for the next 80 miles today was daunting particularly since our speed was never over 14.5 mph unless in the shelter of some trees alongside the road. At times we were on the busier U.S. 50 highway and received an assist from passing trucks but that was short lived. It was going to be a very long day.
Our route took us down the very picturesque old 50 highway, the same highway where our lodging of the previous night was located. It was 'the highway' long ago in years past.
Early in today's ride the BAK photographer stopped and shot our picture giving us his friendly wave.
ANOTHER GREAT SHOT FROM ROGER, THE BAK PHOTOGRAPHER
About 28 miles into the ride the stiff and humid SE wind shifted to straight east, something good for us since our aerodynamics would improve. We stopped at a SAG but were afraid to touch anything that had obviously been contaminated from others reaching in with their dirty hands and gloves. We just ate some of our crackers and marched on plus it was only 12 miles until lunch, and we figured we could last for another hour.
We were seeing bikes regularly now, something essentially absent the first 1.5-2 hours resultant of our late departure. After leaving the first SAG the wind seemed calmer and having revived some with the rest and with the crackers now fueling us, we found ourselves hitting 16 and 17 mph for short stretches. A gust of wind was suddenly 10 or 15 degrees colder. Brrr! We all talked about it as we kept a wary eye on the darker storm clouds to the north. Remember we have a 50% chance of staying dry today!
Lunch came none to soon for our weary and now plodding group. It was cold and windbreakers were donned to keep sweaty body's from getting a chill. The lunch line was incredibly long and the prospect of standing in line for an hour and getting in at 5PM or so was not very appealing. We talked with the Sheriff who informed us of severe thunderstorm predictions and that things were not looking good for us. He let us know the next convenience store was 40 miles away or about 13 miles from the end of the ride. Decisions, decisions. We snarfed the remaining crackers and pressed onward but only after buying about 6 bottles of Gatorade, the only readily available sugar source in this one horse town. Abbyville they called it. We never did meet Abby but never looked for her either.
We were stopping about every 10 miles for a break as our body's were protesting. The SAG Hag station today was playing country music with them dressed in overalls and straw hats. We snuck under the table and got whole bananas that had not been handled by riders as compared to the cut-up type sitting out on the table. Same goes for the muffins split in two which had been handled by many bare hands. We spied some muffins in a ziplock bag that were whole and asked for those. We felt pretty safe selecting the food this way. It is surprising that the food handling practices consisting of everyone reaching in to open food as compared to distributing pre-packaged items remains the same after the disease spread problem some 3 years ago.
Each BAK is different but never in our wildest dreams did we figure there to be such a flat route all the way to mid Kansas. We are now nearly straight north of Wichita and it has been essentially a table top aside from some very gentle rollers ridden on the first long day. All other BAK rides we have attended treated us to flat roads on the first day and mostly on day 2 as well with hills evolving thereafter but not so when following mostly U.S. 50.
Onward bound. An occasional potty break was had... nature break the Tour de France commentators call it. A Co-Motion tandem came by with about 3 or 4 singles and we jumped on. What a welcome relief to have a draft! They seemed a bit too disciplined for us though given a car coming towards us caused them to single up in our own lane and ride near the right ditch causing everyone to lose most of the available draft. But when there were no cars our pace line used the entire road, both lanes of it, which was a great advantage to all.
A Cannondale MTB tandem came by powered by a younger fit couple. I told Julie through the intercom that we should watch them closely as we did not want to lose the chance to draft should they pull away. Just as suspected, they romped on it taking us into the wind at 18-19 mph. We hung with them into Burton, where everyone pulled off at the convenience store we had been seeking for so long. We made the decision to keep going and keep the draft by riding with these people rather than lose them should we stop plus the store seemed pretty inundated with bike riders anyway. That proved to be a bad mistake. We were 1/4 mile down the road before the captain was informed we were all alone. Oh well. And some 3 miles later we figured out we had missed a turn. Oh well again. We rode on in using the wide shoulder on 50 highway to the Halstead turnoff rather than back tracking to the county road. Passing cars obviously on the BAK route knew we would make it to our destination as we received no special attention from them.
We skipped the school and the idea of getting our stuff as famine was taking over now that our immediate goal of the past 7 hours had been reached. Downtown Halstead was good to see as we pulled in about 3:45. Our friend Mike R. was riding the other way and we hollered, "Where's the food?" Answer, "1 block down on your left!" Enuf said.
We ordered a large pizza, and ate 3 helpings from the salad bar. The kids deserved something for today's effort certainly and each got a small dish of ice cream. We saw some very haggard riders coming in seeking some form of blood glucose elevation.
Our lodging was nearly across the street in an old Hotel. Hopefully our bike will be okay outside with a flimsy lock and sans the front wheel.
All of us but Julie (who opted for laundry duty) rode to the school as we warily watched the storm clouds to the south. Bike pin sales were not to be had today as everyone as literally zapped. And the kids were too as it was evident in their faces. They really did work hard today and it showed, particularly Courtney as she appeared a bit haggard.
The last photo was taken on full zoom with me stabilizing the camera by resting my hand on the back of a Chevy Suburban. Natalie remarked, "Daddy what if that car has an alarm?" As soon as her words were spoken a car alarm went off, but from a different car. The timing was impeccable and it was quite funny. You had to be there!
My notebook computer did not survive the 'toss the backpack off the truck onto the concrete' scenario very well. The top no longer latches and some other weird quirks have showed up that are probably unrelated, but one never knows. A larger backpack with more bubble wrap is certainly in order.
Wednesday June 10, 2009
Halstead to Eureka
86.7 Miles, 16.0 average, 5:33, 35.9 max
Extra miles: 6.2 miles, 00.0 Average, :00, 00.0 max
We don't use an alarm clock but I spied with my little eye that it was 6:12AM. A peek outside revealed dry roads and curbs but there werre puddles on the flat roof top below visible from our second floor hotel room. No time for a tempting snooze although it would have felt good after yesterday's really long day and tortuous dealings with one's computer and a non cooperative computer wireless network. Technology is great when it works.
The girls were tired and it showed as their preparation efforts and attitudes were more rocky than we had seen all week. We carried the wheel down to the bike, unlocked it, installed the wheel, wiped off the now soaking wet seats since it was drizzling, had the kids put on the windbreakers, leg warmers and rain jackets as we eyed the newly wet streets. There was a black cat that crossed our path sometime recently and it seemed like that was the day before.
We were tired and our butts were sore. Julie resorted to wearing two pairs of shorts, with one turned inside out so no seams were against her skin. The captain is getting more sore by the day despite always wearing two layers, something discovered back in 1994 and 1995 in the brevet days of long rides. There is no standing on the quad, at least not for the adults so butt time in contact with the saddle is prolonged.
We headed out of town at 8:04, in the slop and with several riders present on the roads. Yesterday wore many down that would normally have started earlier, and no doubt they wished they had as the roads would have been dry then!
Julie related that the weather channel was predicting NW winds switching to the SW later in the afternoon. Anything related to weather with the word west in it would likely help us! However, every station was reporting NE winds, the same thing we have dealt with on this cool BAK since leaving Garden City... how many days ago?
Our route today mingled southerly stretches with mostly easterly stretches so we did get a break and have some tailwind stretches for the first time in a few days.
The roads were poorly marked to say the least and inconsistent which seemed strange given the back roads used that jogged around. Leaving town we saw bright orange BAK arrows. They dwindled to smaller ones with a solitary B. Then the paint reverted back to rust or sand color with no specific demarcations despite the fact that many intersections had arrows from local century rides.
We would stop and consult our map which proved to be helpful but we had no route sheet, so to speak. Our intercom was giving trouble too with the moisture, a broken headset wire that Natalie had gotten tangled up on a few times the day or two before, and eventually a captain's soaked microphone caused us to give up on it and shut it off.
SHOWER CAPS COME IN HANDY AT TIMES!
We stopped to sort out the intercom and looked over and saw a peculiar site. It is hard to see in the picture but the front end of a Model A looking auto was sticking out of the front of the building with the driver and passenger painted on the wall.
Progress was slow, energy levels were down, it was gloomy and we were soaking wet from the drizzle. This was Natalie's first experience of riding in BAK wetness, something pretty minor compared to the windy cold downpour ordeals we had on some earlier years with Courtney on the triplet.
We blew each SAG trying to make time. One of the bottom brackets continues to make noise that started fairly early on the ride, and it is getting worse each day. Mental note made to self at the time that it should be replaced before the music stops us altogether.
The true flatlands were finally left behind. We had some very gently rolling hills which makes the ride much more comfortable with variations in power output and the ability to coast and get one's butt off of the saddle.
A hazard sign showed a truck standing on its nose signifying a marked downhill. Yes, it went downhill and had a curve marked 25 mph but, come on, it may be a hill here but not at home!
We jogged south and east through most of the morning. Reaching Towanda it was learned that lunch was at the 51 mile point in El Dorado, not 41 as I mistakenly recalled. There was no putting off needed potty breaks and we found the perfect spot. Never count on a porta-potty on BAK unless at one of the finishing schools!
El Dorado was within our sites finally and with Arbys, Sonic, Subway, KFC and some local establishments, it was Subway for us. The kids liked their grilled chicken breast sandwiches they had a couple of days ago so everyone was going to be happy.
As mentioned, when on the quad we sometimes think we are a rolling circus from the attention we receive. Folks are always wanting our picture and then they come one after the other, many times when we really really want and need to get off of the bike! We handed our camera to a man making the request to make sure we got a shot too. Strange, that wet spot on the pavement. The picture was to be captioned with, "when you gotta go, you gotta go" but no, we won't do that!
When we arrived at Subway our friend of many years, Dr. Eric D., came out to greet us. We had been hoping to run across him as the week progressed and had almost given up hope.
We enjoyed our lunch, the adults filled their water bottles with honey sweetened tea, and all was good. Just as we were leaving town Dr. Eric came from the north and rejoined the route. He rode with us, drafted, and entertained the girls making the time go by. We stopped after 10 miles for a 1-2 minute break and said farewell.
Rolling along the captain commented, as he often does, about the continual climb. Sometimes it is a mirage of sorts but then it was sight to behold. We were cranking well and kicking ourselves for not stopping for a Kodak moment. The wide expanse and view across this very green valley was spectacular and the hill we were to descend was incredible..... and really really long.
LOOKING BACK AT THE AWESOME DOWNHILL AND THE RISE WE HAD JUST COME UP
We caught and passed Dr. Eric at 36 mph, a speed we just coasted up to early on as we started down the hill. It is hard to see in the photo taken from the other side but if you look at the ridge where it meets the sky, you will see the ribbon of a road on the hill we came down. I'll try to cut that part out and photo-chop it!
ENLARGED WITH ARROW SHOWING THE DESCENT!
Shortly afterwards a pastoral scene lay in front of us with the cows on the hillside. The Flint Hills are rather beautiful and quite remarkable.
THOSE DOTS ARE COWS!
We arrived in Eureka in good spirits. The road had dried, we had a good lunch and we had friends to ride with through the most scenic part of our journey thus far. Our motel was right on the edge of town and next to a convenience store. We checked in before seeking out the truck and our needed clothing.
The rear bottom bracket was swapped out, the bike wiped down, chains lubed, intercom headsets replaced, and all should be good to go for the morning.
Dinner was at a very good Mexican restaurant where Courtney learned to like guacamole.
The place looked like a dive and needed better signage given there was an abandoned motel next door and a sign that said something about a non existent truck stop, all of which would draw a passerby's eye.
Did I mention that Natalie has a loose tooth? She's worried about the tooth fairy visiting a strange motel! We assured her that the tooth fairy is used to coming to her house and would wait if need be.
Julie chatted with our mutual good friend Mike R while the kids sold pins and buttons. It was a much better night for them as everyone had an enjoyable scenic ride today hence the uplifted spirits and continued energy.
Julie and I cruised around on the quad sans kids including 2 laps of the school track while keeping an eye on their progress.
It was late to bed for them, well relatively speaking with it being a bit after 9 anyway. But then our days are completely full with no time for swimming, even if the weather permitted it, given the daily distances scheduled for this year. Tomorrow will be yet another one!
Oh, those predicted winds to switch and come from the SW or NW..... They never happened.
Thursday June 11, 2009
Eureka to Humboldt
72.3 Miles, 15.0 average, 4:47, 43.5 max
Extra miles: 1.4 miles, 00.0 Average, :00, 00.0 max
Breakfast burritos were available at the school. Although they were on the dry side they really hit the spot particularly with the biscuits and gravy.
Full Throttle for breakfast? :-) I needed all the help I could get on this morning.
We left the flatlands behind yesterday and fantastic views with long vistas predominated the scene early on today.
A westerly bound truck had a tire blow with a very loud bang just as it had passed us. Whew.... We were glad that it happened after it had gone by since it was easy to conjure up visions of flying debris and shrapnel. Timing is everything and it was on our side.
We crossed the Verdigriz river where the substantial rains from the days previous had caused it to really come out of its banks and flood. Debris carried along was strewn a considerable distance from the river which had returned to its banks. There was a great deal of standing water and deep tracks through the mud from various wildlife causing one to envision how much it bogged them down. We had been lucky in that our route seemed to be behind the storms.
CAPTAIN SHOOTING A PICTURE OVER HIS SHOULDER
We turned south from U.S. 54 towards Toronto Lake with folks selling their goodies at the turn. With only 13 miles behind us we pressed onward as it was time to make up ground on the hoard of riders. The hoard was shrinking though evident by the 'Camper's Hamper' truck either getting longer or folks deciding it wasn't fun any longer and abandoning the ride.
We covered the entire off-name base with Tornado, Toronado, and probably a couple of more as the self entertainment mode had been adopted.
A steep downhill that took us up to 43.5 mph hastened our arrival to the town of Toronto. We spotted "Courtney's Places." Courtney of course wanted her picture taken with the sign and it reminded us all of the town in SE Kansas on the 2006 route that had Courtney's Bakery.
Lunch was served in Coyville which consisted of baked beans, hamburgers and hot dogs. Since none of us are beef eaters we had our share of the beans. Two local newspaper people approached us for photos and name information delaying our departure a bit.
It was hard to get going again after lunch but it wasn't long before we came upon the 'Pie Stop' where many riders were hanging out and spending money. We took the opportunity to get off for a bit and bought some Gatorade and called it good. Temps were certainly warming by this time and the cross headwinds, although light, were slowing us down.
We saw an increasing number of rock quarries before coming into Chanute all seemingly filled with a great deal of water.
It was time for a break at Chanute once we figured our way through town with the detours making it a bit confusing. We stopped despite having only 10 miles remaining to our Humboldt destination. Actually it was past time to stop! It was refreshing to take advantage of the town's generosity as they offered up some cookies and free cold bottled water.
Journalism folks found us again in Chanute and the following morning we heard that our picture made the paper.
The old 169 highway into Humboldt was rather congested and busy with impatient drivers. One rider said he was glad to see the Highway Patrol doing laps and showing high visibility. Unfortunately we did not have that kind of attention.
We were tired and needed to setup camp given there were no motels in this town. The girls wanted to go swimming and we managed to get it all done.
A trolley was borrowed from Iola and driven by a man that had lived in Humboldt all his life. He provided the grand tour of the town along with a running commentary.
Camp was setup on an easterly wall shaded from the sun. We stopped by to grab the camera as the trolley would take us to a recommended Mexican restaurant on the north end of town. Amazingly people had stepped over our quad and stood a bike up behind it against the wall while others were sitting around in chairs right by our tents blocking access to the zippered doors.
The Mexican restaurant didn't work out well given it took 1 hour to get our food and the pricing structure for what one received seemed really strange given a less expensive plate came with a lot of food and a more expensive plate was on the meager side.
As darkness settled in and the girl's went to sleep, people continued to make a great deal of noise with electric mattress pumps running, slapping the mattress on the pavement right next to the tents, cell phone calls made right by the tents that were so loud the girls could hear both sides of the conversation.
Once it finally cooled off, the tire pump was grabbed from our bag that was already on the truck. The front one took 3 pumps to bring up to full pressure but the rear registered only 10 pounds! Careful evaluation in the dark but under a security lamp revealed no cuts in the tire anywhere aside from one small one containing a sliver of rock. A new tube was installed and we were good to go for the morning.
Friday June 12, 2009
Humboldt to Paola
85.3 Miles, 16.0 average, 5:25, 38.6 max
Extra miles: 1.2 miles, 00.0 Average, :00, 00.0 max
Our northeast route the past day or two has brought us fairly near our home territory and familiar roads.
The girls awakened in a good mood and we all broke camp and loaded the bags onto the truck in what seemed like a record time. We hit the quickie shop for breakfast and thoroughly and finally enjoyed a tailwind. It had switched and was now out of the southeast making the northerly stretches go by quickly.
We rolled through Iola where numerous riders had stopped for breakfast and explained to the girls that their grandparents on their mother's side had once lived there. The skies darkened to the south as the elusive blue patch of sky drifted north at a faster rate than we were going. The tailwind permitted us to roll into Blue Mound, our lunch stop, as it started to sprinkle. Thanks to the tailwind we knocked off the 43 mile leg without taking a break.
Lots of people were wanting to take our picture including woman that wanted one with their new fire truck in the background.
It looked like we were going to get drenched for sure but the cell that had formed seemed to dissipate before our departure. We enjoyed the tailwind for another 20 miles before turning east.
A convenience store was right outside of the small town of Parker, just where we needed it!
Various body parts were getting sore as we continued on for the last leg to Paola. The going got slow toward the end as the wind had switched 8 miles from the end and was now coming out of the north.
We finally got to the school and retrieved our luggage,
We enjoyed some ice cream and had our pictures taken while snarfing it down!
The girls went swimming at the school for an extended period of time, while the senior members of the team sunned themselves and annihilated some brewskies.
We tried walking to the El Tapatio, Mexican restaurant but ended up asking for directions. A kindly woman gave us a ride to the town square, a distance too far for us to walk.
We found the food to be good but the portions were small. The place had live music and a great atmosphere too.
Fortunately we were able to hitch a ride back to the school with some other BAK folks having a large white Ford van.
Saturday June 13, 2009
Paola to Missouri State Line and Louisburg
22.1 Miles, 14.1 average, 1:36, 39.8 max
Extra miles: 1.2 miles, 00.0 Average, :00, 00.0 max
Our last morning to get up and Natalie was really dragging her feet. But who can blame her after staying up past 10PM!
We had a great motel breakfast at the, Best Western in Paola, a place to highly recommend. It obviously has the owner on the premises making sure everything is as it should be for their guests.
We were able to get rolling by 9AM but in a light drizzle. After loading our bags onto the truck we borrowed a foot pump and brought the tires back up to our desired pressure of 140 psi.
Once again people wanted to take our picture!
It soon became evident that the BAK folks saved all the hills on this tour for the very last day. Very steep non-roller hills, one after the other, had others walking to the top.
There is another roller at the top of the picture not visible in the photo!
We made it to Louisburg and stopped for a soda and snack before continuing on to the obligatory Missouri border to have our picture taken.
Our mission had been accomplished! Our trip from Colorado to Missouri across the very long state of Kansas was successful, and on a quad.
The traffic at the border was a bit daunting so it was a relief to get moving again.
We rode back to Louisburg the very few miles where Sue would be arriving to pick us up.
A long line had formed for lunch giving the girls one last opportunity to offer their bike pins and buttons to their fellow riders.
We loaded up our bags and bike and realized one of the kids had left one of their bags containing pins, money along with their cell phone in the motel. We all missed it in our haste to meet the 9AM truck cut-off time earlier in the day.
We drove back to Paola to retrieve it while the long lunch line continued to form and eventually shorten. The timing of our return with the left behind items was perfect as the line had just ended.
This year's BAK was certainly the coolest, probably the longest and had more north winds by comparison to the other 5 we have ridden.
It was a great ride, hosted by great folks thus we have memories to cherish and share amongst all of us.... totally priceless.
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