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Courtney & Natalie's Great Adventure, On a Quad!!
Click Here for Courtney's 12 year old perspective, another work in progress.
Friday June 4, 2010
Our departure efficiency quotient has improved dramatically over time. We actually had everything ready to go and more organized than in any of the previous 6 years! Our system has evolved into one loosely resembling organization. We are aided by an evolving computer generated and frequently updated packing list. With only a couple of minor additions, it should be perfect. Yeah, right.
The lengthy drive to the Colorado state line causes us to take Friday off from work, generally. Since I-70 would carry us all the way to the start region, we opted to work and leave immediately afterwards. Our 27 year old under-powered 6 cylinder overdrive Ford van gradually conquered the stair step elevation gains and headwind as we headed towards the Rocky Mountain state. The end result was a less than desirable average speed and being a bit behind schedule.
We arrived just before 10PM BAK time or 9PM Goodland, KS time (we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone), long after the nightly rider meeting had ended thus registration had been closed. We had no concerns however given BAK's final email briefing and their website had informed us that registration would reopen at 8AM the following morning for late arrivals.
It was now late and we were looking forward to making use of our Motel 6 reservations. In our quest to find the motel, not an unfamiliar place to us, we drove right by it. Why? The sign was turned off! We circled back after finding a place that was devoid of a 'No U Turn' sign and quickly learned why the sign was not in operation. The entire establishment was dark and had unkempt landscaping to the extent weeds and desert grasses were over 1 foot tall. We pondered what to do and tried calling Motel 6 to find out why Tom Bodette did NOT leave the light on for us. A quick walk to the nearby Super 8 revealed an expensive smoking room large enough to accommodate us. Sue had been on hold with the Motel 6 customer service and eventually learned that our reservations had been cancelled without them notifying us. Thanks Tom B.! We lucked into the last room at the Days Inn and managed to get some well needed rest. Our room had a frozen up non operational refrigerator, their ice machine was on the fritz, and a lamp was missing a light bulb. Oh well, at this point we were beggars, not choosers. 6:45AM was to come early.
Saturday June 5, 2010
Border to Colby
63.50 Miles, 14.00 Average, 4:44, 28.0 Max
Getting up and moving was not without effort as our bodies begged for more rest. Julie and I drove over to the school and asked 2 BAK people about the morning registration pickup. The response from both was "We've never done that before." and "We don't know anything about it." Our trip to the school was therefore fruitless and it had cost us some sleep making the effort. Oh well. It was just another typical element of the way everything was going for us in and around Goodland.
We packed up and had a hurried McDonalds breakfast and then drove our bags over to the luggage truck arriving only 15 minutes before the doors were to shut. We saw many riders on the road as we drove to the Colorado line, the official start where it is tradition to have your photo taken in front of the 'Welcome to Colorado' sign.
The sweet sound of our tires humming on the pavement finally started at 10AM. We had a strong northerly wind that sometimes would be vary from having a slightly west or east component. Can you say crosswind!
Sue leap-frogged us in the old van a few times, collecting action photos before bidding us farewell in Goodland.
Speaking of the old van, it now has over 280,000 miles on it and continues to haul a $10,000 bicycle very well.
She had a long drive ahead of her with our family mutt, Cutter, to keep her company and was to make it home safe and sound by 6:30PM.
Missing the only convenience store on the western edge of Goodland's old U.S. 24 caused us to make a U-turn and head back in seek of a rest spot and a drink. The Dollar General store proved to be our refuge. As in other years with headwind days on the flats of western Kansas, we try guessing the miles to the next grain elevator. With the old towns being near RR tracks, they are generally spaced about 8-10 miles apart given they supplied needed water for the then steam locomotives.
We reached the first town east of Goodland and took a needed rest in the shade. This process continued from one grain elevator to another.
Since we had not received our registration materials, read map, we had no clue where the school was located in Colby and asked the first convenient cyclist we saw. His directions got us started in the right direction but another person finally told us it was a Junior College hosting our stay rather than a High School as we were led to believe. We easily found our bags given almost everyone had come in ahead of us.
A sign said registration would be at the Admin Truck from 5PM-7PM. We searched and located the truck on the far side of the school. An official BAK person told us registration would be open inside the building at 4. Yet another BAK badged person came by and said it was to open at 5. He was then asked to move the truck but did not know where it was to go since they called him back and said not to move it! And on it went.
Using Motel 6 this year is an adventure in and of itself this year! Yes, our reservation was somehow made for January 29th! We lucked into a room though but the interior only entrance made it impossible to get the long bike into the room.
We had a nice dinner at El Dos de Oros (The Two Pieces of Gold), housed across the highway at the Quality Inn. Of course the girls spied their unlocked pool and had ideas of what they could do -- it wasn't going to happen though.
We managed to make it to the registration pickup before 7PM so we now finally have maps, t-shirts and water bottles. The girls felt they had a poor night selling bike pins since several told them they already had them plus they received some out right rejection - NO's! But they did okay for the short time they put into it.
Earlier, Julie had spied the window in the motel room and soon as she started to point to it, I also knew the answer! Yes, the screen was removable and we shuttled the bike through, making it secure. A real team effort!
This won't necessarily be a fun process to reverse in the morning!
Sunday June 6, 2010
69.3 Miles, 15/3 Average, 4:36, 31.5 Max
At least two thunderstorms disturbed our sleep during the night but the bright side was that we were not on the bike when they rolled through! Natalie had a restless night, as she often does when on trips, but did settle down after 3 hours.
A peek out the window revealed drying roads and with plenty of time to make the truck. We worked through the morning tasks of packing and getting ready to roll.
Taking the bike back out through the window was no less challenging than putting it in. Courtney did manage to get a bit of grease on her jersey in the process but Julie pulled some magic and was able to remove 90% of it.
More storms were a brewing but without a radar image to consult we could only guess what might or might not be coming. Either way we had to get back to the school for the 9AM truck departure to load our gear.
Ready to depart from the school after a 1:15 wait as storm after storm wave passed by.
Right when we were ready to leave it started to rain. We dashed for cover and during our wait we met a couple of other riders who had BlackBerries with them capable of retrieving radar images. We were certainly the last to leave town at 10:05 but only after putting Subway bags over my shoes and handing Natalie her rain jacket!
A dark storm cloud ahead of us. We were chasing it, thankfully and losing ground!
Courtney was taking her own picture and that of Natalie's, literally on the fly!
We were making better time today with the lighter winds and a only a bit of disturbed sleep.
Mom requested pictures of the sag hags so this was to be an obligatory stop. And they are always glad to see us! After a brief rest and gaining some calories from their bananas, our pace picked up.
The photo of the storage bins does not do justice to the bright sunlight hitting their tops. They were seemingly the only thing in the sunlight as it was very overcast above us.
About 36 miles into the day we arrived at our lunch stop town and opted for the quick shop food. We devoured many calories!
A new treat was invented this day, at least we think so. It consists of Hershey's dark chocolate sandwiched between a parmesan Cheez-it and a sharp cheddar Cheez-it. They seemed to be quite the hit!
Lunch must have worked well for all of us given we seemed to be rolling along and passing lots of people. Our arrival showed many bags yet to be claimed too! It always feels good to come in ahead of at least some people!
A trip to the pool for an hour was in the works this evening so there was no time to sell their wares.
Dinner was at the Pizza Hut which was not overrun but busy. Service was poor even though there was no wait.
Monday June 7, 2010
73.5 Miles, 14.5 Average, 4+45, 31.5 max
We had good intentions of an early start given the predicted 102 degree high and stronger winds. The good element of the forecast showed only a 20% chance of precipitation. Awakening lat at 7:25 foiled the idea of an early start. The prolonged darkness from an unsuspecting storm threw the internal alarm clock way off! Is that a blower running, with a slight change of speed at times? Those were the thoughts going through my mind that eventually prompted me to investigate and peek out the window. A torrential downpour was in process, one the old well constructed motel disguised for the most part. It was very dark outside so it was time to crawl back in for a few more minutes and dream up a game plan.
THE CLOCK IS OFF ON THE PHOTO BEING SET ON STANDARD TIME.
THIS IS WHAT OUR DAY LOOKED LIKE AT NEARLY 8AM!
Having a mini computer along is great when we have a connection. Today it allowed us to view the storm cell and others that may affect us later. The rain abated and we were able to do the usual morning tasks including eating biscuits and gravy and other microwaveable breakfast items at Casey's.
COURTNEY IS INTO LLAMAS RIGHT NOW, FOR SOME REASON, HAVING FUN WITH IT AND SPOTTED THIS SIGN.
COURTNEY SPOTTED A GRASS HOPPER ON MY GLASSES WHILE IN THE QUICKIE SHOP
A CHILLY START. NATALIE INSIDE DONNING LEG WARMERS TOO!
PREPARED TO STAY WARM!
We left town at 9:30 with a very few other riders remaining. The wind seemed to be less obtrusive for a short time and more direct which is to our aerodynamic benefit. That feeling did not last long however as it was increasing out of the southwest. Storm clouds threatened us and lightning was seen on the distant horizon but no claps of thunder were heard, thankfully. An occasion sprinkle was felt that was a bit of a worry but that did not last long.
We caught up with our long time friend Larry and invited him to jump on and draft and bade him farewell at the next sag as we pressed on to lunch worried about the next cell marching from the NW that would cross our path.
Lunch in Stockton was at a quickie shop and with renewed energy and spirits we kept moving.. We rode on wet roads for the first 60 miles before they started to dry. Following in the storms wake did not permit enough time for the pavement to dry. The last 10 miles into Osborne was tough to say the least. We were proud of conquering every hill with a team effort thus far on the tour without using the granny gear relying on our 39x23 gearing and ability to push and maintain a cadence over the crest.
SPOTTED IN STOCKTON, PAINTED OVER THE DENTS AND ALL. UNIQUE AT LEAST.
COURTNEY SHOT THE HOLE IN THE CLOUD WHILE ON THE FLY!
GLOOMY STORMS ALL AROUND US AT TIMES!
Our motel was on the edge of town about 1 mile from the school. The 'Gym Rats' truck had been unloaded inside for fear of impending rain and they then shuttled half of the 'Camper's Hamper' truck contents into the other truck. We found our bags easily enough, compared to most anyway, since we had them in the front of one truck and on the back of the other. We were good to go in short order.
CARBO LOADING AND RELAXING! 4:44PM REAL TIME!
A quick tour of the town revealed the liquor store had been closed 2 weeks previous, one quick shop had closed early, and two others had the typical meager supplies of refreshment we were seeking after a long tough but satisfying day.
After showering we rode back to the school and purchased some pulled pork sandwiches offered by the local vendors. They were very tender and tasty!
The girls played on the playground and sold a few bike pins before we headed back.
It was a chore to clean the bike but the car wash sufficed for flushing the sand out of the chains and a bit of the grunge off with care taken to keep the water pressure away from any bearings. Natalie assisted with that process as Courtney started work on her journal.
COURTNEY WORKING ON HER HARD COPY JOURNAL AFTER WORKING ON HER WEB PAGE.
Tomorrow is our long day with probably 80 miles before it is said and done.
Tuesday June 8, 2010
83.4 Miles, 15.0 Average, 5:17, 46.3 Max
We were up at 7, certainly early for us. Our WIFI connection at this motel was a joke and our live weather revealed wet pavement with the wind already blowing.
Breakfast was at a quickie shop with a record, at least for us, 8:45 AM departure.
We had strong SE winds, again! Our route retraced that used by BAK in 2004 which was Courtney's first state crossing. The familiar scenery and long climbs and resultant vistas were a welcome sight, perhaps more so than 6 years ago since the wind was not as strong! We crossed paths with Roger, the photographer, later in the ride and he recalled the photos he shot of us at that same location back in 2004.
COURTNEY AT THE TOP OF THE CLIMB, 6 YEARS AGO IN 2004
It was 30 miles to the official BAK lunch and with the long line it took us an hour to get on the road again. While we were waiting for our food, the wind switched and came out of the north. The air cooled and the crowd cheered! We did have some very brief north to south stretches so any little bit helps particularly since we have fought headwinds the entire distance this BAK thus far. As we were leaving our long time friend Dr. Eric spotted us and gave a shout and a wave.
Our intercom battery died in a strange way with static, pops, squeals, and eventual silence, which can be both good and bad depending on the disposition of all aboard. We stopped and quickly found our carry along replacement and life was good again.
We located the truck and discovered that the bags were a bit damp given it must have rained there sometime while we were on the road, no doubt the result of one of those large black clouds we observed in the distance earlier in the day.
Our motel was a bit over 1 mile away and it was all downhill from the school. It was very hot in the room and the owner told me the AC worked perfectly and then offered a box fan. He knew differently though given my second appearance resulted in him saying another would be installed in a few minutes, and that was without me even saying a word. All I did was walk in the door. The place did have a pool! Yea!! The convenience of having a pool outside the motel door cannot be overstated. We were able to do laundry and use the fence for a drying area, and RELAX too! Oh yes, it also had a liquor store right next door and a Pizza Hut too!
Thus far we had dodged several bullets as the only light rain we rode in was during a time when the sun was also shining on us. Never-the-less, the maintenance tasks continue with fresh oiling and wiping of the chains. We had a singy-song sound coming from the rear hub as the freehub bushing over the axle needed a fresh coat of grease, but nothing urgent so that will be attended to when there is time or when the annoyance factor becomes too great.
The girls sold a few bike pins and we fought the computer connection a bit more and gave up. Our story writing got behind too but the kids were in bed by 9.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN, SELL MORE BIKE PINS? :-)
Wednesday June 9, 2010
Minneapolis to Herington
82.7 Miles, 15.0 Average, 5:44, 31.3 Max
Usually it hits us a day earlier, a fact that should be able to be verified in our previous 6 BAK stories. We were tired this AM, very tired. Everyone was moving very slowly. It was an effort getting up, it was 7:30, a full 30 minutes later than the previous day and we had another of the longest days staring us in the face.
The usual tasks were handled, rather efficiently I might add, and off to the school we went. They had several remaining breakfast burritos which worked well for un this morning. The sun was out and the wind was not blowing! Awesome... TOTALLY awesome!!!!! You don't realize what this means on BAK unless you've been there and DONE it! Not to last though as we left town feeling less than perky. Actually we all felt pretty beat up, but that happens.
The wind picked up, intensified and again it was a headwind everywhere we were to turn. If any of these are negatives, they were offset by a continuation of the pretty scenery.
WATCH THIS VIDEO
We toured old downtown Abilene briefly and asked a couple of young boys on BMX bikes if there was a Taco Bell close by. With vague directions we found a Taco Tico. As the motel of two or so years ago stated it on their sign, "It'll Do". The restaurant offered up free tacos to any bicycle rider with any purchase! We left the register with a drink in hand and food soon to be on the way for $4.25. How's that compare to a lunch at a quickie shop where we dropped $28 and change!!
Leaving town we were delighted to find that the wind had more or less abated and what was blowing was from the north to the south, a direction our course would take us for much of the day. It's all good, as they say.
We were treated to long valleys and miles of 'false flats'. It was warming and obvious the humidity had come up given the glistening of skin evident on every rider. Our north south stretches on the occasional downhill provided some momentum, a good thing for a quad which we appreciated. And we started down eventually as a far off ridge was crested resulting in humming tires, renewed spirits and literally blowing the doors off other riders. We've often wondered what the thoughts might be of other riders as we go flying past under the right conditions. The tire noise is nothing short of a small quiet car as many riders have called out "car back" as we have approached on other rides.
We were getting cooked, literally as the full sun, high humidity and rising temperatures were wearing on us besides the fact that we were all now feeling much better, despite being over the 50 mile point. The fact that we were humming along and passing many riders causes spirits to rise and the end was in sight with dreams of a pool,,,,,,, for some. So... we reach a town where they offer homemade ice cream, but no, we elect for the quickie shop since, ICE CREAM does not make a bike move down the road, a fact verified by a rider who approached us after the fact who filled his belly full of the saturated fat.
We headed for the COOP, a very well air conditioned limited quickie shop. They did have 99 cent large Arizona ice teas, two of which I gulped, Julie did one, Natalie did a Mango non-caffeine drink while Courtney enjoyed a chocolate milk. We were now GOOD to go!
Off we went with a nice butt break, renewed sugar and carb levels and a bit of rest. We were once again humming with ALL putting in an effort. IF one rider falls short from not feeling so great the bike slows terribly so these moments, and periods of time are a lot of fun for all, literally.
Herrington provided a HUGE welcome, unsurpassed by any community in recent memory, with corner marshall's in safety vests to guide us through the town.
We quickly found our bags and were approached by the local cable TV news people who wished to interview us and produce a segment on BAK with us included. We obliged although it was not well orchestrated so who knows how it will come out.
While riding in the kids spotted a swimming pool and wished to partake, big surprise. Trying to fit it all in is a challenge and with time used with the news people, getting to the motel, discovering it would be another shuttle of the bike through the window type room, figuring a time to eat, sell bike pins, figure out the internet connection, which did not work, along with a Jacuzzi upstairs that had water leaking through our ceiling, tired hungry kids, well, YOU get the picture.
We noted that
the GOMAC team had a new member on their team, or at least they wished they did.
(GOMAC = GRUMPY OLD MEN'S ATHLETIC CLUB)
The kids had fun swimming and Natalie made a friend with another 10 year old who was riding a tandem on BAK. They hope to become email pals.
Somewhere in there we had to eat and the Mexican restaurant which folks said was very good, was way behind with the bicycle rider inundation. We resorted to the high school vendors setup in the parking lot.
The kids had limited success of selling bike pins but did okay. There are many repeat people on BAK which speaks for itself about what they get out of the experience.
Cheerleaders from the high school were roaming around a one of them had a goat on a leash. A strong little sucker it was since it pulled one of them over causing a great deal of laughter.
The girls caught up on their journals and were rather mindful of their manners towards each other despite the late hour, so they can actually be nice and considerate to each other when they want to or when...............
All said and done, they are enjoying the experience, more at times than others. The teamwork and camaraderie along with personal accomplishment and the growth experiences are rather priceless. They'll have memories to cherish and it is those memories and experiences that keep us all coming back.
The week seems to start slow, but only for a day and the rest really flies by! It's hard to believe we have only 2 nights remaining and those will be camping.
Thursday June 10, 2010
to Osage City
64.8 Miles, 13.2 average, 4:55, 31.3 Max
Extra miles: 3.0 miles
We proceeded with the task of shuttling the quad out the motel room window, again. For some reason we have never had to go through this during all the other years.
The motel served up a bit of breakfast which saved us some time. It worked out well for us particularly since there was no quickie shop on the way out of town and back tracking is always a pain.
Our route took us through the Santa Fe Trail historical town of Council Grove where we stopped for lunch.
The crosswinds from the southeast were terrible making it very slow going. It seemed impossible to find a draft from an occasional rider too. No one was feeling good and that combined with the wind brought morale down a couple of notches.
We stopped in a small town that was just a short distance off of the road. Many others had as well. We all seemed to be struggling. The bar had several riders drinking beer and re-hydrating with more appropriate fluids too!
We found a grassy area near an abandoned home converted to storage of junk that appeared to be quite suitable for our needs.
The kids with their eagle eyes spotted a pool (big surprise!) but our late arrival did not permit them going for a dip. We passed El Mezcal, a Mexican restaurant, on the outside of town making a mental note to check it out for dinner.
We later rode over to the Cafe Thyme where the kids played pool and we enjoyed a cold one.
Friday June 11, 2010
Osage City to Eudora
63.8 Miles, 15.8 Average, 4:02, 00.0 Max
The breakfast remaining at the school left so much to be desired that we headed straight to the quickie shop.
We had our photo taken by a curious passerby before heading on east. We asked to have them email us a copy but as per usual it never came. The clouds had darkened and moved over us during our leisurely breakfast. The temps remained warm at 79 degrees and we hit the road by 9:15. The winds were light and sometimes from the SSW giving us a slight bit o help.
A great deal of our route would take us north today and with the winds generally out of the south we anticipated a good day.
We must be getting near the end of the ride when they act this way!
Traffic has increased the further east we have traveled but that is to be expected and the norm for BAK.
We took a break at the Casey's in Ottawa and chatted with other riders. We compared notes about the traffic and learned that one of them had a very close encounter with a truck on a bridge that did not pass safely.
We spied yet another El Mezcal as we rode through town but it was way early for lunch.
It was getting hot as we pulled into Baldwin via very familiar biking roads given we are from this end of the state.
We stopped at the Taco Bell and accidentally scraped the rear tire on the concrete curb which did some slight sidewall damage.
Resultant of the scuffed sidewall we skipped the well known 50+ mph downhill and left the official route opting to take Highway 56 to the Eudora blacktop before turning north. We are near our own stomping grounds so know alternative roads to the day's destination.
We camped at the Eudora middle school, which was fairly new.
The route map had the school labeled in the wrong location with it being somewhere on the north side of K-10! The arrows did the trick and everyone made the turn into the parking lot.
It was hot, sunny and we were over heated when someone wanted to interview us for a bicycling website.
We were not in the mood and the individual seemed to have no understanding nor the patience to let us cool down, relax, and get our wits about us.
Unfortunately there were no shuttles provided to the college town of Lawrence only 6 miles away. Thankfully the vendors had good pulled pork sandwiches for us that evening and we managed to beg some ice for a bit of margarita we packed with us.
The girls sold a few more bike pins knowing it was their last chance to do so on this tour.
All turned in as the mosquitoes made their presence known.
Saturday June 12, 2010
Eudora to Leavenworth
39.3 Miles, 16.0 average, 2:38, 37.6 Max
We set off in record time being up at 6:30 and on the road by 8:15. Leaving that early for us did little good with regard to the rest of the crowd as they were long gone.
The tailwind was awesome running north towards Tonganoxie. But we didn't make it. The thickening clouds and ominous lightning and thunder closed in from the northwest.
The rain started with us less than three miles from town, the same time our tailwind vanished, the temps dropped and the wind picked up and hit us in the face.
It was very hard to see and it rained hard, very hard. Some people abandoned the ride talking of safety and not being able to see where they were going. The down-hills were particularly hard to navigate with the water flowing so heavily that we were plowing through it, even on the hills!
We made it to the river in Leavenworth after meandering through town. The sharp climbs in town were a bit much for our water logged weary team.
We had our official end of the ride state line photo taken.
As we neared the park to get our luggage and where we were to meet Sue and the van, our rear tire blew out through the sidewall with a loud bang!! The previous day's scuff damage from brushing the curb had weakened it. The incident reassured us that the right decision was made to avoid the 50+ mph downhill the day before.
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