Just before I set off from my posh hotel, the general manager introduced himself and then gave me one of the hotels team jerseys... in good spirits I set off through Springfield with the wind behind me, singing along to wonderful world... And it was. The miles flew past and the countryside began to subtly change... the hills were not as steep, there were less trees and life felt good.
You would think after 6 full days of biking I would know enough not to voice it out loud, or even whisper it....
So as I turned out of Springfield to once again head westwards... it started. Not headwinds this time, well at this point anyway, but sidewinds. Now if you have never cycled in a sidewind, just watch the tour of belgium. Basically all the guys behind the one infront cycle slightly to the side for protection. I obviously couldnt do that, so instead I had to lean slightly into the wind to stop it blowing me off the side of the road... which worked well until I hit a road that had just been tarmacked... only they hadnt done the shoulder
So picture this if you will... im hugging the white line, unable to go too far right as I will hit the gravel, and going any further left was out of the question.
This is tiring enough in itself... then factor in the lorries.
So lorries passing me, normally not a huge problem, they have generally given me plenty of room, butwhen they pass you when you are leaning into a sidewind and the sidewind suddenly disappears... well you get the idea, you get sucked in slightly, whilst trying to compensate, which then stops cos the lorry is past and then you get pulled forwards a little too... its like what I imagine being in a whirlpool is like.. before being spat out the other side..
So now you understand sidewinds and lorries and hopefully you get the picture of how much concentration is therefore required. And that was only 30 miles into a long long day.
This battling lasted for quite a while until the roadworks had finally finished and I got back my hard shoulder (yes I have become quite possesive of them). The sidewinds contined but at least I was managing a decent pace.
My other concern, was that in my joy of good wind in Springfield I had neglected to get any food for the day. Now although it wasn't critical, because I had a stretch of about 30 miles of nothingness only, it might well be cruicial later on and better to get into good provision habits sooner rather than later.
Fortunately I hit a gas station reasonably quickly and loaded up on protein bars and the like. The road continued onwards, still battling against the sidewinds and 2 things occured.
1. I saw a snake... yes it was dead :(.
2. I discovered that I actually HATE dogs. They seem to think it fun to chase me along the road, darting in close before trying to commit suicide under my front wheel. Now if you are not the one on the bike, you might find it quite funny... picture this.... always when the cyclist is at their slowest do the dogs strike, often in pairs, sneaking up behind them, as they cannot hear the warning barking cos of the wind whistling. Then its divide and conquer. While one distract the other darts in, narrowly avoiding the pedals. Meanwhile the cyclist is trying not to swerve into oncoming traffic, or be bitten by the one on the blind side. The cyclist shouts at the dogs whilst pedaling bloody fast to get out of their range. The dogs take absolutely no notice whatsoever, just missing the front wheel by inches.
If the owner is about they might decide to step in at this point, which is when the cyclist apologises profusely for swearing at the dogs.
If there is no owner, the dogs will continue the chase until well beyond the boundary of their territory before stopping, giving one last parting bark or growl and then trotting back for a nap.
The cyclist meanwhile is on the verge of collapse from trying to outrun the pack uphill and stops, possibly shaking slightly, not from fear, more from anger at the stupid dog owners who think it is acceptable to let their doberman, spaniel, husky (delete as appropriate) run around free.
Then muktiply this incident by 3 for today and you see why I HATE dogs.
So where was I.... sidewinds yes... continued for much of the day, zapping me of all will to live, never mind continue. Then I hit webb city. This was one of the most run down, desolate, horrible places I have seen so far. It has clearly suffered from degradation since I44 has been built and I was glad to get through it. Joplin quickly followed and with it the headwinds returned. Bit of relief from aching arm muscles but slow slow progress. I tried the trick of convincing myself that the 40 ish miles to go was just a short jaunt out for me, which back home it is, but every 10 miles had started to feel like 20. On top of that, I was determined not to add miles on to tomorrows ride by stopping short of my planned destination unless I absolurly had to and so I just kept going. Didn't feel hungry so didn't eat. Drank some but prob not enough. But conscious that I was just going to scrape in before it got dark.
Once through joplin, the roads became more deserted and the dogs surfaced again. But then I hit kansas. Now by this point I was soooo knackered I didn't actually care about any sights but thought I ought totake a few pics inside kansas just for the record. An old bridge and a pretty mural were the choices and both pictured below.
I would say I went so fast through kansas I didn't notice it, bit actually it was painfully slow, dogged by the headwind again. And so it continued into oklahoma... headwind, sidewind, headwind as I zigzagged south to miami.
Just before miami was my back up staying place, but as previously said, I was determined to get the miles done and still had an hour of daylight. I passed by the motel with an inward groan, knowing I was going to regret not stopping. And soon did...
The last 15 miles were tough. Not just tough but I think I had pushed my limits of endurance up to that point and then continued past them, so determined was I to get to miami. 6, 3 2 miles to go. Everything hurt. Felt battered, broken, but was somehow still going. Not sure how.
Arrived in miami just as sun going down, and then had to endure another 2 or 3 miles to find a motel. That was torture, to be so close to bed, shower etc and then have to go just a bit further...
Still les miles to do tomorrow...
The first motel I came to, I stopped at, looked so bad that they gave me a senior discount lol and then bought washing powder to do my laundry.. finally.
So there is no way around it, my clothes reeked, to the point that I coulnt stand myself. The bonus being that no one else had to stand it as well. But there are limits, even when doing this sort of thing, so did the laundry, whilst feeling a bit tired, crap, faint etc then ran (well limped) all of 20 feet to the sports bar for food... too tired to really eat and fed up of fast food, once again didnt finish the food. But then hobbled to my room, sat on the bed and started this blog.
Worried I pushed myself too far and will be broken for tomorrow. Have 2 more days to get through before that much needed rest day.
Wish I could say the day ended the same way it began, but today, the wind blew away my words and it is all I can do to whisper.... im so tired, take me now, come on and rescue me!
Nite all x