Saturday, May 5, 2007

Auntie Em…Auntie Em!!!

Ok…in last night’s post I mentioned we had a threat of tornados…little did I know we’d be just a few miles from one of the worst tornados to ever strike Kansas! Greenberg, Kansas is about 40 miles east of Dodge City and it was completely wiped out by a storm they estimated was 2 miles wide. The pictures on TV are terrifying! Our hearts and prayers go out to those effected!

Day 13 Dodge City to Great Bend, Kansas 84 miles @ 20.5mph

When we got up this morning it was clear that it was not going to be an easy day after all. We only had 84 miles to cover…but with the winds from the south we’d be getting hammered by a dead crosswind. The winds were 20-25 with gusts close to 35mph. Mike gathered us all together to have another safety meeting and I feared he may not allow us to ride in these conditions. He reminded us of how treacherous these crosswinds can be…especially when coupled with riders in a group, large trucks and those huge grain elevators. All can play major tricks on the wind…as we soon found out! We decided to ride as a group of 3 today…and also decided not to play around. We wanted to get to "get outta Dodge" as quickly as possible in case the weather turned. We felt bad leaving I-man to his own devices today…but he survived!! Rob, Judd and I made it thru the first 28 miles of major crosswinds riding in a modified eschelon formation. The shoulders today were much narrower than what we’ve been riding on…so we had to get creative. Typically, in a crosswind we’d ride 3 abreast the downwind guy slightly off the rear wheel of the guy ahead…in the draft! With the narrow shoulders we decided to have a “point man” riding as far to the right as possible. Then the second guy right on his rear wheel…with the 3rd guy drafting off to his left. It allowed us to really keep the speed up without being 3-wide (we just didn't have that much room!). You had to really pay attention to every move today. My bike and wheels extremely aerodynamic…which also makes them very prone to being bashed by crosswinds. At times it can slide sideways 4-6 inches. The huge grain elevators are also a hazard. As you approach one on the downwind side, the wind can swirl…from headwind to no wind and then…BAM!...back to the crosswind as you pass it. Pretty scary! We did a quick stop at the first SAG where Barbara told us the group was already pretty spread out and that she would probably not be at the lunch SAG in Larned, KS before we got there. Around mile 45 we made a left turn (north) towards Great Bend and our crosswind turned to a tailwind. A 20-30mph tailwind makes for some serious speed…and we took advantage of it! We kept a rotation going at just under 30mph for most of the last 40 or so miles. It was a blast!!!! You can tell by the lack of photos…we only stopped once today. At least until we got into Great Bend at 11AM…when we stopped at Braums for a chicken sandwich, chili and a milkshake. The problem with hammering that fast is the rooms aren’t ready and your luggage is still an hour or so behind! It was still fun!

Looks like the next few day will be a bit dodgy with storms and tornados possible!
“Fly monkey’s…fly!!”


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