Day 14 Great Bend,KS to Abilene,KS 129 miles @ 18.6 mph
Today was the toughest day yet! It was one of those days that teaches you the difference between the "fantasy" of cycling across the country and the "reality" of doing it! Trust me...they are very different!!
Moments after this morning's post about the tornado warnings...Mike returned with some bad news. There had been a tornado in the next town over, Ellinwood,KS and there were powerlines down and some major flooding. He was also very concerned about the radar! It did not look good! I did not want to SAG (ride in the van) to Abilene...that is just not an option for me on this trip! I was glad when he finally let us go...with a stern warning to take shelter if things got bad! Ellinwood was a mess, with many homes flooded and people just roaming around. Powerlines were snapped off along the road as we entered town. Another close call for us last night. This is getting old!!
It was raining lightly as we got close to Conway,KS. Unfortunately, that's when we got hit with a rash of flat tires...3 in about 5 miles. That slowed us enough for the rains to overtake us. It got pretty heavy! We made it to the lunch SAG just as the skies unloaded. Major rain and lightning. Mike held us there for almost 2 hours. It finally cleared enough for us to get back on the road. I flatted about a mile out! Rob and Judd stayed to help me get back onto the main group of about 8 riders, but the 6 miles of hard effort wore us all out! After another 15 miles, battling a massive headwind of 20+mph, we limped into Conway and were again asked to stay put til anopther storm cell passed by. This one was off to our east...the direction we were traveling! The winds were howling, it got really cold and it was close to 3PM! We wanted to get this suffer-fest over with! From Conway to Abilene was just over 50 miles. It sounded easy...but was far from it! The first 10 miles were on a
"chip n' seal" road with razor sharp stones that took a massive toll on tires today! Judd flatted first, then Rob. We were changing flats as team and got it down to less than 3 minutes (every second counts when the group is hammering away up the road). A NASCAR Pit Crew would have been slower than us! Then Steve flatted out of the main group and we stopped to help him. Good thing we did (see earlier post...he's a big engine and we needed him desperately!). The four of us put together a a huge final assault to get into Abilene. We passed several groups along the road with flats and a few of the solo riders who were battling the winds on their own. It is considerably easier when you can work as a group! Big thanks to Rob, Steve and Judd...for some great work out there today! That was one of the hardest days on the bike I have ever had. Treated myself to a massive food-fest tonight. Ready for bed. Tomorrow we roll into Topeka and get a rest day on Tuesday (our only day off!)...unless we another day of tornado warnings! Oh, yeh...HUGE thanks to Judd's wife Sam for doing our laundry tonight! dd
The radar when I woke up this morning
The town of Ellinwood,KS under water and without power!
That green sky I now hate to see!