Back on Track with a Reroute: Day 37
05/26 (Day 37)
Yesterday’s tomorrow is today.
Many of you will be happy to know that I stood on a scale this morning and weighed in at 151.6 pounds. That is actually a couple of pound heavier then when I left San Francisco. I woke up this morning feeling energized and well rested after long night of sleep on the old couch in the living room.
I know what happened was that I exhausted my body and I think I had a bit of heat exhaustion. Overall through the last 37 days I have been doing exceptionally well both physically and mentally. I have had a few low points but each time I have bounced back in a matter of a few days. My body, mind, and spirit are in prime condition and they are able to handle these periods of struggle as they come. Really I have been taking care of myself quite well but the times that I have slipped up have taken a temporary toll on me. It’s important to remember that hard times always come to an end even when it seems they may not. I have learned in my time on this planet that in order for me to be at my highest levels of happiness my body must be in good physical condition. As humans tend to do I sometimes forget this but I’ll take this occurrence as another reminder. It appears that I have made it past this difficult time and now that my body has recovered I should be able to handle the elements with more grace.
My pee was clear. My stomach was functioning at about 90%. The rest and hydration allowed the soreness of my muscles to retreat. I laid in the grass this morning and stretched my body while taking in my surroundings. The warm Kansas air brightened my spirits and yet again I was excited for a day on by bicycle. Day after day, no matter the circumstances, I am excited to be on the road on my bike. It was a leisurely restful morning and I didn’t get a move on until closer to noon. I said goodbye to the 20 cats, to Boomer, the stupidest dog I’ve ever met, Booger, the little kitten that chased me down the road, and to Marsha and Brad, the most real Kansas folk I have the pleasure of knowing and was beyond grateful for their hospitality. Their farmhouse on the prairie gave me rest and the ability to ride today with more comfort. Open Kansas roads awaited and of course the winds were blowing. I was up for the challenge both physically and mentally.
The southern winds pushed me out of the driveway with grace and as I headed east onto the open road a downhill awaited me. The winds were minimal at 15 mph and did not impede my ability to move forward. The breeze and the slight bit of clouds in the sky kept me cool and I had a positive outlook on the day. My front bag was full of frozen cherries that Marsha had picked from a tree in Atwood and saved over the winter. It’s like eating sweet soft ice cubes. My water bottle is also partially filled with these cherries, which will be a treat with every sip throughout the day.
What comes to mind when you think of Kansas? Expansive flat lands, fields of grain as far as the eye can see, monotony, boredom? Only one of those has been a part of my experience here in Northern Kansas. Not flat land, not monotony, and not boredom. Northern Kansas is not flat. It’s not flat by any means unless you are comparing it to a mountain. All day long I climbed over rolling hills just to see more in the distance. It was impossible to get into a rhythm of any sort today alternating from 4 mph, to 8 mph going up hill to 10 to 15 mph going down hill. The hills were really wearing me out and made what could have been an easy day on the road exhausting. They drained the energy from my body and the strong winds from the south didn’t help at all. However the winds were nothing compared to the hills when it came to sapping my energy. Monotony is also not something I’ve felt in Kansas. On a bike you have the ability and time to see subtle changes. Some stretches are full of wild flowers and some are nothing but soybeans. Sometimes the road takes you upwards, and other times it takes you downward. In a car these lands may seem unchanging but on a bike you get a chance to appreciate it, or not appreciate it depending on how you look at it, but certainly experience it all. Although challenging I can’t say I have felt any boredom. There are too many obstacles and stimulations in a day to allow boredom whether it be my sun burned sand bur filled bare feet, the wind mills pumping up water from the ground table below, the numbers increasing on the mile markers signs, trucks, redneck farmers, road kill, hawk soaring above me, green grass on the side of the road, cows, or crops. The list could go on forever. Boredom out here is only a choice you’d have to choose to take but this is not a land that creates boredom. Just like happiness I believe boredom is a choice as well. It was a strenuous afternoon of cycling and it did take a toll on me but I am happy, healthy, and warm and the sun is shining and I know each pedal I take is getting me one step closer to anywhere but here.
Later in the afternoon I spotted a windmill off the side of the road pulling cool ground water into large aluminum troughs for the cows. I pulled over and took shelter from the heat inside the cold water. It was so cold it nearly shocked my system but not cold enough to keep me out of it. I drank water straight from the pipe that was pulling it up 60 feet below. These windmill-powered wells that use only energy from the wind are easily one of the most enjoyable parts of Kansas for me. The cold water brought power back into my legs and brought determination into my mind. I set a goal of pedaling over 10 mph for the next 6 miles. Even over the hills I managed 8-10 mph while on the flat land my legs pumped at 13 mph. This was just another example of mind over matter for me. It’s all about having a positive attitude and a positive mindset. Positivity creates greatness. It’s just that simple. The same classic rock I’ve been listening to for the last 10+ years kept my pedals moving along at this steady pace. Guns and Roses Paradise City reminded me of the day when my main worry was getting girls to dance with me at the high school dances.
Around 6:00 I reached Norton, Kansas and as I sat resting a new idea dawned on me. Why not use this southern wind to my advantage? If I cut north east now this powerful southern could become a friend rather than a foe. I analyzed the weather for a dozen or so cities in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa and the 10-day forecast called for southern winds north, south, and east of me on all of my possible routes. Rather than continue on through Kansas in a SE direction to Kansas City and then through Missouri to St. Louis I could start heading NE through Nebraska and visit Lincoln and Omaha and then into Iowa a where I could visit Des Moines and Iowa City. Besides less battling of the wind I could also shave off a couple hundred miles. It just makes sense to go with the wind and use what Mother Nature gives me. Why not use her to my advantage rather than fighting her? Flexibility makes life a lot easier. The idea excited me but at first I was still hesitant to change the plan. So I decided to spend the night in Norton and act on whatever decision I made in the morning. As I rode south to a park in town my mind was already made up. I’d be heading north to Nebraska in the morning.
I apologize to everyone in Kansas City and St. Louis who was planning or hoping to meet me. I wanted to spend time in your city with you but this new route is the best plan for my body and mind. I’ll just have to come back in the future and on the bright side I’ll have more time to spend with you!