Posted by: rustymccain | July 10, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem!

We are in Houston, MO and the problem is….IT IS HOT!!

Before I start about our day, I want to say to congrats to all my buds who competed in the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. I know it was a well-run race. Any race that Team Magic runs is well done. They are the best. And, I want to thank my friends at ACME for their presence and promotion of the sport. I know it was hot in Chattanooga, so I hope everyone was safe and had a good day.

I'm having fun. Really

Speaking of hot, it is like the middle of summer here! We woke up to a very warm, muggy morning again. We are facing an interesting phenomena. We had a rest day yesterday. Our spirits are good. Our energy level is good. We don’t have those dreaded “I’s”, Illness or Injury. The problem we are running into is that our legs are just jello. We have come to believe that it is simply the cumulative fatigue of riding for 5 straight weeks. I don’t know that there is anything we can do to make it any better. The good news is that we are growing more confident each day that we are going to be able to finish this quest. We are certainly not growing over-confident. We respect the distance we have left and know a lot of things can happen. But, we feel pretty good about things overall.

Ozark Country in Missouri

Today was a perfect example of why we think we can finish. We started just a little after 7:30. At 7:45 I had a flat. My back tire was pretty well-worn and had a rock imbedded in it, so we changed the tire. And we pinched a tube, so had to change it again. (Think, Three Stooges minus Mo) So, by the time we had finished it was more like 8:15 and getting hotter fast. We were riding into an area that didn’t have many stops. Our first opportunity to fuel up was at about mile 27. We needed that as we were in a really hilly area. We had planned on fueling again in about 23 miles from there but found the store was closed, so we had to finish the trip of 65 miles with what liquid we had in temps approaching or above 100 degrees and a blazing sun. So, we slowed our pace a bit, took a couple of breaks, and cruised into the town of Houston.

Rich, Rusty and Mike

We are not setting any speed records, but we are meeting whatever greets us with the idea that we started, we will finish. It might not be pretty, but we will finish. It gives us confidence to know that, though our legs are jello, we will keep turning them over until we reach our goal.

And we had three bonuses on the day. One, the countryside is very beautiful, looking more and more like middle Tennessee. We also met two new groups of friends. Rich and Mike were two Californians, brothers who were riding to the west coast. They were really nice guys who exuded positivity. They were a boost for us. The other group was three young men, Matt, Andrew and Patrick, who just graduated from high school. They were really impressive. While most kids their age would be doing a lot of stuff to celebrate graduation, some of it not very good…. they are riding their bicycles across the country together. I applaud their ambition, determination and their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Those three guys are going to be successful!

Matt, Andrew, Patrick and Ray

We are now about halfway across Missouri and looking forward to Friday night when we see all the home folks. I will try to post details about the weekend rides tomorrow. It is almost 6:00 now…. time for bed!

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Posted by: rustymccain | July 9, 2011

Rest Day Thoughts on Drafting

Today we have a rest day. I am going to post a few random photos we have taken, some stats and a little philosophy. Those who know me, know I can’t help a little pontificating on occasion.

Shoe Tree in the Nevada Desert

Over the last 35 days, we have pedaled 2355 miles. That is an average of 67 miles a day. On the actual riding days (minus the four rest days we have had), we have averaged 76 miles. We have a little under 1500 miles to go in the next three weeks. We have no rest days planned but have one “flex” day that will probably be used as a rest day.

Duelling Cameras

I have had more time to think than I probably need, given the brain power that I possess, but I have thought a lot recently about drafting. Drafting is one of the best parts of cycling. Going headfirst into a headwind takes a lot of effort. Simply tucking in behind someone can save you a lot of energy. Some scientists have said that a cyclist can save as much as 40% of their energy by drafting.

Little Bit of Snow

The bigger the person in front of you, the better the draft. I have been told by Mary Ann that there are times when she drafts in back of me that there is a certain peace. There is a quiet and an almost total lack of wind that makes her cycling almost effortless. Of course you have to be close enough in fitness level to the person you are drafting to ride with comfort. If you are not pretty evenly matched, it can be stressful, if not impossible.

It's a Profit Deal

It is also true that the closer you get to the person in front of you, the better the draft. Drafting saves so much energy, you can almost say it gives you energy. It allows you to go longer and have the energy you need to finish the ride. And, as all cyclists know, sometimes you are in a good position and feel strong and can provide a draft. Sometimes you need to sit in and feel the effects of a good draft just pull you along.

Another thought I had was this: “Why can’t I make my relationships like drafting.” What would it be like to have the personality that would make someone want to tuck in and enjoy the ride. When someone is running headfirst into the winds of life and working as hard as they can work just to make some progress, I think it would be nice to be the draft rather than the wind. I would like to be able to provide peace and quiet in those lives with whom I come in contact and for them to feel that the relationship is effortless.

As people interact with me, I need to ask myself, “Are they walking away with more energy or less energy than they had before?” And if I can provide that energy, maybe I need to allow them to get closer, so the draft is even better for them.

I think the other side of that is that I need to constantly evaluate to make sure that, even if I can’t provide a draft, at least I am not the headwind. That takes introspection and honesty with oneself, which is sometimes difficult.

The one scientific thing about drafting that many cyclists don’t know is that there is evidence to show that drafting actually helps not only the person drafting, but the person being drafted. By calming the air behind, the person drafting can help the person in front, just by being there. So, my “relationship drafting” is not only good for those people around me, it helps me as well.

I am far from a great cyclist, but I can be content that I am working at it. I may not be great at relationships with family, friends and co-workers, but I can be content that I am getting better if I just remember the principles of drafting.

We have not responded to any posts by people, but we want you to know that we read everything you send, every night, and usually read them over and over again. You are providing us a draft as we head to the east coast. As you text, email or post a comment, keep in mind that you are just ahead of us, making our way easier. Thanks.

Posted by: rustymccain | July 8, 2011

What the Hill is going on?

I have decided that it is difficult to ride 100 miles on a bicycle. It is made more difficult when you ride point to point into a headwind. It is made even more difficult if you can’t add and a 108 mile ride ends up being 117 miles. And finally, it is made more difficult if you can remember watching the first moon landing.

We started pedaling in warm, muggy weather in Pittsburg, KS this morning. The first few miles were uneventful and very shortly we reached the Kansas/Missouri border. This was a big day for Ray. He is not a big fan of flat land riding and was looking forward to getting back into land with a little more variation.

Ray getting his MO jo

The rolling hills were beautiful and very reminiscent of middle Tennessee. As we rode, we ran into Tom from St. Augustine, FL. He was headed west and was so excited that with the tailwind, he was averaging over 18 mph fully loaded. We were happy for him, but that is not a good thing to hear when you are going the opposite direction. Despite the headwind, we were making pretty good time and rolled into the first town, Golden City, at mile 35 with a great start to the day. Little did we know that just a little beyond that point, the landscape would change dramatically.

In the course of just a few miles, the hills changed from rolling to relentless. It was just one steep hill after another. Apparently, they have some kind a law against valleys in Missouri. At the bottom of every hill was about 3 inches of flat ground, then the next hill started. They have removed every valley and sent all their flat land to Kansas! Our pace slowed dramatically, but the scenery was beautiful. The riding was hard, but still fun.

Western Missouri

We didn’t have another stop until the town of Ash Grove. It was there that I discovered my math mistake. We had ridden 72 miles and still had about 46 to go. That was not a Eureka moment. Luckily, we had a few more stop opportunities and decided to divide the rest of the ride into approximately 15 mile segments. After the first 15 miles, we stopped at Bolton’s store. There was no town there, but it was surely an Oasis. We had a nice conversation with Kaylee, Rosene and Doc and made 3 new friends. They were really nice to us and also had a cyclists’ log that Ray signed. The generous spirit of all the folks we met in Kansas seems to reside in Missouri as well. Thanks to the folks at Bolton’s for making a tough ride a little easier!

For some reason, Ray decided to make miles 87-103 a race. Our relationship suffered during that segment. I didn’t mean most of the things I said about him in my mind, but did scold him at the next stop for not pinning his race number on. Interestingly, at one intersection, there was a road sign that pointed out two cities, one to the left and the other to the right. On top of the sign – “Buffalo”. On the bottom – “Springfield”. If you don’t get that one….your parents will.

We cruised in the last 15 miles or so and landed in Marshfield, MO with 117 miles. It was a long, hard, challenging, but very fulfilling day. I didn’t get many pictures today. This was another day when it was difficult to take time for pics with the mileage we had to do. However, I have some random pics from previous days that I think are pretty cool. I will include them with tomorrow’s rest day post. Thanks for your interest…have a great weekend!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 7, 2011

Ordinary to Extraordinary!

Just when it seems we are going to have an ordinary day, something extraordinary seems to happen! Today, there was no outrunning the rain. It was raining when we woke up. I checked the radar and if things moved as it looked, we were going to have a window for riding at midday. So, we rested, ate breakfast and slowly prepared to leave. At 9:00, it looked like our window was about to open, so we hit the wet roads. The rain had stopped and the roads were drying, so things started looking good. It was not hot, but it seemed to be about 101% humidity, so we were sweating pretty quickly.

Kansas Wildflowers

Along the way we saw some pretty wildflowers and then some lovely rolling countryside. We ran into the girls along the route at about 14 miles. They had a little mechanical problem that they quickly resolved, then Ray and I took off again. We stopped in the little town of Walnut for a snack, then hit the road for our next stop in the town of Girard. Just another fun day in the saddle. Kind of an ordinary day.

Just Thought I'd Say Hay

Then the extraordinary happened! I happened to notice a small church with a beautiful steeple some two miles in the distance. I made note of it and mentioned how pretty it was to Ray. He agreed. When we got within about a mile of the church, we saw a car headed toward us. It slowed to a stop and a man got out and walked over toward our lane. We didn’t know what was happening, but slowed to a stop to see what he needed. He explained that the church was having lunch, as they do every Thursday and that they encourage everyone, but especially cyclists, to stop in and eat with them. We thanked him for the information and he wished us a good day.

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Though we had just stopped for a snack. I told Ray we couldn’t miss this. We pulled into the church and I stuck my head in the door and asked if this was where the food was. I was told I had the right place and to come on in. Ray and I walked in the door and it was as if the Prodigal Son(s) had returned. Everyone welcomed us to the church. We were a little late and they were toward the end of the mealtime, but the ladies in the kitchen made sure they got us a good meal. And it was good! We sat down and talked with the locals and made some more good friends. It seems that today was a big day for them as they served over 80 people. We talked to a bunch of them and everyone there was so nice to us. We had conversations with young kids all the way up to some very nice seniors. Included at our table were two World War II veterans, one who was celebrating his 86th birthday today and another who was 90 years old. He danced a little jig just to show us what a 90-year-old could do. It was a priceless sight.

Even More New Friends

The church lunch will be one of the highlights of the trip for me. These were normal, hard-working people who, every Thursday, take the time to stop and eat a meal together and ask sojourners to join them, welcoming them like family. It does not restore my faith in people because on this trip, I have never lost it. But it is a major re-enforcement of that faith.

To Kim and all the folks at Immanuel Lutheran Church near Girard, KS, I want to say thank you for taking one of your ordinary Thursdays and making it an extraordinary day for two guys riding their bikes across this great country. You are a big part of what makes it great.

We have now landed in Pittsburg, KS for the night. Interestingly, we will only go through 9 states on our ride. Tomorrow, we leave our 5th state, so 4 more to go. We have our 7th Century (100 mile or more ride) of the trip planned for tomorrow, then we have a rest day in Marshfield, MO. I will have some thoughts to share on our rest day for those who might be interested. Again, thanks to all for all the good thoughts sent our way. You have gotten us over 2,200 miles so far!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 6, 2011

Storm Surfers!

Today we became “storm surfers”. Not storm chasers, but storm surfers. We woke up to some ominous clouds to the northwest. I quickly jumped on the computer and saw that the storms were moving our way. It did not look good for us. Ray, undaunted, began to prepare for the ride. I, on the other hand, was daunted. Double daunted. I even got out my “I’m with Daunted” T-Shirt and threw it at Ray to wear. But my weak suggestion that we wait out the storm never made it to the floor for a vote, so I prepared for a wet day.

Mr. Undaunted

We stopped at a local market and had a quick cup of coffee while I studied the oncoming clouds. They were looking pretty nasty. We rode out of town into another headwind, but could notice on little sliver of lighter sky ahead of us in the general direction we were riding. The hills we are now riding are long low hills. While they do not provide a great, free downhill on the other side, the climbs are not tough and add interest and character to the countryside.

Much to our delight, the wind became a side wind, with a bit of push, so we were making good time. We both knew it was just a matter of time before the storm caught us. I looked back at one point and got an instant feeling of what Dorothy must have felt like right before the trip to Oz. Ray looked back a few minutes later. I told him not to look back, just keep pedaling.

Dorothy, we ARE still in Kansas

We worked together and the wind was more of a help today than a hindrance. It is really interesting on this trip that Ray and I have become like synchronized swimmers, only without the pool, the water, the music, the swimcaps, the nose clips, grace or athleticism. OK, so we are not exactly like synchronized swimmers, but we do a lot of things instinctively at the same time. We tend to stand to pedal at the same time. We tend to drink at the same time. We have often said the same thing at the same time. When one takes a nature break, the other one takes a social nature break. We tend to need small rests at the same time and we both feel the need to eat at about the same time. Our speed has been very similar and we have ridden every mile, save one day, together.

Because the sky was cloud-covered, the temperatures were pleasant today. As a result, we only stopped once, to get drinks and then quickly took off. We knew all morning the raindrops were not far behind. We kept the best pace we could. It seems we can ride all day now at a slow pace. But our legs are simply using muscle memory pattern. We hit a couple of small hills today and neither of us had any snap at all. I am convinced neither of us could outsprint a three-year-old on a tricycle to the end of the driveway.

At our constant pace, we kept moving despite seeing a few bolts of lightning on occasion. Thankfully the lightning appeared to be many miles away and never appeared threatening. We finally took a deep breath about 5 miles outside the town of Chanute, KS, our destination. Though we were getting just a few raindrops on us at the time, we knew we had dodged a bullet. We had caught the wave just ahead of the storm that seemed so threatening.

A Storm Outrun

For our earlier than usual start and hard effort, we completed our 64 mile day by 10:45, so we have a full day of fun activities in Chanute: Eating, laundry, eating, resting, eating, sitting by the pool, eating, congratulating each other on outrunning the storm and eating. Tomorrow we head for Pittsburg …. Kansas. Then on to Missouri. We are 2,183 miles into our journey.

Several people have expressed an interest in riding with us some when we go through Kentucky next weekend. We will be staying in Beaver Dam, Cave City and Bardstown that weekend. We would love to have people ride with us. We need to continue our daily routine, riding times and riding speed. So, aside from some special plans with my IronSon on Friday night, we won’t make any special plans, but we will provide details in the next couple of days about where we are starting our ride on Saturday and Sunday and where we are staying in Cave City and Bardstown. So if anyone want to come visit and/or ride with us, you are welcomed to do so. Thank for checking in!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 5, 2011

Eureka! Again!

Where else but on a bicycle would you be able to really enjoy the Prairie Chicken Capital of the World?

Can't find this just anywhere

We started in Newton, KS this morning. We had 73 mile day planned with the first stop being in Cassoday, KS. However, our first stop was about 4 miles out. Ray’s wheel was out of true and rubbing his brake. He can do just about everything to a bike that needs to be done. So I used my expertise to be a bike stand, at which I am very good. While I held the bike, Ray found the loose spoke and trued the wheel using the brake pad as a measure. Call him Ray MacGyver. We took off again into another cloudless day.

Before long, we ran into Becky and Carlie, two of our new friends that we first met back in Utah. They were taking a quick break as we caught them. They were their usual high energy, positive selves. They have a friend, Cassie riding with them for a week or so. Of course, Cassie now has no choice but to be a friend of ours.

We rode on and at about mile 38 rode into Cassoday. There we ran into a couple of folks whom we saw yesterday on the road, but didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves. We made two new friends with Julie and Clayton. They have been on the road for a long time, starting near Portland, OR. Hats off to them! While we were talking with them, the girls rolled into the store (the only open store in Cassoday), so we took advantage of the photo-op.

New Friends with Ray in the Window

We took off from the store towards our destination and Ray, Clayton and I rode together for a while. As we rode we all talked about how the terrain had changed quite dramatically in the past couple of days. There are now some pretty good rolling hills, lots of trees, and every now and then another huge flat area of corn or wheat.

Clayton stopped at a store in the village of Rosalie, so Ray and I motored on in to our second Eureka moment. We had been in Eureka before on this trip. However, last time, it was Eureka, NV.

Another Pretty Kansas Morning

It was a good day today. The winds have slowed down a bit for us. The weather is still really hot, with afternoon temperatures nearing the 100 degree mark again. And the humidity is coming in, so it is a bit more uncomfortable. But about 98% of the drivers are really courteous. It seems everyone we run into is very friendly and the riding is just fun.

We have a couple more shorter days of around 60-70 miles built-in before our next century, then a rest day.

I can’t say this enough, because Ray and I talk about it every day. Every email, phone call, text or comment on the blog is very much appreciated. Probably savored is a better word. While the riding continues to be fun, the really inspiring part for us is that we have good friends who are interested in helping us finish this. We both thank all of you for that!

Posted by: rustymccain | July 4, 2011

Two Grand, Too Grand!

Two Grand, Too Grand! Happy Fourth of July! Today we passed the 2, 000 mile mark of our journey. We were riding along and Ray gave me a fist bump and said, “Two Grand!” We celebrated the milestone for about 10 seconds and then got back to enjoying the riding,which is just too grand! The countryside is starting to change. Today, we noticed these tall green things in several areas. We stopped a local person and asked about them. They are called “trees” and apparently grow all over the place here. We have not been used to seeing those.

A Kansas Morning

Also today, the wind did show up. He slapped us around a little bit, cursed us some, but at least did not beat us up and take our lunch money. As a result, even though the ride was 110 miles in 100+ degree heat, it was really a good day. As I have alluded to earlier, it is hard to explain the significance of wind. I have read two different blogs recently that have talked about the wind. The thing I can relate to is that it does become demoralizing to fight. So a day without winds was, for lack of a better term, a breeze.

While the heat is bad, mornings continue to be beautiful and the first couple of hours of riding are quite pleasant. The roads are generally getting better. Today we did have one stretch of bad road. I made mention that when we came to the next turn, maybe the road would get better. Ray said, “If it ain’t gravel, it will be better!” The road did get better for us as we got closer to our destination of the day, Newton, KS.

Our friends Pete and Dave

We also had the privilege of going through a wildlife refuge today. We saw about 4 or 5 red-tail hawks.They are beautiful animals and it seemed as if they were flying along with us, keeping a look-out for us. We once again ran into our friends Phil, Dave and Pete and finally took a picture of Dave and Pete. They are doing well and seem to be getting stronger as their ride progresses.

Sunflowers in France, I mean Kansas

I need to close today with a personal note. I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about my parents. My Dad died when I was 12 years old. But I have said many times that I had more Dad in 12 years than most people have in a lifetime. He was such a happy guy. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed life to the fullest. And I know he loved me. My Mother was simply the finest woman who ever lived! She loved life and was full of joy. I loved to watch her listen to a joke on a Saturday and then break into uncontrollable laughter in church on Sunday when she finally got it. She was a jewel. And I know she loved me.

I don’t know if my parents would get what I am doing right now. My Dad would wonder why I am not playing baseball. Mother would wonder why I am riding my bicycle when a car would take me across the country much more comfortably. But I know this, they would be 100% behind me. And they would love me. I wish I could tell them in person how much they mean to me. I guess the only reason I am saying this, and the same reason I am riding, is that life is short. We shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to live. And we shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to love. Mother and Dad, Thanks…..I love you.

Posted by: rustymccain | July 3, 2011

Halfway!

Yes, we are halfway! If our mileage calculations are correct, we are just a little past the halfway point of our journey. We are now a little over 1,900 miles and tomorrow, with any luck, we’ll hit 2,000 miles.

We watched a movie last night and neither one of us made it to the end. The movie started way too late. It started at 7:00 and neither one of us could make it past 8:00 or so, so we missed it. We were awakened by a thunderstorm during the night, so I was a little concerned when I woke up this morning. However, thunderstorms had moved out of the area by the time we got ready and roads were dry for our start.

We got our coffee at a market near our hotel. The owner there wished us luck and lamented that we were riding in one of the hottest summers in Kansas history. I don’t know if he is correct, but it does seem like it. Temperatures over 100 degrees has been the norm for the last few days and the forecast is for more of the same.

However, each day starts with comfortable temperatures, so we have been lucky that way. Today, we continued our fight with the wind. In that, we have been unlucky. Our speed has been reduced, so we are staying in the saddle longer than we anticipated. Good news is that the roads have gotten much better. Today, there was only one opportunity to fill up with drinks and snacks. However, when we rolled into the little town of Rush Center at mile 32, the four stores there were all closed. Luckily, there were drink machines there and we decided the sports drink of the day would be Pepsi.

New Friends Olive and Ben

While we were there, a really nice young couple, Ben and Olive pulled in to say “hi”. They were headed west. They got married just a couple of months ago and this is their kinda/sorta honeymoon. Olive is going to grad school when this trip is over. Ben is going to open a specialty ice cream shop. This got Ray’s attention very quickly. He later wondered out loud if he could mail-order ice cream.

While we were speaking with them, David and Pete pulled in as well. This stop became another great serendipitous moment on our journey. It is not just the majestic sights of this country that make the journey worthwhile. To me it is the positivity of our fellow travelers and camaraderie that make it such a special treat.

Do We Go Straight Here

We headed due south into a direct headwind for the next 19 miles, but when we turned, the wind was a sidewind. The net effect seemed like a tailwind to us and the rest of the ride into our destination of the day, Larned, KS, was very pleasant. The countryside is beautiful in its own way, but I didn’t get many pics today. I will try to do a better job of that in the future. Today, I was concentrating again on turning my pedals over. This is such awesome fun, but have I mentioned that it is hard? Still loving it!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone. We are so darn lucky to have the freedom to do something like this. And I have been completely overwhelmed by the kindness of total strangers on this trip. I love this country. We will celebrate with a 110 mile ride into Newton, KS, tomorrow. Wish us luck on the Fourth.

Posted by: rustymccain | July 2, 2011

The Great Miscalculation

Oklahoma is not the only place that the wind comes sweeping down the plain! There are a couple of things we are learning on this ride for which it was difficult to plan. One is the cumulative fatigue that comes from riding every day as we have been. For most people who read this, a 58 mile ride on basically flat roads does not seem like a big deal. When you have done the riding we have done for the last 4 weeks, it is put in a little different perspective. Have I mentioned my butt yet? Also, we are both having trouble with our hands going numb. I think part of that has to do with the roads we have been riding for the past week or so. It has gotten particularly tough for the past 300 miles. It seems the road splits due to the freezing and thawing that happens out here. These splits happen about every 10-15 yards. The splits can be anywhere from 1-3 inches deep. That is quite a split when you are on a bicycle. Ray summed it up best the other day when he said that it feels like someone is hitting you in the crotch with a 2X4 every 5 seconds. After 2, 100+ mile rides with that kind of pavement, a 58 mile ride is a bit more complicated.

A Tale of Two Geniuses

Also, we made the Great Miscalculation as we planned this trip. We knew the mountains would be tough. We knew the deserts would be intimidating. We knew it was a long way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. But, w­e planned for the prevailing westerly winds to push us across Colorado and Kansas once we left the Rockies. We thought we were to just sit up as tall as we could and make a sail for the wind to use. We could not have been more wrong. The wind has been in our face or a swirling crosswind for the majority of the time. Today was a perfect example of how that affects you. With a tailwind, we could have finished today’s ride under 3 hours and pretty much considered it a rest day. As it was, we were faced with a headwind most of the day and as a result, ended up with a difficult, almost 5 hour ride.

Kansas as seen from a Bicycle

Also, in Kansas, they have very large trucks. And they carry very large things. I don’t know what they are but most are used for farming. Most of these things are bigger than the actual farms we have in Tennessee. And when they pass you going the other way, it has a bit of an effect. I now know what a surprise the fly inside the car gets when he decides….”hey this is fun, I think I’ll stick my head out the window and see how that goes.” We have both learned that when these huge vehicles come by, we tuck as low as we can and hang on the handlebars for dear life. It also appears that something big must be happening back in Colorado, because all these mammoth trucks seem to be going that way.

Big Thing on a Truck

So, today was a challenge. But it was made a great day by a few realizations:

  1. We are riding our bikes. That is enough to make it a great day.
  2. The clouds hid the sun for most of the morning and the temperatures were pleasant most of the way.
  3. We are running into a lot of people now who are headed the other way. For the next few days, we will be able to have fun with them as we all shout to each other, “You’re halfway there!”
  4. We still are running about the same schedule as Phil, Pete and Dave. They are very tough and consistent in their riding and they have been super nice to us.

We are in Ness City, KS today. We have a 64 miler tomorrow to Larned, then have a tough 116 miler to celebrate the Fourth of July. Besides being a little tired, we are still doing pretty well. I still have the Polka Dot jersey, Ray is in the Green and (for a mere 5-month difference) has a lock on the white jersey. As for the yellow, we are in a virtual tie. We may end up sharing that one. To all my riding buds – I wish you guys were here. You would absolutely love it.

Posted by: rustymccain | July 1, 2011

I Love V8!

There has to be something illegal in V8 juice. I really wondered last night if I could even get out of bed today. Ray played the good Samaritan last night and went to the market next door to get us some V8. We both poured about a pound of salt in the bottle and drank it down. I just knew I would wake up Ray with a blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night due to a hamstring cramp. Good news, we both slept well and that didn’t happen.

Eastern Colorado Sunrise

We decided today to get an earlier start due to the fact that both the heat and the wind seem to get unbearable in the afternoon. We hit the road at 5:30 local time. The wind was already blowing a bit in our face, but was not bad. The morning was cool. The land has become almost totally flat so there are not a lot of photo ops, but we were able to witness a beautiful sunrise.

Despite my fears, my legs seemed to be OK in the early going. Ray has always had a tremendous ability to recover from hard efforts and he seemed to be on good form this morning. Of course both of us are still having butt issues, but you have heard way to much about that already.

Our daily view in Eastern Colorado

We stopped for a breakfast at Sheridan Lake about 23 miles into our ride. The stop for breakfast was just what the doctor ordered for me. I was feeling much better than I thought I could, based on where I found myself last night. The wind stayed relatively calm and so the next 30 miles was not bad. Ray was ready for a little break, so he layed the hammer down a bit, so the stop for lunch in the little town of Tribune was a welcomed stop. After lunch we headed out for our next stop some 22 miles up the road at Leoti.

We continue to be amazed at how strong the wind can be and what a difference it makes. For most of the day, it was pretty calm. It was not quite as hot today as it was yesterday either. And, after we left Leoti, the wind shifted a little bit and we actually enjoyed a bit of a tailwind. The best thing about today’s ride, though, was the people we met. Every place we stopped, the people were super friendly. They were very interested in our trip and all shared all kinds of information about their towns, the countryside in which we rode, the weather and whatever else we asked.

The boys at the Kansas Border

We came into the town of Scott City, KS, a new state and a new time zone. We were right at 104 miles, our second century day in a row. We had a tough day yesterday. But, we never thought of any other option except to keep turning the pedals over until we reached our goal. We are now just about in the middle of this great country and are at 1800 miles. We are stoked. It is amazing what the mind can do…. especially when a little V8 is added to the mix. I love V8!

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