Tuesday, June 14, 2011

bryan and mike's epic adventure


connect.garmin.com/activity/92246828
bryan and i have been talking about riding his "man up" route for months. i think he mentioned it the first time we met up to ride together. we finally got it done...sort of.

we took off from my house around 6:00. it was a pleasant 72 degrees with a moderate south wind. the humidity was low too, so we flew along the road headed for harper. that early in the morning, there's not much traffic on u.s. 160, so we rode side by side and talked most of the way. it was enjoyable.

when we got to harper, we stopped in at a convenience store to pick up more liquids. we knew the temps would be soaring into the 90s, so we didn't want to dehydrate.

after this brief stop, we headed back out and soon turned south. that's when the real "fun" began. the wind was in our faces now, so we settled into a two-man paceline, rotating lead every mile for the nine miles to anthony. our average dropped some, but not as much as i'd expected. we were still riding pretty fast since our legs were fresh enough to push a little.

in anthony, we stopped at the park and stretched a bit, then made another hydration pick up. a short ride east into town, brought us to our next southbound section.

we turned onto ks-179 and again faced the wind. we switched lead off and on and made pretty good time to manchester, oklahoma, where we stopped at the post office for a stretch break. there's no store in manchester, so after we'd stretched a bit, we rode on.

a few more miles south on ok-132 - same road with a different name in our new state - and we turned east. our next stop would be in wakita, ok, the town where the movie "twister" was filmed. there's a small museum there with movie memorabilia, but it was closed. we opted for a pit stop at the grocery store, refueling before heading out again.

our spirits were high as we left wakita. we knew that the next five miles into the wind would be our last miles straight south. they were hard miles. the wind was picking up speed and our legs were feeling the effects of the previous headwind miles. three miles south, we could see ok-11 and i thought it looked closer than two miles away. it wasn't. you can see a long way in oklahoma.

we hit ok-11 and headed east. it was awesome to ride with the wind pushing us a bit. we rode the miles to medford with ease. it was getting warm when we pulled in at smrcka's cafe for lunch. the hot ham sandwich i ordered was the best i'd had in years. bryan's hot dog was, according to him, equally good.

finished with our meal, we rode across u.s. 81 to the convenience store for more gatorade and then headed north kansas. we zipped along with the wind pushing us. even uphill we were riding over 20mph with no problem at all. we crossed the border and took the downhill to the city limits of caldwell. we were up and over 30mph with no effort, so i put in a little dig and hit 40.2mph. that made me grin as i rolled into town and turned to take in one more convenience store knowing the last 25 miles there would be no opportunity for replenishing our liquids. we decided then that our original route was going in the dumpster. we weren't going to go for 135 miles. we were content with the shorter, 112 mile route. no need to die in the heat.

after our last rest, we left. the going was still easy with the wind at our back. we cruised along at over 20mph most of the way to ks-44. it was awesome!

when we turned west onto the highway, we were knocked for a loop by the force of the wind from the southwest. it felt like coming to a complete stop after the ease of the last 30 miles or so. we struggled up the hills. at some point along the away, around 15 miles from our finish, bryan bonked. i didn't notice right away, but when i looked back, he was a football field's distance behind me, maybe more. i slowed my pace a bit hoping he'd catch back on. when he didn't, i u-turned and rode back to him. making another u-turn, i rode up beside my friend. he was spent. a few yards later, he pulled over and pulled out a b-vitamin pouch.

that break and the energy he took in helped. he was soon speeding ahead of me. it was my turn to die. the heat was draining me. i was drinking like crazy, but i had no umph at all. my legs were toast and my mind was a bit addled.

somehow, we made it to argonia road and headed north toward town. i had thought that having the wind at my back and knowing i had only 8 miles to go would help. it didn't. i was spent. the last 8 miles wer awful. i just kept turning the cranks around and around. we were cruising along at 15mph or so only because the gale was forcing to. the heat was oppressive and i was nearing the bottom of my second water bottle.

we pulled into town and headed for my house. i felt like i couldn't go another inch. we turned into the driveway and stopped. 111.93 miles. don't even ask why i didn't go out and get the extra .07 miles to make the ironman distance. i think i would have died in .03 miles.

we survived, pulled each other through some tough spots, kept moving. what an adventure. as bryan put it, "it was a good farewell ride." even though we don't ride together often, i'm going to miss riding with my friend when i move in a couple of weeks. farewell, bryan. see you in pratt sometime! (111.93 miles @ 16.5mph)
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