This is the crazy weather — and awkward moment — day, coming into Hutchinson, KS.
I slept fairly well last night, but then again, when I’m in a real bed, I do. Heather had taken off early, about 6:30am, as she wanted to get an early start to Hutchinson, and beat the wind before it became an issue for her. The wind….it has been so frustrating throughout this trip. Only once have I had a nice tail wind (yes, only once) and it was so nice, as the effort to pedal hard was almost non-existent. That was back in Carson City, NV when I was biking to Fallon, NV and covered 50 miles in just 2.5 hours. I felt so badass! I haven’t experienced anything like that since, especially here in Kansas. It’s a constant fight with this headwind coming from the East, such that maintaining even 10-12mph throughout much of Kansas has been a struggle.
This morning I wrote a blog, shot some video, and made some follow-up calls to some brewpubs. Every morning I always want to be on the road by 9am or 10am, but there are so many tasks that must be completed before riding that day (and the following day in some cases). I used to work in the corporate world and I believe I’m working harder on this project than I am when I was with the Fortune 500 companies. Biking aside, there is so much work, and I sometimes wish I had an assistant. That would be nice!
I was on my bike so late today, but I felt good that all my blogs up to this day had been written — not an easy feat. In fact, I have always been a few days behind. It’s tough to write something good, entertaining, educational, and as it requires some reflection — looking back — thus taking some time. My destination was Hutchinson where Heather had scored a house, where a young biker whom she had met (“Kitty Litter”), offered his home while he was away. It was actually his parents’ house, but he said everyone would be away on vacation. Great! Just like Leoti, KS…another house all to ourselves. This is nice!
The wind was a mutha, as it was blasting as hard as when I was biking from Milford, UT to Cedar City, UT. It was blowing in my face at about 30-35 mph. I was able to maintain a rate of 9-10 mph. Every few minutes I would just get as low as possible on my seat, and keep my head down….while constantly checking the rearview mirror, as there was no shoulder. Fortunately I was on country roads, not highways, so the traffic was not as heavy, although the speed limit was still 55-65mph, depending. Since there was not even a gas station between Larned and the next town — Nikerson–50 miles away, I packed my bike with plenty of fluids. After Nikerson, there was a 20-mile stretch to Hutchinson, where I could join Terry and Heather at “Kitty Litter’s” house for the night.
When I was about 5 miles west of Nikerson, some seriously dark clouds formed overhead, spanning the entire sky. It looked really bad. I stopped at a local farm house in this rural area and asked if they had any inside info about the weather. They were watching the doppler radar on TV and invited me in to catch it was well. It seemed there was a major storm coming through (North to South direction) Hutchinson, with 75mph wind, and even some hail. Even where I was—about 15 miles west of Hutchinson–the wind had increased considerably. After thanking the farmers for sharing their TV for the weather report, I felt good about continuing to Hutchinson as the storm would be gone by the time I arrived (I hoped). I was on my bike and after just 2 miles, the wind was so strong I could not pedal. Then it began to rain (big freaking drops). I was able to find refuge in a barn just off the road. I startled the hell out of the chickens standing nearby, as I ran into the barn. Phew!
I waited out the storm for about 45 minutes, decided things were ok, and continued towards Nikerson, then onto Hutchinson. It was beginning to get dark at 8:30pm was approaching. I put on my rear light, which emits a bright, blinking red light. I can be seen from a good distance, and hopefully passing drivers will take notice. About an hour later, it was completely dark, and I was just arriving into Hutchinson, a city of about 42,000 people. There was debris like tree branches, litter, and other items strewn across streets and driveways. It was obvious the storm that had just passed through here had been really intense. I found out that indeed it had hailed, and the size of the hail stones were baseball-sized! Unbelievable! I’m glad I began my ride late this morning.
I found the house and knocked on the door. Instead of Terry or Heather answering the door, the *owner* answered it. It was “Kitty Litter’s” Dad. What?! “Hi Mike”, he said. He invited me in and said that the rest of the family had left for vacation and he would be joining them in a couple days, but needed to finish some work beforehand. This felt initially awkward, but Bart welcomed me into his home. It turns out neither Terry or Heather had known that Bart was still there. They were both settled into the dining room, chilling out when, at about 7pm, Bart walked into his home to find both of them there. There was a very awkward moment until Terry said, “Hi”. Long story short, Bart is a nice guy who welcomed us into his home and even made us pizza. Phew! So glad that things worked out so well. Thanks so much Bart! Bart said he was going on a business trip early the next morning, but that we could stay another day if we wanted. I was taking tomorrow off from my biking so that was a great deal. Bart showed me a bed where I could sleep and I crashed around 11pm.