219.95 mi / 354 km
The event staff commandeered all the rooms at the “It’ll Do Motel” and getting a room was simple: sign in with the volunteer staff and that person would assign you to a room. That meant you might share a room with several other riders, male or female.
I was damn lucky and got a room to myself – I was stoked…..that’s the perfect end to a difficult day although I’m a pretty cooperative roommate when I need to be. All things considered, a room to myself is a prize that occurs only when others are dropping out.
When we checked into the hotel with the volunteer staff, I asked a stupid question: how can I get a wake-up call. I was told bluntly but politely that it was up to me. OK – that’s easy: I carry a cellphone and the power stays off until its absolutely necessary. I turned it on, set the alarm and then set three alarms on my watch.
Belts & suspenders – there’s no way I’m sleeping past the appointed hour.
Before I went to bed, I got my small USB charger and lithium charger out of my dropbag and got the external 4xAA battery pack for the Garmin on the juice along with my tailight.. I organized my clothes for the next day but didn’t bother to repack. The route today is a 219 mile out-and-back so I’ll have the same room. My reward was two hours of sleep.
I wolfed down some cereal for breakfast and we hit the road at 0406. I looked for my buddy David but he had pulled out a little earlier than us. That’s fine – we’ll see him at some point down the road.
Once again, the hills were “strongly rolling” but this time, there was only a little cloud cover and thousands of stars watched over us as we made our way to the east. The first control was located at Oberlin KS – 27 miles away and I thought it would be a perfect spot to have more breakfast. Despite the lack of sleep, the ride was enjoyable and the miles flew by as we arrived at 0640. That’s what my card says anyway but I suspect the waitress used central time! There’s no way we averaged only 10 mph – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
These restaurants are solid gold establishments serving solid food and it was worth every minute to have a nutritional breakfast. Unfortunately, all that food made both of us a little sleepy. That’s when Bill R turned to me and said, “You ready for your first dirt-nap?”
He pointed to three silos located just off the road that were basking in the early morning sun. One of these had a concrete pad for the blower motor that had enough space for each of us to take a side and lay down.
Laying there in the sun was pure heaven. I put my helmet under my head and was asleep literally in minutes. I suffer from positional sleep apnea so if I’m on my back, I’m guaranteed to snort myself awake…that’s a built-in alarm clock and we slept for 30 minutes.
We kept our bikes pointed east to Norton, Phillipsburg and Kensington where we had to mail a postcard from the US Post Office to prove that we had been there. We hit some road construction between Phillipsburg and Kensington and traffic was restricted to one lane meaning we were supposed to wait for a truck to lead us down the road. Luckily, we asked the flagman if we could ride the shoulder and he indicated it was fine. Once we figured out the traffic pattern, we had virgin asphalt to ride! Smooth but still warm from being rolled out!
On one of the hills, we met my buddy David coming the other way. Stopping on a hill and starting again on a recumbent can be a challenge so I gave him a high-five as we went by and kept moving. The run into Kensington was fast but I was worried about riding on the shoulder when traffic wouldn’t allow us on the main portion of the road. I hadn’t experienced a flat tire yet and didn’t really want one now!
After mailing our post card, we turned back to Phillipsburg and stopped at the Subway. The guys I ride with seem to prefer Subways when possible to get a good meal when fast food is the only choice. As I was waiting on Bill R, an insurance agent walked from his office across the street to the Subway and asked me where we were headed.
When I explained we were going from Boulder to Kensington and back again, he simply started laughing. Yeah, I get it…we’re crazy.
While the turn-around point was at the post office, this was the halfway point based on mileage. Essentially, we had done a 600-km event to this point in 37 hours. My only other 600 event was completed in 38:15 so given the weather conditions, I felt pretty good about this time.
On the next segment, we picked up my buddy David who waited around for us to ride to Atwood together. Darkness was fast approaching and there’s perceived safety in numbers. Once again, we started getting extremely sleepy again and it was good to have each others’ backs. The weather was quite cool but not to the point of suffering. We hit one truck stop for coffee and rolled back into Atwood at 0437…. just over 24 hours after leaving. Our times suffered on the second half of that day’s ride – the event was slowly taking its toll on us.
This time, when we got to the hotel, I didn’t stop except to log in with the staff. No food, probably a mistake not to eat and let my body digest that food. Instead, I used that time to get items charging, shower, set up clothes for the next day and repack the dropbag.
At this point, we’ve covered 470 miles and I’m feeling good about the event. The next two days are 179 miles and then 103 to finish but there are some challenges ahead in regards to food.