Last Chance, Day 3, We’re heading home!!!!!!

(My Garmin insisted on performing a spontaneous reset so the data is split into two parts.)

Distance:
~ 177 mi / 285 km
Elevation Gain:
5,469 ft

I suspect that the time was entered incorrectly when we arrived back in Atwood. Kansas is on central time and CO is mountain. I’m thinking we arrived at 0337 and not 0437.

Anyway…..

I do recall being in a very good mood on Friday morning as we pulled out at 0703. I had breakfast in the hotel with food provided by the club and was anxious to get on the road.

There were several concerns that I had. One was that the only store in Anton was closing at 6 pm and that was 125 miles away. Second, we knew there would be a bit of climbing on the return. That 125 miles doesn’t sound too difficult until you remember the number of miles you’ve already covered and the climbing that’s to come.

Recall these are strong rolling hills that now trend upwards. I doubt there was more than 5,000 feet of climbing but that comes in small chunks that just a little too long to simply roll over with any kind of momentum….at least for me.

The highway out of Atwood starts with an immediate climb that stretches for at least 2 miles and I really felt it in my legs. The first city was Bird City where there was a cafe at about the 42 mile point. I could see that most if not everyone had stopped there and that was clearly the right thing to do but once again, I rolled by a food stop w/o stopping.

St Francis was next at 26 miles and since it was a control, `I used that opportunity to grab some snacks and a drink. Nothing fancy but it was nice to be off the bike for 15 minutes. This was also the last stop in Kansas so I could slowly feel the excitement building as I’m thinking I’m home-free.

The best stop was the little cafe in Idalia. Several of us pulled in at approximately the same time (1346 hrs for me) and we were all ready for a good meal. The waitress couldn’t have been nicer. She was quick to take our orders, sign our cards and bring our drinks – all with a quick smile and an extremely friendly nature. I had a great hamburger and fries and it really hit the spot. Little things like this have a huge impact on your psyche when riding. They can drive you crazy or lift you up. I wasn’t surprized at the lift – been there/done that and the smallest gestures of kindness are huge.

Now, there are two ways to do this brevet: supported or unsupported. Due to the remoteness, support vehicles are allowed on the route but everyone is careful not to accept assistance except when in the controls.

While at the cafe in Idalia, I was informed that several of the support folks were going to bring food to Anton for those who rolled in after the store closed. Without that support, I was looking at 110 miles without access to anything other than what I was carrying. I had dried mango, fig newtons, some crackers, some misc. energy kind of snacks and water. Not a great selection but enough to get me 110 miles down the road if necessary.

After lunch, once again, the food made me sleepy so I started looking for a place to grab a few winks of sleep. That come in the form of a 5×5 concrete pad that surrounded the flagpole in the city park of Cope. It was another 30-minute nap that help set the stage for the run to Anton.

The last few miles into Anton were a blast but a little dangerous. I was riding with a guy from Canada who had some items fall off of his rear rack. When he stopped to grab his gear, I kept rolling. We were climbing due west into the sunset so we also had to be careful of cars coming up from behind us.

The roads in CO and KS are similar. While the shoulder width varies, they all seem to have rumble strips build-in and if you’re lucky, several feet of shoulder beyond the rumbles.

Generally speaking, I stayed on the road itself if there was a car coming from behind me and thee was nothing coming from the other directions especially if the shoulder was narrow. On this section, with the sun in drivers’ eyes, I used the shoulder even though it was only a foot wide in places.

Once I made it to the top of the climb, I was able to increase my speed to a much faster pace into Anton. I should have stopped, removed my sunglasses and put on a jacket but I knew I was only 4-5 miles out so I kept up the speed and arrived in town safely.

True to their word, the support from other riders had bread, cheese, cold cuts, cookies, Gatorade, grapes, etc. and it was nice to have quick access to food. Several riders were struggling at this point and it was cool to see other rider’s support stepping up to help them out.

Now we’re only 55 miles from Byers – the last stop on the brevet – and it’s around 1945 hrs. I teamed up with three other riders and we head out pushing 16-17 mph. Unfortunately, after about 3 miles, I suffered my first flat of the event and pulled over to change the tube.

One thing I do is index my tube to the tire when I remove it so I can better locate whatever caused the flat. In this case, when I pumped up the flat tube, the leak was at about the 8 o’clock position on the tube itself. Knowing this, it took literally seconds to locate the source of the flat: a goathead thorn.

I removed it and started installing a new tube when Terry from Canada rolled up. He helped steady the bike and we were on our way fairly quickly. By now, the temps are dropping and the wind is coming it. It was getting colder by the minute.

You may see a pattern here: food followed by getting sleepy. Both of us were impacted and struggled to stay awake. At one point, on a nice descent, I fell asleep and woke up as the bike dove for the right shoulder.

OK – time for a nap. We located a nice grassy spot just down the shoulder and laid down in the tall grass. The stars were simply beautiful and other than feeling warm in the grass, which helped to block the wind, all I remember is looking up at the stars and then boom, I was sound asleep.

The last 20 miles was painful despite the nap. I had a room reserved in Byers but Terry didn’t. When we arrive at 0243, I once again didn’t eat opting to go the room instead. This time, the room was on the second floor and climbing the stairs was extremely difficult due to the exhaustion setting in. Terry was able to gain access to a room so he was good.

I was supposed to share a room with David so I went through my normal steps to get devices charged, clothing organized, grab a shower and repack the dropbag for an 0630 departure. I also parked my bike in the room as to not impede access for David and when I laid down, I wore an airline sleeping mask and left the light on. All David had to do was roll in and take care of himself. No fumbling for light, working around my stuff, etc.

Once again, we’re getting very little sleep but with the last ride of the day coming up, now was not the time to focus on that. Open the barn doors, the horses can smell the hay.

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