Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 27: Trying to beat the heat

Day #27) July 9, 2011. Clinton, MO to Ottowa, KS: 101 miles in 7:22 hrs.

Man, this was just one LONG day in the saddle. But I felt good, and I feel good now despite finishing when the temp had hit 93 degrees.

Last even I ducked down to the Subway and got two footlongs: one for dinner and one for the morning breakfast. Now there were about 3 buffets near the motel I was at, and honestly, I know you guys think I’m like this bottomless pit who can eat forever and everything, but what with only 40-some miles in yesterday, I just couldn’t justify doing two buffets in a day. I wanted to in a big way, but I figured I’d save those kind of days for when I just to silly mileage. So I settled for a footlong sub – and that might very well sound goofy in itself having done a giant buffet only hours earlier. Went to bed super early such that I could get up super early to begin as early as possible because of the brutally hot weather forecast. Hit the hay at like 8:30pm with the drapes closed and the AC on medium so I could have a low drone of sound to fall asleep by.

Woke at 3:45, totally grogged out be on a mission to get on the road as early as I can. Now the forecast for the next several days is for mid-90’s to over 100 degrees, and that’s with health alerts and heat index warnings. So I just have to get the bulk of my miles in before the heat really gets out of control out here. Got packed by 4:30am, and then the defining moment – trying to down a foot long sub so early in the morning. I had to have that puppy as my insurance policy in the nutrition dept that would get me at least 5 hrs into the day. I totally hate eating so early, and it’s almost like a gag response when I do, but with a full stomach I can go and go and go on the bike. Been doing this long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. I felt like some goof doing a hotdog eating contest stuffing that damned cold sub down my gullet at such an ungodly hour. But I got it.

Problem was that I had to wait for a few min after 5am to get going. It was just too dark out. I mean it was just too dark to hammer it at 5am. So I waited about 15 more min and then just had to hit it. I have big reflective dots on my bags, so that helps. And I also have a reflective vest, which I did not dig out of my pannier. So I was rolling at 5:15am in super light Sat traffic out of Clinton and up the jcn with Rt 7 north, the route a gentleman had recommended to me yesterday. He told me I’d have good berms with 7, 2, and Rt 68 in Kansas. So that was my destiny.

Got onto Rt 7 N to Harrisonville, MO. And much to my surprise, instead of the 30 miles I had calculated it to be, it was listed as being 42 miles from Clinton. Now that was an eye-opener, making my potential day loom to near or over 100 miles – in crazy heat! I did have a back up stop in Paola, KS, but I was really hoping to make Ottowa, KS for the day. Figured I’d tackle that issue once I got into KS. Just needed to get to Harrisonville, MO for my first step. Had a good ride and made great time to Harrisonville, what with the lack of any significant climbs, and the aid of a nice little SE cross tailwind. Now the big lane-wide berm deteriorated into just a gravely mess several times, but what with the AT tires I have of the bike that was the least of my worries. I’d ride in the lane when the traffic was clear, and ride on the crap when there was traffic.

Once I got to Harrisonville I was looking for this sideroad into town because I didn’t think you could ride on the expressway once Rt 7 joins with Rt 71 for a couple of miles. That little sideroad I’d seen on mapquest just didn’t materialize. I ended up on a couple of little side roads that just didn’t do it. Finally went back to where the expressway is and stopped at a gas station for directions. Guy to me to ride on the expressway and go to the next exit.

So I’d lost like 20 min farting around looking for a side road. That’s when it’s like, hell with it, I’m on that thing and getting into town so I can change roads and get this thing going. Didn’t see any “no bicycles” signs, so I went on the expressway and had a massive one-lane berm to ride on. Ended up going two exits and got my next road, Rt 2 W and off I went on the next leg, this one taking me to the KS border. Hills kicked in a bit on this stretch cuz it was more of a county route than a state route. But none were crushingly hard. By this time the terrain was pretty flat to slightly undulating.

Make the KS border in less than 5 hours of riding, and Rt 2 changed to Rt 68 W. Now at this point I had a good idea of how far Ottowa, KS was from the border because I’d bought a KS highway map in Clinton last evening. And it was a tad over 40 miles, making for the potential for a 100-mile day. Amazingly enough the heat hadn’t become that much an issue at 10am. The SE breeze felt slightly cooling, and I hadn’t taken out my trusty sweat rag yet – when that pup comes out I might as well start the timer for how long I have left to ride. But once on Rt 68 in KS, I was greeted with this pretty significant climb, like about 2 miles long. Don’t let anyone tell you that KS is all flat!

Made Louisburg, KS at the five hour mark, with one bottle of water down, and the mouth getting a bit on the parched side. Once I saw a Subway in town, I was there for just a big spanking large fountain coke. Got the 30 oz’er and did a half refill and then and total refill with the water. Refilled bottles with ice water and kept rolling. That big mama sub I’d had in the morning for breakfast was doing the trick. I just wasn’t hungry at the Subway. Got through Louisburg and that’s when 68 turned into more of a state route with a nice, 3-foot wide berm. This guy just undulated up and down a lot – definitely not the “totally flat” I was expecting in KS. And the temp was starting to get up there, as I’d seen a time and temp sign with 84-degrees on it at about 10:25am. Got the old sweat rag out to, what with all the long, gradual climbing I was doing. The good part was the SE cross tailwind and the flat and downhill stretches where I could do anywhere from 15-21 mph – more than made up for the climbing at 7-10 mph.

Turn to Paola came at about 11am, and that’s when I decided to go for it all and continue the 24 additional miles west to Ottawa. Wasn’t overheated, wasn’t hungry, wasn’t dehydrated. Game on. Let’s do a century! Now I have to say that the temp just really began to take off at about 11am. I mean it went from 84 to nearly 94 in the span of the next two hours. But I was able to just put the pressure on the pedals and keep it rolling. On the climbs, I’d back way off and just go with an easy spin so as to not nuke myself. Got to say that those 24 miles went well for the heat and terrain.

Pulled into Ottowa at about 12:30 CST. Now on the way up to the motel district, I came across a Subway, and didn’t take but about a second to think that one over. Done. Jammed on a Seafood Sensation footlong and about 60 oz of coke, and then another 20 oz of ice water. By then temp had going to 94 degrees. Made it to an efficiency at about 1pm CST. Tell you what, I’ll do this gig for the rest of the trip if the temps are this bloody hot. I mean I am NOT going to swelter in a tent when it’s 90-100 degrees outside up through the evening. Got in the room cranked on the AC and showered. Feel great right now what with the ride I’d just done. Did a little DQ action after working for several hours and then enjoyed a Fosters Oil can while I finished up the rest of the work. Going to Sonic’s for my dinner, and I’ll likely pick up some kind of sub for breakfast again – can’t fight what works.

Tomorrow temps will soar – projected at 102, and that’s without the heat index. So it’s 5am start again, and this time I’ll wear the reflective vest. I have two options for tomorrow’s mileage – 62 or 89. I’ll figure that out once I get to 62 and see how I feel. Late ……….Pete

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