Distance: 91.3 mi
Average Speed: 11.9 mph; Max Speed: 26.9 mph
Elevation Gain: 1,545 ft
Average Temp: 88.4 F; Temp Range: 68.0-113.0 F
I am not a morning person, I want to be absolutely clear about that. If I have heavy thinking to do or work that requires more attention and thought than average, I do it better in the evening. In the normal course of things, I don’t witness many sunrises. Oh, I’ve had my share of early mornings, but they usually have a purpose, a drive behind them. Today, the drive was to not have to stop early like I did yesterday.
I didn’t bother to put my tent up last evening, opting instead to just roll out my sleeping pad and sleep in the open. Around about the time the third bug landed on my face—not a mosquito, but that hardly mattered—I decided that a night free of bugs was more important than maximizing the effects of the breeze by not having a tent. I put up the tent body as quickly as I could in the dark, crawled in, and fell asleep secure in the knowledge that it was now much more difficult for insects to find me.
My alarm went off at 3:45 AM. Nope, not a typo. 3:45 AM. Even more astonishing, I did not hit snooze. I got up and began my day. I opted for an uncooked breakfast—banana, peanut butter and Clif bar—but with such an early start there was no way I was passing on a cup of coffee. The water didn’t take that long to heat, so I doubt that delayed me much.
I had packed up and started out by 4:50 AM, with my red taillight blinking behind me (I bought a new one in Newton since I lost my original somewhere in Wyoming), my light mounted on my helmet, and my reflective rain jacket wrapped around my tent on the rear rack for good measure. By the time the fist touches of dawn began to lighten the sky, I was already 4 miles away from my campsite. It was another 4 miles before it was light enough that I turned off my main light, and another 20 or 30 minutes after that before I turned off my tail light.
It was already warm and humid when I started. The overnight low was in the mid seventies. My the time I reached the first town today, the place where I had originally planned to stay last night, I was drenched. Only not really with sweat but with dew. I pulled into the town park where I would have camped and had second breakfast. Then I refilled my water stores—I am not going to repeat the mistake I made a few days ago and run out of water on a hot day—and moved on.
Last night at the park, there were several little league ball games going on, and one spectator stopped for a chat. She told me that I missed the wheat harvest, which was about two weeks ago. This was both good and bad, Good because it meant I wasn’t as likely to encounter much heavy farm equipment on the road as I would have during the harvest. Bad because I missed the beauty of the wheat fields rippling in the wind. Corn is one thing, but a sea of grasses that bend with much more ease…I’m sorry to have missed that.
The bales that dot the shorn fields or are neatly lined up along fence lines smell sweater than I expected. The smell reminds me a bit of dried strawberries, and it took me a day or two to be certain it was the bales and not something else, because I really didn’t think they would smell like that.
The next town was Girard, and it was just far enough away to be perfectly timed for a rest stop before switching to map section 9 (8 down and only 4 more to go!) and heading for Pittsburg. There, I paused to assess. It was 11:30 AM, nearly 90 F, I had already ridden almost 60 miles and it was another 33 miles to the next town. I decided that I had enough time to take it easy, there had been enough trees that I was comfortable with my chances of finding shade when I needed a break, and with all three bottles and my Camelbak filled, I was unlikely to run out of water.
Oh, it was hot. And uncomfortable. Not far beyond Pittsburg, I crossed into Missouri and paused to snap a photo. As hot as it was when moving, at least I had my self-generated breeze. Standing still was much, much worse. At that point, I resolved to stop and rest in some shade at least once every 10 miles. I even counted down the miles as I rode. It worked. With a lot of water, a good deal of rest, and the lack of a significant headwind, I made it to Golden City. A successful long day, despite the heat.
The park here has a large shelter with numerous picnic tables and functional electrical sockets. Another, open shelter houses a stage and a half court for basketball. There’s a tiny chapel, a playground, a ballfield, and bathrooms with a shower. The shower room could do with a bench or something more sophisticated than a few hangers bent around pipes for you to drape clothes on, but the water was hot and I feel almost human again.
After dinner, a woman whose house borders the park walked by with her two dogs. She told me the restaurant in town, Cooky’s Café, has great pie. She also advised me to leave early tomorrow because the ride has a lot of ups and downs on winding roads and between that and the heat I’m likely to have a rough day of it. I was already planning to leave early, but I appreciate the heads up about the terrain. I had a look at the elevation profile on my map just now. None of the climbs are particularly long, but the line looks like what might happen if somebody tried to draw a straight, horizontal line while riding a mechanical bull. If nothing else, it’ll be a change from the mostly flat or rolling hills and straight lines of the last week or so.
Roadkill count: 6 birds, 7 armadillo, 1 deer, 8 possums, 4 raccoons, 7 unknown mammals, 5 snakes, 6 turtles, 1 frog