traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Saturday, July 27, 2013 – Day 2 of Shake Down Ride

The night spent in my tent was un-eventful.  No living critters of any size or shape bothered me.  However, the little feathers escaping from my down-filled sleeping bag gave me a second look quite often.  As they floated around, I would have to swat at them instinctively thinking they might be an insect of some sort.  Yes, it was cool enough to break out the sleeping bag!  The temperature was quite perfect for tenting!  No wind or even a breeze (just weird).  I still didn’t sleep much though.  But even the first night in a motel room is a mostly sleepless night for me.  I can’t explain it, but I lie awake and think through my list of things to do the next day.

 
So…I crawled out of “bed” at 4:30 and began the process of packing up.  Patty and Bob had left their dining room light on and it gave me just enough ambient lighting to be able to accomplish this task without using my forehead light.  I quickly discovered that my ankle is still in the healing process as the position of my foot would have to shift in the small space, I would winch with pain several times.  I will have to be extremely careful with that on my trip.
 
Patty decided that she would ride all the way back to Dodge City with me so after a package of Frosted Cherry Poptarts we were riding a little before 7:00 a.m.  The wind was mostly calm and the temperature was a cool 65 degrees.  We have a shoulder to ride on the whole way to Dodge City.  I’m feeling like this morning may be too good to last.  Hahahaha!  THAT WAS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!
 
Not nine miles up the road, Patty gets her first flat.  She pulled a tire tread wire out of the tire and puts in a new tube but in our effort to manhandle the tire back onto to rim, we pinch the tube and thus….start the process over.  That makes two flat tires.  As she is changing the tires, I decided to pull out my tent, rain fly and footprint (because believe it or not, there is moisture in Western Kansas) and drape it over the Garden City Airport sign to dry.  Mission accomplished (all of them) and we are back to riding, but the wind has picked up.  The shoulder is full of glass and we rode right through it.  This will be Patty’s third flat and by this time, she is out of new tubes so I got out my patch kit that has been with me through thick and thin and in my repair kit for close to 10,000 miles.  It appeared to stick and again after us both having to use all our strength, we got the tire woman-handled back on the rim.  We used a quick-fill air canister to fill the tire and it looks good so we take off once more.   Yep, you guessed it…a fourth flat tire.  This time, it was a patch fail.  We had been on the road for hours and had only ridden about 15 miles.  Patty was just a little frustrated and decided to give it up and call for a ride home.
 
As I left Patty on the side of the road with a flat tire and rescue on the way, I headed east towards home by myself.  The wind, of course, was increasing as the day went on.  Gratefully, the temperature never got up over 85 and after a 20 minute break at the rest stop and another 30 minute break (coke cola and peanut butter crackers) at the Cimarron convenience store, I arrived home at 2:30 p.m.  That was an average of only 10 mph moving time.  I only stopped for one picture and you will either laugh at the photo or say ech, but that is the biggest frog dead or alive that I have ever seen in person.  I was ready to call Uncle Si, Jace and Willy to come check it out!
 
So today, I will completely unpack the panniers and make inventory and re-adjust and determine for a final time which pannier should hold which gear.  I now have a better idea of convenience and practicality.  My shakedown ride was a success and accomplished EXACTLY what it was supposed to.
 
One more big thank you to Patty and Bobby Knoll for their friendship and wonderful hospitality!
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Friday, July 26, 2013 – Shakedown Ride Day 1

Day one of my shakedown ride went great!  My good friend, Patty Knoll rode from Garden City to meet me near the halfway point.  From my house to hers was 60 miles.  I started out with low winds at my back but that only lasted about seven miles then it moved to the north and increased as the day went on.   The four miles straight into the wind climbing to the GC Airport was pretty tough but doable.  Once we turned back west, all I could think about was where I was going to get some lunch.  Patty suggested El Zarape since they had moved to their new location on the east side of town.  Woot Woot!  Mexican food!  Like I was going to say no to THAT!  Well…after that big lunch, it was a good thing we only had about three more miles to her home out at Southwind.

I set up my tent in the stiff breeze and then cleaned up for a trip to Walmart for  something pretty darn important that I forgot.  COFFEE.  Can you believe I forgot instant coffee?  Me neither!
My bags have been packed for several weeks, but they were not packed…shall I say accurately?  I mean, my toiletries were not packed.  My bicycling clothes were not packed.  My food was not packed.  So to make the bags heavy, I had stuffed the empty crevices with denim jeans.  Everything had to be re-evaluated and lists made and checked and double checked and triple checked and I still forgot some things.  Tonight I will sit in my tent and get completely serious about what exactly each pannier will carry.  There is four of them.  Two big on the rear and two smaller in in the front.  The idea is to have about 70% of the total weight in the back bags and 30% in the front.  Then, of course, you don’t want more weight on one side than the other.  But also, you have to be smart and practical in having the things you’ll need at any given time in the same bag.  For instance, I had my toiletries in one bag and my towel in another.  How practical was that?  There is much to consider and I will spend time with this project tonight after supper.
Although Patty has offered to let me sleep in her lovely home in her cool comfortable basement in a comfortable bed with my own bathroom and every other convenience, I will be sleeping in my tent.  This is a shakedown ride, after all.  I wonder what else I have forgot….
Oh, one more thing to mention and I hope nothing comes of it, but…Patty does live in the Sandhills, home to slithering creatures that make rattling sounds.  She tells me there was a Bull Snake in her yard about a week ago.  I know that having Bull Snakes around is a good thing, but but but…I’d rather not see any snakes thank you very much.  In any event, I have learned the trick about always keeping the zipper stopped at the top so critters of any kind have to work harder to get into the tent.  I am also not afraid to use my weapon.
To be continued tomorrow night once I’m home.  The winds are supposed to be out of the southeast tomorrow which means head winds all the way home.  Oh well, if it was easy, everyone would want to do it.  HAHAHAHAHA!
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Wednesday, July 17 – Elevator Ride

Dodge City

Dodge City

Ford

Ford

Bucklin

Bucklin

Kingsdown

Kingsdown

Bloom

Bloom

Minneola

Minneola

Today I rode the “Elevator Ride”.  That’s what I call it anyway.  Dodge City to Ford to Bucklin to Kingsdown to Bloom to Minneola and back to Dodge City.  That is 75 miles in case you’re wondering.  I stopped at each elevator and took a picture.  Why you ask?

The other day, Sue sent me a picture of the Olympic Mountains in the backdrop of the Puget Sound.  She is teasing me and at the same time preparing me for the beauty of what I will experience next month as we ride through the islands.  As I was going for my ride that same day, I thought about taking a scenery picture to send to her but nothing seemed really special or amazing and that she had not recently seen as she rode Bike Across Kansas with me in June.  I told her as much in an email that night.  She then admitted to me how she describes Kansas to her Seattle friends and it goes like this:
“Corn on the left, wheat on the right, wind farm. Wheat on the left, corn on the right, oil rig.  Wheat on the right, wheat on the left, grain elevator. Corn on the right, corn on the left, water tower.”
You have to know…Sue is a hoot.  She has a wonderful sense of humor and I just had to laugh and laugh as I can just hear her voice in my mind.  So anyway, it made me start thinking about just how many elevators there really are out here.  If I had time, I would research the history of the oldest ones being built, but let me just say…they have been around longer than me.
Today, I looked closer at each one I passed…closer than I ever have before.  They really are amazing…
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

This Spring and Summer have not gone exactly as planned, but a new adventure awaits me in August and I will be blogging frequently.   If you read my posts last summer, you know I was carrying a laptop in my panniers.  I have purchased an IPad, and because it is smaller and lighter, it will be my electronic companion forever more.  I have had it for several months and feel like I know it well, however, I have not tried to blog with it yet.  Learning how to get my words from the Notes Application into WordPress will be trial and error.  Here it goes!

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