Another storm rattles the windows at 4 a.m. Jack makes an offer I cannot refuse. By the end of the day, The Three are reunited with Mark and Gill as well. Today marks the official crossing into Kansas.
An alarm buzzes at 4 a.m. to get out early and catch up to Annalisa, Taylor, and Mark. The bedroom door swings open and Jack is there waiting checking the weather at the computer.
A storm blows over unexpected. Darn. I sprint out to the patio where Dark Roast is half in the open getting the handle bag soaked – where all the electronics are held.
Jack makes an offer to keep up the miles without riding through the storm, “We could load up the van and drop you off in Gold City.” Deal. I crawl back into bed until 5:30 a.m.
Reading the Storms
Cyclists enter Kansas with warnings that tornadoes and hail storms can develop in a moment. So what do these storms look like?
I ride past the first threatening clouds and begin to have drops hit the frames of the Aspire glasses. Trying to read the storm makes it difficult to tell if I am riding into the storm or away from it.
The winds pick up and the fears of a thunderstorm place me under the tree of someone’s front yard. A face move arounds in the window.
Eventually, I push past three kittens on the steps and ring the doorbell, “Is there a place to store this bike as the storm passes?” She welcomes me inside.
Her husband calls and informs us that the storm is moving South so everything should be fine. I wait thirty minutes, clouds move away, and take Dark Roast out from the giant barn shelter.
A birthday present arrives
3 days until turning 26! I am rushing to Pittsburg to get this package before the post office closes at 11 a.m.
There is a post office in every single town. However, there hours are often extremely limited for general pickup. If you need to send a package to a cyclist on the TransAm here is how you make out the label:
c/o [RIDER’S NAME]
[POST OFFICE ADDRESS]
The hardest part is coordinating when your cyclist is going to reach a certain town. Sometimes we plan out three days in advance. Tail winds and cool weather may bless us one day and you end up biking twice as far as intended. Then you arrive before the package. In that case, tell the post office to forward it to the next location.
Dropping the weight
More TransAm racers pass through town. Taylor is inspired to join the race and push for further mileage each day.
At the bike shop, she drops her two front panniers (the bike backpacks as I call them) and replaces that with three water bottle holders.
Her setup is now two back panniers, and five one-liter bottles attached to the main frame and front wheel. She dropped about 15-20 pounds from her bike.
Mark is inspired and ships 10 pounds of gear home.
I am motivated to drop weight and fit everything in the back two panniers. Goodbye to the solar charger, extra underwear, a pair of socks, gas for the stove (keeping the ignitor), and a few more items.
We basically went through the Slim Fast diet for our bikes this afternoon.
Training for the NYC Triathlon
If you think this trip is not crazy enough, I am planning on participating in the NYC Triathlon on July 16th with my father.
T and Annalisa met a basketball coach in Virginia who offered to put us up in a hotel when needed. The Pittsburg town park is reportedly sketchy by multiple people. Tonight, we are sleeping in the comfort of beds and…
A pool! There is no such thing as a true rest day. I slip on a pair of goggles and begin doing laps in the short pool. Any water time is needed.
Gill recovers from his broken chain
The extra chain link that Mark gave Gill back near Ellington only made it a few miles. Gill has fallen behind until tonight.
The local bike shop owner is also a veteran and offers his car to go pick up Gill who is only a town or two behind. Mark takes this offer and returns a few hours later with the everyone being reunited.
Welcome to Kansas
Here is what I expect Kansas to be like:
- Absolutely flat roads. There is a total of maybe 500 feet of elevation across the state
- Hot heat in this semi desert state
- Winds that can slow you down to a 3 mph pace
- Hail storms and tornadoes
- Truckers that will run you off the road
People tend to share all the negatives of the state. Let’s see what lies ahead.