It went kind of like this:
I had 2600 last night. Usually, this keeps me out until 11pm or midnight. Not last night. I got home around 8:00PM and started preparing stuff: Making PB sandwiches, charging batteries, checking the forecast, dumping out the panniers and packing them with what I wanted to carry along. That kind of stuff. I also had to do a load of laundry so I could take a spare base layer with me in case I started to soak through one. Charging batteries and laundry kept me up until about 10:00. I got to sleep around 10:30.
I could have gone with one pannier, but decided to balance the bike. With me in pannier #1:
- All the tools I carry on my commute: CO2 inflater and 4 spare carts, inner tube, patches, tire levers, multi-tool, Zogics CitraWipes
- A pair of two-year-old, never-used Hot Hands chemical warmers
- Five half-PB sandwiches (folded over with PB)
- A small bag of assorted crackers
- 32-ounce flask of Grape Gatorade - BLECH! I hate this flavor. Never again.
- Dry clothes: windbreaker, wicking long t-shirt & long johns, cycling shorts, gloves, socks
I could have traveled a bit lighter. I didn't touch the spare gloves, shorts, or base-layer. I didn't need all the sandwiches, we ate a hearty meal in Weston. Two or three would have been fine. While I didn't use any of my tools, I would not do this without them.
I woke up at 3:30 - A solid 5 hours of sleep. Not bad considering that's about all I get in a normal day and I had gotten almost TWICE that Thursday-into-Friday trying to kill off my sinus bug. 3 days worth of sleep in 2 days is a good thing.
At 3:30, the National Weather Service site was showing hourly stats from 3:00. Temps near 40. Wind out of the southwest. PERFECT! At 4:20, I took my bike down to the Explorer. My wife rode with me to Control #1 (7-11 in Olathe) and left with the truck when c-Dawg showed up. At this time, temps had fallen into the mid-30s and the wind had gone from stiff southwest to light variable. We dawdled until 5:00 sharp, then raided 7-11 to get our permanent route sheet signed and a date-stamped reciept.
Variable winds continued until we hit Renner. Then, we had a NW wind that was probably gusting to 15 MPH or so. It was enough to make stretches of Renner seem deceptively steep. I pointed out a house to c'Dude that I think is a decoy on Meritex property. Its windows were open despite being near freezing outside, and there's always a light on in what you'd think is the living room. ALWAYS. I'm pretty sure it was built on top of a vertical mine elevator, as it's sitting directly on top of a re-purposed limestone mine-turned-office/warehouse complex: The same complex the Lenexa Midnight ride goes through.
Miles tick by and we ride through a rat-maze of roundabouts, then get stopped just south of Shawnee Mission Park in the cool of pre-dawn, noticing how the whispy cirrus clouds emit pink hues against a sapphire sky while we wait for our turn at the traffic light. A dive down Renner towards Midland made me recall with certain fondness the way Meyer Blvd banks and descends westward from Research Medical Center. After some slogging, I'm greeted with another merry downhill run, one which would send my bike coasting upwards of 40 MPH without any input on the cranks, dumping us out onto Holliday Drive. The clouds are moving in.
Squarely a North wind now: evaporative cooling off of the Kaw River would send chills through my pants and into my legs. The biting, sub-freezing blast was also working its way through my shoes and wool socks.
This was a long exposure I took at a landscaping place. That's how dark it was out here. I had to crank up the levels just to get any detail out of it. It was here that I'd rip open the chemical warmers and add a layer of socks to my feet. It would take almost 20 miles for my toes to feel normal again.
Shortly after that, we encountered a few more cyclists out enjoying the (relatively) nice December weather. It ended up being Badger (whom I've ridden with quite a few times) and Pat, a friend of his. They rode near and beside us for the better part of 15 miles, making conversation. By "us", I mean c'Dude. I was already starting to slow down a bit. We eventually made it to Control #2, QuikTrip, about 33 miles in.
We wove our way through some of KCK's residential turf and slogged a hill on Georgia Ave. that I'd probably give a firm 17% grade if you asked me to guess. A little beagle followed me up the hill slowly, and gave playful chase to us as we veered northward and took off toward the rollers of Wyandotte Lake Park.
This was how I spent most of my ride: In No-Man's-Land, A good 1/4 to 2 miles behind Keith.
At some point, riding through the terrain shown above, 10 miles started to feel like 30, and I started to lose track of time. On up-hills, my legs were becoming useless hunks of meat. I was approaching Bonk from dehydration, lack of electrolyte and lack of fuel. My water -- nearly freezing -- would sting my teeth after it hit my chapped lips, then sink to the very pit of my stomach with that lumpy ache like you get when you accidentally swallow an ice cube. My Gatorade was a wretched flavor that tasted like Grape Big League Chew. What little remained of my coffee was cold. I had no desire to drink, regardless how badly I knew I needed it. Perhaps 45 miles in, I'm already questioning if I have 80 more miles left in my legs today.
Keith would stop just to make sure I was still alive back there. Give me some pointers. Wait while I pinched my nose and tried to suck down as much Haterade as I could while munching on sandwiches and c-store junk food. It was here, on the curvy, shoulderless backroads somewhere near Bonner Springs and Lansing that I knew I was going to severely hinder Keith's chance at the R-12.
Read on for Part 2 or check out my mobile posts from the road.