Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dust in the wind...

The band Kansas once wrote a song called "Dust in the Wind" in which they lament human mortality, crooning: "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind". We've only been in Kansas for a couple of days, but I venture to offer this amendment to the song: "Dust in the wind, all Kansas is is fields, dust, and headwinds".

Since we've left Colorado there had been a strong headwind blowing out of the East. As the prevailing winds generally blow from West to East, encountering the headwind has made for some very long days. Several other factors, including the long miles (100-120 a day) and the inability to draft, have made this a challenging state.

After talking with some doctors, teammates, and coaches, I decided to stay off the bike until I got the stitches in my legs removed. As disappointed as I am (believe me, nothing drives me as crazy as inactivity, so sitting in the support car as Dave bikes along is torture), I know this is the best approach to the solution. I feel bad for Dave who has to endure the winds alone, but maybe worse for Lauren who has to bear my often terrible jokes. She's been a real trooper.

Two days ago we pulled into Hutchinson, KS for a rest day. Dave was exhausted from the wind and miles; he's been a real warrior tackling some serious miles on his own. A rest day was certainly in order and we were happy to show up at the house of the CouchSurfers we would be staying with, Sam and Sherry Flaming.

Sam and Sherry lived in a house just south of Hutchinson, adjacent to a large farm. Across the road was a large green field and cows roamed next door. It struck a chord in me as reminiscent of my childhood vacations to visit my grandmother in Indiana; this was the Mid-West.

We met our hosts and sat down for dinner. Sam and Sherry are newly weds (congratulations guys!) and were such wonderful hosts. We greatly enjoyed their company and fell asleep that night happy to be in Kansas. The following day Dave, Lauren, and I went into town. After dropping off our bikes at the local shop for some maintenance, we went to the Cosmosphere, a huge space museum. Dave ran around like a kid in a candy shop (engineers, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em), but Lauren and I had just as good a time too.

We grabbed a late Mexican lunch, picked up the bikes, and then grabbed a drink with Sam and Sherry at a local bar. Afterwards we headed home for another great dinner and a game of croquet. Even though I lost to both Sam and Sherry, I made sure to remind Dave he had lost to a cripple. He promptly reminded me how much fun he has biking. Dave 1, Austin 0.

Today we are back on the road. Dave is still braving the headwinds (c'mon Kansas! give us a break!) while Lauren and I are sitting in a nice little coffee shop in Hesston. We'll get back on the road soon and meet up with Dave in 50 miles or so. My chest stitches come out on Thursday and the leg ones on Saturday so I should be back on the bike this weekend. Until then I'll try to enjoy the passing countryside and work on my jokes. Hope everyone is having a great summer, and I PROMISE to update more frequently. Bye!

P.S. We've been on the road for one month today. Woo hoo! Less than a month to Boston, but a lot of miles between here and there.

Answer to the last Trivia Question: 31 stitches. There are 5 in my left knee, 9 in my right quad, and 17 (count 'em) on my chest. Everything is healing nicely and cleanly, so I don't foresee any more delays in my quest to get back on the bike. 10 points to KTO!

Today's Trivia Question: Before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the Soviets had dominated the Space Race. In 1957 they successfully put the first mammal into space. What type of animal was it (5 points) and what was its name (5 points)?

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