After a couple doughnuts and a power bar I was ready to forge ahead into western Kansas. Last night could have been a better sleep, but some local teenagers thought it'd be fun to keep up the bearded man sleeping between the picnic tables (it is what it is). What I thought would be 20 miles to my first stop became 60 miles to my last stop.
Being a Sunday and all, the first town was shut down, with the restaurant not opening until four o'clock. The next, and only other, town was more of a ghost-town. You could tell there used to be more there, but it seems like most of the people just cut their losses. They had a restaurant but the parking lot was empty and the door was locked (no closed sign). Fortunately one of the closed gas stations along the 60 mile stretch had a functioning pop machine. I had a coke, lemonade, and ate up my emergency supply of chips (garden salsa).
So on a day where the thermometer topped off at 108 F, I had ran into a little more than I bargained for. The lack of food and water really drained me. The first town I found with anything was Ness City. After 60 miles, it was time to call it a night. The Derrick Inn turned out to be a real deal. The room was a couple metal Presidents under 50 bucks; they had an indoor pool, hot tub, and adjoining Mexican restaurant. I actually wound up eating there twice as the tough day brought me in a little earlier than normal.
I'm icing down tonight. The hot tub and the plastic bag ice packs turn this place into a four star training room for traveling cyclists. As you can imagine, I'm sore all over. What I'm surprised about is the tenderness in my wrists and the numbness in my hands. Don't be alarmed, nothing serious. I'm noting this in passing as my experience to future cyclists. My upper left calf really makes itself known when I bend my knee. The bottom side of my right pinky has been numb since Kentucky (a couple weeks at this point), as well and the tip of my left thumb and left ring finger. This is all day every day, it doesn't seem to go away. These problems are most assuredly due to the pressure/vibration from riding and shifting gears. I had never heard of stuff like this prior to my trip, so it's just a little insight into the day to day grind. I'm expecting my body to get back to normal after I return home. This is a small price to pay for the life I'm living.
As I continue to move West, I make the very subtle climb into the high desert. Tonight I'm sleeping at roughly 2250 ft of elevation. For the next 300 miles that I travel along SR 96 I will inch up to 4750 ft. The elevation of Pueblo, CO, where I plan to have an off day.
Nicknamed the "steel city", and home to just over 100,000, Pueblo will be one of the largest cities I come across. I'm hoping to get my bike checked out, pick up some inner-tubes, see a movie, and have a quality meal. I don't know how I'm going to handle the spacing for each day's ride. I don't know when I'm going to get there, but I know I'm ready for an off day, and that seems like the place for me.
Over the next two days I will cross into Colorado, and into a new timezone. For me, Colorado will be a symbolic entry into the West. The off day will be the buffer between the two halves of my adventure. I threw myself out here a month ago. I hit the ground running with wide eyed optimism. And although I'm not quite to my arbitrary halfway point, I'm happy to report that I'm still just as hungry for this way of life as the day I left.