Today was almost perfect, tailwind, great road conditions and perfect weather. If I could change anything at all, it would be that I wished today was one of our 100 mile rides not a really short 39.6 miles.
Last night we had a storm blow through Guymon which featured some relatively large sized hail stones. The drumming on the hotel roof and windows sounded probably way worse than the storm actually was but was enough to keep me up a while. During this time I decided to try something with Irma. When I visited the bike shop in Guymon the owner had found some supposedly thorn/puncture proof tubes rummaging around the variety of things he had collected over the years, more as a hobby than a real business. So last night I installed these thicker tubes to see if they held up any better. Today they did and I am thrilled todays story does not include the words puncture, flat or tire change.
So with new tubes inflated, Irma, I and all the riders today set off for Kansas at around 9 am. I felt good and set off along the road running parallel to the railroad tracks heading out of town. Barry came up behind me and we chatted for a while and then I set the pace for us along the flat and a couple of gentle descents. With the wind at our backs we maintained a good speed over 20 mph for at least the first 5 miles. As the road gently started to rise to only 1% up came Captain Century (British Mark) and his now smaller band of followers. Mark, Pete and Emil were flying as they passed the slowing Irma and myself so rightly Barry jumped onto their train and was gone. With today being just under 40 miles I knew with this tailwind and a good road the ride would be over pretty soon today.
Still travelling at over 20 mph alone I just enjoyed moving along at a good pace with little effort along a smooth road. Either side of me again today were the windmills, grain and circular crop fields disappearing for ever into the distance. Almost before I had settled into the smooth rhythm of the day we had arrived at our first and only SAG stop in Hooker. The signs, tee shirts and many other small items for sale in the ‘Hooker chamber of commerce Gift Shop’ all had a play on the word and meaning of Hooker. Now for the Brits reading this ‘A Hooker” in the USA is not a position in a Rugby Union Team lineup. No it is a term used for a ‘lady of the night’. ‘Not Your Typical Hooker’, ‘Hooker – A location not a vocation’ and ‘All my friends are Hookers’ are just but a few of the puns printed on many tee shirts here. I resisted buying a commemorative Tee shirt celebrating either the ‘oldest profession’ or a very small town in Oklahoma. On the way out of Hooker I found a way more tasteful sign for the town and so stopped to photograph it, thus keeping both the Ying and Yang of this small town balanced in my mind.
Back out onto the road the wind was still in our favor and life was good. Next stop was the Kansas State line at 35 miles. Again I found a group of our riders one by one marking another state line crossed on their bicycles. I took the pictures for the record and then set off again on the road enjoying the freedom of the day.
Many things passed through my mind today as I speeded along the road. Some random like watching ‘Little house on the prairie’ on Saturday mornings back in Britain in the 70’s. I could well imagine many families here being like the ‘Ingalls’. I wondered a little about how did Laura Ingalls make out as she grew up in a town like those we now passed. Also I thought how long will I be able to feel fit and healthy like I do today. I have not really looked into WM as much as maybe I should mainly because there does not seem to be any clear answers to my many questions. Will I become ill at sometime? Will WM turn into Multiple Myeloma or will I lose my sight in the not to distant future? My half full glass seems to not want to dwell on these questions for too long though preferring to wait and see while I have as much fun as possible. I also spent some time wondering how could the USA help towns and areas like these survive into the future for the next generations of Guymon’s or Hooker’s. As technology improves we need people less. This is obviously the big question for the future, what will people do for a living. So my mind bounced around between the worlds future and how did Laura Ingalls do when she grew up along these roads of now Kansas. As we entered Liberal, KS after only just over two hours our riding day was done or the day.
It was so early when we arrived that there were no rooms ready for us at the Best Western. So it was time to do what a tourist does and head off to ‘Dorothy’s House/Land of Oz’. I rode Irma a little ways down the road and found a pretty garden, yellow brick road and a small White House which I presume has travelled to Oz and back before now. I didn’t go into the main building mainly because I had Irma with me, I was still dressed in Lycra and was becoming increasingly hungry. So after a few pictures for the record I pedalled off towards the hotel, stoppinging off at a Barbecue van along the way to get myself a brisket sandwich to eat back at the hotel. A room, nap and more snacks before dinner filled my afternoon, before I met up with everyone else for a barbecue dinner hosted at the hotel. Dorothy (a young girl from liberal) complete in pinafore dress, red sparkly shoes and a inanimate Toto in her basket made an appearance alongside the owner of the house for dinner.
So an easy day to lift the spirits and recharge the batteries before the next 4 day stretch of just under 300 miles to our third rest day in Abilene, KS.
We are approaching the $20,000 mark in funds raised which is unbelievable and very exciting. If anyone knows others who might like to tag along for the ride please help get the word out and promote the blog if you can. Also if you know of any companies who might want to put some of their charitable dollars/pounds to good use somewhere then please point them towards here. WM might be rare but it is still very real for a few of us. If my efforts on this ride can help the few research projects ongoing into treating WM then it will be a success story not just for me but for all of you who have joined me on my adventure. Together we can certainly turn an incurable disease into an incurable but treatable disease in the very near future. Of this I am sure.
Thanks as always – Chris
Tomorrow I will ride into Dodge, all guns blazing!!!