Topeka, KS to St. Joseph, MO
Well this is the real test. The middle section, the rolling hills, the long miles. I knew when I was over analyzing this trip (as I do with everything) that this part was going to be the tough section for me. The first third of the journey I thought I would have the energy from my training and the excitement of the trip. Everything was going to be a new experience and exciting. The final third I am sure will have that large carrot dangling in front of me every day, EFI Boston. Yet the middle third is the tough one. Far enough into the ride to be tired, really tired and yet too far away from the finish to see the end in sight.
One of the main side effects of WM and this type of cancer is fatigue. I don’t mean just feeling a little tired, no sometimes it hits you like the cycling term bonking when you run out of any glycogen. Today’s ride started great with cloud cover providing a cool start to the day. I rode out with Terry, Ric (20 times across country also had cancer), Adam, Mike Two and maybe some others behind, in a pace line. We worked our way out of Topeka which did look like a nice town as we got glimpses of the town center. The hills began just outside of town but I managed them not too badly today and managed to keep Ric and Terry. (In the far distance) still in sight.
At the first SAG I filled up with supplies to get me to SAG 2 another 25 miles ahead. This stretch seemed a bit tougher than it should have been and I have no idea why. There were hills but not like Arizona, there were winds but not like a few days ago, so I am not sure why. The road wasn’t that exciting and for some reason the trucks seemed to give us less room today than anywhere on the ride before. However eventually I worked my way to the Dairy Queen for SAG 2. It is amazing how seeing some of our group with their smiling faces and encouraging words can lift you. Everyone today and tonight have been asking me if I am OK. I think this is probably due to me being a little quiet (unfortunately people expect me to be chatty, laughing and joking all the time) for a couple of days which I guess they haven’t seen before. I was/am fine just a little tired and needing to save my energy to keep me moving forward on a bike at the moment.
So after a pick-me-up of friendly faces, words and a vanilla milkshake, I was back open the road and heading out of Kansas. After about a mile we came to the Missouri River, which looked to be moving pretty fast and was a good sized river. In my travels around America I have seen some really wide rivers which fascinate me coming from the UK. Nature in the USA is BIG in comparison to back home in and around Cheshire. The Missouri here was not one of the times a river took me aback but it was good to see today amounts all the sameness of the roads so far.
Another couple of miles and we left Kansas and entered Missouri. Almost at the sign itself the roads changed with the States. Missouri roads so far suck, no other way of saying it. For around twenty miles Irma and I bumped, bounced and swerved our way along the side of a poor, busy road with big rigs buzzing us just to add to the ‘fun’. Potholes, loose chippings and broken roads are no fun, even less after 60 miles on a bicycle in humid weather. Well, like cancer there is no benefit in feeling sorry for yourself so I fixed my gaze up ahead on the odd flashing red lights of some of the other group riders and knuckled down. Before you knew it I was entering St Joseph and the end was in sight for today. Some decent hills at the end didn’t seem so bad as the miles ticked away to zero and another day was in the bag.
So my friends, we are now in Missouri and a long way from Manhattan Beach, CA. Irma is fine and carrying me every day along our path without complaint or problems. Tiredness comes and goes but the will to complete a challenge I set myself is far stronger than fatigue, cancer or hills. A person can often do way more than you might think, your body is also the most amazing machine you will ever know. I expect this ride to test me and Irma to the fullest which is why I decided to do it in the first place. What would be the point of doing something you knew you could do before you started. This part of the examination is going to be tough but to be honest I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Every word of support I read from well wishers, friends and family, every like or comment on socaila media and every word of encouragement from my fellow riders pushes me on and is far far stronger than any tiredness or fatigue WM can throw at me so far. Tomorrow we tackle the many many rollers of MO, Ill let you know how we do tomorrow.