I woke to my alarm after 3 hours of sleep on a gravel pile in Eastern Colorado. I was hungry and cold, but anxious to get the day going. I had made good strides the day before and needed to double down and have another good day. The bright side was that I was now in the flat area of the route and wouldn’t have the quad-crushing climbs of the Rockies to deal with anymore. I got moving and set my sights on Ordway.
I rolled into Ordway a little after 6:00AM and rode down the main street of town looking for a place to grab some food, but nothing at all was open. I got back on route and found a gas station at the edge of town. I scarfed down a couple burritos and some coffee, loaded up with snacks and drinks for the morning and headed back out.
My next stop was in Eads, the advertised halfway point of the Trans Am. I had made it half way! Of course, like most of the milestones on the Trans Am, there was nobody around at the monument and sign board in the middle of town. I snapped a quick selfie for proof, texted it to my wife and carried on. Before leaving town, I stopped at a diner to grab some lunch. I was 83 miles into my day and it was really starting to get hot out. I was ready for a break from the heat.
When I parked my bike, I noticed two other bikes there. Inside was the Italian pair, Stefano Gamper and Michela Ton. Stefano’s English was limited, so I had a hard time communicating with him. Michela’s was a notch better. We chatted a bit as they finished up their meal and filled bottles. I got my food and ate quickly hoping to get back out and stay close to them. I wanted to keep “race mode” in mind and not spend too much time stopped. Before I could finish my meal, in walked Enrico Comunello, another Italian racer. His English was pretty good and we enjoyed some conversation. I wrapped up my meal and he ate quickly. We ended up leaving about the same time.
Enrico and I rode near each other for awhile, chatting off and on, but overall, we were riding different paces so it wasn’t for very long. We leapfrogged each other quite a bit. At one point during the day, near the tiny town of Brandon, the heat was getting to me and I was getting tired. I would have loved to find a place to rest in the shade, but the land was truly flat as a pancake and there were no trees for miles. As I rode through the little town, there was a grain elevator with a little scale house next to it for weighing trucks that haul grain. In front of the scale house was a small porch and what seemed to be the only square yard of shade for miles around. I rode over and laid down on the concrete porch, resting in the shade for a bit. I slept maybe 15 mins or so, just long enough to feel a little better and then got back to riding. In the mean time, Enrico had passed. When I started riding again, I soon passed Enrico. I think he had stopped as well. This leap frog thing took place over and over again.
In Sheridan Lake I stopped at a gas station, more than anything just to get out of the heat. Soon after, Enrico came in. We both were getting smoked by the sun. Ice creams and drinks were the refreshments we chose and they were oh so good on such a hot day. It was funny to think that just 24 hours before I had been trying to stay warm in the mountains!
I left the station first and had my sights set on 15 miles ahead- the Kansas state line! I crossed into Kansas and was elated to knock yet another state off the list. I only had 4 more states to go, but still had over 2000 miles left!
As I made my way across the extremely flat landscape, I could see for miles and miles in every direction. Tribune, the next town ahead, was visible on the horizon for what seemed like eternity. The old joke about flat lands that “you can watch your dog run away for three days” comes to mind. There is literally nothing as far as the eye can see except for crops. Flat and tree-less also means that when the wind blows, it really gets after it! As I approached Tribune, that is exactly what was happening. A strong wind was kicking up from the Southeast, giving me a quartering headwind. There was nothing to be done about it but ride.
I stopped in Tribune at the truck stop there. I sat in the dining area eating, drinking and cooling off. Enrico came in shortly and loaded up on food and drinks. He was quick and got back on the road. I hit the road soon after and set out to catch up. I soon did, but not wanting to get too close, I stayed back, keeping him within a hundred yards or so. The wind was really starting to get difficult to deal with, but my shadow was getting longer and evening would come soon. Hopefully that would mean the winds died down as well.
About 10 miles outside Tribune I crossed the Central Time Zone line. It was another milestone to check off. Every little delineation counts. It would however mean that I “lost” an hour. Not a big deal in the grand scheme, but it can make a difference when you are trying to make it to small stores in sleepy towns where the sidewalks roll up at night.
I rolled through Leoti a little before 8:00PM, passing Jay and Mark, who had who had gotten in front of me a few days before somewhere. Enrico stopped in Leoti as well, leaving me to chase after the Italian pair.
As the sun set, the wind stayed steady, but didn’t build, so it was manageable as I chewed on the 27 miles or so to Scott City. I rolled into town about 9:30PM and had to make a decision. The little towns of Western Kansas don’t have a lot of businesses that stay open all night, so finding places for food and drinks would be a challenge. A check of the map showed Dighton 24 miles away and Ness City another 32 miles beyond that. I decided to get a room in Scott City, eat well, supply up and get an early start on the next day, hopefully pushing to Newton. That would be about 240 miles- a very doable chore in the flat terrain.
I found the Lazy-R Motel on the Eastern side of town and much to my surprise, the owner was out front. She had been watching the race unfold online and knew I was coming. She gave me a great rate on a room and pointed me in the right direction to go find food. She was a treat! I rode off to the Subway a couple miles away to pick up dinner, then grabbed supplies for the next morning at a gas station and headed back to the motel. It was a little after 10:00PM.
For the day, I had ridden 189 miles. I was a little disappointed with that because it was quite a bit short of my 250/day goal, but it had been a rough day in the heat and wind. I sold myself on the idea that it was ok because I would get an early start on the next day by going to sleep sooner. It was the best that I had to give for the day and thats all I could do. I ate, showered and called my wife, then set my alarm for 3:30AM and went to sleep about 11:00PM.