Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 10 - Pratt to Yates Center, Kansas

At 5:30a the alarm goes off. A quick peek outside and it is pouring. There is nothing more depressing for a cyclist than starting a ride in the rain. There is no avoiding the Elite Tour schedule however and we grab the rain gear and convene for breakfast in the vending machine room and hallway.

By 6:15a, miraculously it has stopped raining. Morale improves. Even the flag over the Walmart showing a brisk headwind out of town isn’t enough to stop us now.

The ride starts at 6:30a, as usual. It is cool, the roads are wet and we have a 10 mph breeze in our faces, but it is a good day for a ride. The weather continues to improve all day, ending up in the high 80s and sunshine in Yates Center.

Getting ready to start, just after the rain stopped.

The first couple of hours were cool and damp, until the roads dried up

Today was a funky day, with a lot of weird things. Jim Slauson, the tandem captain, has a sore Achilles tendon and is very tired so the PACTour Comotion tandem is unloaded and set up for Lara to ride with Harold Trease. It takes 30 miles to set up the bike for the two of them, something that normally takes hours and several test rides. They start the ride and quickly blast away from everyone, except Tim Feldman who thinks he has it made for the day by sitting on their wheel.

Things don’t work out that way as Tim gets the first of four flats for the day. The tandem fairs worse, with 7 flats. All told, we accumulate 29 flats today for the entire group, a good percentage of them due to a rough road with very small gravel spread on it that seems to eat up tires. This is only the beginning of the problems for Harold and Lara as a shift cable breaks, then the bottom bracket craters. They have their own support vehicle keeping them moving down the road. They do finally finish though, a tribute to their persistence and the ingenuity of the support crew.

This seems to set the tone for the day as a bridge out causes a 3-4 mile detour for most riders. Instead of the usual groups spreading out over the Kansas prairie, nearly everyone is bunched up, for a while at least, around the detour.

The views today were consistent, lots of prairie, roads stretching into the Kansas horizon.

The rest of the day goes fairly smoothly for most riders, but the first pair of riders does not get to the hotel in Yates Center until 6:15p. Randy and I came in about five minutes later, tired but happy to complete another day.

Wayne Rosenthal and George Jehant, two of our excellent support crew, enjoying their day off by pulling Randy and I along. Thanks, guys.

Mark Pattinson left the tour today to begin his taper for RAAM (Race Across America) that starts in three weeks. We all wish him the best of luck.

A wonderful surprise showed up at the hotel just before we headed out for dinner when Mike and Nancy Myers arrived. Mike and Nancy are PACTour and RUSA legends, completing several PACTour transcontinental rides and over 30 RUSA Super Randonneur series and three Paris-Brest-Paris rides. They have been riding tandem for many years and, although they had to switch to a recumbent tandem two years ago, are still completing brevets regularly – they already have completed a RUSA Super Randonneur series this year and have a week full of brevets planned in July. They are also two of the nicest people you will ever meet. I met them at a PACTour Desert Camp four years ago. It was wonderful to see them and have the chance to talk for a while before they had to leave for the two hour drive home.

Dinner at the Feed Bunker was great and unbelievably inexpensive. The place was nearly full, obviously this was the restaurant of choice when the local people eat out.

Tomorrow the pedaling gets a lot harder with another long day, 185 miles, and the beginning of the Missouri Ozarks hills – steep and rolling. I switched over to a triple crank set several weeks ago to handle these challenges. Hopefully it will be enough.


  1. Rob - The heat, high winds and rain over the past week are the elements that make long distance adventures memorable. Based on the upbeat nature of your posts, it appears that you are not only doing very well, but better than you expected. Over half way to the finish! Thanks for sharing the ride in great detail.

  2. What's this "... had to switch to a recumbent tandem"? You don't have to be broken to get bent! Maybe they just think it's more comfortable.