I had planned on riding close to 100 miles today, yet 25-35mph winds made me cut my day short in Ness City. I left the church at sunrise and the wind wasn't very noticeable. By looking at the maps, I realized I was heading north for the first 30 miles of the day and it was only when I turned left outside of Rush Center did I realize there was a strong South by Southwest wind blowing through the Kansas sky. It was like riding into a wall of sound and fury. It kept all my effort to keep my bike from tipping over and whenever a large truck would drive by, it would whip up a mini-tornado that could kick me three feet from one side to another. I attempted an experiment on a slow downhill to not pedal and my bike came to a complete stop within 10 yards. It was a hellish wind, indeed.
To make matters worse, the economy has greatly inflicted the small town diners and motels along my route. I was planning on stopping in the first two towns on the map for a late breakfast; however, they were all closed amongst the other abandoned buildings along the town center. I rode along under the sole influence of Pop-Tarts and granola bars until I found a rest stop. I then took out my maps and struggled with the wind and finally decided I would have to make it a shorter day, for the sake of not murdering my legs. I only rode 66 miles today, but it felt like I rode at least 100. This is quite discouraging because I had wanted to get into Pueblo, Colorado by Monday. If these winds keep up, I'll be lucky to get there by next weekend!
I've checked into a cheap motel and I plan on relaxing for the rest of the day. I need to ride to Leoti or Tribune to get back on semi-track, which is another 90-100 mile day. I'm going to meet the guys for dinner / ubiquitous ice cream trip, and then I can hopefully fall asleep early enough to wake up at 4:00AM. I've heard the winds really kick up around mid-day, so I'm going to try to fit in as many miles as possible before noon. I'm assuming the lads will get on the road a bit later than me and catch up in no time (hung over or not).
Logistics aside, I've realized now that it's been a month since I dipped my rear tire in Yorktown. I left the familiarity of my parents and my friends & home before that. I'm at a middle point now, and my imminent return to the life I've left behind me will crystallize before I even realize it. The only word that explains my life as of now is "surreality." From the disorienting moment I awake in a new place, to the quiet mornings and the long shadows, to the blank stares I receive when I walk into a local diner... it's all so very surreal. I'm sure I will look back on these moments with fondness; nevertheless, I can only meet every day with a naive disposition. What will this latter half reflect upon the first? How will it set itself apart? I can only look forward now.